Remembering Scott Weiland
Published Dec 04, 2015As previously reported, former Stone Temple Pilots frontman Scott Weiland sadly passed away last night (December 3) at the age of 48 just before he was to go onstage in Minnesota. Though the direct cause has not yet been revealed, the singer had long been in the public eye not just for his music, but for his troubles with substance abuse.
Beyond the very public problems Weiland had for decades, he still managed to capture the hearts and imaginations of music listeners worldwide, whether acting as a defining voice of the '90s with his work with alt-rock giants Stone Temple Pilots or while staging a comeback with members of Guns N' Roses in the hard rock supergroup Velvet Revolver.
The Birth of STP
Born Scott Richard Kline in San Jose, CA, Weiland first linked up with the members of Stone Temple Pilots — guitarist Dean DeLeo, bassist Robert DeLeo and drummer Eric Kretz — in 1986, reportedly after Weiland met Robert DeLeo at a Black Flag concert the year before. They hadn't always been called Stone Temple Pilots, with early band names including Mighty Joe Young and Shirley Temple's Pussy, the latter modelled as an after-the-fact acronym for STP motor oil. Stone Temple Pilots is a cleaned-up variation on that theme.
The band became part of the big alternative takeover, with their 1992 major label debut, Core, going multi-platinum off the success of distorted, Grammy-winning hard rock ballad "Plush," along with tracks like "Sex Type Thing," "Creep" and "Wicked Garden."
Follow-up Purple in 1994 was likewise a smash, featuring hard-hitting tracks like "Vasoline," as well as the slightly Southern rock-touched "Interstate Love Song." Weiland's jowly performance style, likened to Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder at the time, underwent a massive transformation by the time the band issued 1996's Tiny Music... Songs from the Vatican Gift Shop, with a glammier, throaty tone applied to hits like "Big Bang Baby."
Following the release of Tiny Music, the relationship between Weiland and the rest of the band became strained. After having been caught possessing cocaine in 1995, which led to a one-year probation, the band had to opt out of a 1997 tour with Kiss owing to the frontman's ongoing personal struggles with drugs. They took time apart from each other, with the three other members linking up with vocalist Dave Coutts as Talk Show. They issued a self-titled LP in 1997. Weiland, meanwhile, got experimental with his 1998 solo debut, 12 Bar Blues. Neither LP was a critical or commercial success.
Beginning of the End for Stone Temple Pilots
Weiland regrouped with STP for another pair of albums, 1999's No. 4 and 2001's Shangri-La Dee Da, but the band dissolved by 2002 after they had started working on a sixth LP. The relationship since had been contentious, with the band reuniting for the occasional tour since 2006 and recording a self-titled set in 2010. A 2012 trek came to a sad close when the Weiland, whose vocal range had apparently deteriorated, struggled to get through a concert in Abbotsford, BC.
He was fired from the band in 2013, making 2010's self-titled album STP's last. From there, the band kept the name alive with new singer Chester Bennington (Linkin Park) and sued Weiland for tanking their 20th anniversary tour behind Core and rebooking a solo tour of the same nature.
The suit claimed the act "endured much strife and lost significant opportunities" due to Weiland's behaviour, while their former frontman shot back with a lawsuit of his own. From his point of view, the other musicians were "clandestinely conspiring to wrongfully expel Weiland from the band." The matter was eventually settled out of court, with the DeLeo brothers and Kretz retaining the rights to the band name. They went on to record a final EP with Bennington called High Rise.
Velvet Revolver and Beyond
Weiland's other major project was Velvet Revolver, whose ranks included former Guns N' Roses members Slash, Duff McKagan and Matt Sorum, as well as Dave Kushner. Formed in 2002, they managed to release two full-length albums with Weiland. Their 2004 debut Contraband showed promise via hard-edged cuts like "Slither," which won a Grammy, and the aching rock ballad "Fall to Pieces." Following 2007's Libertad, Velvet Revolver fired the singer for his "increasingly erratic behaviour and a wavering commitment to the group." As Weiland put it in an open letter, though, he "had already claimed the group dead in the water" and split to rejoin Stone Temple Pilots.
In addition to teaming up with members of Guns N' Roses, Weiland had performed with the surviving members of the Doors on a 2000 episode of VH1's Storytellers, performing "Break on Through (to the Other Side)" and "Five to One." Stone Temple Pilots had also contributed a version of "Break on Through" to the Stoned Immaculate tribute album that same year.
The singer's late career included a handful of solo LPs. After offering up his 2008 effort "Happy" in Galoshes through his own Softdrive Records imprint, Weiland opted to go full-on crooner for a Christmas album titled The Most Wonderful Time of the Year.
Weiland's Final Years
While rock outfit Art of Anarchy claimed that Weiland was a permanent member of the band, having sung on their self-titled 2015 full-length, the frontman denied this, explaining that he was merely a hired gun. Instead, he put his focus on leading his own band, Scott Weiland & the Wildabouts. Weiland had described in the press that the project made him feel "youthful," and together they issued the Blaster album in the spring, marking Weiland's final album before his death.
Despite this, a troubling video of a Wildabouts performance from the spring showed Weiland in an altered state, mumbling and standing static as the band played on. Weiland's last concert performance was this past Tuesday (December 1) in Toronto. Fan-shot footage from the final live appearance can be found below.
Offstage, the musician became known for his many battles with addiction. After being charged with possession of heroin in 1998, he was sent to prison in 1999 for violating his parole. He also encountered DUI arrests and stints in rehab. Despite his many troubles on- and offstage, Weiland made a massive impact on a generation of rock musicians. He will not be forgotten.
Weiland is survived by his wife Jamie Weiland, ex-wife Mary Forsberg and their children, Noah and Lucy.
You'll find a few of the artist's many highlights down below, as well as footage from that final show in Toronto.