Greg Puciato: Alice in Chains 'Unplugged' Was Layne Staley's "Defining Performance" | Revolver

Greg Puciato: Alice in Chains 'Unplugged' Was Layne Staley's "Defining Performance"

Former Dillinger Escape Plan vocalist looks back on unforgettable MTV special
alice in chains unplugged GETTY, Frank Micelotta/Getty Images
photograph by Frank Micelotta/Getty Images

In 2013, Revolver published our "Fallen Heroes" collector's issue, which paid tribute to many of the late, great icons of heavy music, from Bon Scott and Ronnie James Dio to Dimebag Darrell and Layne Staley to Mitch Lucker and Jimmy "The Rev" Sullivan, who left us too soon. As part of our tribute to Staley, we reached out to then-Dillinger Escape Plan frontman Greg Puciato β€” who, we knew, was a big fan of Alice in Chains β€” to get his thoughts on the AIC lead singer's enduring impact. (Little did we know that less than a decade later, Puciato would be collaborating with AIC vocalist-guitarist Jerry Cantrell.) Below is Puciato's response, which focuses on the indelible mark that Staley's "true, unfiltered" and harrowing performance on MTV Unplugged left on him.

I remember the first time I heard Layne Staley. I saw the video for "Man in the Box" on MTV. It stuck with meβ€” I mean, there was a guy with his eye's sewn shut, for fuck's sake. But it was Alice in Chains' MTV Unplugged special that really stuck with me forever as the defining moment.

It was the sound and sight of someone deteriorating from the inside, and the powerful rock-god wail had turned into something different and more affecting by the demons that were destroying him. I always think of that Unplugged moment when I think of defining performances, as far as someone giving a true, unfiltered glimpse into their soul and their troubles through their art. People always talk about Kurt Cobain's death as being the end of that era, the wake-up call, but it's the vision and sound of Layne on that stool, crying out through the songs, with nothing hiding him or his voice from the audience, or microphone, or camera, that sticks with me the most.