This April will mark the ninth anniversary of the death of Alice in Chains singer Layne Staley. Yet, almost a decade after the sad event, no conspiracy theory has been put forth to explain the vocalist's demise.
According to Kyle Starbuck, a music fan who hails from Alice in Chains' hometown of Seattle, every time a famous singer dies, they (the conspiracy theorists) come right out with an elaborate theory explaining what happened to them.
Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, they were killed by the CIA for turning on kids to the truth about Vietnam.
Kurt Cobain, he was killed by his wife with the help of Seattle police.
Mama Cass, "The Man" shoved a ham sandwich down her throat.
"Everybody knows all that," says Kyle. "It's so much more comforting that believing that Jimi choked to death on his own vomit. But in Staley's case there's never been a conspiracy theory to counteract the official story. Just google 'Jimi Hendrix Conspiracy Theory' into your computer sometime. You'll get literally hundreds of entries. 'Layne Staley Conspiracy Theory,' nothin'.
"Anything would have worked. Just say the CIA did it to make the youth of America despondent. There, that wasn't so hard, was it? They could have said Bigfoot shot him up, fer Christsakes. Just say something."
Part of the problem may be that Staley worked so hard to convey the image of himself as a drug addict.
As music writer Greg Perato says, "Practically every Alice in Chains song was about heroin and the horrors of addiction. 'Junkhead,' 'Godsmack,' 'Down in a Hole.' Hell, they even did one called simply 'Heroin.' So it's deceptively easy for people to believe Layne simply overdosed on H."
The band became so strongly identified with heroin, in fact, that it almost led to disaster.
When word leaked out that the single "Rooster" was not about heroin at all, but about the experiences of a Vietnam vet, the U.S. heroin community was outraged.
Over a thousand junkies planned a Seattle protest for the day of the song's release. It was a public relations nightmare for the band.
Luckily, as Starbuck remembers, "All the junkies either passed out or didn't feel like picking themselves up off the floor. So nobody showed up except for about a dozen guys who mumbled and then staggered off to the alley. It was a big fizzle."
Guitarist Jerry Cantrell saved the band's reputation by reminding fans that most 'Nam vets were junkies anyway, so the song might just as well have been about junk. The song was a hit, and the controversy faded from view.
In summary, Starbuck remarks, "I'm quite disappointed in the Conspiracy Theory community. It's an embarrassing lapse, no way around it. But we can correct this oversight, as soon as possible. Just go to your internet blog and start writing. Say Layne was killed because he was about to reveal Mason secrets in his songs. With a little work, we can completely enshroud Layne's legacy in a vast improbable conspiracy."