Remembering Scott Weiland: A Personal Experience of Working for STP with Scott, and Seeing Them Without
I grew up listening to the likes of Stone Temple Pilots, Nirvana, Soundgarden, and Nine Inch Nails. By the age of nine, I had discovered Manic Panic hair dye and had a closet full of flannel long sleeve shirts, with thumb-holes cut out of each wrist. My early life and passion for music was shaped significantly by the sound of grunge, and my penchant for rock music today can be linked directly back to my early days as a child, listening to grunge on cassette tapes over and over and over again.
The music community lost Scott Weiland a year ago on December 3rd, 2015, with initial reports suggesting cardiac arrest but toxicology reports noting substances in his system including cocaine and MDA. Scott Weiland was one of my early childhood music heros, and his death represented a tragic loss to not just the music community but for myself and my attachment to the grunge scene. I remember driving home from work, and despite what radio station I put on, every station was paying tribute to Scott and playing songs from his solo work to Stone Temple Pilots to Velvet Revolver. To a listener like me, he represented true “rock-and-roll”, and left a legacy for the music community that no radio station could ignore.
Prior to his death, many years ago, I had the chance to work backstage at a large music festival in Baltimore, Maryland, with headliners including Stone Temple Pilots. While the backstage area was filled with long white trailers serving as makeshift green-rooms [dressing rooms] for bands from the Foo Fighters to Paramore, I was exceptionally excited at the chance to see Stone Temple Pilots and Scott Weiland. I remember at one point having to go onto his trailer to stock items, and seeing him lie on the couch, facing away with his face buried, completely withdrawn and sullen. While one can read articles that say certain things, and hear different things speckled in the media, the depth of his struggles truly struck me in that moment, seeing it in person. However, despite how I saw him in person backstage, when Scott hit the stage, he was all rock and roll, and every part the Rock God Legend that I had come to idolize growing up. As STP mentioned in part of their statement after his death- “…We know amidst the good and the bad you struggled, time and time again. It’s what made you who you were. You were gifted beyond words, Scott…”
Years later, in April of 2015, I was able to get tickets to see Stone Temple Pilots, however this time with Chester Bennington [Linkin Park] fronting the band. Scott Weiland had parted ways at that point with Stone Temple Pilots, and was working on his own projects, while Chester had stepped in to temporarily front the band. As Chester squirmed onto the stage, everything from his hot pink hair to his slow snake-like movements on stage oozed the essence of Scott Weiland. I was literally watching one of the most famous front-men of the 2000s generation on stage attempt to fill the shoes of one of the most famous rockers of the 1990s generation before. Chester did a phenomenal job, and every part of me forgot that I was watching the front-man most well-known for Linkin Park. His voice was on-point, his stage presence drew in the entire crowd, and his performance screamed rock-and-roll. However, it hit me at that time what a legacy Scott Weiland had created. He was truly irreplaceable. He was one-of-a-kind. Chester was Chester, and phenomenal all-around, but Scott was Scott.
Less than a year later, Scott Weiland was found dead. A friend of mine had helped to produce one of his shows only a few weeks before his death, and I remember in a conversation we had being told there was no inclination that he had been using any substances. “He seemed to be doing so well” was the sentiment. His death seemed a shock to the music community all around. As a rock girl, not just for Q103, but throughout my life, I am so grateful for the chances that I had to see Stone Temple Pilots, and work for them. A year later, a part of me still mourns the death of Scott Weiland and the loss of a childhood hero, but the beauty of his music is that it lives on forever.