With April coming to a close, we can commemorate the losses of two of the music industry’s biggest stars during this month 20 years ago, with a tribute to Kurt Cobain and Layne Staley and the impact these rock legends left on the world.
April 5, The Day Grunge Died
On the morning of the 8th of April 1994, the body of Kurt Cobain was discovered at his Seattle home by an electrician due to fit a new security system. The world was shocked. Upon the announcement of his death, traffic stood still all over Seattle for hours and people were in disbelief all over the globe. The media in the Western world went into overdrive as more and more facts and evidence about the supposed suicide poured onto our screens in the days that followed. Investigations following his death confirmed that Nirvana’s frontman died of a self-inflicted shotgun wound to the head on April 5th, 1994.
April 19th, 2002, Layne Staley’s accountants contacted Layne’s former manager and informed her that he had made no financial transactions in one week. His mother had said that she hadn’t heard from him for over two weeks, and police were contacted. The police went into his home and kicked down the door.”When police kicked in the door to Layne Staley’s University District apartment on April 19, there, on a couch, lit by a flickering TV, next to several spray-paint cans on the floor, not far from a small stash of cocaine, near two crack pipes on the coffee table, reposed the remains of the rock musician”, according to Seattle Weekly.
It was also reported that Layne, who was 6’1”, only weighed 39 kg at the time of his death.
Layne Staley died from a drug overdose on April 5th, 2002.
Stars in their prime
Kurt Cobain was the frontman of the well known band Nirvana. Nirvana broke into the big scene in 1992 with their single ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’, which featured on their second album, Nevermind.
Following the success of Nevermind, Nirvana was labeled “the flagship band” of Generation X.
Kurt, however, was uncomfortable and frustrated and thought his artistic vision was being misinterpreted. He resented the fact that his personal issues were often scrutinised in the media. Alongside this, in his 27 living years, he had recurring trouble with a nerve ending in his back causing him immense pain, especially in his stomach. It was thought that this was caused by the way he played his guitar. This was the late 80s and early 90s and no cure was in sight; the rocker turned to drugs in an effort to dull his pain.
He was frequently referred to as the ‘closest this generation has to their own John Lennon’.
Layne Staley was the frontman of Alice in Chains. They were one of the “Seattle 4” which is the name that is used to refer to Nirvana, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, and Pearl Jam, who were arguably the biggest bands in grunge in the early 90s. Alice in Chains’ self-titled album was Layne’s biggest writing contribution.
Unfortunately, by mid 1996, Layne was out of the public spotlight for good. He had struggled with depression and drug abuse during his life.
According to David de Sola, “Staley sounded like no one else. His ability to project power and vulnerability in his vocals, as well as the unique and complementary harmonies he created when singing with Alice in Chains guitarist Jerry Cantrell, made for a style that would get copied for years after Alice in Chains became a household name.”