Dead and Bloated
An Ode by Pete Crigler
Dead and Bloated: An Ode to Scott Weiland By: Pete Crigler I remember I was just about to turn 10. The year was 1996 and I had a choice presented to me. My mother told me I could get either Stone Temple Pilots' Tiny Music…Songs from the Vatican Gift Shop or Oasis' What's the Story? (Morning Glory) on cassette. I began thinking. I thought about the songs I'd heard on MTV and I decided to go with STP. Almost twenty years later, I know I made the right decision.
As I'm sitting here writing this on a weekend afternoon, it's been three days since Scott Weiland, lead singer of STP and Velvet Revolver was found dead in his tour bus just outside a hotel in Minnesota. After a lifetime of drug problems, it was initially reported that his cause of death was cardiac arrest though small amounts of coke were found on the bus and his bassist got arrested for possession in the aftermath. Condolences began pouring in from around the world but no one could say they were really surprised.
This is the third time I've been through something like this. I was 9 when Shannon Hoon (Blind Melon) died, 16 when Layne Staley (Alice In Chains) passed and 29 when Weiland died. All the great voices of my generation bar a few have died and they all died from drugs. If anything, this has made me never want to touch drugs of ANY kind.
I came into STP late, the first record of theirs I bought was Tiny Music but then I went backwards and discovered the rest of Core and Purple. These are two of the greatest alt rock records ever made; not just in the '90's but ever. So heavy with really thought provoking lyrics and great vocal delivery from Weiland. Their third album released in 1996 marked a change in not only the band but Weiland. He had been publicly outed as a heroin addict, a habit rumored that he picked up after touring with the Butthole Surfers in 1993.
About six months or so after the album was released and the band embarked on an ill-fated tour, everything fell apart because Weiland couldn't stop doing drugs. As a result, the other three started the short-lived Talk Show and Weiland attempted to launch a solo career. Hooking up with all his drug buddy musician friends, he recorded the bizarre and Bowie-esque 12 Bar Blues. But of course he botched that too by getting arrested in New York City for copping dope the day after playing a big radio festival. After that, he slinked back to STP and they released No.4 in 1999. Now this was a great rock record but I didn't realize it at the time because I had moved on from the likes of STP. It was at this point in time when Weiland became a genius. About the time the album was hitting stores, he got thrown in jail for six months due to his various fuckups. The album's second single "Heaven & Hot Rods," one of their hardest and best tracks never got a video because of his incarceration and consequently did not become the massive hit it should have. By the time they got to the third single "Sour Girl," Weiland was out of jail and the band ended up having their biggest hit in years.
But after the disaster that was 2001's Shangri-La Dee Da, the band fell apart for good after reports of fistfights backstage between Weiland and the DeLeo brothers and everyone went off on their own. Weiland went back to heroin and cocaine, his new drug of choice and found himself in more trouble after getting busted in 2002 and '03. Unlike people like Layne Staley or Cobain, Weiland had the luck of seemingly getting arrested every damn time he attempted to cop. It was during this time that a lot of fans, myself included turned their back on him because of his unreliability and his perpetually getting fucked up and wasting all his talent.
Just when we thought he was down and out for good, along came the former guys of Guns 'n' Roses who were putting together a new band and were looking for a singer. Even though he was still fucked up on dope and the other guys were sober, he auditioned and they liked what they heard. Velvet Revolver was born and even though Weiland got busted for dope before the band started recording their 1st record, the band persevered and ended up releasing Contraband in 2004 and had two massive hits with "Slither" and the painfully autobiographical "Fall to Pieces." But like STP, Velvet Revolver ended up falling apart 4 years later due to Weiland's problems which now included running late for shows and putting on poor and subpar performances, something he'd never been known for doing before. Fortunately, the guys in Velvet Revolver weren't going to put up with Weiland's shit like the guys in STP did and kicked him to the curb.
And so Weiland went crawling back to a hopeful STP reunion in 2009, which started off quite well. The band put out a fantastic self-titled album in 2010 and were going back out on the road to revel in joyous celebration, but this is when Weiland's story began to slide towards the end. He started showing up late to performances and when he did play, he played like he didn't give a shit, which leant the idea to some that maybe he was back on drugs. But he swore time and time again that the last time he'd touched heroin was in 2002 but he never said the last time he'd ever touched cocaine, which should've been a red flag for everybody.
It got to the point where the guys in STP couldn't put up with it anymore and in 2012, they officially kicked him out of the band. Disagreements between the guys got so bad that at one point Weiland had sued the band to try and continue to use the STP name for his own stuff. That idea was quickly shot down by the courts so Weiland started his own band The Wildabouts and proceeded to hit the road performing a solo revue, containing his own material as well as certain STP classics.
This pattern continued for the next couple of years. Then in 2015, he announced he was putting out a new solo record with his band called Blaster. He actively started promoting the record, doing interviews and press and generally just getting back in the game. Then, literally the day before the record was released, the guitarist in The Wildabouts, Jeremy Brown, was found dead when he didn't show up for sound check for the album release party. Weiland was devastated and cancelled a few weeks' worth of shows to mourn. Subsequently it was discovered that Brown had died of a drug overdose, which surprised absolutely no one in particular.
With his sudden loss of a friend and bandmate, Weiland's ultimate slide into the abyss began. Once he finally hit the road with a new guitar player and drummer Joey Castillo, formerly of Danzig and Queens of the Stone Age added to the lineup, Weiland's performances caused a lot of concern. Reports of him forgetting the words, acting rudely to fans and generally being a diva were being circulated all over the internet while his management blandly tried to put the fire out with generic comments. This pattern seemed to continue throughout the summer and fans and the media in general became worried and concerned about his well-being.
He continued touring into the summer but his shoddy performances became more and more frequent. He kept insisting nothing was wrong and that he was doing fine. He kept giving interviews and talking trash about anything he could find. Some websites still reported his ongoing dramas but most ignored it. Then it finally happened.
On the evening of December 3, 2015, Weiland was discovered unconscious in the back of his tour bus parked outside a hotel in suburban Minnesota. Upon arrival, paramedics pronounced him dead. He was only 48. In the aftermath, the bus was inspected by cops who found cocaine and other drugs all over the bus and ended up arresting the Wildabouts' bassist for cocaine possession. Upon news of his death hitting the Internet, the music community was stunned and saddened by his loss but the general public was more or less apathetic. My general response was 'Wow, I'm surprised this hadn't happened earlier.' Immediately, the tributes started pouring in but I couldn't help but think about everything he'd fucked up. All the opportunities STP had passed on because their frontman was too out of it to carry a tune. The promise of Velvet Revolver shattered because of his weird behavior. It was just sad and disappointing that you had to add him to the list of great dead rock frontmen.
It was initially said to take 4 to 8 weeks to gather results from the autopsy but in reality, it took about 4 to 5 days after the initial announcement. It was declared Weiland died from an 'accidental' overdose of booze, coke and a form of ecstasy. When the news broke, absolutely NO ONE was stunned or surprised at what the coroner found. Adding him to the list which now included Brad Nowell of Sublime, Layne Staley, Shannon Hoon, Cobain, Wayne Static of Static-X, Jonathan Melvoin of the Smashing Pumpkins, not to mention countless others who met the same fate.
A few days later, the mother of Weiland's two children released an open letter to Rolling Stone where she basically said that while the words of mourning and condolences were appreciated, the children were used to having to lost their father years ago. This open letter was met with a lot of disdain from people who believed family crises like these should be kept private and not spilled over all the papers. Yet this just added to the overall tragedy that permeated his life. It's been said that the loss of guitarist Jeremy Brown was the beginning of the end for him. After Brown's death, that's when he began his long-winded final descent into the ground. My belief is that he finally gave up and spent the next couple of months trying to annihilate himself into the most utter oblivion until he finally succeeded.
In the months and years following his death, lots of people, particularly those of my generation who grew up with STP will remember Weiland as a gifted singer with a knack for really dark lyrics, most having to do with his various addictions and the consequences of dealing with the addictions. He truly was one of the greatest vocalists of the '90's and created some of the most well-known and adored songs of the alternative rock era. But unfortunately, future generations will look at him and just see a pathetic, pitiful druggie who never could get his shit together. That's the two sides of his character and that's apparently what he wanted to people to think about him. What a waste.
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