(photo: ET Online)
When Stone Temple Pilots first emerged during the early-‘90s grunge explosion, their debut album Core may have gone eight times platinum, but critical praise completely eluded the band; most naysayers dismissed STP as a bunch of second-rate Pearl Jam wannabes and nothing more. However, as frontman Scott Weiland’s career evolved – with STP, solo, and with supergroup Velvet Revolver – the singer branched out into hard rock, glam, psychedelia, and even Christmas fare, with versatile vocals that ranged from a guttural growl to a classic croon to a coolly seductive rasp. And, eventually, Weiland got some respect.
That being said, for much of the past two decades, the media’s spotlight on Weiland (who died Thursday, Dec. 3, at age 48) focused on his harrowing struggles with drug addiction – a sad saga that included marital problems, prison time, and friction with his on/off STP bandmates. But now that Weiland has tragically passed, we think it’s time to revisit the troubled but talented rock icon’s finest and most significant musical moments.
10. Stone Temple Pilots, “Interstate Love Song” (1994)
Core brought Stone Temple Pilots the sort of vicious criticism usually reserved now for Nickelback or pre-Purpose Justin Bieber, but the tides slowly started to turn with the release of their sophomore album, Purple – thanks to heavy but undeniably catchy anthems like this one and “Vasoline” (along with the underrated Core songs "Wicked Garden” and “Creep,” which sort of got the revisionist-history treatment and are now considered alt-rock radio classics). Weiland began to find his voice on Purple, showing the haters that he’d be around for quite a while.
9. Velvet Revolver, “Fall to Pieces” (2004)
Weiland always had both the pipes and the bravado to pull off a proper power ballad, and this arena-worthy epic, with his short-lived Guns N’ Roses-associated supergroup, was one of his grandest. The obviously autobiographical music video for the song, which starred his real-life wife at the time and depicted Duff McKagan rescuing Weiland from a drug overdose, is admittedly difficult to watch now.
8. Stone Temple Pilots, “Sour Girl” (1999)
STP’s fourth album, No. 4, didn’t receive much promotion due to Weiland’s one-year jail sentence right before its release. But its moody, trippy single “Sour Girl” – showcased in a brilliant and disturbing music video starring Sarah Michelle Gellar and a couple of creepy furries – still became their only Hot 100 pop single, and deservedly so.
7. Velvet Revolver, “Slither” (2004)
While Axl Rose was off with an assortment of random hired Guns, spending more than a decade on the laughable and ill-fated Chinese Democracy, actual Guns N’ Roses members Slash, Duff McKagan, and Matt Sorum, along with Wasted Youth’s Dave Kushner, teamed with Weiland and brought back real dirty rock 'n’ roll. Weiland, with his sneering, sinewy, tattooed-chested persona, filled the Rose role perfectly, while still always remaining true to himself. Velvet Revolver’s union only lasted for two albums before Weiland left in 2008 to (temporarily) reunite with STP, but the double-platinum success of VR’s first album, Contraband, along with “Slither’s” Grammy win for Best Hard Rock Performance, proved that fans were hungry for this sort of music again – and that Weiland was a true rock star.
6. Stone Temple Pilots, “Days of the Week” (2001)
Ironically, the album featuring this single, Shangri-La Dee Da, was originally intended to be a double release dedicated to another tortured rock singer, Mother Love Bone’s Andrew Wood, who died of a heroin overdose in 1990. Despite the pop-rock’s single’s hard-charging, upbeat vibe, its lyrics, penned by Weiland, were dark and deeply personal – reflecting on how Weiland’s drug abuse affected his turbulent relationship with his second wife, Mary Forsberg. Hearing him sing about being “left for dead” now is extremely chilling.
5. Scott Weiland, A Compilation of Scott Weiland Cover Songs (2011)
Weiland curated an impressive track-listing for this digital-only collection, including Stone Roses’ “I Am the Resurrection,” the New York Dolls’ “Personality Crisis,” Radiohead’s “Let Down,” the Flaming Lips’ “Waitin’ for a Superman,” Depeche Mode’s “But Not Tonight,” the Smiths’ “Reel Around the Fountain,” and Nirvana’s “Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge on Seattle.” If ever there were evidence of his taste level and deep musical knowledge, this was it. And Weiland made every song his own.
4. Scott Weiland, “Blind Confusion” (2008)
This propulsive, Elvis Costello/Replacements-esque garage-pop track from Weiland’s second solo effort, the uneven “Happy” in Galoshes, didn’t get much attention, but it still stands up as one of his strongest, hookiest non-STP songs.
3. Scott Weiland, “Barbarella” (1998)
Weiland’s first solo album, the Daniel Lanois-produced glitter-rock opus 12 Bar Blues, was a radical departure from the chest-thumping macho rock of STP’s early catalog, with the singer boldly entering his Bowie phase – sporting a Thin White Duke image and even starring in a futuristic “Barbarella” music video clearly inspired by The Man Who Fell to Earth. The album wasn’t a commercial hit, but critics rightfully fawned over it, and, as AllMusic’s Stephen Thomas Erlewine wrote, 12 Bar Blues confirmed that “Weiland was the visionary behind STP’s sound.”
2. Stone Temple Pilots, “Lady Picture Show” (1996)
STP’s ambitious third full-length release, Tiny Music… Songs From the Vatican Gift Shop, was the album that had critics giving the once-vilified band a second look. Weiland and company effectively proved they weren’t a one-grunge-trick pony, incorporating hooky jangle pop into their sound – and songs like this lush, gorgeously Beatlesque ballad were the happy result.
1. Stone Temple Pilots, “Big Bang Baby” (1996)
The lead single from Tiny Music… was a total 180 from gruff frat-boy anthems like 1992’s “Sex Type Thing,” owing more to powerpop bands like Cheap Trick and Redd Kross than to Pearl Jam or Soundgarden. Almost 20 years later, “Big Bang Baby” still holds up as STP’s catchiest and most effervescent single, and its fake-'80s music video captured a silly, playful side of Weiland that the public rarely had the chance to glimpse.
With that, we will leave you with a now-heartbreaking track from the man’s 2011 retro-style holiday album, The Most Wonderful Time of the Year. It makes for sad viewing this season, but it definitely illustrates just what a wide-ranging artist he was. Rest in peace, Scott Weiland.