Scott Richard Weiland, the enigmatic Stone Temple Pilots and Velvet Revolver frontman and accomplished solo artist, tragically passed away this week at the age of only 48. While much speculation surrounds his death, now should instead be a time for mourning and reflection on his life and brilliant career.
Weiland, born October 27, 1967 was born and raised in San Jose, CA, by his adopted stepfather and mother. After a brief stint living in Ohio, he attended Edison High School and Orange Coast College, before meeting his future bandmate Robert DeLeo at a Black Flag concert in Long Beach. The pair hit it off, bonding over similar interests and mutual friends.
Stone Temple Pilots was founded by Weiland and DeLeo in the late 1980s, their name spawned mainly from their love of the abbreviation STP that would come from the band’s name. The group put out their first full length album, Core, in 1992, and it immediately saw success, including the hit singles “Creep” and “Plush,” the latter which won a GRAMMY award.
STP’s second release, Purple, came in 1994, and highlighted the group’s progression into their own distinct style. Purple was responsible for such hits as “Vasoline” and “Interstate Love Song,” in addition to receiving critical acclaim. The band followed up with their third release “Tiny Music… Songs from the Vatican Gift Shop,” which unfortunately was not as successful as its predecessors. STP from here went on hiatus for several years.
Returning from their hiatus in 1999, STP released their fourth studio album, simply titled No. 4. The album’s notable hit single was “Sour Girl,” who many fans remember for an ethereal music video starring the actress Sarah Michelle Gellar. STP’s fifth release, Shangri-La Dee Da, came out, seeing the band headlining the massive Family Values Tour alongside the bands Linkin Park and Staind.
Stone Temple Pilots journey would sadly not last forever, and the group disbanded in 2002, after Weiland and DeLeo struggled with significant disagreements while on tour. In 2007, Weiland made amends with DeLeo and considered returning to STP for a stint headlining the summer festival season. Though these shows did not happen, in 2008, STP attempted an extensive U.S. tour, which was quite successful and led to the band releasing their first album in nearly a decade, their eponymous sixth record. Their reunion and touring continued until 2010, when they once again took a hiatus.
The year 2012 was tumultuous for Stone Temple Pilots, as they celebrated the 20 year anniversary of Core and claimed to be planning a book, film, new album, box set and tour to mark the occasion. The band did come through on the tour, but not the rest of their promises, nor did they perform Core in its entirety on tour as originally stated. Weiland was eventually fired STP again, it was generally felt that continued tensions between Weiland and his bandmates led to this decision.
Weiland’s career outside of Stone Temple Pilots was filled with side projects. His first, in 1995, was the group The Magnificent Bastards, alongside Zander Schloss, Victor Indrizzo, Bob Thompson, and Jeff Nolan. Though the group only recorded two complete songs, one, titled “Mockingbird Girl,” was featured in the film Tank Girl’s soundtrack. This group also covered “How Do You Sleep?” for a tribute album to John Lennon.
During STP’s hiatus following their third studio release, Weiland released a solo album in 1998 titled 12 Bar Blues, most of the songs which he had penned himself, the remaining were collaborations with other talented artists, including Sheryl Crow. Weiland also found time to temporarily join the supergroup The Wondergirls and record a couple of songs with them.
An often overlooked highlight of Weiland’s career was his association with The Doors. In November 2000, Weiland performed on VH1 Storytellers with the surviving members of The Doors, where he served as lead vocalist on “Break On Through (To the Other Side)” and “Five to One.” Around the same time, Weiland appeared, with STP, on a tribute album to The Doors titled Stoned Immaculate where they also covered “Break On Through (To the Other Side).”
Following his departure from STP, Weiland found another arena for his star to shine brightly, and joined the band Velvet Revolver with Guns N’ Roses members Slash, Duff McKagan, Matt Sorum and the Wasted Youth guitarist Dave Kushner. Weiland helmed the vocals in Velvet Revolver, finally seeing connections he had made throughout his years in the music industry pay off. When first approached by Velvet Revolver, Weiland had trepidations, not liking the material they had presented him with. However, he warmed enough to record the vocals, and eventually joined the band. The group’s hit track “Set Me Free” rose up the Billboard charts without any label or even promotion.
Velvet Revolver debuted in 2004 with the album Contraband, which reached number one status on the Billboard charts the first week and spawned the hit tracks “Slither” and “Fall to Pieces.” “Slither” went on to win a GRAMMY award in 2005. Velvet Revolver’s successful run included a performance with Bono, Brian Wilson, Norah Jones, Stevie Wonder, Steven Tyler, Billie Joe Armstrong, Alison Krauss and Alicia Keys at that year’s GRAMMY awards ceremony, as well as a performance as part of the London branch of the Live 8 festival.
Libertad, Velvet Revolver’s sophomore release in 2007, saw similar success although it did not reach quite the same heights as Contraband, peaking at number 5 on the Billboard charts and receiving much more mixed critical response, noted as being too “safe” a direction for the group to take. Either way, fans responded well, and the singles including “The Last Fight” were all relative hits.
Outside of his jobs as a frontman, Weiland took up a business venture at one point, owning the record label Softdrive Records. At one point he also had his own clothing line. Weiland also penned a memoir, titled ‘Not Dead & Not for Sale’ in 2011. In his personal life, Weiland was married to Janina Castaneda from 1994 until 2000. Following his divorce from Castaneda, Weiland married Mary Forsberg, with whom he had two children, Noah and Lucy.
Weiland’s personal problems unfortunately were a large part of his life. In interviews, he noted that he had bipolar disorder which caused him lots of mood swings. Weiland is also often associated with drug use. In 1995, he was caught purchasing cocaine, and later convicted and sentenced to a year of probation, the first of several drug arrests. In 2007, Weiland was arrested for a DUI, for which he entered rehab. In rehab, he said in an interview, he had to come to terms with such unfortunate events in his past as being raped by a high school senior when he was only 12. While the timeline of Weiland’s cocaine and heroin use is often unclear, those around him knew that he was often on and off the drugs, although he greatly desired to be seen for more than just a user.
Following the news of his passing, both the remaining members of Stone Temple Pilots and Velvet Revolver have released statements. In the STP statement, the DeLeon brothers and Eric Kretz thanked Weiland for sharing his life with them, as well as for sharing his gift and crafting great music. The members of Velvet Revolver noted that they always loved him, even during his darkest moments, and that they felt the deepest sorrow for his family being that their families grew together.