In 1992, a record titled ‘Core’ was released by a rock n’ roll band out of San Diego, California, and everyone in the entire music industry was put on notice. Thick, crunchy drums clashed with beefy grunge riffs that’d become smooth, and almost psychedelic at the flip of a switch. Heavy, haunting bass grooves gave that instrumentation a backbone, and of course, a voice like none other led the group into superstardom. A voice that belonged to Scott Weiland.
Scott sang lead vocals for STP from 1989 until 2002, and the group quickly became one of the most popular rock bands of our generation, producing hits like “Plush”, “Interstate Love Song”, “Vasoline”, “Sex Type Thing”, and “Creep”. Stone Temple Pilots unfortunately broke up in 2002 due to a plethora of reasons – rising tensions, drug addictions, and who knows what else – and Scott then went on to sing for Velvet Revolver, a supergroup formed from the ashes of Guns N’ Roses, while the rest of the band pursued their own outside work.
Despite whatever personal demons he might’ve been battling, one thing was for sure – Scott Weiland was still Scott Weiland. Eccentric, flamboyant, unforgettable, and a once in a lifetime talent. Velvet Revolver put out two albums, both fantastic (their debut, ‘Contraband’, being one of my favorite rock records of the 21st century), and toured the world a few times over before breaking up in late 2008. The DeLeo brothers, who played guitar and bass for Stone Temple Pilots before the band’s demise, had also just had their side project go on indefinite hiatus, so the boys got talking, and reconciliation aided by Weiland’s wife, Mary Forsberg, allowed everyone to put whatever conflicts the past had brought on to the side. With one quick phone call to drummer Eric Kretz, the Stone Temple Pilots were back together.
Not for long, though, unfortunately. Stone Temple Pilots put out a self-titled reunion album in 2010 to mostly favorable reviews, and got back on the road together (breaking every now and then for Scott Weiland to tour his solo music), but the issues they had tried to leave behind for a fresh start just kept coming back up, and Scott Weiland’s substance abuse issues became increasingly worse. In 2013, the band was forced to fire their frontman when he started showing up late to, and sometimes completely missing shows due to his addictions, and not performing to the level he once was.
STP continued as a band with Chester Bennington of Linkin Park as their new singer, put out an EP called ‘High Rise’ in 2013, and appeared to have a bright future ahead of them. There would obviously be no replacing Weiland, but Chester Bennington was a guy who could add something completely new to the band’s sound with an iconic voice of his own, and all of the tunes produced with him on vocals had a familiar enough sound to remind you of the Stone Temple Pilots of the past, while still giving you a new taste of what you could expect from this band going forward.
In 2015, Bennington announced that he’d be leaving Stone Temple Pilots to focus all of his energy on Linkin Park, and shortly afterward, Scott Weiland was found dead in his tour bus in Minnesota after overdosing on a mix of alcohol, pills, and cocaine.
Stone Temple Pilots released the following statement about their former frontman’s death:
Let us start by saying thank you for sharing your life with us.
Together we crafted a legacy of music that has given so many people happiness and great memories.
The memories are many, and they run deep for us.
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.
Part of that gift was part of your curse.
With deep sorrow for you and your family, we are saddened to see you go.
All of our love and respect.
We will miss you brother,
Robert, Eric, Dean
Unfortunately, the band had to put out a very similar statement in the Summer of 2017 when Chester Bennington took his own life.
It is a sad day today to know that so many of us will no longer share in your laughter, friendship and love.
You showed us time and time again what it is to be an incredible human being.
A beacon of light and hope is what you will always be to us.
We love you Chester.
We will miss you.
Robert, Eric, Dean
After such immense tragedy, Robert, Eric, and Dean were determined to keep the spirit of the Stone Temple Pilots alive, and chose to do the only thing they knew how to: make music. They held open auditions, and Jeff Gutt, the runner-up on the third season of The X Factor, was selected as the cream of the crop. Stone Temple Pilots had a frontman once again.
With big shoes to fill, not only in Scott Weiland but also in Chester Bennington, all eyes were on Gutt and every note he sang would be viewed under a microscope. He was taking on the most daunting job in rock n’ roll.
On November 15th, 2017, ‘Meadow’ was released, the first ever track with Gutt on vocals, and much like the ‘High Rise’ EP did in 2013, reminded us why we love the Stone Temple Pilots so much, while showing off a new direction that displayed where the band was headed musically. A second self-titled record was released showcasing Jeff Gutt’s ability this year, and I think it’s fair to say the Stone Temple Pilots chose the right man for the gig. Gutt’s vocal style is clearly inspired by Weiland, but never feels like he’s doing an impression of the late singer…only paying homage. Performances of the new vocalist singing Weiland’s signature songs now serve as beautiful tributes to the late great, and for Bennington as well due to the nature of a lot of their lyrics. The resiliency of the band to continue getting on stage to keep the spirit of their fallen frontmen alive is something I’ve got an incredible amount of respect for, and something I wanted you all to take notice of today.
‘Stone Temple Pilots’ (2018) is in stores now, and online everywhere you could find music. Comes with a high recommendation from me, so check it out on your commute home if you get the chance.