sean kinney alice in chains drummer

On display at the Hard Rock Cafe Seattle is this DW drumkit, one of the defining instruments of the Seattle scene. It belonged to Alice in Chains drummer Sean Kinney and was used to record their masterpiece - 1992’s Dirt.

That one album absolutely defined the grunge/metal connection and is wildly influential to this day. Sean also used these drums on the 1993 Lollapalooza tour which saw AiC headlining the mainstage along with Primus.

When the group reformed with vocalist William DuVall for 2007’s ReEvolution tour, Sean dusted these old drums off and took them on tour once again. These tubs are like some sort of grunge talisman – they’ve seen more stage dives and flannel-shirted slackers than you can possibly imagine.


1990. Facelift

is the debut album by the band Alice in Chains. The album was released on August 21.

band formed in 1987 by guitarist and songwriter Jerry Cantrell and original lead vocalist Layne Staley. The initial lineup was rounded out by drummer Sean Kinney and bassist Mike Starr.

‘Facelift’ isn’t a grunge rock album. It’s Sabbath-inspired heavy rock peppered with some fresh originality (the dual-vocals and mixture of many musical styles and genres). To throw Alice in Chains in a bin with Nirvana, Pearl Jam would be criminal. They’re far more than that.

So if you liked dirt you should pick this up as well because it rocks just about as much.


“Drugs were taking over. We were doing whatever we could get our hands on and as much. It definitely started working against us. That record, people could probably identify with it…it’s all right there. It’s laid out ..explained exactly what we were doing, what we were going through. It sounds like what was echoing in our heads at that time. From then on, some of us continued further down in that direction, and some of us didn’t. That’s a tough album for me. People are like, “That’s your greatest record.” It’s bittersweet.” - Sean Kinney


Alice in Chains - Sludge Factory (Unplugged 1996)

Staley gave Cantrell his old scrap of paper that had Kinney’s number on it, and the drummer and guitarist formed the first piece of Alice. Next in was Mike Starr on bass, and the three-piece began rehearsing singers. Staley watched most of those early rehearsals, providing Simon Cowell­–like commentary and reporting that none of the singers were good enough for the band. Sick of his criticism after several months, the other members suggested he put up or shut up. “Layne was actually the last one to join,” Kinney notes. Early on the band was more interested in a glam-rock aesthetic than on forging a new genre. “Somewhere in there, we did a couple of tunes where it seemed to be happening,” Kinney says. Two weeks after their formation they were playing a gig at the University of Washington, trying to fill out a 40-minute set with a couple of originals “and Hanoi Rocks and David Bowie covers,” Cantrell recalls.

The band performed in many of the same dive bars as Nirvana, Mudhoney and Pearl Jam but didn’t find much success until its demo struck a chord at Columbia Records. Yet even at that nascent stage, the band exacted an “us-against-the-world” attitude when the label suggested they switch drummers. “[Columbia Records chairman] Donnie Ienner put pressure on us to get a new drummer, and we were like, ‘Fuck you, man, Sean is our drummer,’ ” Cantrell recalls. As it was, Kinney almost missed the sessions for Facelift when he broke his hand.

“Mostly, we are feeling heartbroken over the death of our beautiful friend,” guitarist Jerry Cantrell, bassist Mike Inez, and drummer Sean Kinney added. “He was a sweet man with a keen sense of humor and a deep sense of humanity. He was an amazing musician, an inspiration, and comfort to so many. He made great music and gifted it to the world. We are proud to have known him, to be his friend, and to create music with him. For the past decade, Layne struggled greatly – we can only hope that he has at last found some peace. We love you, Layne. Dearly. And we will miss you… endlessly.”