Would? ~ Alice in Chains

Alice in Chains is an American rock band formed in Seattle, Washington in 1987 by guitarist Jerry Cantrell and vocalist Layne Staley.

In 1986, the band Sleeze disbanded and two of its members, vocalist Layne Staley and bassist Michael Starr met up with guitarist and songwriter Jerry Cantrell at the Music Bank — a Seattle werehouse that was illegally being used as a flop house and practice studio for several bands that later became the major “grunge” bands of the late 1980s to mid-1990s.

Staley grew up in Kirkland Washington and had formed the original band Alice N’ Chainz while in high school, a band which he said “dressed in drag and played speed metal”. After meeting up with Jerry Cantrell, he revived the name with the variation to become Alice in Chains. They found a drummer, Sean Kinney, who was dating Cantrell’s sister at the time and together began writing original material and performing at various clubs in Seattle.

In 1990, they released their first album, Facelift which reached number 42 on Billboard and was probably one of the anchor albums that started the “grunge” scene. The single, “Man in the Box” reached number 18 and even got play on MTV. RIAA rated the album gold in 1990, and they went on the Clash of the Titans tour with Anthrax, Megadeath, and Slayer, closing the year with Van Halen.

Between 1990 and 1998, Alice in Chains release a whole slew of great songs. In 1992 Michael Starr left the band due to a serious heroin habit and an arrest at the Denver airport for shoplifting. He was replaced by former Ozzie Osbourne bassist Mike Inez.

There were several periods of hiatus — one being in 1995 when Staley hooked up with Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready to tour in a band called Mad Season. In 1996 Alice in Chains got together to perform for MTV’s Unplugged. Their last concert with Layne Staley would be on July 3, 1996, in Kansas City, Missouri.

Staley’s health was an issue — he was getting deeper and deeper into heroin and cocaine. The death of his fiance in 1996 pushed Staley over the edge. He lost the will to live, and became a recluse. The last interview he gave he said, “I know I’m near death. I did crack and heroin for years. I never wanted to end my life this way.” He also said, “Don’t try to contact any Alice in Chains members. They are not my friends.” Layne was found dead in his University District condo, the cause of death being heroin and cocaine overdose.

The band officially disbanded after Layne’s death, but in 2005 Cantrell, Inez, and Kinney reunited for a benefit concert and in 2006 they officially got together and found a new lead singer, William DuVall formerly of Comes With Fall.

Would?

Would? was written by Jerry about the death of his friend, Andrew Wood of Mother Love Bone:

I was thinking a lot about Andrew Wood at the time. We always had a great time when we did hang out, much like Chris Cornell and I do. There was never really a serious moment or conversation, it was all fun. Andy was a hilarious guy, full of life and it was really sad to lose him. But I always hate people who judge the decisions others make. So it was also directed towards people who pass judgments

Know me broken by my master,
Teach thee on child of love hereafter,

Into the flood again,
Same old trip it was back then,
So I made a big mistake,
Try to see it once my way.

Drifting body, it’s sole desertion,
Flying, not yet quite the notion.

Into the flood again,
Same old trip it was back then,
So I made a big mistake,
Try to see it once my way.

Into the flood again,
Same old trip it was back then,
So I made a big mistake,
Try to see it once my way.

Am I wrong?
Have I run too far to get home
Have I gone?
And left you here alone

Am I wrong?
Have I run too far to get home, yeah
Have I gone?
And left you here alone

If I would, could you?

  • Audio from the 1995 album Dirt:
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ahttp://djallyn.org/AudioScript.php?file=ic-would.mp3

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About DJ Allyn

DJ Allyn is a burned out radio guy who went on to become a burned out sound engineer for a few Seattle area grunge bands in the 1980s and 1990s. Left the madness of worldwide tours with bands, cleaned up my act and went into the relative sanity of sound engineering for television series. Currently working as the Director of Sound for a television series being filmed in North Vancouver, British Columbia. I am always on the lookout for interesting videos, old music, and fun.

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