Dean Deleo got the phone call at his Southern California home on Sunday, Dec. 29, shortly before Stone Temple Pilots were supposed to fly to Anchorage, Alaska, for a New Year's Eve show. Scott Weiland was on the line. And the news was not good. After six weeks on tour with STP and more than six months of staying clean, of successfully fighting the dark urges that had once sucked him into the black hole of heroin addiction, Weiland, STP's 29-year-old singer, had fallen off the wagon — hard.
"Scott called and said, 'I'm fucking up — I need help,'" DeLeo, the group's guitarist, recalls grimly a few days later. "When I talked to him, I could hear his condition. He said, 'I'm going into treatment.' I said, 'I'd love to believe that.' And on Monday, he checked himself in."
On Dec. 30, on his own volition, Weiland — a recent alumnus of the Impact Alcohol and Drug Treatment Center, in Pasadena, Calif. — checked into an undisclosed rehabilitation facility. By his own count, Weiland had already been in and out of drug-rehab programs 13 times in the last three years.
The rest of STP — Dean DeLeo, drummer Eric Kretz and Dean's younger brother, bassist Robert DeLeo — had no choice but to cancel the Anchorage show and two concerts scheduled for the following weekend, in Hawaii. Plans for more STP gigs, to begin in late February, were put on hold. (A Dec. 29 club show in Vancouver — a surprise "blind date" appearance promoted by Molson Breweries — had already been canceled because of a severe winter storm there.) "We had 30,000 fans we let down," laments Dean, referring to the Alaska and Hawaii dates. "We had 40-some people we employed. We were bringing wives and family of the crew over to Hawaii for those shows."
What made it worse, Dean points out, was how well everything had been going right up to the point when he picked up that phone. On Dec. 14, in Cleveland, the band had wrapped up a successful 29-date stretch. On the road for the first time since 1994, STP were getting the best reviews of their career and seemed to be genuinely enjoying each other's company, onstage and off. It was as if the long nightmare of Weiland's addiction and the precarious state of the band's career — Weiland's arrest, in May 1995, on drug-possession charges; his repeated attempts to get straight; the tense recording sessions and scuttled tour plans — was finally passing away.
"The last six weeks we had were so beautiful," says Dean, 35. "It was so great. But the whole camaraderie, the laughter, the music — it all hangs by a thread.
"But the way it went down, it was much better than it could have been," he suggests hopefully. "I'm not rationalizing it. But the worst thing is that he could have been dead. And he wasn't."
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