Five songs that show off Layne Staley's amazing voice

Publish Date
Saturday, 21 August 2021, 9:23AM
Getty Images

Getty Images

Today is what would've been the 54th birthday of Alice in Chains and Mad Season singer Layne Staley, who passed away from a drug overdose at the age of 34. Here are five songs that show off what a talented voice we tragically lost in 2002:

1. “Man in the Box” (Alice in Chains) – If any song truly shows how Layne’s voice was an instrument in and of itself, it’s this one, which kicks off with the rocker’s vocals matching the opening guitar riffs. He goes on to powerfully deliver the lyrics, which include prophetic lines like “Won’t you come and save me.”

2. “River of Deceit” (Mad Season) – For Mad Season’s best-known single, Layne softened his voice as he sung in part about the drug addiction that eventually would take his life.

3. “Nutshell” (Alice in Chains Unplugged) – “Nutshell” is already a song that shows Layne’s range, from his gravely lower register to his soft falsetto, but the version the band performed on MTV Unplugged makes the track even more emotional than it already is. Hearing Staley accompanied by acoustic guitars singing lyrics about loneliness and death easily brings on the chills.

4. “Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2)” (Class of ’99) – During their short tenure, Class of ’99, which included Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello and drummer Stephen Perkins of Jane’s Addiction, covered Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2).” The song is already pretty haunting but Layne’s voice takes it to another level.

5. “The Rooster” (Alice in Chains) – “The Rooster” encompasses Layne’s ability to tell a story with his voice. The song’s powerful lyrics, which describe guitarist Jerry Cantrell’s father reliving some of the horrors of the Vietnam War, are complemented perfectly by Staley’s vocals, which go from calm and collected to raging and loud.

This article was first published on and is republished here with permission

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