Drugs suck. Whether Scott Weiland died of a drug overdose or simply did so much damage to himself that it was actually possible for him to die of “natural causes” at the young age of 48, no one knows just yet. Regardless, one of Weiland’s unfortunate legacies will be that of a man who spent years trying to kick his demons, a largely losing battle that cost him his place in one of the most popular bands of the 90s.
When Stone Temple Pilots first shot themselves out of a cannon and directly into the consciousness of Gen-Xers still being weened on MTV, they were immediately huge — although they suffered from the lack of respect that came with sounding like a latter-day Seattle “grunge” band. Weiland in particular got tagged with the dreaded poseur label because he seemed to be mimicking the baritone growl of Eddie Vedder.
A closer listen to STP, though, yielded a wealth of musical riches, with the band first known for the punishing rock of Sex Type Thing often traveling off into psychedelic flights of fancy and their acoustic material having real passion behind it. At the center of it was always Weiland, who made no bones about wanting to be an iconic rock-and-roll frontman. Ironically, while people often aligned him with Vedder, he actually had far more in common with Vedder’s forebear — Andy Wood, the lead singer of Mother Love Bone, which was the band Pearl Jam eventually morphed into.
Now, of course, sadly, the comparisons to Andy Wood are concrete given that Wood died of a heroin overdose at a young age. Weiland made it out of 90s alive, somehow, but now he’ll join the myriad voices and players from that era who didn’t live to see old age. Kurt Cobain. Layne Staley. Mike Starr. Andy Wood. Shannon Hoon. Kristen Pfaff. All were people with immense talent who lost their lives to addiction. Weiland is now part of their sad ranks. Again, even if his addiction to heroin didn’t directly kill him it’s hard to imagine it not playing a role.
Stone Temple Pilots were a huge part of my life in the early 90s. They provided the soundtrack to my first excursions out into the real world, my first real love, time with friends as we both succeeded wildly and withdrew into our own drug-fueled world of bliss. We loved STP — and with good reason. They were a great band and Weiland was and will remain that iconic frontman he longed to be. His death is a tragedy, but his life brought us a lot of really great music. Here now are 15 of his essential performances.
“Sex Type Thing” (From Core, 1992)
Nothing like coming out of the gate strong. This was the track that introduced the world to Stone Temple Pilots. It’s a brutal slam against hyper-masculinity that was, unfortunately, taken as exactly the opposite. This misinterpretation is what led Scott Weiland to start wearing a dress onstage. Heavy-handed yes, but the message was clear.
“Plush” (From Core, 1992)
This was STP’s first massive hit and it remains their biggest and most enduring track. Weiland called the lyrics to this song “a metaphor for a lost, obsessive relationship.” You can make the argument that it’s been overplayed throughout the years, but that’s probably because it’s a fantastic song.
“Vasoline” (From Purple, 1994)
The first single off of STP’s second album, Purple — a record that not only defied the sophomore slump but which improved vastly on the band’s debut — this song was Weiland’s first hint at his struggles with addiction. The fact that it was all set to a gloriously propulsive piece of music, though, hid the pain.
“Interstate Love Song” (From Purple, 1994)
As close to a pure pop song as Stone Temple Pilots ever wrote, this is one of those tracks that still brings a smile to your face 20 years after its release. It had everything that made STP, and Weiland, so great.
“Still Remains” (From Purple, 1994)
How this wasn’t a single I still have no idea. It’s one of STP’s most intoxicating tracks, a lush, swirling piece of gorgeousness.
“Big Empty” (From Purple, 1994)
Beat for beat, this may be STP’s best song. The dynamic between the folksy, languid verses and monstrous, sprawling chorus turn what could have been a basic power ballad into something truly magnificent.
“Mockingbird Girl” (From the Tank Girl soundtrack, 1995, and 12 Bar Blues, 1998)
This song was originally done under the name of a side project, the Magnificent Bastards, but later adapted to Weiland’s first solo record. It’s catchier than syphilis.
“Trippin’ on a Hole in a Paper Heart” (From Tiny Music… Songs from the Vatican Gift Shop, 1996)
Moving along with all the power of a tank, this powerful song was a throwback to some of STP’s earlier stuff on an album that saw the band, and Weiland, spreading their wings and moving into more psychedelic territory.
“Adhesive” (From Tiny Music… Songs from the Vatican Gift Shop, 1996)
An deep cut that stands not only as one of STP’s most unsung songs but also sums up the sound of Tiny Music. Weiland was always good at ballads, but the plaintiveness of the chorus on this track makes this whole effort extraordinary.
“Sour Girl” (From No. 4, 1999)
If you want a good laugh, look up the “making of” clip for the video for this song, where the members of STP giddily hide themselves from the very famous Sarah Michelle Gellar, who appeared in the video. This is not only a standout song among STP’s catalog, it’s one of Weiland’s best vocal performances and one of his most personal and heartbreaking songs.
“Glide” (From No. 4, 1999)
Think of this as the sequel to Still Remains.
“Too Cool Queenie” (From Shangri-la de da, 2001)
An awesome bit of Beatles-esque pop psychedelia, this was a standout track from an otherwise lackluster effort by STP.
“Murder” (From the Crystal Method’s Tweekend, 2001)
Weiland sang on this bad-ass track from EDM legends the Crystal Method, adding serious flare to what was already a booming dance anthem.
“Slither” (From Velvet Revolver’s Contraband, 2004)
Velvet Revolver was exactly what you would’ve expected. It was a band that sounded like Guns-N-Roses by way of Stone Temple Pilots because it was a combination of those two bands. This track was the first single from the supergroup and it had all of the slinky grooves of GNR with all the latter-day authority of Weiland’s vocal prowess.
“Fall To Pieces” (From Velvet Revolver’s Contraband, 2004)
This song and video are absolutely crushing when you consider the turmoil that had been going on in Weiland’s life for years. It’s a soul-baring journey into the tragic life of a heroin addict who can’t seem to pull it together. Maybe more than any other song, this one feels like Weiland’s legacy.
Chez Pazienza was the beating heart of The Daily Banter, sadly passing away on February 25, 2017. His voice remains ever present at the Banter, and his influence as powerful as ever.