After struggling through a couple of very dark years when lead singer Layne Staley’s heroin addiction made any band activity virtually impossible, Alice In Chains briefly seemed to be in a good place when 1996 rolled around. After failing to tour in support of their 1995 self-titled album, they cut a well-received MTV Unplugged album on April 10th, 1996, and signed on as the opening act for the four opening dates on Kiss’s much-hyped reunion tour.
The shows were originally supposed to feature Stone Temple Pilots as the opening act, but Scott Weiland’s own drug issues sent him back into rehab and they had to pull out. Alice In Chains faced 40,000 Kiss fanatics when they took the stage at opening night at Detroit’s Tiger Stadium on June 28th, 1996. This was their first real concert since 1993, and even though the Kiss fans were desperate to see Gene, Paul, Ace and Peter put the makeup back on and tear through a set of classics, Alice In Chains still got a very nice response for their 10-song show that included classics like “Man In The Box” and “We Die Young” along with tiny bits of “Detroit Rock City” and “Beth.”
Alice In Chains went on to open for Kiss in Louisville and St. Louis before wrapping up their mini-tour on July 3rd, 1996 at the Kemper Arena in Kansas City, Missouri. Nobody had any idea this would be the final time the group would play in public with Staley, but thankfully a fan with a steady hand and a nice camcorder captured the entire 47-minute set for posterity. You can see the entire thing right here. It’s clear now Staley wasn’t in great physical shape, but he still delivered a stellar show, wrapping up with a ferocious “Man in the Box.”
Shortly after the show, Staley suffered a severe overdose and was hospitalized. The group managed to record a few songs for a box set in 1998, but in his final years Staley rarely left his condo in Seattle. He died on April 5th, 2002. An autopsy stated that he had withered down to 86 pounds.
Four years later, the group regrouped with William DuVall on lead vocals and they continue to tour and record to this day.