The tragic death of Scott Weiland last week continues to reverberate across the rock world and beyond – this week his ex-wife Mary wrote a highly personal open letter about the singer that resonated with many people who don't even care about Stone Temple Pilots or Velvet Revolver. For fans of Weiland's music, however, the news of his death inspired them to dig out their old records, and with that in mind we asked our readers to select their favorite tunes from his entire career. Here are the results.
Stone Temple Pilots released Tiny Music … Songs From the Vatican Gift Shop less than four years after their debut LP, but they were already a group in complete disarray. Scott Weiland was arrested for possession of cocaine and heroin a year before it came out, creating a huge rift in the band that led to the three other members starting a whole new group that eventually morphed into Talk Show. It was the first of many temporary splits, but when the group came back together in late 1995 they somehow got past their differences and cut their long-awaited third album. One of the standout tracks is "And So I Know," a sad ballad that showcases Weiland's vocal range. The track was never a live favorite, and the group last touched it at a 2002 show in Arizona.
Back in the early 1990s it was easy to get away with a song like "Sex Type Thing." It would be a bit, um, problematic these days. Let's look at some of the lyrics: "I am a man, a man/I’ll give ya somethin' that ya won't forget/I said ya shouldn't have worn that dress/I said ya shouldn't have worn that dress … You wouldn't want me have to hurt you too, hurt you too?" Weiland said the song was written in the voice of a deranged character, but he'd still probably be torn to shreds for it these days. But 1992 was a different world. The song remained a key part of his live show for years, whether with Velvet Revolver, STP or his various solo bands.
Some cynical rock critics dismissed Stone Temple Pilots as a bunch of grunge wannabes when they first emerged in late 1992, and thought they'd quickly fade away. It was clear that wasn't going to happen anytime soon after they dropped Purple in the summer of 1994. It was an even stronger collection of songs that produced a ton of hit singles, including "Vasoline." "It's about being stuck in the same position over and over again," Weiland wrote in his memoir, Not Dead & Not for Sale. "It's about me becoming a junkie. It's about lying to [my girlfriend] Janina and lying to the band about my heroin addiction."
In one of the more honest moments in his memoir Not Dead & Not for Sale, Scott Weiland reveals his true feelings about Velvet Revolver's debut album. "I liked our first record but can't call it the music of my soul," he wrote. "There was a certain commercial calculation behind it. We wanted hits." They got one in "Fall to Pieces," which started as a riff that Slash wrote at the very end of his time in Guns N' Roses. Weiland turned it into a finished song with help from bassist Duff McKagan. "[It's] about coming to terms – or not coming to terms – with my heroin addiction," he said. "It was also about my relationship with [my wife] Mary and how it was falling apart." When Mary wrote a memoir in 2009 she titled it Fall to Pieces.
Radiohead, TLC and Stone Temple Pilots all scored monster hits with a song called "Creep" between 1992 and 1994. Bizarrely enough, Radiohead's "Creep" single arrived the exact same week in 1992 that STP released Core. Neither song would get much traction until the following year, when they went into heavy rotation on MTV and rock radio. The STP "Creep" is an intense tale of self-loathing that some listeners initially thought was a Nirvana tune. (Weiland sounds a lot like Kurt Cobain when he sings "This I feel as the dawn fades" in the chorus.) TLC took the term "Creep" in a different direction. Their song is about getting revenge on a cheating guy by having an affair.
By the fall of 1999 not a lot of people were paying attention to Stone Temple Pilots. This was the time of Eminem, Kid Rock, the Backstreet Boys and Britney Spears, and many rock bands of the early 1990s seemed completely passé. But STP weren't ready to call it a day and their new album No. 4 was just impossible to ignore. Second single "Sour Girl" gets in your head from the first listen, and got the band back onto MTV for the first time in many years. The bitter lyrics were inspired by Scott's breakup with his wife Jannina Castaneda. "The ransom note, of course, was the fortune our divorce was costing me," Weiland said. "And the happy state, which I presumed to be Jannina's mood, was because she had finally rid her life of a man who had never been faithful."
Many of Scott Weiland's most famous songs are bitter breakup tunes or confessional tales of substance abuse, but this Purple deep cut is a sweet love song of hopeless devotion. "Our bed we live, our bed we sleep," Weiland songs. "Making love and I become you/Flesh is warm with naked feet/Stabbing thorns and you become me." The song was never a single and "Vasoline" and "Interstate Love Song" got most of the attention from Purple, but hardcore STP fans recognize "Still Remains" as a hidden gem.
Stone Temple Pilots filmed their MTV Unplugged special seven months before the release of Purple, and they choose the occasion to debut their new song "Big Empty." It would go on to become the group's first single from the album, landing at Number 7 on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart. Kurt Cobain killed himself just weeks before the song hit and grunge was on its way out, but STP were proving they still had a lot more to say.
One of the most difficult parts of being a junkie is the steady stream lies you end up telling everyone you love. Scott Weiland wrote the 1994 STP hit "Interstate Love Song" about phone calls he had with his wife while on the road. "She'd ask how I was doing," he wrote in Not Dead & Not for Sale. "I'd lie and say I was doing fine. Chances are I had just fixed before calling her." The song reached Number 18 on the Billboard Hot 100 Airplay chart.
"Is this Pearl Jam?" Beavis wondered when the video for "Plush" came on his and Butt-Head's TV. "Yeah," answered his companion. "Eddie Vedder dyed his hair red." They eventually realized what was going on. "I heard these guys, like, came first," said Butt-Head. "And Pearl Jam ripped them off." There were many variations of this conversation happening around television screens back in 1993. What's clear in hindsight is the bands have little in common and there was plenty of room for them both. "Plush" is the song that first introduced the world to STP, and it remains their signature tune. The group will almost certainly carry on with yet another lead singer, but nobody will ever deliver the lines "Where ya going with that mask I found?" quite like Scott Weiland. He was a completely unique and irreplaceable talent.