In a recent Altwire podcast episode, Taproot frontman Stephen Richards spoke about his ill-fated collaboration with the late grunge icon Layne Staley. Called “Kevin Spacey” and originally intended to appear on the band’s 2002 record, Welcome, the collaboration would never come to be as Staley would regrettably be found dead days before he was set to record his vocals.
Stephen was asked during the podcast which uncompleted song he wishes he had finished, and reminiscing about that period, Richards said the following:
“It’s on the Besides [CD], it’s a song that, unfortunately, now with everything catching up, is named “Kevin Spacey,” of all things.
It’s just a bummer because the only version we have of that is us just jamming it live to a click track when we were rehearsing the song. But we actually did record the entire track with Welcome, so we had the quality-sounding one. I don’t think we have access to it somehow or know how to get it from Atlantic, I guess. That was the one that Layne Staley was gonna be on.
Our producer Toby Wright and I were two days away from flying up to Olympia [Washington], where Layne was living, and he had a studio there. Toby was just gonna throw him in the booth and say go, and so that’s when we found out that he had passed.
…It’s odd to know that, you know, one of your heroes, the only CD that he had in his apartment when they found him was, Taproot. A CD lying there named Taproot, and so his mom called Toby and asked who Taproot was, and he was like, oh, that’s who I’m working with.
So, that would have been really cool, and then, after that, I just didn’t even; it’s a really good song, I just didn’t even really want to write anything for it. To me, that was like Layne’s song. Even if he didn’t like it or even do anything on it at all, that was kind of like the hopes and the dream of that song.
And once that was fulfilled, we tried having another guest come in, and it was just like, nah, not at all. Didn’t work. So. That’s on the Besides. It’s not the studio version, but I think just for fun, we’ll probably be playing that live around this time because then I can add an extra song. I don’t sing on it, so it’ll be a nice little breather for me.”
Layne Staley’s passing was a huge loss for the music world, and Stephen Richards’ recollection of his ill-fated collaboration is a poignant reminder of what could have been. It also provides an insight into the personal toll that Layne’s passing had on those who idolized him.
If you’re a fan of Taproot, make sure to listen to the Altwire podcast episode featuring Stephen Richards. You can listen to the episode below for this story and other interesting anecdotes.