Jerry Cantrell Jr. was a choir boy in high school. Literally. He eventually became his school's choir president. But it wasn't until Cantrell was seventeen that he got serious about the guitar. He started a band, Diamond Lie, with future Alice In Chains bandmates; drummer Sean Kinney, bassist Mike Starr and, lastly, singer Layne Staley. They were Alice 'N Chainz, before settling on Alice In Chains.
In addition to his guitar duties, where he infused Metal riffs into Grunge, Cantrell also contributed backing and co-lead vocals (no doubt banking on his choir experience) and was the main songwriter, and co-lyricist (with Staley).
Alice In Chains performed "It Ain't Like That" and "Would?" in the movie Singles which is credited, in some circles, with putting Grunge on the map. Cantrell also appeared in the film Jerry Maguire.
Between '90 and '95, Alice In Chains, one of Seattle's premier Grunge bands, issued three full-length albums and three EPs. But the band became inactive largely due to substance abuse, which eventually claimed Staley in '02 and Starr nine years later.
During the down time, Cantrell, the son of a Vietnam vet, worked, somewhat reluctantly at first, on one-off and solo projects.
"It's something I never really wanted to do, but the way things have played out, it's like, why not? To be honest, I'd just be happy being the lead guitarist and singer for Alice In Chains," said Cantrell. "It's always been my first love, and always will be, but the situation being what it is... we've been together for a long time, and right now it's kinda played out."
Cantrell's debut solo album, "Boogie Depot" dropped in '98. "Degradation Trip" arrived four years later and was subsequently repackaged as a double album, "Degradation Trip Volumes 1 & 2."
Cantrell continued writing songs for films, including The Punisher. He also founded the Hard Rock covers band Cardboard Vampyres with The Cult's Billy Duffy. Billed as the Jerry Cantrell-Billy Duffy Band, they played a three-concert series for Sweet Relief Musicians Fund at L.A.'s Troubadour in '04.
But the big news was the reformation of Alice In Chains with singer William DuVall. "Black Gives Way to Blue," issued in '09, was the group's first studio album in 14 years.
1998 Boggy Depot
2002 Degradation Trip
2002 Degradation Trip Volumes 1 & 2
Also see Alice In Chains.