Mary Forsberg and Scott Weiland in 2007 (photo: Denise Truscello/WireImage)
Many peers and friends of Scott Weiland, the former Stone Temple Pilots/Velvet Revolver frontman who was found dead on his tour bus last Thursday at age 48, have come forward to share their stories of life with this deeply tortured but undeniably talented man. However, it is an essay penned for Rolling Stone by Mary Forsberg Weiland – his second wife and the mother of his two children, 15-year-old Noah and 13-year-old Lucy – that is the most heartbreaking. Unlike most of the other first-person accounts out there, it’s not really “tribute,” per se, but more of cautionary tale – as well as what she calls her family’s “final step in our long goodbye to Scott.”
“December 3rd, 2015 is not the day Scott Weiland died,” Forsberg’s open letter begins. “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… But the truth is, like so many other kids, [Noah and Lucy] lost their father years ago. What they truly lost on December 3rd was hope.”
For much of her starkly candid and at times furious essay, Forsberg blames her ex-husband’s demise on music-industry enablers who failed to help Weiland, a known drug addict – either because they were in denial about the seriousness of Weiland’s problems, or worse, because they stood to profit off of the singer’s bad-boy persona.
“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,” Forsberg writes. “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.”
The most disturbing and tragic parts of Forsberg’s article, however, focus on Weiland’s dysfunctional and sometimes downright non-existent relationship with his kids.
“In reality, what [the public] 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… 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,” she recalls. “But anything longer would often turn into something scary and uncomfortable for them… There were times that Child Protective Services did not allow him to be alone with them.”
Gallery: Scott Weiland’s Life in Photos
Forsberg goes on to claim that Weiland’s marriage since 2013 to his third wife, photographer Jamie Wachtel, damaged his relationship with Noah and Lucy even further, saying: “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.”
Forsberg concludes her letter with the following depressing but powerful sentiment: “Our hope for Scott has died, but there is still hope for others. Let’s choose to make this first time we don’t glorify this tragedy with talk of rock 'n’ 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.”
While some commenters on the Rolling Stone article have thanked Forsberg for her candor, others have criticized her for seeming vengeful and bitter; for airing her family’s dirty laundry so publicly; or for simply publishing this open letter so soon, only four days after Weiland’s passing. Read Forsberg’s full essay at RollingStone.com.