Alice in Chains' Mike Inez

Fans of grunge-rockers Alice in Chains will find a new release from the band in

stores soon. But it won't be the band's long-awaited new studio effort, which

now looks like it may never happen.

Instead, fans will be treated to Alice in Chains' upcoming three-CD box set

which will feature unreleased tracks, new recordings, live cuts and early demos.

The band's bassist, Mike Inez, turns 33 today. Inez was born in San Fernando,

Calif., and replaced original Alice in Chains bassist Mike Starr during the

group's 1993 tour supporting the Dirt LP.

Alice in Chains began as the high-school band of singer Layne Staley. In 1987

the vocalist formed a new Alice in Chains lineup in Seattle with guitarist Jerry

Cantrell. Starr, who had played with Cantrell in the metal band Gypsy Rose, was

hired as bassist and brought on drummer Sean Kinney.

Columbia Records took notice of Alice in Chains because the band began to

attract a big following on the Seattle grunge scene with its hybrid of grunge

and metal that contained lyrics about death and drugs.

After signing with the label, Alice in Chains opened for such bands as Poison

and issued a 1990 EP We Die Young. Later that year the group released its

debut LP, Facelift, which included the Grammy-nominated "Man in the Box."

The EP Sap followed in 1991, preceding Alice in Chains' multiplatinum

breakthrough, Dirt, which made #6 in the U.S.

Inez joined the group during its 1993 European tour. In early 1994 the EP Jar

of Flies entered the Billboard 200 albums chart at #1, becoming the

first EP to reach the top of that list.

Later in '94 Staley began working with his side band, Mad Season. Inez, Cantrell

and Kinney regrouped early the following year and Staley eventually elected to

join them. The result was the eponymous 1995 LP, featuring such cuts as

HREF="http://media.addict.com/atn-bin/get-

music/Alice_In_Chains/Sludge_Factory.ram">"Sludge Factory" (RealAudio

excerpt), which dealt with Staley's drug abuse, and "Grind." The album debuted

at #1 in the U.S.

When Alice in Chains chose not to tour behind the LP, rumors spread of

heightened drug use among bandmembers. In 1996 the group did an "MTV Unplugged"

show, which was released on CD. When Staley declined to work on a follow-up,

Cantrell released his 1998 solo LP Boggy Depot, which featured Inez and

Kinney.

A band spokesperson said the impending box set might include a fourth CD in the

form of a CD-ROM with graphics based on Dante's "Inferno." The spokesperson also

said Alice in Chains have no plans to record a new LP or to tour.

Other birthdays: Jack Bruce (Cream), 56; Gene Cornish (Rascals), 54; Alan Ciner

(American Breed, Three Dog Night, Rufus), 52; David Byrne (Talking Heads), 47;

Ian Astbury (Cult), 37; C.C. DeVille (Poison), 37; Fabrice Morvan (Milli

Vanilli), 33; Bobby Darin, 1936-1973; Derek Leckenby (Herman's Hermits); 1945-

1994; and Freaky Tah, 1971-1999.