After frontman Layne Staley died of an accidental drug overdose in 2002, most fans figured Alice in Chains would suffer a similar fate.
Not so fast.
The three surviving members of the Seattle grunge purveyors--guitarist Jerry Cantrell, bassist Mike Inez and drummer Sean Kinney--have announced plans to reunite for a series of gigs this summer.
According to a post at JerryCantrell.com, the Chains will get back into the grunge groove with a Mar. 10 television performance on VH1's Decades of Rock paying tribute to Heart. The show, taking place at Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, will also feature such guests as Dave Navarro, Velvet Revolver bassist Duff McKagan, Rufus Wainwright, Gretchen Wilson and Carrie Underwood.
They'll then hit the road for a series of reunion dates kicking off June 28 at Austria's Nova Rock Festival on an bill that also includes the heavily hyped return of Guns N' Roses, as well as Metallica, Tool and Queens of the Stone Age. A possible North American tour of clubs and small theaters is also in the works.
"We're making it up as we go along. It's what we always did in the past," Cantrell tells MTV News. "We feel confident that we will have a good time and that it's something that will live up to the same level. It's an exploratory thing, and we're just having fun with it. We'd like to go out and play for the people that supported us and love the music as much as we have all these years. We want to celebrate what we did and the memory of our friend."
Alice in Chain recorded such alt-rock hits as "Man in the Box," "Would?" and "Rooster" before the band fell apart following a 1996 tour largely due to Staley's battles with heroin addiction. The only time the surviving threesome has regrouped since Staley's death has been for an Asian tsunami benefit in Seattle in February 2005.
Taking over lead vocal chores will be Comes with the Fall frontman Will Duvall, who's no stranger to the Chains oeuvre having been a member of Cantrell's touring band. Duvall is officially on board for the March show, but the band is auditioning possible replacements for the subsequent tour.
"We've done some rehearsing with Will and we're having a lot of fun with him," Cantrell told MTV. "But we're still in the beginning stages where we're trying to figure out what we want to do. He could cut it, without a doubt--but we haven't made a final decision on that yet."
Kinney says he hopes the band can eventually reinvent itself behind a new singer.
"We want to play these songs one more time, and if it seems like the right thing to do, it'll happen," he says. "It's kind of a tribute to Layne and our fans, the people who love these songs. It's not some 'I'm broke and I need the money' situation. We love playing together.
"If we found some other dude, I'd love to move on, write some cool tunes and change the name and go on like that," the drummer continues. "I don't see continuing as Alice and replacing somebody...We're not trying to replace Layne."
That's for sure. Alice in Chains reportedly turned down an offer to follow INXS's lead and audition new vocalists via CBS' Rock Star.