Sat Apr 20, 5:15 PM ET
By GENE JOHNSON, Associated Press Writer
SEATTLE – Layne Staley, lead singer and guitarist for the grunge band Alice in Chains, was found dead in his apartment, authorities said Saturday. He was 34.
Tests were required to establish the identity because the body, discovered Friday, had started to decompose. The King County Medical Examiner’s office did not release his cause of death.
“It was natural or an overdose � that’s the way it was determined by our investigators,” said Seattle Police spokesman Duane Fish.
Police did not immediately release details on anything that was found at the scene, and a spokesman did not respond to several messages.
With Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden, Alice in Chains was one of the most prominent bands of the Seattle grunge scene of the early ’90s. The group was known for its dark, menacing sound, which combined grunge and heavy metal, and often wrote about heroin.
In a 1996 interview with Rolling Stone magazine, Staley spoke of how his drug use influenced his lyrics.
“I wrote about drugs, and I didn’t think I was being unsafe or careless by writing about them,” he told the magazine. “Here’s how my thinking pattern went: When I tried drugs, they were (expletive) great, and they worked for me for years, and now they’re turning against me � and now I’m walking through hell, and this sucks.”
The group’s first album, “Facelift,” was released in 1990. It later released “Dirt” and “Alice in Chains.” The group’s hits included “Man in the Box,” “Them Bones,” “Rooster,” and “Would?”
The latter song was partly inspired by the 1990 heroin overdose death of Andrew Wood, singer of the seminal grunge group Mother Love Bone.
Staley’s body was found just over 8 years after Nirvana singer and guitarist Kurt Cobain was found dead in his Seattle home of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Heroin was found in Cobain’s bloodstream, and his head had been so mutilated that he could not be immediately identified.
In the 1996 interview, Staley reflected on Cobain’s death: “I saw all the suffering that Kurt Cobain went through. I didn’t know him real well, but I just saw this real vibrant person turn into a real shy, timid, withdrawn person who could hardly get a ‘hello’ out. … At the end of the day or at the end of the party, when everyone goes home, you’re stuck with yourself.”