The Loss of Scott Weiland Hits Hard
By Eytan Eilender
I woke up this morning in a daze when I scrolled through my Facebook feed, and saw the news that Scott Weiland had passed away. The saddest part is that this was something we all saw coming from a mile away, and it’s so tragic that it couldn’t be prevented. It’s no secret that Weiland publicly battled drug addiction throughout his entire career. It’s almost as though we’ve been bracing ourselves for this moment for so long, and now that it has arrived, it’s certainly no less devastating.
Weiland passed away in his sleep on a tour stop in Bloomington, Minnesota, according to an official Instagram post. In addition to sharing the news of his death, it read, “At this time we ask that the privacy of Scott’s family be respected.” He was 48 years young, and gone way too soon.
Scott Weiland was undoubtedly one of the most prolific frontmen in rock & roll history. He delivered such charismatic performances, and had a voice that was instantly recognizable and profoundly stirring. He was pretty much the Jim Morrison of our generation in many ways. He had similar vocal style, sassiness, and also battled with and succumbed to addiction.
For me, Stone Temple Pilots were a major soundtrack to my formidable years growing up in middle school. They are easily one of my favorite bands of the 90s. Their albums ‘Core’, ‘Purple’, and ‘Tiny Music… Songs From the Vatican Giftshop’ are three of the greatest rock albums. Every song is embedded in my being, and listening back today has been a difficult experience.
Stone Temple Pilots came onto the scene with their debut album ‘Core’ in 1992. The entire album from beginning to end is stellar, and sported huge hits such as ‘Plush’, ‘Creep’, and ‘Sex Type Thing’. They took the world by storm. Then came the masterpiece ‘Purple’ in 1994, which included unforgettable tunes like ‘Vaseline’, ‘Interstate Love Song’, ‘Big Empty’, ‘Pretty Penny’ and more. ‘Purple’ is another album which is absolutely phenomenal throughout from beginning to end. After that came ‘Tiny Music… Songs From the Vatican Giftshop’, which took an interesting and awesome turn from their staple grunge sound, and had a dreamy psychedelic glam rock feel to it. The singles ‘Big Bang Baby’, ‘Trippin’ On A Hole In a Paper Heart’, and ‘Lady Picture Show’ were all major hits, but the entire album is a complete work of brilliance. Even their album ‘No. 4’ had its highlights with ‘Down’ and ‘Sour Girl’, although that was around the point that things started to go downhill. They made one more album after that entitled ‘Shangri-La Dee Da’, which was quite a disappointment. After that, in 2002, Weiland decided that Stone Temple Pilots were done. This decision left avid fans quite heartbroken.
In the years after Stone Temple Pilots broke up, Scott Weiland became the frontman for ‘Velvet Revolver’ with former ‘Guns n’ Roses’ members Slash, Duff McKagan, and Matt Sorum. They released 4 albums, and had quite a successful run. Weiland also released 4 solo albums over his career, the best one being his solo debut ’12 Bar Blues’ in 1998. In 2008, Stone Temple Pilots got back together. They released a self-titled album in 2010, and went on tour. Everything was a mess, and continued to deteriorate. Weiland was kicked out of the band in 2013, with involved legal proceedings. That was the last he would ever play with Stone Temple Pilots.
One of the saddest things for me is that my last memory of Stone Temple Pilots is seeing them a couple years back with Chester Bennington of Linkin Park. Weiland was such a mess, that Bennington had to take his place. He did a decent job, but nobody could hold a candle to Scott Weiland. I remember seeing Stone Temple Pilots in Gainesville while I was a student at the University of Florida. They opened the show with Pink Floyd’s ‘Shine On You Crazy Diamond’ and Weiland absolutely owned the tune. To this day, he is one of the greatest live performers I have had the privilege of seeing.
Sadly, the signs were there in the song lyrics all along. “Flies in the Vaseline we are, sometimes it blows my mind, keep getting stuck here all the time… going blind, out of reach, somewhere in the Vaseline” clearly expresses his struggle with addiction and ability to become swallowed whole by it. The lyrics “I am smelling like a rose that somebody gave me on my birthday deathbead. I am trampled under sole of another man’s shoes. Guess I walked too softly. I am smelling like a rose that somebody gave me, coz I’m dead and bloated” illustrate how he already felt dead while he was still living. This is so saddening, especially since the song was written 23 years ago. To know that he was battling such horrible inner demons for so long is heartwrenching. The lyrics from the song ‘Sin’ off the album ‘Core’ are possibly the most dark & dreary in its foreshadowing. “Down you go, suffer long. Down you go, sin make me strong. Down you go, suffer long. Down you go, sin make me strong. You control me, soul you stole, mine. Wishful thinking. Six feet under.” It is hard not to cringe reading these lyrics, also from 23 years ago, showing how deeply disturbed Weiland was. But the most poetically heartbreaking lyrics that Weiland ever wrote was the chorus to ‘Still Remains’ off the album ‘Purple’. The melody & pain with which he cries his soul out are devastating, and the lyrics rip your heart out because you know even back then that he was just waiting to die.
Pick a song and sing a yellow nectarine Take a bath, I’ll drink the water that you leave If you should die before me ask if you can bring a friend Pick a flower, hold your breath and drift away
While we all saw it coming, we still held out hope that he could get himself clean and straighten his life out. It is so sad to watch someone with such promise be the impetus of their own demise. Anytime a fiery light is extinguished too soon it is tragic, but especially when that person was their own worst enemy and brought it upon themselves. Today, December 4th, 2015 is a sad day, and will always be remembered as the day we lost a true rock icon in Scott Weiland. Perhaps nothing is as haunting as the line from ‘Big Empty’ which Weiland utters, “Time to take a ride. It leaves today. No conversation.” Sadly, that precisely what occurred. It has been very hard to listen to that song today without getting choked up. Weiland was an extremely tortured soul. We can only hope that the ride he took, which left today without conversation, has finally brought his soul the peace it was unable to find in this realm. Rest in Peace Scott Weiland. May your memory be a blessing.