Friday, December 4, 2015

Dan Remembers Scott Weiland (1967-2015)

by Dan Moore

Scott Weiland, the lead singer of the seminal 90s grunge band Stone Temple Pilots, passed away last night at the age of 48. I had two distinct feelings about this when I read about it.

1. Dammit, one of my all-time faves, gone far too young.
2. I can't believe he lasted this long.

October 27, 1967 – December 3, 2015

I was 13 years old back in 1991, when the alternative movement really hit its stride. Albums by Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden were taking the music world by storm. They made me start to put away childish things, you know, Guns N Roses, Skid Row and Motley Crue. As I rocked along to the Seattle sound, in '92, a band whose roots grew in the San Diego rock scene crept up and slapped me in the face.

The first STP album came out and was immediately thrown into heavy rotation in my Walkman. Yes, that’s correct, I bought the tape. It was amazing. They were far more accessible to my adolescent brain than the other bands out at the time. From the original album, Core, the powerful, vocal thrust of "Plush," the metal riffs of "Sex Type Thing" and the closing, epic "Where the River Goes." All of it was perfect. This tape was traded throughout the neighborhood so all of us Southie hoodlums could have a copy. It was played so much that the actual tape was worn out and snapped. And I was a broke kid working at a Mom & Pop store. So I cracked that thing open, used some Scotch tape, and BOOM, I was rockin' again. They jumped to the top of my Favorite Bands list. Posters on the walls, shirts purchased and multiple copies of singles and albums.

Weiland’s voice wasn’t hugely unique, but it was huge. A bellow and howl that could hold a melody insanely long. I recall going to see them in concert and marveling at the fact that they sounded just as good live as they did on CD (I had upgraded by that point). It was clear that the four of them - Weiland, brothers Dean (guitar) and Robert DeLeo (bass), and Eric Kretz (drums) - shared a great songwriting gift. It was also clear that Weiland was a truly tortured man.

Weiland during the recording of the sublime MTV Unplugged album.
This is how I prefer to remember him. 

Drugs. The old rock n roll cliché. Scott Weiland was it, the cliché. Over and over again; arrests, probations, jail time. He couldn’t kick the hold the drugs had on him. I recall a Weiland concert myself and fellow contributor Mike Parker went to at the River Rave in Boston. He had left or been kicked out of STP for the time being because of his drug problems and released a solo album that was truly mesmerizing. So many different styles of music, influenced by jazz, by Bowie, by everything it seemed. He put on a helluva show that night...and later on, after he left, was arrested in a section of town known for drug dealing.  And at that point, I figured a tragic end was in store.

I don’t know what happened to him last night when he died. There’s been no cause of death released. It’s hard not to assume drugs. The singer's body was discovered on his tour bus outside a motel, near the venue where he and his current band, The Wildabouts, were due to play. But the writing has been on the wall for years. He’s done incredible music with STP, with Velvet Revolver, and his solo work was amazingly strange but oddly beautiful. He was a rock icon, with that voice that wouldn’t stop and the on stage gyrations burned into your brain whenever you saw him live. He couldn’t outrun his demons, however. But now the show is over. Rest in peace, sir. Time to take her home.

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