Layne Staley 2001 Comeback Plan With Rage Against The Machine Revealed

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Alice In Chains: The Untold Story author David de Sola recently responded to an Alternative Nation story on his Twitter account. The story was about Rage Against The Machine’s members searching for a Zack de la Rocha replacement in 2001, who would eventually be Chris Cornell, and that band became Audioslave. He also revealed that producer Toby Wright helped set up a home studio for Staley in 1997 or 1998, but that no solo recordings have ever been announced publicly as being discovered. Below are his tweets:

THREAD: Was Layne Staley supposed to audition for @Audioslave? Layne’s former band mate Morgen Gallagher told me story if seeing him at a Super Bowl party in 2001 and mentioning that he wanted to clean up and try out for the newly vacant lead singer position in @ratm…

2) Because @tmorello turned down my request for an interview, I wasn’t able to get him to confirm or debunk the claim. This is how I wound up writing about it in my book, Alice In Chains: The Untold Story

3) Why did I write it that way? Multiple on the record accounts from people who were present for Layne’s final recording sessions for Alice In Chains and the Class of 99 three years earlier consistently painted a portrait of a man who was in terrible health…

4) If Layne wasn’t in shape to do much of anything in 1998, subsequent accounts from people who saw him in the last year or so of his life (he died in April 2002, about 15 months after Gallagher saw him at the party) weren’t any better…

5) Beyond that, @AliceInChains producer Toby Wright had set up a home recording studio in Layne’s condo sometime in 1997-98 so he could make music whenever he wanted. I have found no evidence that he ever recorded any solo demos, or that any were found after his death…

6) I recall Layne’s mother (who turned down my request for an interview) saying in an interview after my book came out that (paraphrasing) if they had found recordings they probably would have been released at some point. If I can find it, will include link in the thread…

7) Add all that up and what does it mean? Layne was deep in throes of severe drug addiction by 1998. He wasn’t in any condition to do much of anything 3 years later when he told Gallagher he wanted to try out for Rage Against the Machine…

8) Something else to consider that I learned during the course of 3 years of research: addicts LIE. There were several things that Layne told other people that I was able to debunk or couldn’t verify. Same thing happened in my reporting about other addicts in the story…

9) I don’t doubt that Gallagher saw Layne at this party and Layne said what he told him. However, when you look at the big picture it is likely that this was nothing more than an idea or wishful thinking on his part…

10) On a more positive note, what this does tell us about him is that despite the terrible state he was in, part of him was still at least thinking about making new music with a band he liked and respected…

11) Bottom line: Layne was most likely never under consideration to front the band that would become Audioslave. His health was too far gone for him to be singer for a band that would be actively recording, touring and doing publicity. /END

Alternative Nation previously reported:

While late Alice In Chains frontman Layne Staley was largely reclusive during his later years, the legendary singer considered fronting the band that later became known as Audioslave in January 2001. Zack de la Rocha had quit Rage Against The Machine just a few months prior, and his bandmates were looking for a new singer. Alternative Nation reporter, and early Staley collaborator, Tim Branom has connected us with Layne’s friend Morgen Gallagher, who told Alternative Nation this exclusive story.

Gallagher had been friends with Staley since 1986, even living with him and Sleze bassist Mike Mitchell for a period in the 80’s. By early 2001, it had been a couple of years since he had seen his old friend, so he was very surprised when he ran into him at a party.

“I hadn’t seen him in a couple of years and wasn’t prepared for it. By this point he had quit [Alice In Chains], he had lost most of his teeth, and weighed barley 100 pounds. We talked for a little and when we parted ways, I cried.”

This wasn’t the last time Gallagher saw Staley. On January 28, 2001, he saw Layne again at a Super Bowl party. “So two weeks later [our mutual friend] was having a Super Bowl party. When I got there, Layne answered the door and he was back to the old Layne. He had just gotten pretty much the entire Nerf arsenal, so we went to war. We were running around like two little kids! Needless to say, we missed the game and kept pretty much everyone else from watching it as well.”

“That day we were talking and he said he had gotten a call from the old Rage Against The Machine members and they were putting together a new project, and they wanted him to audition. He said he was going back to treatment and then going to LA to do the audition in a couple of months. He never made it, so Chris Cornell went and got the job.”

Staley also appeared to have moved on from Alice In Chains, according to Gallagher when Alternative Nation asked if Staley opened up at all about his status with the band, “Not really, he was pretty evasive about it, but it seemed like he was pretty much done with the band at that point. He hadn’t played with them for a while, and he was talking about auditioning for new projects.”

Staley was scheduled to record vocals for the band Taproot in 2002, but died before he could attend a recording session with producer Toby Wright, according to Mark Yarm’s Everybody Loves Our Town: An Oral History of Grunge. Gallagher also told author David de Sola a shorter version of this Audioslave story, which is briefly mentioned in the upcoming Alice In Chains: The Untold Story book.

Tom Morello said he didn’t recall the Staley story on Twitter a couple of years ago, but recently stated that ‘dozens’ of potential new singers for what would become Audioslave were discussed.