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Demri Lara Parrott Murphy met musician Layne Staley of Alice in Chains at a store called “Saturdays” where she was working, in 1988. According to David de Sola’s book “Alice in Chains: The Untold Story”, it was love at first sight. They started dating around spring or summer that year.
She is thanked in the liner notes of “Facelift”, which was released on August 1990. She is not, as widely but wrongly believed, the woman on the cover of Alice in Chains’s album “Dirt”, released on September 29, 1992, that is model and actress Mariah O'Brien.
Layne Staley and Demri Parrott were, according to close friends and bandmates, described as perfect for each other and the term “soulmates” has been used more than once to define their relationship. They were engaged to marry on 1992. David de Sola writes in his biography of Alice in Chains: “They had chosen the place called Kiana Lodge on Bainbridge Island [Kitsap County, Washington] as the wedding venue.” Demri did pick out a dress, and Alice in Chains’ band member “Mike Starr said he was going to be best man at Layne and Demri’s wedding.”
Both Demri and Layne became drug addicts, hooked to heroin. In addition, Demri had a cardiac pacemaker in her heart. Demri also suffered endocarditis (an inflammation of the inner layer of the heart, the endocardium, that can be caused by a bacterial infection. Risk factors include intravenous drug use, and electronic pacemakers).
However, in the years that followed “Dirt"’s success, Layne and Demri drifted apart, and their engagement broke sometime in 1994, although she features in the cover of Mad Season’s “Above”. Mad Season was an American rock super group formed in 1994 as a side project of members of other bands in the Seattle grunge scene (Layne was the lead singer with Pearl Jam’s guitarist Mike McCready, drummer Barrett Martin of Screaming Trees and bassist John Baker Saunders). Mad Season released only one album, “Above”, in March 1995.
Demri died of a durg's overdose in 1996 when she was only 27. Alice in Chains manager Susan Silver told journalist Greg Prato in his book “Grunge Is Dead: The Oral History of Seattle Rock Music” that she was the one who went to Layne’s apartment to tell him that Demri had died. Friends comment that after Demri died, Layne was put on suicide watch for 24 hours.
Demri had a cat, Sadie. After her passing, Layne looked after him.
De Sola writes in “Alice in Chains: The Untold Story”: “People who knew very well Layne and Demri, in general, agreed and told me that Layne never surpassed Demri’s death. He was already quite reclusive in 1996" ... “The last time Demri’s mother, Kathleen Austin, saw Layne Staley, was in 1997. He wanted a teddy bear that Demri Lara Parrott had and who had stayed with her at the hospital.”
Layne Staley believed that the ghost of Demri visited him just days before his April 2002 death.
Layne and Alice in Chains’ bassist Mike Starr were watching television on April 4, 2002, the day before Staley died of a heroin overdose. Layne was flipping through the channels and stumbled on the John Edward show “Crossing Over”, on which a medium claimed to speak to audience members’ dead relatives.
While watching “Crossing Over”, Layne turned to Mike and said, “Demri was here last night. I don’t give a fuck if you fucking believe me or not, dude. I’m telling you: Demri was here last night.” Demri’s mother, Kathleen Austin, heard this story from Starr after Layne’s death and relayed the story to David de Sola (and it was corroborated by musician Jason Buttino). She said she believes her daughter was there that night “to be there with Layne as he’s doing his transition.”
Layne Staley died aged 34 on April 5, 2002 due to an overdose, and his funeral was held at the same place he intended to marry Demri, Kiana Lodge on Bainbridge Island. Demri’s mother, Kathleen Austin got that teddy bear back after being found in the things Layne left after his death. She also has Demri’s engagement ring that Layne gave her. Alice in Chains’ guitarist Jerry Cantrell took care of the cat Sadie when Layne died.