In November 1995, Alice in Chains unveiled the dark, sludgy self-titled album that would prove to be their last with vocalist Layne Staley. A few months after its release, the Seattle rock icons took the stage to film their classic MTV Unplugged set, followed exactly one month later by their haunting one and only appearance on the David Letterman show to perform a two-song medley of then-new cut "Again" and Facelift opener "We Die Young." The latter's title proved all too true when Staley passed away from a drug overdose seven years later, in April 2002, a tragedy that casts a heavy shadow in hindsight over the somber but powerful late-night television appearance that you can watch above.
Thin and melancholy as he seemed, Staley held it together to deliver a riveting performance while his bandmates' energy more than made up for his stillness and introversion. A very obviously impressed Letterman can barely contain his excitement and his enjoyment of the group, giving a loud cheer at the end and rushing onstage to welcome the band and thank them for being there. Very dark days were just around the corner, but the moment is a reminder of the magic Alice in Chains were capable of before addiction and tragedy took over.