By Beth Lipton
Updated April 21, 2002 01:00 AM

Layne Staley, lead singer of the now-defunct, Grammy-nominated band Alice in Chains, was found dead at his Seattle apartment Friday, according to news reports. He was 34. Responding to a call to check on the well-being of a person at Staley’s University District address, police found his body, which may have been there for several days, according to MTV News. The cause of death was not immediately known, but drug paraphernalia was found near the body, according to reports. “It was natural or an overdose — that’s the way it was determined by our investigators,” Seattle Police spokesman Duane Fish told the Associated Press. Staley’s drug use was well known among fellow musicians and fans, and in fact factored heavily into the band’s songs, many of which he cowrote with Alice guitarist Jerry Cantrell. “I wrote about drugs, and I didn’t think I was being unsafe or careless by writing about them,” Staley told “Rolling Stone” in 1996, AP reported. “Here’s how my thinking pattern went: When I tried drugs, they were (expletive) great, and they worked for me for years, and now they’re turning against me — and now I’m walking through hell, and this sucks.” Along with Nirvana and Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains was one of several bands to burst out of the Seattle music scene in the early 1990s with the modern, soulful version of heavy metal known as grunge. The group released its first album, “Facelift,” in 1990. It was followed by “Dirt” and “Alice in Chains.” After four Grammy nominations and hits such as “Would?” and “Rooster,” the band broke up in 1996.