Bryan Carlstrom (who passed away recently, rest in peace) uploaded photos of Layne Staley’s final recording sessions with Alice In Chains to his Facebook in February 2011, but they did not spread online until yesterday. These are the first photos to ever surface of the original incarnation of Alice In Chains’ final recording sessions. There is only one photo of Layne Staley from the sessions, a photo of somebody handing Layne a birthday cake. There are several photos of Jerry Cantrell, Sean Kinney, and Mike Inez. This is the second ever photo of Layne Staley to surface from 1998, the other being a photo of Staley on Halloween 1998 at Jerry Cantrell’s concert in Seattle.
Alice In Chains headed into the studio with producer Dave Jerden and engineer Bryan Carlstrom in late summer 1998 in Los Angeles to record two new tracks for their Music Bank box set: Get Born Again and Died. The sessions were filled with tension according to Mark Yarm’s book Everybody Loves Our Town: An Oral History of Grunge. Layne Staley didn’t show up to the first session until after midnight. When Layne finally showed up a fight ensued, with Jerry Cantrell yelling at Staley “Shut up!” Dave Jerden added, “The reaction from Layne was pretty bizarre. He turned into this little kid- he wasn’t like the Layne of old. Like he was being reprimanded by his mother or father.” After the blowout, Staley told Jerden that he had to go back to Seattle for a wedding, which put an end to the first Music Bank sessions.
Toby Wright was then brought in to replace Jerden as producer to help the band complete the songs in Seattle. Wright said that at this point Cantrell and Staley had gotten to a point where they couldn’t be in the same room. Wright described his recollection of the sessions, “There was something weird going on between them, I’m not sure exactly what it was. It was really none of my business. Layne would come in and sing, and then Jerry’d come in and listen to that and say, ‘Oh, that’s horrible.’ Thank God for Pro Tools, because for me it was an editing nightmare.”
Alice In Chains released “Get Born Again” as a radio single on July 13, 1999 to promote the releases Nothing Safe: Best of the Box and Music Bank. The song was a big hit on rock radio and received a Grammy nomination in 2000. Alice In Chains were interviewed on Rockline on July 19, 1999. The interview would mark the end of the Layne Staley fronted Alice In Chains.