Say It's Your Birthday: Jerry Cantrell

Jerry Cantrell's bowl certainly overflowth. As he surveys

his kingdom and enjoys his 30th birthday, the Alice In Chains guitarist has

much to be thankful for. His band has gone from strength to strength despite an

erratic internal combustion that always seems to be on the verge of blowing the

entire structure to bits. Most of that, of course has centered on Layne

Staley's poppy seed demons, and in a weird kind of way this may have

unintentionally worked to Jerry's advantage. Jerry is the engine that drives

the band; their songs start as a flash in his head. So while the media has been

off flirting with Layne's self-inflicted danger, Jerry has been pretty much

left to his own devices, which tend toward the creative rather than the

pharmaceutical. This is good news for those who pride the music of Alice in

Chains rather than any of that other nonsense. Besides, the two best songs on

the band's current album, were written by Jerry Cantrell alone, without

resorting to any of Layne's gloom-pustule lyrics. So if worse came to worse...

Other birthdays today: Queen Latifah, Wilson Pickett, Charlie Pride, Vanessa

Williams, Irene Cara, B.J. Wilson of Procol Harum, and John Hartman of the

Doobie Brothers.