25 Years Ago & 17 Years Ago: Kurt Cobain & Layne Staley Die On April 5th

April 5, 2019

In a somewhat bizarre coincidence, two grunge figureheads - Kurt Cobain from Nirvana in 1994, and Layne Staley from Alice In Chains in 2002, both died on April 5th.

Cobain's death occurred at the height of Nirvana's popularity, as a result of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. His death was such a tragedy for an entire generation that identified with him, that many of them had felt that they had lost a friend or relative. Despite the level of fame, wealth and success he had achieved, Cobain could not escape his inner demons of drugs, depression, bi-polar disorder, his turbulent marriage to Hole singer Courtney Love, etc. 

The last line of Cobain's suicide note read, "It's better to burn out than fade away," which are lyrics from Neil Young's song "Hey Hey, My My (Into The Black)." Meanwhile, fans also cling to another lyric from that same song which says, "The king is gone but he's not forgotten."

Like Cobain, Layne Thomas Staley was also a huge force behind the grunge movement of the '90s. His stage presence was charismatic, aggressive, and commanding with a voice that would strike a chord with his fellow angry youth. But much like Cobain, he also had difficulties trying to kick his heroin habit. Although he wasn't the only member of Alice In Chains taking drugs at the time, his addiction did hinder in the band's ability to tour.

Staley's excessive drug habit was so bad that it reached the point where many saw his death as inevitable. In the singer's final years, he rarely left his home and avoided the press. Staley was found dead on April 19th, 2002, two weeks after overdosing on heroin. When his mother and stepfather noticed that he wasn't drawing money from his bank account, they alerted police who broke down the door to his home only to find his corpse.

Despite the tragedies that struck both bands a fatal blow, members of both managed to pick up the pieces and carry on. Dave Grohl of Nirvana founded the Foo Fighters, which has gone on to become one of the most successful rock bands in history, and Jerry Cantrell of Alice In Chains brought the band back with new frontman William Duvall and will be opening for a reunited Guns N' Roses for their two dates in Las Vegas, NV.