I knew of the Stone Temple Pilots as a child. I didn't get into them until I was in college. And get into them I did. What a voice. Loud and angry at times, but vulnerable and sad as well.
I was laying in bed one night in the beginning of December and around 12:30 a.m. I saw people on my twitter timeline talking about Scott Weiland in the past tense. I scrolled back and figured out what had happened. The news had just broken: media outlets had not yet started covering his death. It was just musicians who knew him breaking the news - most notably Dave Navarro.
The sad aspect is that nobody had to speculate on what the cause of death was. Usually when a 48-year-old man leading an active lifestyle drops dead, you pause to wonder. The only thing to really question here was if he was back on heroin, which Weiland had noted he had not touched in several years. The official report stated it was a cocaine overdose.
Every time I hear something about a cocaine overdose, I'm always taken back to a 2010 conversation with a friend who talked about her history of dabbling with the drug in her college days. She very adamantly told me that you couldn't get hooked on it or die from it. I had to explain to her that she was very, very wrong about all of that.
It's always weird to think about how to remember somebody who died of a drug overdose. Do we celebrate their life? Acknowledge their struggle? Scott Weiland was known for being two things: a great artist and a heroin addict.
He spent time in jail over his addiction. That addiction helped break up STP in the early 2000s. Those aren't good. But at the same time, a lot of his amazing songs are written about heroin addiction. "Flys in the vasoline" is a metaphor for being stuck in in those addictions. As he got older and attempted to clean up his life, his music took on a more introspective look detailing his struggles, with lyrics like "This fight could be the last fight" from Velvet Revolver's final studio album.
Shortly after his death, Scott Weiland's ex-wife wrote an open letter to his fans telling people not to glamorize his life, instead to look at what years of drug addiction can do to a family.
If you're a parent not giving your best effort, all anyone asks is that you try just a little harder and don't give up. Progress, not perfection, is what your children are praying for. Our hope for Scott has died, but there is still hope for others. Let's choose to make this the first time we don't glorify this tragedy with talk of rock and roll and the demons that, by the way, don't have to come with it.The full letter is posted at Rolling Stone dot com. It goes into uncomfortable detail about Weiland's failings as a partner, parent, and person.
And, honestly, Weiland had become a running joke in the last couple years before his death. If you look at videos of him on YouTube, the comments from the last month are all "RIP Scott" and "what a genius lost too soon" and things of that nature. Scroll farther down to find ones from five months ago and it talks about his awful concert performances and how he's a shell of his former self.
At the top of this post is the original studio recording of "Big Bang Baby," one of my favorite STP songs. It rocks out harder than some of their more popular mellow songs. Below is a recent performance that Weiland's manager had to go into full PR mode for, spinning a story about how he was exhausted and accidentally mixed alcohol with some prescriptions he was taking.
It's a sad way to see a respected artist go out. We want to remember the joyful, full-of-life man at the top, but the reality is the guy below is who we saw more of.
Like he sings above and below, this is what his legacy became: "I wanna cry, but I gotta laugh."