When looking back on Alice in Chains’ video discography, there are just so many good videos and songs that it was incredibly difficult to choose which to post here in commemoration of Layne Staley’s death. I spent an hour on YouTube last night just sifting through music videos and live footage of the band. When I looked back at Alice in Chains videos over the years, the first thing that struck me was how much this band changed over time from metal band to grunge to acoustic experimental. It’s really phenomenal, and totally grounds to believe that had this band continued making music they would have been one of the great bands who undergo transformations again and again to continually remain relevant by pushing the envelope even further; think Pink Floyd or Radiohead. I thought it was only fitting then that today’s video of the day would in fact be two videos, one from the beginning and one from the end.

The first video is a live shoot, but it ain’t your typical fake live video; the audio is actually live as well. This video illustrates a point I’ve been trying to make for years, that Alice in Chains were really just a metal band that the record label dolled up in flannel to sell more records when metal stopped being cool. Just look at Layne in this video… and look at Jerry Cantrell head-banging in his sleeveless t-shirt with a shredder guitar!

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The second video shows Layne at his worst, yet still at his bone-chilling best. The MTV Unplugged performance from 1996 would perhaps become the definitive Alice in Chains concert, and it still lives on in legend as one of the best of the entire Unplugged series. This was Layne's first public appearance in years, as the band had opted not to tour in support of the 1994 EP Jar of Flies so Layne could enter rehab. Layne is already on the way out in this performance, wearing sleeves to cover the trackmarks on his arms and even his hands, and sunglasses to shade his sunken eyes. This concert (not so much this song... but the rest) also shed light on how much singing Jerry Cantrell had taken over in the later AIC material. And of course the now infamous writing on Mike Inez's bass, "Friends don't let friends get Friends haircuts," directed at the newly short-haired Metallica who were sitting in the front row that night. Wow... I still get chills down my spine every single time I watch this.

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R.I.P. Layne Staley.


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