Former Stone Temple Pilots and Velvet Revolver frontman Scott Weiland died yesterday. He was 48 years old. Anyone who listened to rock radio in the 1990’s knows his work. Weiland’s booming baritone helped launch Stone Temple Pilots to stardom, selling some 40+ million albums worldwide. Initially dismissed as a Pearl Jam knockoff, as pretty boy grunge pretenders, Stone Temple Pilots spent most of the decade changing musical styles, winning a Grammy, owning the charts and eventually even winning over critics as well. Weiland’s unique, shapeshifter prowess on the microphone [or bullhorn] kept the band’s ever evolving tunes sounding fresh. They went from Alice In Chains-lite on Core, to 90’s alt-rock on Purple, to full on experimental mind-fuckery on Tiny Music…Songs From The Vatican Gift Shop in only four years. Only a singer as gifted as Weiland could not only survive such rapid stylistic shifts, but thrive among them. Scott Weiland was a true rock-n-roll chamelon, and also one of the most bizarrely entertaining frontmen of the last twenty years. Unfortunately, a slew of personal problems, most notably his notorious battle with drugs, kept the singer from achieving all that he was capable of. Frequent arrests, stints in rehab, and the occasional drug overdose would mar Weiland’s tenure with Stone Temple Pilots and eventually lead to his expulsion from the band. Weiland found success in the 2000’s fronting the rock supergroup Velvet Revolver, basically serving as Axl Rose’s replacement with the true members of Guns N’ Roses alongside him. Weiland hit platinum sales and won another Grammy with his new act but once again, the man’s erratic and self destructive behavior cost him his position with the band. Weiland was found dead on his tour bus last night while on the road with his latest project, Scott Weiland & The Wildabouts. It’s too early to tell if drugs played a role in the singer’s demise or if a lifetime of hard living finally took it’s toll on his body, either way, hopefully Scott Weiland finally finds some peace.
On a personal note, I grew up listening to Stone Temple Pilots. They served as one of those all important gateway bands that got me into rock music. I’m not exaggerating when I say that Scott Weiland was one of the defining voices of my childhood. I hear him singing “Big Empty” whenever I think of The Crow or 90’s action montages. I remember him dancing with Buffy The Vampire Slayer like it was yesterday.
The man was insanely talented, and had the uncanny ability to sing like anyone he wanted. Who else could fill in for Jim Morrison, Layne Staley and Axl Rose? Too bad Weiland seemed to have the most trouble just being himself. I eventually got to see him perform with STP in 2008, part of one of their many botched reunion attempts. Musically, the band sounded great but Weiland was having an off night. He moved like a rockstar but sounded slow and like he was on another planet. I didn’t really care though, I was stoked and completely star struck. This was Scott Weliand after all. I’d come to accept that the man did whatever the fuck he wanted. Rest easy Scott.
here are a few of my favorite Scott Weiland performances:
Finally, what looks like the coolest Stone Temple Pilots gig ever:
“I am I am I said I’m not myself I’m not dead and I’m not for sale
Hold me closer, closer let me go Let me be just let me be…”