Layne Staley, lead singer for the pivotal grunge band Alice in Chains, was discovered dead last Friday by in his Seattle apartment, after authorities responded to a call from an anonymous friend . While the cause of death has not been determined, a Seattle police spokesman has reported that it might be a possible drug overdose. Alice in Chains disbanded in 1996 after the success of two number one albums and numerous hit singles like Heaven Beside You, Rooster and Dirt. Staley’s publicized heroin addiction, the inspiration for many of the group’s songs, ultimately played a significant role in the band’s demise. He was 34.
In other music news… Ex-Van Halen singers David Lee Roth and Sammy Hagar are teaming up for a tour that will kick off May 29 and reportedly will feature numerous Van Halen covers. Recent UM musical guest Afu Ra will release his second album, Life Force Radio, on May 21. It will feature production by DJ Premier, among others and guest appearances by RZA, M.O.P and Big Daddy Kane. The Red Hot Chili Peppers are still working on their next album, By the Way. Chili Pepper guitarist John Frusciante said the album, scheduled to drop in June, is much deeper than the mutli-platinum Californication. A sign of what you’ll be seeing on MTV for the next year – Eminem dressed up as Osama bin Laden for the shoot of his new video Without Me, set to premiere in May.
The Rock is now a movie star. The Scorpion King, the new action movie from the WWF wrestler and member of UM’s 1990 champion football team, grossed an estimated $36.2 million over the weekend, making it the largest April opening in film history. The movie is a spin-off of the lucrative The Mummy franchise and had a modest budget that was just over $60 million. Changing Lanes starring Samuel L. Jackson and Ben Affleck slipped to number two and grossed a solid $11.1 million, to bring its two-week total to $32.8 million.
In film news… Playwright Reginald Rose, best known his acclaimed screenplay for the 1957 film Twelve Angry Men, and his Emmy-award winning work on the television show The Defenders, has died at the age of 81. Director David Fincher, with his film Panic Room still going strong in theatres, is in final talks to helm Mission Impossible 3 with Tom Cruise returning in the lead role. The last film in the spy franchise, MI:2, was directed by director John Woo and went on to gross $546 million worldwide.