Sean Kinney

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Sean Kinney
Sean Kinney publicity photo.jpg
Sean Kinney posing for Sabian in 2002.
Background information
Birth name Sean Howard Kinney
Born (1966-05-27) May 27, 1966 (age 51)
Renton, Washington, US
Genres Alternative metal, grunge, alternative rock, heavy metal, hard rock
Occupation(s) Musician
Instruments Drums, piano, percussion
Years active 1976–present
Labels Virgin, EMI
Associated acts Alice in Chains, Jerry Cantrell, Spys4Darwin

Sean Howard Kinney (born May 27, 1966) is an American musician, best known for being the drummer and co-founder of the rock band Alice in Chains.[1][2]

Kinney's interest in music was developed at an early age. He got his first drum kit when he was 5. By the age of 9, he was keeping the beat for his grandfather's band, The Cross Cats, and traveling the Northwest playing small venues. Kinney grew up in Renton, Washington, where he attended Liberty Senior High School in the Issaquah School District.

Alice in Chains[edit]

Kinney met up with Alice in Chains when he was dating the sister of bassist Mike Starr, Melinda.[1] Guitarist Jerry Cantrell wanted to form a new band after his band Diamond Lie broke up, so his roommate Layne Staley gave him the phone number of Kinney's girlfriend, so that Cantrell could talk to him and set up a meeting.[1] Kinney and his girlfriend went to the Music Bank where Cantrell lived and listened to his demos. Cantrell mentioned that they needed a bass player to jam with them, and he already had someone in mind: Mike Starr, with whom Cantrell had played in a band in Burien called Gypsy Rose.[1] Kinney then mentioned that his girlfriend was actually Starr's sister, and that he had been playing in bands together with Starr since they were kids.[1] Kinney called Starr and a few days later he started jamming with him and Cantrell at the Music Bank, but they didn't have a singer.[1] Cantrell, Starr and Kinney wanted Staley to be their lead singer, so they started auditioning terrible lead singers in front of Staley to send a hint.[3][1][4] The last straw for Staley was when they auditioned a male stripper – he decided to join the band after that.[1]

Since the band's inception, Kinney has been the only drummer. He also sang chorus vocals through a megaphone on the hidden song from Sap entitled "Love Song". The album was named after a dream Kinney had about the band recording some light acoustic songs for an album they name Sap, because it's "sappy."[citation needed]

Kinney plays a large role in the presentation of the band, having helped design artwork and stage setups for most of the band's albums and tours.[citation needed]

Other projects[edit]

Through the decline in grunge popularity during the mid-nineties, Kinney was a member of a Willie Nelson tribute band. The tribute band also included Johnny Cash, Kim Thayil of Soundgarden, and Krist Novoselic from Nirvana. Kinney also played drums for his Alice in Chains band mate Jerry Cantrell's solo album, Boggy Depot. Four years later, he founded the short-lived project Spys4Darwin with friend and fellow Seattle musician Chris DeGarmo of Queensrÿche fame. Joined by Mike Inez (AIC's bassist since 1993) and Sponge vocalist Vinnie Dombroski, they recorded and released the 6-track EP, microfish, in May 2001.[citation needed]

Since 2009, Kinney co-owns the club Crocodile Cafe in Seattle with Alice in Chains' manager Susan Silver,[5][6] and Capitol Hill Block Party co-founder Marcus Charles[7] purchased the establishment.

Alice in Chains rebirth[edit]

In 2005, Kinney reunited with the other two surviving members of Alice in Chains—performing at a benefit concert for the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami. On March 6, 2006, they again performed together at VH1's Decades Rock Live concert, honoring fellow Seattle musicians Ann Wilson and Nancy Wilson of Heart. That night they played "Rooster" with Comes with the Fall vocalist William DuVall and Ann Wilson. DuVall joined Alice in Chains as lead singer shortly thereafter. Since that time, Kinney has drummed for AIC at numerous events and concerts. From May 16–17, 2009, Alice in Chains was part of the annual rock festival, Rock on the Range at the Columbus Crew Stadium in Columbus, Ohio. The album Black Gives Way to Blue, the first without Staley, was released on September 29, 2009. Their fifth studio album, The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here, was released in 2013.


In 1995, Alice in Chains was contemplating making a third studio album. When it was official, Kinney drew out artwork for the cover and liner notes.[8][9] The cover features a three-legged dog, reason being, according to band lore, there was a three-legged dog named Tripod that used to terrorize Kinney and chase him around during his paper-work duty when he was a kid.[9] In the music video for "Grind", it shows a three legged dog (similar to the one that allegedly used to chase Kinney) walking up a stairway with an elderly man.[9]

The cover art of Black Gives Way to Blue (2009), an illustration of a heart surrounded by a black background,[10] was Kinney's basic concept.[11]



  • DW Drums
    • 7x14 Edge Snare Drum
    • 18x22 Bass Drum
    • 9x13 Rack Tom
    • 14x16 Floor Tom
    • 16x18 Floor Tom
    • 13x15 Floor Tom (left side)
    • 8x7 Rack Tom (left side)
  • DW 5000 Single Bass Pedal
  • DW Snare and Cymbal Stands
  • Remo Drumheads


  • Sabian cymbals (from left to right on kit)
    • 15" AA Sizzle Hats
    • 19" AA Rock Crash
    • 20" AA Rock Crash
    • 24" Vault Liquid Ride
    • 21" AA Medium Thin Crash
    • 19" Paragon China
    • 20" AAX O-Zone Crash


  • Vater Mike Mangini "Wicked Piston" Signature Drumsticks[12]


Alice in Chains
Other appearances
Title Release Label Band
Boggy Depot 1998 Columbia Jerry Cantrell
Microfish 2001 Pied Viper Records Spys4Darwin


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "Interview Alice In Chains - Jerry Cantrell and Sean Kinney about Layne Staley". YouTube. 12 January 2010. Retrieved 14 July 2017. 
  2. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas; Prato, Greg. "Biography: Alice in Chains". AMG. Retrieved May 17, 2010. 
  3. ^ "Layne Staley Interview Alice in Chains 1996 part 1 of 2". Retrieved 14 July 2017. 
  4. ^ "Interview: Jerry Cantrell Discusses Alice in Chain's 2009 Comeback, 'Black Gives Way to Blue'". Guitar World. 10 January 2013. Retrieved 15 July 2017. 
  5. ^ "Legendary Crocodile, the cradle of grunge, rocks into its next stage". The Seattle Times. March 21, 2009. Retrieved August 21, 2017. 
  6. ^ Gillian G. Gaar (February 2, 2010). "Alice in Chains' Homecoming". Seattle Weekly. Retrieved August 21, 2017. 
  7. ^ "The Return of The Crocodile". The Stranger. Retrieved 26 March 2009. 
  8. ^ "Alice in Chains – Alice in Chains – Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved November 7, 2017. 
  9. ^ a b c "Jerry Cantrell on the three-legged dog on the cover of Alice in Chains' 1995 album and 'Grind' video". YouTube. Retrieved November 7, 2017. 
  10. ^ "Alice In Chains Reveal 'Black Gives Way to Blue' Artwork". Guitar World. August 14, 2009. Retrieved August 5, 2017. 
  11. ^ "Alice In Chains Singer William Duvall Discusses Layne Staley & Black Gives Way To Blue". Alternative Nation. February 12, 2012. Retrieved August 5, 2017. 
  12. ^!/artists/352