I was first introduced to Scott Weiland the same way I discovered a lot of bands in high school. I was watching MTV late at night—as that was the time to find the newest in rock and metal—when a song called Sex Type Thing by Stone Temple Pilots came on.
I was blown away by the crazy riffs and awesome voice from their lead singer. Little did I know when I would go to the record store and pick up their debut album Core, that Stone Temple Pilots were going to become one of my all-time favorite bands.
A year after Pearl Jam and Nirvana changed my life, STP capped it off. I went on a ride with Scott Weiland and the rest of the band for the next twenty years. Weiland became an icon to many fans over those years—not only with STP but with Velvet Revolver and his own solo material as well. I also believe he was one of the most charismatic frontmen in music, as he had an aura on stage that took you on a journey with each performance.
What you learned through the years by listening to his lyrics was that he was a man with demons and a tortured soul. Unfortunately, those demons caught up with him on December 3rd, 2015, when he was found dead on his tour bus while on tour with his newest band, the Wildabouts.
The drug abuse that he was sadly just as famous for had finally caught up with him and he joined a long list of incredible artists taken from us too soon. I don’t want to get into the details of his controversial past, as I would like to celebrate the man for the legacy he left behind and the many fans all over the world that he has inspired. Instead, I’ll be taking a look back at Weiland’s incredible musical career.
Remembering Scott Weiland
In 1992, Stone Temple Pilots released their debut album Core. To pick one or two songs from this album is impossible, as Core is kickass from beginning to end. The band came out of the gate with something to prove with heavy rockers like Sex Type Thing, Wicked Garden, Dead and Bloated, and Sin.
They also showed their softer side on standout tracks like the classics Plush and Creep. What I tell often tell people is that you haven’t heard STP’s Core until you give a real good listen to Where the River Goes. It gets lost on this album of awesomeness, but don’t sleep on it. Where the River Goes is one of the best deep cuts ever on an album. Trust me.
In 1994, two years after taking the world by storm, Stone Temple Pilots released what I believe is their best album, Purple. It showed the band taking a bit of a turn into more experimental territory as opposed to being known as yet another grunge band. I feel they continued that mix throughout the rest of their careers as they went into straightforward rock songs and left grunge behind to some degree.
For me, Purple is their apex. Like Core before it, Purple is an album that captures you from the moment you hit play. Every song is killer whether it’s their hit singles Big Empty, Vasoline, and Interstate Love Song, to deep cuts Silverman Supergun and Kitchenwares & Candybars, every track is a signature experience. Personally, I feel no song is better in their entire catalog
Around this time, Weiland changed his image as well as influencing the band into more of a glam/psychedelic rock sound. This lead to the album, Tiny Music… Songs From The Vatican Gift Shop. Some standout tracks include Big Bang Baby, Trippin on a Hole in a Paper Heart, and Lady Picture Show. After a failed tour due to Weiland having to go into rehab and at the height of their career, the band moved on with a new singer and started a failed side project called “Talk Show.”
Weiland, meanwhile, went on to record his first solo album 12 Bar Blues. 12 Bar Blues is an underrated album that cannot be pigeonholed into any one genre. Instead, I simply call it the “Weiland genre.” These very personal songs reveal Weiland at his most vulnerable and show a man at a crossroads in his life. No song demonstrates this more than Barbarella. What is essentially a song based on the sci-fi film, the line that always stuck out to me was:
“Grab a scale and guess the weight of all
The pain I've given with my name,
I'm a selfish piece of shit.”
I believe that was Scott speaking to all of those in his life that he was affecting by his drug abuse. I remember heading into the city to see Weiland play a solo show for the album before the radio announced the show had been canceled due to Scott being arrested in a crack house that afternoon.
After getting clean, Stone Temple Pilots reunited and released No. 4. It was a great comeback album that included the hits Sour Girl and Down. For me, the true standouts are I Got You and Atlanta, as they both show that vulnerable side of Scott again as well as showing his voice at its soft-sided best.
Shangri-La Dee Da followed and was the band’s first real commercial disappointment. Soon after, they separated once more, and Scott found himself being the lead singer of supergroup Velvet Revolver. Velvet Revolver was a rock band that included Weiland, Slash, Matt Sorum, Duff McKagan, and others. Their first single was the in-your-face rocker Slither.
The band was a really cool mix of Guns and Roses hard rock and Weiland’s own style. I believe the band’s finest moment was also one of Weiland’s greatest songs as an artist as well.
The ballad Fall To Pieces is just amazing. At the time, the whole band (who all had substance abuse issues in their lives) kind of fell off the wagon together, and this song is a snapshot of this trying time. Try giving it a listen without getting caught up in the emotion of it all.
After two successful albums, Velvet Revolver fired Weiland due to his issues, causing him to rejoin Stone Temple Pilots for a brief time. This included a reunion tour and eventual new album. By this point, the band had turned into a nostalgia act to many. I was still a regular at any show they played in the area, and I still loved STP’s music. After a few years of much of the same from Weiland, he was let go again by STP who went on to bring in Chester Bennington from Linkin Park to sing for the band (I saw this version once and was pleasantly surprised).
Weiland went out on his own again, releasing an album with his new band the Wildabouts and then recording an album with a new band called Art of Anarchy. It looked like Weiland was finally getting things under control and starting a new phase in his career while recording great music with these two new bands and touring the country with the Wildabouts.
Sadly, on December 3rd, 2015, Scott Weiland passed away on his tour bus in Minneapolis and the music world will never be the same. Scott Weiland was a true artist. A tortured soul whose main outlet was his music and performing in front of his adoring fan base.
Whether he was on the stage with Stone Temple Pilots, Velvet Revolver, or on any of his solo gigs, he owned that stage and was a true entertainer. Last year, the music world lost an icon of an era that meant so much to so many. RIP Scott, I hope you finally found what you were looking for.