Today is the 32nd birthday of Alice in Chains guitarist Jerry Cantrell.
Best known for such songs as "Angry Chair," "Man In A Box" and "Rooster,"
Cantrell and his bandmates were among the first Seattle grunge bands to
break out on a national level in the early '90s by combining the dark
edginess of Black Sabbath with the rock energy of Led Zeppelin.
Born in Tacoma, Wash., Cantrell first met Alice In Chains frontman Layne Staley in 1987 when the two were both using the same rehearsal space in Seattle. The two formed Alice in Chains and recruited drummer Sean Kinney and bassist Mike Starr to fill out the lineup. A staple on the burgeoning grunge scene, the group was signed to Columbia in 1989, and in 1990, Alice in Chains instantly created a buzz with their debut, Facelift. The album contained a sound that many recognized as the next step in heavy metal and scored a hit with "Man In A Box," which was nominated for a Grammy. The group's "Would?" was a hit off the Singles soundtrack, but it was 1992's
Dirt that broke the group into the mainstream. An album packed with
even darker songs than Alice in Chain's previous efforts, it sold 3 million copies. Starr left the band after the album's release and was replaced by Mike Inez.
Alice in Chains earned a slot on 1992's Lollapalooza festival and
then released an EP entitled Jar of Flies in 1993. A quieter outing
than Facelift and Dirt, it became the first EP to hit #1 on
the Billboard 200 albums chart. Rumors of drug addiction
constantly swirled around the group during this time, but Alice in Chains
soldiered forward, releasing a self-titled album in 1995 that was more
musically complex than their other releases and that continued on the gentler path forged on Jar of Flies. Cantrell releases a solo album entitled Boggy Depot on March 24.
Other birthdays: Wilson Pickett, 57; Barry "B.J." Wilson (Procol Harum), 51; John
Hartman (Doobie Brothers), 48; Bill Frisell, 47;
Grant Hart (Husker Du/Nova Mob), 37; Vanessa Williams, 35; Miki Berenyi (Lush), 31; and Queen Latifah, 28.