Words and Photography by Scott P. Santodonato
On December 3, 2015— Scott Weiland was found dead on his tour bus in Bloomington, Minnesota. He reportedly died of cardiac arrest at the young age of 48. Police confiscated two baggies of cocaine and a large number of other medications, including the sedative Lunesta, anti-anxiety drug Klonopin, Viagra, sedative Dalmane, narcotic Buprenex and the antipsychotic Geodon.
The world and the music community have lost one of the great ones—burning hard and fast like a meteor shower entering the earth—not here to last, but to burn hard and fast.
Addiction is an interesting thing. Addicted to what, whom, where, when?... the addiction consuming you and taking you over, becoming the very essence of your being, never letting go of your mind and thoughts. Addiction is forever, and forever is an eternity, as the addiction seduces and yet rots, entices and rapes. So many of the great artists throughout history have toyed with substance abuse, been abusers, seeking mind-altered states to get them to a new level of consciousness and quite possibly, no, quite probably, a new level of creativity. From Van Gogh to Hendrix, Shakespeare to Lennon, the relationship between creative people and drugs is widely recognized. Using drugs in order to be creative, or craving drugs because they are creative is a matter of much debate. Certainly many artists throughout history have been prodigious in their use of intoxicants.
Rock stars and rock ‘n roll fans are very similar in this what, who, where, when and why? Why do certain bands or artists strike a chord with the listeners, media, fans, and fanatics? Why are artists inclined to push the limits and boundaries of society and their own self-existence?
With the release of their debut album, Core, in 1992, Stone Temple Pilots became an instant success, selling eight million copies of the album, spurred on by the infectious hit single, “Sex Type Thing”. But STP found themselves criticized by the press for being California grunge wannabes, and too much like their Seattle counterparts: Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam, and Nirvana. Truth of the matter, they were nothing like these other bands and as time would tell, the DeLeo brothers had an incredible amount of depth in their writing and playing skills, and Scott Weiland would become one of the most charismatic frontmen in the business.
Weiland struggled with drugs throughout the ‘90s and into 2000, being busted for possession of heroin and cocaine in ’95, in and out of rehabs, and serving jail time for parole violation in ‘99. Even so, over the course of these years, the band would go on to have sixteen top ten singles and sell more than forty million records worldwide before breaking up in 2003 due to Weiland’s substance abuse issues.
Later that year Weiland joined Velvet Revolver, a band made up Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash, bassist Duff McKagan, drummer Matt Sorum and Dave Kushner as rhythm guitarist. Weiland continued to struggle, being arrested for drug possession in May, and being involved in a car crash while under the influence in October. Despite this, both Velvet Revolver albums, Contraband (2004) and Libertad (2007), did well.
In 2008, Weiland left Velvet Revolver and entered rehab again, later reuniting with STP for a tour and rejoining the group for the 2010 studio album, Stone Temple Pilots, while continuing with solo projects over the next few years, including 2008’s “Happy” in Galoshes, 2010’s Live in Los Angeles, and the somewhat puzzling 2011 holiday album, The Most Wonderful Time of the Year.
Then in 2013, the band fired him. According to The Associated Press, Weiland allegedly learned of his termination from the group after reading about it in the press: “Not sure how I can be ‘terminated’ from a band that I founded, fronted and co-wrote many of its biggest hits, but that’s something for the lawyers to figure out,” the singer stated. That didn’t stop Weiland—he continued with yet another new band, Scott Weiland and the Wildabouts, and toured over the next couple of years, as well as recorded his fourth solo album, Blaster, released in April of 2015. Only his death on Thursday, December 3, 2015 stopped him.
You can rest now, Scott—but the world will surely miss you.
Not Dead &
Not For Sale
The Earthling Papers, A Memoir
In the early 1990s, Stone Temple Pilots—not U2, not Nirvana, not Pearl Jam—was the hottest band in the world. STP toppled such megabands as Aerosmith and Guns N’ Roses on MTV and the Billboard charts. Lead singer Scott Weiland became an iconic frontman in the tradition of Mick Jagger, David Bowie, and Robert Plant. Then, when STP imploded, it was Weiland who emerged as the emblem of rock star excess, with his well-publicized drug busts and trips to rehab.
Until his death, Weiland had since made a series of stunning comebacks, fronting the super-group, Velvet Revolver, releasing solo work and reuniting with Stone Temple Pilots. He had prevailed as a loving, dedicated father, as well as a business-savvy artist whose well of creativity was far from empty. Not Dead & Not for Sale is a hard rock memoir to be reckoned with—a passionate, insightful, and at times humorous book that reads with extraordinary narrative force.
Mary Forsberg Weiland - Fall to Pieces
A Memoir of Drugs, Rock “n” Roll, and Mental Illness
In March 2007, twenty-four hours after Mary Weiland dragged her husband Scott’s pricey rock-star wardrobe onto their driveway and torched it, she was locked up in a mental hospital. Watching all this were her frightened extended family, a conflicted husband wrestling with demons of his own, and a tabloid industry gone gleeful at the “Bonfire in Toluca Lake!”
To the outside world, Mary Weiland had led what seemed to be an enviable life. A successful international model in the nineties, she married her longtime sweetheart—famed lead singer of Stone Temple Pilots and, later, Velvet Revolver, Scott Weiland—in 2000. Mary was the sane one, went the story—it was the tempestuous, unpredictable Scott who was crazy. In her gripping memoir, Fall to Pieces, Mary Weiland reveals that the truth is somewhere in between.
From her earliest days in San Diego, Weiland displayed signs of trouble: a black depression that sometimes left her immobile for days, a temper that sent her into wild rages she didn’t understand, an overdose. But her fierce determination to “have more” led to early success as a model. At sixteen, she fell in love at first sight with Scott Weiland, then an aspiring musician who was hired to drive her to and from modeling gigs. Slowly, her casual relationship with beer and pot grew into an affair with cocaine and heroin that rivaled her love for Scott, who was addicted as well. From rehab to rehab, from breakup to reconciliation to eventual marriage, the couple fought their way back, welcomed the babies they’d dreamed of, and hoped their struggles were behind them. Then came the bonfire breakdown and the full onset of Mary’s bipolar disorder, a widely misunderstood and misdiagnosed mental illness that affects more than five million Americans and had been, in fact, stalking Mary Weiland since her teens.
With refreshing candor, innate comic timing, and earned wisdom, Weiland recounts the extreme highs and lows of her life, including an unforgettable love affair with the man she always knew she’d marry, the careers and rock tours that took them around the world, and her fight to finally come to grips with the addictions that could have killed her. In her journey to understand and manage her bipolar disorder, she takes the reader on a wild ride into the dark and back into the light.
An Open Letter From
Mary Forsberg Weiland
December 3rd, 2015 is not the day Scott Weiland died. It is the official day the public will use to mourn him, and it was the last day he could be propped up in front of a microphone for the financial benefit or enjoyment of others. The outpouring of condolences and prayers offered to our children, Noah and Lucy, has been overwhelming, appreciated and even comforting. But the truth is, like so many other kids, they lost their father years ago. What they truly lost on December 3rd was hope.
We don’t want to downplay Scott’s amazing talent, presence or his ability to light up any stage with brilliant electricity. So many people have been gracious enough to praise his gift. The music is here to stay. But at some point, someone needs to step up and point out that yes, this will happen again – because as a society we almost encourage it. We read awful show reviews, watch videos of artists falling down, unable to recall their lyrics streaming on a teleprompter just a few feet away. And then we click “add to cart” because what actually belongs in a hospital is now considered art.
Many of these artists have children. Children with tears in their eyes, experiencing panic because their cries go unheard. You might ask, “How were we to know? We read that he loved spending time with his children and that he’d been drug-free for years!” In reality, what you didn’t want to acknowledge was a paranoid man who couldn’t remember his own lyrics and who was only photographed with his children a handful of times in 15 years of fatherhood. I’ve always wanted to share more than anyone was comfortable with. When writing a book years ago, it pained me to sometimes gloss over so much grief and struggle, but I did what I thought was best for Noah and Lucy. I knew they would one day see and feel everything that I’d been trying to shield them from and that they’d eventually be brave enough to say, “That mess was our father. We loved him, but a deep-rooted mix of love and disappointment made up the majority of our relationship with him.”
Even after Scott and I split up, I spent countless hours trying to calm his paranoid fits, pushing him into the shower and filling him with coffee, just so that I could drop him into the audience at Noah’s talent show, or Lucy’s musical. Those short encounters were my attempts at giving the kids a feeling of normalcy with their dad. But anything longer would often turn into something scary and uncomfortable for them. Spending so many years immersed in Scott’s multiple illnesses led to my own depression; at one point, I was misdiagnosed as bipolar. I feared the same would happen to the children. There were times that Child Protective Services did not allow him to be alone with them.
When Scott did move on to another relationship, I hoped it would inspire him to grow. I had often encouraged him to date a “normal” girl, a woman who was also a mother, someone who had the energy that I no longer had to love him. Instead, when he remarried, the children were replaced. They were not invited to his wedding; child support checks often never arrived. Our once sweet Catholic boy refused to watch the kids participate in Christmas Eve plays because he was now an atheist. They have never set foot into his house, and they can’t remember the last time they saw him on a Father’s Day. I don’t share this with you to cast judgment, I do so because you most likely know at least one child in the same shoes. If you do, please acknowledge them and their experience. Offer to accompany them to the father-daughter dance, or teach them to throw a football. Even the bravest girl or boy will refrain from asking for something like that; they may be ashamed, or not want to inconvenience you. Just offer – or even insist if you have to.
This is the final step in our long goodbye to Scott. Even though I felt we had no other choice, maybe we never should have let him go. Or maybe these last few years of separation were his parting gift to us – the only way he could think to soften what he knew would one day crush us deep into our souls. Over the last few years, I could hear his sadness and confusion when he’d call me late into the night, often crying about his inability to separate himself from negative people and bad choices. I won’t say he can rest now, or that he’s in a better place. He belongs with his children, barbecuing in the backyard and waiting for a Notre Dame game to come on. We are angry and sad about this loss, but we are most devastated that he chose to give up. Noah and Lucy never sought perfection from their dad. They just kept hoping for a little effort. 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. Skip the depressing T-shirt with 1967-2015 on it – use the money to take a kid to a ballgame or out for ice cream.