Remembering Scott Weiland: A Rare Breed and True Frontman

Featured Image by Ed Vill

It was the first thing I saw when I woke up Friday morning. A headline that read more as a deeply gutting feeling with a mixture of shock and disbelief. Scott Weiland was gone. I’d only just read an interview he had done with Alternative Nation a week or so before, shedding light on everything from the Stone Temple Pilots’ early beginnings to later dysfunctions, as well as to some of the aspirations he hoped to reach again with in his new musical endeavors. There were sides to Scott many people did not see, including his first solo album 1998’s 12 Bar Bluesauthoring an autobiography, and releasing a Christmas album, The Most Wonderful Time of Year.

I was only allowed to listen to pop radio growing up (93Q in Syracuse), so much of my early exposure to other music came on bus rides to and from school because the bus driver listened to the rock station (95X). It is where I first heard songs like Stone Temple Pilots’ “Interstate Love Song” and Pearl Jam’s “Daughter.” Years later I would get into “Plush,” and then Tiny Music…Songs From The Vatican Gift Shop was actually the first album that introduced me to a more raw and lo-fi sound that would be the gateway to a rabbit-hole of low fi rock music that still has had no end. I loved Tiny Music[…], I would mess with the knobs on the old hand-me-down stereo-system I had to listen to it in different ways. I think the transition into “Crackerman” on 1992’s Core was one of the best I’ve ever heard.

After years, I finally got to see them play live with a group of friends at the Tsongas Arena in Lowell, MA on October 5, 2000 while on a stop for the No. 4 Tour. Scott was fresh out of jail and they were on the road in support of the new album, which had really taken off on the back of some big singles. The set list was masterful. I have never seen a more completely entertaining and energetic performance from four guys on stage. They were true showmen, the likes of which is very rare in music nowadays and was visibly on display during the tour which included a stop here in Philadelphia at the Spectrum.

Scott was a rare breed, amidst one of the last couple generations of bands that had a true “frontman.” He was healthy and clean as a whistle, and he blew everyone’s mind in the packed-capacity arena crowd that evening. The on-stage presence was unlike any I’ve ever seen live. His chemistry with the DeLeo brothers was so vibrant and fluid in the synchronization and interactivity in which they moved together, as if he’d been their third adopted sibling, who had grown up performing together with them. What for years was my favorite live music moment that I had ever witnessed took place during their performance of “Plush.” They cut the music suddenly and let the maxed-out arena audience sing the entire chorus back to them before picking back up and completing the last few lines of the song. I’ll never forget looking all around the arena at this huge crowd, everyone singing at full volume, this band’s song that they all knew and loved, on-key and to the finest detail. That was a moment that resonated with me and drove me in my vision for what it was what I hope to accomplish in music. When STP broke up after the self-titled album/tour, it just seemed like another chapter in the band’s storied dysfunction. Like a PR stunt or an inevitability that they would come back together…and I was looking forward to seeing them once more when they did.

But, the band was not and isn’t STP without Scott. They had charted eleven Top 10 appearances on the Alternative Songs chart, six Top 10 Spots on the Billboard 200 and sixteen Top 10’s on the Mainstream Rock songs airplay chart, selling 13.5 million albums in the US during their tenure together, which was no small feat. Scott also sold 2.4 million with Velvet Revolver, his band with former Guns & Roses musicians, as well.  One of the most underrated frontmen and underrated rock acts in history, for sure. “Trippin’ A Hole in a Paper Heart” is still one of my favorite songs of all time. Not to mention his epic Velvet Revolver run, by the way. Scott won Grammys with both bands, and both bands learned a unique truth post-breakup: Scott Weiland is irreplaceable. His biggest hits between his different bands are unforgettable.

The news broke that Weiland, having just turned forty-eight on October 27th, had passed away via a tweet from friend and Jane’s Addiction guitarist Dave Navarro: “Our friend Scott Weiland has died.” The announcement was formalized in a post by Scott’s Facebook page. Reports have stated that he was found unresponsive around 9:00pm on his bus on a tour stop in Minnesota with his current act The Wildabouts, having left this world in his sleep, with reports stating the cause of death as cardiac arrest, according to New York Daily News.  All around music world, artists and fans alike have continued to mourn the loss of such a dynamic life:

Sentiments included heartfelt statements from his Velvet Revolver and Stone Temple Pilots bandmates (here), as well as in a tearful interview with Guns & Roses and Velvet Revolver drummer Matt Sorum (you can listen to it here).

Whenever the stage and spotlight were big, he would always rise to the bar that he and his band mates had set over the years. In addition to the memorable music he was so instrumental in creation, he also gave us a number of great music videos, including:

And, an MTV Unplugged performance to boot!

How do you sum up the life of a guy you have followed since the 5th grade with around 1,000 words with some links?  It is not possible. You cannot put to words or contextualize someone who seemed to be larger than life. He rose from the ashes so many times, I never thought he would leave music and the world this way, and that grieves me. We lost a rare breed, person, and talent. Thank you for what you gave music, Scott. You will be missed.

What is your favorite memory of Scott Weiland? Tell us in the comments below!

3 Comments

  1. Lauren Silvestri

    December 7, 2015 at 11:04 pm

    He contributed to such a great breadth of music; I forgot how many amazing songs STP has.

  2. Bryana Natale

    December 10, 2015 at 1:31 pm

    This is such a beautiful piece. Really feels like a celebration of Scott’s life.

  3. David

    December 11, 2015 at 1:34 pm

    This may have been my favorite STP video… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JzS590AkE6c
    Still super sad and weird that this is over.

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