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Alice in Chains’ Jerry Cantrell was in a band with Pretty Boy Floyd’s Vinnie Chas

'We would jam in a storage unit,' the Seattle icon says

It’s fairly common knowledge that Alice in Chains have some glam-metal roots, in particular with the formative bands Sleze, Diamond Lie and Alice N’ Chains. Less known, however, is the fact that AIC guitarist and singer Jerry Cantrell was once band mates with bassist Vinnie Chas, who would go on to join leather-wrapped late ‘80s Sunset Strip icons Pretty Boy Floyd.

As Cantrell recounted in the ‘80s hard rock oral history Nothin’ But a Good Time, he and Chas, who passed away in 2010, played together “in Tacoma, which is where I was born,” Cantrell said. “Vinnie was a friend of mine from about the middle of high school. He and I formed a band, and we had a couple gigs at, like, a roller-skating rink and a VFW hall. We would jam in a fucking storage unit. Then we moved to Dallas and we had a band called Sinister. It wasn’t anything big but it was fun.”

Cantrell went on to state that he had, and continues to have, plenty of admiration for ‘80s metal guitar playing. “I love the guitar players of that era,” he said. “George Lynch and fucking Warren DeMartini . . . so many great guitar players. I loved a lot of that stuff.”

To be sure, once Alice in Chains was up and running, the band occasionally shared stages with glam-metal acts. “We opened for Helix and Extreme,” Cantrell said. “And fucking Great White, for god’s sake. We got signed opening up for Great White on a fucking racetrack out in fucking eastern Washington.”

He continued, “We always had the attitude that we would play with anybody. I just wanted to get on a stage. I didn’t care if it was with fucking Poison or Warrant or Iggy Pop or fucking Slayer and Megadeth. Whatever.”

As for the whole “grunge killed hair metal” argument, Cantrell said that while it’s one he’s heard over and over, he doesn’t necessarily subscribe to it. “You know, I get the slant,” he said. “And the slant is ‘That shit needed to be killed. ’Cause it was fucking stupid.’ And like, I’m not gonna say that, you know? And I’m not gonna say that we were so much cooler and that’s why we fucking took over. 

"I don’t think anybody had some big master plan of how it was gonna go. It just kind of organically did. It was a cultural shift.”