Late last week singer Scott Weiland passed away. Over the weekend there have been many beautiful and touching memories shared and I needed a chance to say, “Thank you.”
It would be impossible to say anything that would adequately convey how much Weiland has meant to me over the years or how many times his music has probably saved my life without my even noticing, kept me hanging in there, as Weiland himself always had.
He was a man of perseverance. He suffered many personal and professional difficulties that played out in public: being thrown out of two high-profile rock bands, messy divorces, the death of his brother, the death of his guitarist, and the endless struggles with drinking and drug addiction. It’s a hefty toll for anyone to bear and Weiland carried it all for 48 years while never letting it completely stall or slow him down musically.
His voice and presence made Stone Temple Pilots the great rock band they were; a group that challenged conventions to create music that was beautiful whether it was delicately acoustic or deafeningly crushing. His solo albums were diverse and challenging, refusing to follow a model other than his creative muse. In Velvet Revolver he once again stepped into a rock band, firmly in a place that invited scrutiny given it seemed he was slipping into Axl Roses’s shoes, but he gave himself entirely and delivered. Through his music Weiland introduced and ushered me into a world of careful listening and appreciation for the art of songs, songwriting, and performance.
Weiland was a rock star, the kind we don’t see anymore, and I hope that’s how he’s remembered. He embodied elements of the tragic figures in the culture that took the lives of Andrew Wood, Shannon Hoon, Layne Staley, and Kurt Cobain along with countless other musicians. He managed to survive longer than most, but it eventually caught up with him. Though the particulars surrounding his death will unfold over the next few weeks, we all know with what demons Weiland wrestled.
Even from the beginning it seemed Weiland had to fight battles. Early on, Stone Temple Pilots were compared to Pearl Jam, with Weiland receiving the most criticism for what many considered a mimic of Eddie Vedder’s vocal style. He had to work hard to escape these judgments and even as he did, the band continued to face a lot of scrutiny for their sound and style, despite how quickly they sonically matured into a truly unique entity with TINY MUSIC… SONGS FROM THE VATICAN GIFT SHOP being his crowning achievement (in a recent interview even Weiland professed it was his proudest musical accomplishment). Shortly after that the drugs and jail stints came, but so did much more great music.
There was a recent interview with Weiland where he discussed being in the public eye and his role as frontman that forced him to also be spokesman. He reflected that it forced him to have an answer for every action and behavior. Given his long list of troubles, it tallies to an unfathomable amount of explanations to deliver.
My greatest hope is that Weiland is remembered fondly as a gifted man. The articles, tributes, and comments I’ve seen have all been kind and reflect on his contributions to popular music and it’s comforting to see. I saw a beautiful comment on YouTube that hoped they’d let him take his megaphone through the pearly gates.
I could go on and on about Weiland, but for the moment I’ll give him some rest and peace that he never received or managed to find. There will undoubtedly be many highlights of his career appearing online, but here’s a few that stand out and I found myself immediately thinking of when I saw the news. These deserve appreciation alongside the many tracks we all know, love, and are having the hell played out of them this past weekend, and I hope for a very long time to come.
Before turning to the music let me extend the deepest and most heartfelt condolences to his wife, kids, and family.
Now, for some music…
An unbelievable vocal with a scream (around the 3:30 mark) to rival Roger Daltrey’s bellow from The Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again.” From Weiland’s short-lived side project, The Magnificent Bastards:
An unique interplay between piano, accordion, guitar, and vocal. From Weiland’s first solo album, 12 Bar Blues:
At the height of their power as a live act. Stone Temple Pilots playing “Piece of Pie from their debut “Core” in 2000:
A rock song that is also a deceptively sweet love song. Includes my favorite lyric — “If you should die before me ask if you could bring a friend.” It was the song blasting when our wedding party was introduced. My wife and I walked right in on that line. Unplanned and perfect. Have a listen:
Jazzy, atmospheric, and ethereal. All good things:
Perfection. Especially lyrically. Thank you, Mr. Weiland. Lend an ear:
So many beautiful songs:
A lullaby for Weiland’s son, Noah:
Getting into their rock shoes. This was supposed to be an official live video release, but was shelved for some reason. Bless my parents for all the places we stopped trying to find that non-existent VHS tape. From their second album, “Purple”:
Another favorite lyric — “Still I wonder why I ever let myself take my own advice”:
Knowing the dark place from which Weiland was returning at the time, it’s haunting how he sings, “As I get behind the wheel again, pray to live a million years.” Chills every time:
That non-stop vocal delivery:
It’s worth it just to see Weiland puffing away on a cigarette while thousands of people can’t wait for him to turn to the mic.
And finally a cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Dancing Days” from the days of Stone Temple Pilots. A huge influence on my desire to play guitar and on my guitar playing. One of the first songs I learned:
Thank you, Scott.