Jerry Cantrell Explains Why Elton John Is So Important To '90s Rockers

Alice In Chains guitarist and co-founder Jerry Cantrell released his long-awaited and highly-anticipated fourth solo album, Brighten, last month.

The LP is Jerry's first solo effort in 19 years. And while it took him a long time to get started on the record and more than a year to complete it (thanks to the pandemic), Brighten delivers on all levels, from haunting ballads to massive, sludge-loaded riffs.

Jerry calls on a handful of special guests on Brighten, including Duff McKagan, Greg Pusciato, Gil Sharone, Abe Laboriel Jr. and others. But of particular note is the album's tribute to Elton John with its final track — a cover of 1971's "Goodbye."

Despite his status as a pop icon, Sir Elton is one of modern rock music's greatest advocates. He previously contributed to Alice In Chains' comeback ballad "Black Gives Way to Blue" in 2009 and personally congratulated Jerry on his new rendition of "Goodbye."

Jerry tells Q104.3 New York's Out of the Box with Jonathan Clarke that just like Metallica's James Hetfield, Elton's music has been with him since he was a kid; it's part of who he is.

"That was the music that was on the radio, you know. Fleetwood Mac, Elton John, there's so many great songwriters, and also a really healthy, diverse mix of styles," Jerry explained.

"I didn't intend this to be the case, but I look at a song like 'Black Gives Way to Blue' and the fact that Elton was involved in that and wanted to be a part of it — what that song meant was a new fresh start for the band and also saying goodbye to our dear friend Layne [Staley]. It's such an emotionally potent song, and it also closes the record and it's only a couple of minute long. It's really similar to a song like [Elton's] 'Goodbye.' So I think there's connection there psychically."

Back in September, Elton brought Hetfield to tears when he called "Nothing Else Matters" one of the greatest songs ever written.

Jerry continued, noting that Elton's hard rock side shows that he's a true fan of music and of the craft of songwriting, whether pop, heavy metal or otherwise.

"We're all fans of music, whatever style speaks to you," Jerry said. "And probably through your life things change, you know, maybe you start getting into jazz ... or maybe you go through phases... It's a language we all share and it becomes the soundtrack to your life."

Listen to the full conversation via the player above!

Go here for more information on Brighten and for Jerry's tour dates.

Keep up with Jerry by following him on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Watch the official music video for "Atone" here:

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