Cantrell attended junior high and high school in Spanaway, Washington and, before owning his first guitar, was a member of the high school choir which attended many state competitions.
His senior year, Cantrell became choir president, and the quartet sang the national anthem at basketball games and won competitions with the highest marks achievable.
Barbara was from Tabor, and was the daughter of Václav “James/Wencelsaus” Zdeněk and Anna Barešová.
He resides in Los Angeles and spends time on his family ranch in Oklahoma.
Cantrell recently toured in North America supporting Alice In Chains' first new studio album in 14 years, Black Gives Way to Blue.
Cantrell noted in an interview that he was "raised on country music" as a youth and that he admires the emotion conveyed in the genre.
He also considers himself "half Yankee and half redneck." However, hard rock music caught Cantrell's interest predominantly, and he bought his first guitar in his mid teens.