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Scott Weiland's Near-Salvation: Velvet Revolver, Martial Arts and Money

An exclusive excerpt from 'Not Dead and Not for Sale,' Weiland's forthcoming memoir

May 13, 2011 11:20 AM ET
Scott Weiland's Near-Salvation: Velvet Revolver, Martial Arts and Money

Slipping and sliding, peeping and hiding.

Basically, the story was that Mary had cleaned up and I hadn't. I was strung out and fucked up. Mary wanted out of the marriage — the agony of our divorce went on for years — but Mary still took an interest in my career. Always has. Always will. Ka-ching. Ka-ching.

She said she'd been hanging with Susan McKagan, a former swimsuit supermodel and wife of Duff, the bass player with Guns N' Roses when the group was at its height. Susan told Mary that three guys from GNR — Duff on bass, Matt Sorum on drums, and Slash on guitar — had formed a band. Initially, Izzy Stradlin was in, but soon opted out. David Kushner from Wasted Youth took his place.

"Sounds like a lot of egos," I said. "Sounds like a lot of trouble."

"They put some songs on a CD that they want you to hear," Mary said. "They think you'll like what they're doing."

I didn't. It sounded like Bad Company-styled classic rock. And I never liked Bad Company. But being a nice guy, I said, "There's some stuff that's okay, but just send me another disc when you have a few new songs."

A week or so later, another CD arrived with songs custom-designed for me. The tunes had STP written all over them.

Duff called and said, "Hey, man, just drop by the studio." I knew Duff from the gym, and I said I'd try. I still wasn't sure whether I wanted to hook up with these guys.

"Look, Scott," Duff said, "there's also soundtrack stuff we've been asked to do. And the money's great."

The money attracted me.

My managers, pushing me to join this band, said, "They're going to cover Pink Floyd's 'Money' for a new movie called The Italian Job. And then Ang Lee wants songs for his remake of The Hulk. This is going to be a hot band. Just give it a chance."

I reluctantly agreed. The idea was just to jam. Couldn't hurt to see if there was any chemistry. Meanwhile, I was still hurting chemically. I was still shooting dope. That's the reason I showed up many hours late.

When I arrived, I was shocked. The guys had set up a major industry event. All sorts of music execs were there. It was being billed as an announcement of "Guns N' Roses with Scott Weiland" and made to look like a done deal, not just a casual jam. I was confused, and, because of my drug habit, I was also a wreck. But what the fuck, I was there and might as well sing.

We sang two songs — "Set Me Free" for The Hulk and the cover of "Money." I was blown away by the powerful chemistry between us. So was everyone else. These guys attacked rock and roll like a street gang. I liked their ferocity and balls-out commitment. Besides, looking over and seeing Slash playing beside me — Slash, who'd been an idol of mine back in the eighties — was a thrill. I knew Dave Kushner from the Electric Love Hogs, an underground rock band. Back in the day, STP had aspired to be on the Love Hogs level. I remember seeing them at English Acid, a hip spot in West Hollywood. I also knew Matt Sorum from rehab; he and I had been in together.

Fact is, I had a lot in common with these guys. We'd been down the dark alleys, gotten mugged, stumbled, fell, and got back up. When I hooked up with them, they were looking good. Through martial arts, Duff had put together eight years of sobriety. Matt had six years. And Dave had over a dozen years. When they saw my strung-out condition, they vowed to do everything in their power to help.

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Song Stories

“Try a Little Tenderness”

Otis Redding | 1966

This pop standard had been previously recorded by dozens of artists, including by Bing Crosby 33 years before Otis Redding, who usually wrote his own songs, cut it. It was actually Sam Cooke’s 1964 take, which Redding’s manager played for Otis, that inspired the initially reluctant singer to take on the song. Isaac Hayes, then working as Stax Records’ in-house producer, handled the arrangement, and Booker T. and the MG’s were the backing band. Redding’s soulful version begins quite slowly and tenderly itself before mounting into a rousing, almost religious “You’ve gotta hold her, squeeze her …” climax. “I did that damn song you told me to do,” Redding told his manager. “It’s a brand new song now.”

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