Jerry Cantrell Alice In Chains January 05, 2007
March 18, 1966 |
Tacoma, Pierce, Washington, USA
|Genres||Alternative metal, grunge, alternative rock, heavy metal, hard rock|
|Occupations||Musician, songwriter, actor|
|Instruments||Guitar, vocals, bass, sitar, keyboards|
|Associated acts||Alice in Chains, Ozzy Osbourne, Cardboard Vampyres, Danzig, Metal Church, Gov't Mule|
|G&L Rampage Jerry Cantrell Signature Model
Gibson Les Paul
Jerry Fulton Cantrell Jr. (born March 18, 1966 in Tacoma, Washington) is an American guitarist, singer, and songwriter best known for his work with the rock band Alice in Chains, as lead guitarist, backing and co-lead vocalist, main songwriter, and co-lyricist. He performs lead vocals on his solo projects, and is part of Alice in Chains' harmonizing dual-vocal style. He resides in Los Angeles and spends time on his family ranch in Oklahoma.
Cantrell toured in support Alice In Chains' first studio album in 14 years, Black Gives Way to Blue, and will soon tour in support for their upcoming studio album, The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here, which will be released on May 28th, 2013.
Early life 
Cantrell noted in an interview that he was "raised on country music" as a youth and that he admires the emotion conveyed in the genre. He also considers himself "half Yankee and half redneck." However, hard rock music caught Cantrell's interest predominantly, and he bought his first guitar in his mid teens. It wouldn't be until the age of 17 that he began seriously playing the instrument. Cantrell would later cite groups and musicians like Jimi Hendrix, Heart, Black Sabbath, and Queensrÿche as major influences.
Cantrell attended junior high and high school in Spanaway, Washington and, before owning his first guitar, was a member of the high school choir which attended many state competitions. His senior year, Cantrell became choir president, and the quartet sang the national anthem at basketball games and won competitions with the highest marks achievable. Cantrell has cited his interest in dark musical tones as dating back to this period: "In choir we performed a cappella Gregorian chants from the 14th and 15th centuries. It was scary church music." His choir teacher and drama teacher were, early on, his two greatest motivators toward a career in music. When Alice in Chains' first album went gold, Cantrell sent both teachers a gold record.
Cantrell's parents divorced when he was 7, and his mother died in 1987 at the age of 43.
In the mid-1980s, Cantrell began a band called Diamond Lie which included drummer Sean Kinney and bassist Mike Starr. Layne Staley, a vocalist and Cantrell's roommate, also agreed to join on the condition that Cantrell join his funk project (which ended shortly after). Diamond Lie gained attention in the Seattle area and eventually took the name of Alice 'N Chainz, then renamed Alice in Chains.
Alice in Chains 
Jerry Cantrell served as the lead guitarist, co-lyricist, co-vocalist and main composer of Alice in Chains until the group's near-permanent hiatus beginning in the late 1990s and leading through the death of lead singer Layne Staley in April 2002. The band reformed in 2005 with its surviving members. Cantrell played in a number of concerts with Alice in Chains featuring lead singers such as Maynard James Keenan, Mark Lanegan, James Hetfield, Phil Anselmo, Billy Corgan, Patrick Lachman, Scott Weiland, and William DuVall. Although Cantrell acknowledges the benefits of working as a solo artist, he expressed his happiness with being back in the band culture. On September 29, 2009, Alice in Chains, with William DuVall as vocalist, released their first record since the death of Layne Staley, Black Gives Way to Blue, and toured in support of the album. The band expects to release their fifth studio album, The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here, on May 28, 2013.
Solo career 
Cantrell's career outside Alice in Chains has consisted of two solo albums, as well as many appearances with other musicians and on film soundtracks. In 1993, he composed the score for the action film Last Action Hero. His first solo material came in a song entitled "Leave Me Alone." This was released exclusively on The Cable Guy soundtrack in 1996, featuring Alice in Chains drummer Sean Kinney. It had a music video and reached #14 on Billboard's Mainstream Rock Tracks.
As the activity of Alice in Chains slowed and the band's future came into question, Cantrell reluctantly began work on his first full-length solo record. While video footage from Cantrell's official website claimed that he wanted to work solo for some time, his comments in Guitar World stated otherwise:
- "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. 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. It's time to let it be. Now I've got to step up to the plate and take a few swings."
Boggy Depot was released in April 1998. It contains three singles including the popular "Cut You In" and "My Song." His touring band for the album included Alice in Chains bandmates Inez and Kinney, and Cantrell expressed hope to have a second album released by the following year.
The same year of Boggy Depot, Cantrell began writing a follow-up album. He also departed from Columbia Records during this time and had trouble finding a new label. Cantrell said of the writing experience:
- "In '98, I locked myself in my house, went out of my mind and wrote 25 songs. I rarely bathed during that period of writing; I sent out for food, I didn't really venture out of my house in three or four months. It was a hell of an experience. The album is an overview of birth to now."
Finally in June 2002, Cantrell issued his second album, Degradation Trip, with Ozzy Osbourne's then live rhythm section, Mike Bordin (drums) and Robert Trujillo (bass). Released on Roadrunner Records, Degradation Trip hit shelves soon after Layne Staley's death and was dedicated to him. The album, which received better critical reception than its predecessor, featured two singles, "Anger Rising" and "Angel Eyes," and the track "She Was My Girl" was included on the Spider-Man soundtrack. Touring with the likes of Nickelback and Creed also helped build Cantrell's reputation as a solo artist. Degradation Trip was re-released in November of that year as a double album, featuring eleven additional tracks that made for the album as Cantrell originally intended.
Cantrell has been rumored to be working on his third full-length solo album for several years, for a supposedly planned release in 2006. However, as of 2013, this album still has not been released. Subsequent work with the revamped Alice in Chains may have stalled this release. When asked about releasing another solo album, he issued this statement:
- "Not for a while. My first and foremost love has been this band and always has been. The only reason I did those two records is because we weren’t working as a band. But being a part of this band is a full time job. Some guys can do multiple things and maybe when I was younger I could do that, but not now."
Cantrell has appeared as guest guitarist on several albums and projects, including the Danzig album Blackacidevil and the Metallica album Garage Inc. He also guested on Circus of Power's album Magic & Madness in 1993 for the song "Heaven 'N Hell." He provided guest vocals for the track "Effigy" on Gov't Mule's 2001 album, The Deep End, Volume 1.
In 2002, Cantrell played a series of summer dates with headlining hard rock/post-grunge band Nickelback. Cantrell can be seen playing "It Ain't Like That" with the band on their first DVD release, Live at Home. He was also asked by Nickelback's frontman, Chad Kroeger, to contribute to the song "Hero" for the 2002 film, Spider-Man. Cantrell was unable to attend the recording session and was replaced by Saliva's Josey Scott.
In early 2004, Cantrell collaborated with The Cult guitarist Billy Duffy to form the rock supergroup Cardboard Vampyres. Under the moniker of the Jerry Cantrell-Billy Duffy Band, they debuted during the three-concert series for Sweet Relief Musicians Fund at The Troubadour in April 2004. "This band is really just about having fun and playing tunes that we were fans of growing up," Cantrell stated. Performing mostly cover songs from bands like Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, The Stooges, Black Sabbath, and Aerosmith, the group was rounded out by vocalist John Corabi, bassist Chris Wyse, and drummer Eddie Livingston. The band played at various venues in the United States; although, they predominately played along the West Coast. No formal albums were released by the band.
In film 
Cantrell is featured in the movie Singles along with the rest of Alice in Chains performing the songs "It Ain't Like That" and "Would?". He is also featured as an actor in the movie Jerry Maguire. He also wrote the song "Leave Me Alone" for the 1996 dark comedy The Cable Guy, which can be found on that movie's soundtrack. Cantrell returned to the movie scene in 2004 to write, with the newly-formed metal band Damageplan, the song "Ashes to Ashes" for the movie The Punisher. That song can be found on that movie's soundtrack, and as a bonus track on the Japanese version of the Damageplan album New Found Power. He also appears briefly with Warren Haynes in the documentary Rising Low which documents the work of the band Gov't Mule following the death of bassist Allen Woody. Recently he was featured in the independent comedy Rock Slyde.
Cantrell is known to prefer G&L and Gibson Guitars. 2009 saw the release of his G&L Rampage Jerry Cantrell Signature Model Electric Guitar. His current guitar rig consists of a Custom Shop "Jerry Cantrell" Gibson SG, two of his signature G&L Rampages, his two 1980's G&L Rampages, several G&L ASATs, two Gibson Les Paul Customs, and a Fender 1972 Telecaster Deluxe Reissue. He recently added a Gibson ES-175 to his rig as of 2010.
He currently uses Bogner amplifiers, whose amps he has used since the beginning of Alice in Chains, his first being a Marshall JCM800 modded by Bogner which was used for the first two Alice in Chains albums. He began using "actual" Bogner amplifiers in the mid-1990s, his main one being the Bogner Ecstasy. His current amp rig consists of a Bogner Fish Preamp running into a Mesa/Boogie 2:Ninety Power amp, and a Bogner Uberschall or Shiva ran with a custom "Marsha" head built by Dave Friedman. All of these run into a Bogner 4x12 cabinet isolated from the stage.
Cantrell also owns a Peavey 5150 amp head given to him by Eddie Van Halen and a Les Paul Junior he bought from Nancy Wilson of Heart. Both of these were used to record Boggy Depot. Cantrell recorded all of the demo tracks for his album Degradation Trip at his Seattle home using a four-track recorder and his white Les Paul.
Cantrell worked with Dunlop in 2009 to release the Crybaby Jerry Cantrell Signature JC95 at winter NAMM 2010. This wah includes a fine tune knob to adjust the dynamic frequencies of the wah and modified circuitry to create Talk Box like sounds.
His pedalboard includes the following -
- MXR EVH Flanger
- Xotic AC plus
- Eventide Timefactor
- BOSS CH-1 Super Chorus
- BOSS CE-5 Chorus Ensemble
- BOSS TR-2 Tremolo
- BOSS TU-2 Chromatic Tuner
- Digitech Whammy Pedal
- MXR Smart Gate (x2)
- Electro Harmonix Big Muff Pi
- Ibanez TS808HW Tube Screamer
- Tone Freak effects Buff Puff
- Dunlop Rotovibe
- Digital Music Corp. Ground Control Pro
- Dunlop JC95 Signature Crybaby
From the 'Vulgar Display of Power' section of Guitar World's July 2010 issue, Cantrell's rig consisted of
- Two Custom Dave Friedman Marsha Heads - One named 'Mad' and another named 'Pissed' (which is more metallic sounding than 'Mad')
- Two Bogner straight front 4x12 cabs in ISO boxes ('Mad' cab running Celestion Greenbacks and 'Pissed' cab running Vintage 30's)
- Palmer PGA-05 ADIG-ST Advanced D.I. x2
- Shure UR40 Wireless Unit x2
- Tour Supply Multi-Selector
- Dunlop Custom Shop Rack Wah
- RJM Music Technology Effects Gizmo (this holds his effects pedals, which are controlled by a Voodoo Labs Ground control offstage by his Tech, Dave Lapham)
- Rack Systems ISO Transformer x2
Effects Offstage in RJM Unit
- MXR Smart Gate x2
- Ibanez TS808HW Tube Screamer
- MXR Flanger
- Boss GE-7 Equalizer
- Boss Ce-5 Chorus Ensemble
- BBE Soul Vibe
- MXR Bass Octaver
- Eventide Time Factor
- Dunlop Rotovibe
- Dunlop Crybaby Controller x2 (One on stage right, one center stage)
- Tone Freak Effects Buff Puff
- Dunlop Rotovibe
- Dunlop Jerry Cantrell Wah (The JC Wah, Rotovibe and Buff Puff are located stage left)
- G&L Rampage ("Blue Dress") w/ Motor City Pickup, tuned to Eb Standard
- G&L Rampage ("No War") w/ Motor City Pickup, tuned to Drop Db
- Gibson Les Paul Custom w/ Motor City Pickup in Bridge, tuned to Eb Standard
- Lush Custom Tele Shape, tuned to Eb Standard
Motor City Pickups are pickups custom wound for Jerry Cantrell
Cantrell's early influences made Alice in Chains' heavy metal tones stand out among their fellow grunge/alternative rock-oriented bands of the Seattle music scene. However, his musical range also extends into elements of blues and country as heard on his solo debut album. Cantrell's guitar playing is known for its unique use of wah pedal as well as odd time signatures. In a 1998 interview with Guitar World, he was asked about the latter quality:
- "I really don't know where that comes from; it just comes naturally to me. I could sit down and figure it out, but what's the use? Off-time stuff is just more exciting - it takes people by surprise when you shift gears like that before they even know what the hell hit 'em. It's also effective when you slow something down and then slam 'em into the dash. A lot of Alice stuff is written that way - 'Them Bones' is a great off-time song."
In July 2006, British hard rock/metal magazine Metal Hammer awarded Cantrell the title of Riff Lord, at its annual Golden Gods Awards show, held at the London Astoria. He was apparently thrilled at winning the title, over several famous artists such as Slash, James Hetfield, and Jimmy Page.
Personal life 
Cantrell's father, Jerry Sr., is a combat veteran of the Vietnam War. He was the main subject in the song "Rooster" which Cantrell wrote as a tribute to his father. Jerry's first childhood memory is meeting his father for the first time after he had returned from war. Due to the strain of war, his parents divorced and Jerry lived with his mother, Gloria.
Cantrell's mother, Gloria Jean Cantrell, died in 1987. His close friend Andrew Wood (of Mother Love Bone) died in 1990, leading Jerry to pen the song "Would?" for AIC's second album Dirt in Wood's memory. He also dedicated AIC's debut album Facelift to Wood, as well as his late mother.
After residing in Seattle for many years, Cantrell moved to Los Angeles, California in mid-2003 by which time he had stopped his heavy drug use. The peculiarity of this transition would be expressed in the song "Check My Brain". Cantrell also spends time on his family's Oklahoma ranch which was once featured on an episode of MTV Cribs.
With Alice in Chains 
|Year||Album details||Chart positions|
||33||34||35||36||Degradation Trip Volumes 1 & 2
|"—" denotes a release that did not chart.|
|1996||"Leave Me Alone"||—||14|
|1998||"Cut You In"||15||5|
|"—" denotes a release that did not chart.|
With Ozzy Osbourne 
- Under Cover (2005)
Other appearances 
- Magic & Madness — "Heaven and Hell" w/ Circus of Power (February 1993)
- Last Action Hero: Original Motion Picture Score — "various guitar ques" (June 1993)
- Hanging in the Balance w/ Metal Church (October 1993)
- Twisted Willie: A Tribute to Willie Nelson — "I've Seen All This World I Care to See" (January 1996)
- The Cable Guy: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack — "Leave Me Alone" (May 1996)
- Blackacidevil w/ Danzig (October 1996)
- The Full Sentence w/ Pigeonhed (January 1997)
- Garage Inc. w/ Metallica (November 1998)
- The Deep End, Volume 1 w/ Gov't Mule (October 2001)
- Live at Home — appeared on stage with Nickelback in January 2002, performing "It Ain't Like That"
- The Punisher Soundtrack — "Ashes to Ashes" w/ Damageplan (also featured on Japan version New Found Power (March 2004)
- Music for the Divine — "Misty Mountain Hop" w/ Glenn Hughes (January 2007)
- The Sun And The Earth - The Essential Stevie Salas Vol. 1 — "Soul Ecstacy" w/ Stevie Salas (April 2007)
- Little Immaculate White Fox — "Anything" w/ Pearl (January 2010)
- 24 Hours — "Love is Blind" w/ Richie Kotzen (November 2011)
- Farber, Jim UNCHAINED MELODIES Daily News (June 16, 2002). Retrieved on 9-11-11.
- Stout, Gene CANTRELL SEEKS OUT A SOLO IDENTITY ON FIRST TOUR AWAY FROM ALICE Jerry Depot (October 30, 1998). Retrieved on 6-23-09.
- Weingarten, Marc Unchained Guitar World (June 1998). Retrieved on 7-07-09.
- Kleidermacher, Mordechai (July 1990). Link With Brutality. Circus magazine.
- McLennan, Scott (2006-08-06). "Alice in Chains regroups after its leader's death". Worcester Telegram & Gazette.
- "Alice in Chains: New Album Title Revealed". Blabbermouth.net. 2013-02-14. Retrieved 2013-02-14.
- Jerry Cantrell Takes "Boggy Depot" Online MTV.com (March 30, 1998). Retrieved on 6-21-09.
- Weingarten, Marc Unchained Guitar World (June 1998). Retrieved on 7-11-09.
- Weingarten, Marc (June 1998). "Unchained". Guitar World.
- "Jerry Cantrell biography". Roadrunner Records. Retrieved 2006-11-13.
- "Jerry Cantrell: 'You Can't Replace a Guy Like Layne Staley'". Metalunderground.com. Retrieved 2012-03-01.
- "More Notes From Jerry Cantrell’S Espn.Com Live Chat". Grungereport.net. 2010-10-21. Retrieved 2012-03-01.
- Jeckell, Barry A. L.A. Concerts To Benefit Sweet Relief Billboard (March 07, 2004). Retrieved on 7-12-09.
- A. Jeckell, Barry Cantrell, Duffy Form Cardboard Vampyres Billboard (June 18, 2004). Retrieved on 7-12-09.
- "Rock Slyde IMDb page". Retrieved 08-02-2010.
- "Rig Rundown - Alice in Chains' Jerry Cantrell". YouTube. 2009-09-29. Retrieved 2012-03-01.
- "Alice in Chains - Jerry Cantrell's Guitar Gear Rig and Equipment". Retrieved 10-02-2009.
- "Golden Gods Awards Winners". Metal Hammer Magazine. Retrieved 11-13-2006.
- "Guitar World's 100 Greatest Heavy Metal Guitarists of All Time". Blabbermouth. Retrieved 2012-10-17.
- "The 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time". Guitar World. Retrieved 2012-10-17.
- Wiederhorn, Jon (02-08-1996). "To Hell and Back". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 01-30-2008.
- "Jerry Cantrell And Scott Ian Open Las Vegas Bar!". Metal Hammer. Retrieved 12-12-2012.
- "Jerry Cantrell Chart History". Billboard.
- "Discography Jerry Cantrell". Hung Medien.
- Top 100 CDs - Volume 67, No. 5 (4) RPM (April 27, 1998 ).
- "Discography Jerry Cantrell". Hung Medien.
- The official website of Jerry Cantrell
- The official website of Alice in Chains
- Jerry Cantrell at the Internet Movie Database
- Roadrunner Records - Jerry Cantrell
- Obnoxious Listeners: Jerry Cantrell