Skip to main content

Layne Staley and Mike Starr’s estates sell their rights to Alice In Chains songs

AIC 1990
(Image credit: Vinnie Zuffante/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

The estates managing the business affairs of late Alice In Chains frontman Layne Staley and bassist Mike Starr have sold their stakes in the band’s songs.

Primary Wave announced today (February 7) that they have acquired the duo’s publishing rights and master recording income stream for an undisclosed fee.

A statement from Primary Wave’s David Weitzman reads: “Primary Wave is pleased to partner with the estates of Layne Staley and Mike Starr to honor their musical legacies as part of the classic era lineup of Alice in Chains, who created the amazing songs and records that comprise the albums Dirt and Facelift, and the acoustic EPs, Jar of Flies and Sap. These projects represent the greatest works from one of the best artists of the iconic Nineties Seattle-based grunge era.”

Alice In Chains guitarist Jerry Cantrell spoke recently to Metal Hammer (opens in new tab) about the unique chemistry he shared with Staley.

Reflecting on the creative partnership he shared with the vocalist, who passed away on April 5, 2002, aged 34, Cantrell says, “Layne was just an amazing talent.”

“He had a real unique and powerful voice, but he had a sensitivity and touch to it as well,” the guitarist remembers. “The way that I wrote and the way that he wrote blended together so well, we felt like a natural fit. He had more horsepower than me, I’m not going to be able to do the Brian Johnson gargled razor blades, but together we had something that the other didn’t. Think of The Beatles, Floyd, the Eagles, that attitude of, ‘You take this line and I’ll take that one’ – it adds more colour to the canvas. Someone reviewed us once and called us ‘The Satanic Everly Brothers’, which I thought was pretty cool.”

Cantrell also acknowledged that his band’s 1992 album Dirt is “probably our crowning achievement.”

“It’s probably the most focused we’ve ever been, the most complete record we’ve made,” he says, “it’s a brutal record with some real force, and I mean that in a very good way. People cared about it, it spoke of a time and a place, we really never pulled any punches. Which is good and bad; it’s good artistically, but it’s bad because if you are going to be that honest then you’ll struggle to live it down. It’s an amazing record.”

Bassist Starr died in 2011 as a result of a a prescription drug overdose.

Paul Brannigan
Paul Brannigan

A music writer since 1993, formerly Editor of Kerrang! and Planet Rock magazine (RIP), Paul Brannigan is a Contributing Editor to Louder. Having previously written books on Lemmy, Dave Grohl (the Sunday Times best-seller This Is A Call) and Metallica (Birth School Metallica Death, co-authored with Ian Winwood), his Eddie Van Halen biography (Eruption in the UK, Unchained in the US) emerged in 2021. He has written for Rolling Stone, Mojo and Q, hung out with Fugazi at Dischord House, flown on Ozzy Osbourne's private jet, played Angus Young's Gibson SG, and interviewed everyone from Aerosmith and Beastie Boys to Young Gods and ZZ Top. Brannigan lives in North London and supports The Arsenal.