How Jerry Cantrell Survived From Alice In Chains’ Full Of Drugs Lifestyle Unlike Layne Staley And Mike Starr


Formed in 1987 by vocalist and guitarist Jerry Cantrell and drummer Sean Kinney, Alice In Chains is a successful rock band whose sound also has heavy metal elements. The band’s original lineup included Mike Starr as the bassist and Layne Staley as the lead vocalist. During their musical career, they released six studio albums, three live albums, three EPs, 32 singles, and 43 music videos. Having sold over 30 million records worldwide, the band also received 11 Grammy nominations.

Alice In Chains rose to fame as a part of the grunge movement along with Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Soundgarden. During the era, they released commercially successful albums such as ‘Facelift,’ ‘Dirt,’ ‘Jar Of The Flies,’ and ‘Alice In Chains.’ After a long hiatus, the band regrouped in 2006 with William DuVall as lead vocalist and released three more albums. Since then, the band is still active on the music scene.

Back in those days when the band was inactive, they were suffering from the heavy drug abuse of the band members. In 1993, Alice In Chains parted ways with Mike Starr due to his heavy drug use although they were almost at the peak of their career. Following that, Staley entered rehab for his heroin addiction which prevented the band to keep making music. Sadly, in 2002, Staley’s substance abuse resulted in his death.

As you see, Alice In Chains’ past is loaded with a history of heavy substance abuse. However, Jerry Cantrell somehow managed to keep away from that. Let’s find out how he stayed away from the band’s drug-abusing lifestyle.

Although Layne Staley And Mike Starr Followed A Path Through Overdose, Jerry Cantrell Chose To Recover From His Addictions


On January 22, 1993, Mike Starr left Alice In Chains. At that time, the band was achieving great commercial success promoting their album ‘Dirt.’ Following Starr’s departure, Staley claimed that the reason he left was that Starr wanted to go home although the band wanted to continue touring. However, Starr denied that and said he was kicked out of the band as a result of his heavy drug use. Mike Inez replaced him in the band in 1993, and Starr kept on using drugs and getting into trouble for that. On March 8, 2011, he died of a prescription drug overdose.

At the time they released ‘Jar Of The Flies’ in 1994, Staley entered rehab due to heroin addiction. Therefore, the band canceled all tour dates and went on a hiatus. They then continued working on making music but Staley overdosed on heroin after a show. The band went on a hiatus again and although not officially disbanded, they made solo efforts apart from Alice In Chains. In 2002, Staley died of a mixture of heroin and cocaine. Cantrell dedicated his solo album ‘Degradation Trip’ to Staley’s memory, and released it two months after Staley’s passing. Moreover, William DuVall joined the band in 2006 as a replacement for Staley.

Apart from those two, Jerry Cantrell is also a recovering addict and alcoholic. Sober since 2003, Cantrell has supported several charities dedicated to helping the ones battling addiction. For instance, he is a longtime supporter of MusiCares MAP Fund which helps musicians who are struggling with addiction. Along with that, he supports an organization supporting young people battling addiction named Road Recovery. In 2007, he also auctioned the clothes he used during his musical career to benefit MusiCares and the Layne Staley Fund which provides treatment and support for heroin recovery.

Due to his charity work, MusiCares awarded Cantrell the 2012 Stevie Ray Vaughan Award. In his acceptance speech, he stated he took the choice of going to rehab and recovering. He continued saying he is glad to be here, and not getting high again and again each day. Cantrell then recalled the struggles his band faced and the deaths of Staley and Starr. He claimed that this is what happens when one does not deal with addiction.

Cantrell said in his acceptance speech that:

“I crash-landed here almost 9 years ago, in Los Angeles. Sean Kinney was at the door with my brother, so my choices were to open the door and go to rehab or jump out the back window down a cliff into some blackberry bushes. That’s the choice I took. Luckily they caught me because I couldn’t go anywhere. I was kind of stuck in a bush at the bottom of a cliff bleeding, and I ended up here. I didn’t intend to get here but I’m very grateful I am here, and it took a lot of people to help me get here. It’s been an amazing day. It’s overwhelming. I’m as imperfect as they come.

I just don’t get high today and wake up the next morning and try and do the same thing. A lot of people stand and get the fuck back up after falling. Some people don’t get that chance. My band’s been a harsh example of that – what happens when you don’t deal with it.”

It appears that Cantrell not only managed to overcome his addiction but also helped others through this process. Thanks to that, he is still making music for his fans.

You can check out Jerry Cantrell’s acceptance speech below.