Requiem for the ‘90s

We remember Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes and Layne Staley.

Requiem for the ‘90s

Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes (1971 – 2002). Philly-born Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes, the most rambunctious member of the R&B trio known as TLC, first emerged in 1992 with a condom over her left eye and a stiletto tongue: “Two inches or a hard rock/Long or if it’s saggin’,” she quipped on the group’s first hit “Ain’t 2 Proud 2 Beg.” The rapper went on to make a name for herself with frank remarks concerning the music biz and fellow group members Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins and Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas. In 1994, she attempted to burn her then-boyfriend football player Andre Rison’s sneakers in the bathtub of his mansion, subsequently burning the entire house to the ground. Ironically, Left Eye went missing in the fall of 2000, sparking morbid speculation about the singer’s well-being. Earlier that year, she had publicly challenged T-Boz and Chilli to a solo face-off; Left Eye was the first to do so with Supernova, an album that was released internationally but shelved domestically due to poor reception of its lead single, the ’80s-inspired “The Block Party.” Yet the on-and-off internal turmoil seemed more like sibling rivalry than diva quarrelling, a fact confirmed by T-Boz and Chilli’s response to their cohort’s sudden death. “We had all grown up together and were as close as a family. Today we have truly lost our sister,” a public statement read. In recent years, Left Eye has had a momentous solo presence, bringing her effervescent personality to tracks by everyone from Lil’ Kim to ‘NSync and playing a key role in the success of Blaque. TLC, the most successful girl-group of all time, had been working on a new album at the time of Left Eye’s death. Most recently, Left Eye announced plans for a second solo album under the moniker N.I.N.A. (New Identity Non-Applicable) to be released on Suge Knight’s Tha Row Records. Left Eye, 30, had been vacationing in Honduras when she was killed in a car crash on April 25, 2002.

Layne Staley (1967 – 2002). Alice in Chains frontman Layne Staley died of an apparent drug overdose, his body discovered on April 19, 2002 in his Seattle home. Alice in Chains made their breakthrough at the height of the alternative movement in 1992. Their second album, the multi-platinum Dirt, spawned the hits “Angry Chair,” “Rooster,” and “Them Bones,” and elevated the band into grunge rock’s top tier along with bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Soundgarden. Alice in Chains’s softer side (first revealed in 1992 on the dark, largely-acoustic EP Sap) fully emerged with 1994’s double-platinum Jar of Flies. A more proper, self-titled follow-up was released a year later; it was the band’s last collection of all-new material as Staley’s ongoing struggle with addiction stunted the band’s growth in recent years. (Guitarist Jerry Cantrell’s second solo effort is due later this year.) If Left Eye’s potential seems to have been curtailed, Staley’s legacy remains lodged in the early ’90s. Alice in Chains was, perhaps, the most metal-edged band of the alt-rock movement, a certain influence on the current crop of metalheads. At 34, Staley now joins a list of alternative-era casualties that includes Kurt Cobain, Shannon Hoon of Blind Melon, and singer-songwriter Jeff Buckley.

Sal Cinquemani

Sal Cinquemani is the co-founder and co-editor of Slant Magazine. His writing has appeared in Rolling Stone, Billboard, The Village Voice, and others. He is also an award-winning screenwriter/director and festival programmer.

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