Layne Staley’s Family Suffers Tragic Loss

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Late Alice In Chains singer Layne Staley’s stepfather Jim Elmer passed away on June 25th. We’re a bit late on this news, but felt compelled to post something due to the impact Elmer had on Staley’s life. Elmer married Layne Staley’s mother Nancy in 1974 and raised Layne and Liz Staley as his own, with Layne even changing his last name to Elmer for several years.

Mike Starr’s memorial Facebook posted last month:

“Jim Elmer, Layne Staley’s stepfather, passed away in his home in Long Beach, Washington last week from heart failure, according to his son Ken. He was 72 years old.

The family sent out in July: “James (Jim) Kenneth Elmer passed away last week (the week of June 25th) at his home in Long Beach, WA. He left us peacefully, as it appears he passed away in his sleep at the age of 72. Jim was an avid runner and deeply engrained in the community of Long Beach, and well-loved wherever he went. He had a big heart for people, travel and photography, and a deep love for charities and organizations benefiting underprivileged children.

Jim is survived by three of his children – Ken Elmer in Charlotte, NC; Liz Coats in Seattle, WA; and Jamie Elmer in Colorado. He outlived his oldest son Layne Staley, who passed away in 2002. Also, he has a brother Robert Elmer who lives in the Seattle area. Jim also had many grandchildren, including Liz’s two sons and Ken’s four children.”

David de Sola wrote a tribute blog about Elmer.

According to de Sola’s blog, Jim took Layne to his first concert in October of 1975: Elton John at the Seattle Center Coliseum. Layne had just turned eight a few months earlier. “I’m an Elton fan, and so I don’t know what precipitated that, other than he was coming and I wanted to go,” Elmer recalled. “And so I’m not sure what started it with Layne, but it seemed like the right thing to do and he seemed to enjoy it.”

A few years later, he took Layne – who was in junior high school at the time – and some friends to see Van Halen, a band Layne would later tour with in Alice in Chains. As he recalled the show, “We were down in the general seating area. We didn’t have real seats, so we were down kind-of in that mosh pit area, and so when things started, I got off to the side and the two neighbor boys and Layne were all about the same age, so they stayed down there and I can remember I stayed down there with them for just a little bit.”

Jim was also there with Nancy when Layne’s body was discovered in his Seattle condo in April of 2002. He would later recall his comments at Layne’s memorial service, saying, “I had made comments to the effect that if there was one thing to remember Layne by it was his courage to be himself, and he was no phony. That was the word that I typically thought of, of Layne, not as a little child—I mean, as a little child, he had courage. As he grew up, he knew what he wanted to do somewhat, but he had the courage to go for it, and that was my word of the day; that’s how I’ll always remember him.”

Layne Staley’s mother Nancy shared, “Dad had a Kind and Tender Heart. He was Unconditionally Loving and Compassionate and was a Devoted, Supportive and Selfless Father. He had Great Friends that he shared deep relationships with. He was a Philanthropist, and I believe his greatest satisfaction in life may well have been in giving his time to others that need love and support. He loved Photography, Running, Hiking, Travel, Great Friends and Family, Good Food and Wine. He is Greatly Missed. Flying with our other Angels now…..♡.”