“Music, as many people have said, is the universal language. Of course, points are made that make you think about things, but ultimately it makes you feel. Songs start to define periods of your life…and that’s kind of the beauty of it.” — Scott Weiland
On December 3rd 2015, vocalist Scott Weiland died in his sleep while on tour with his band The Wildabouts. The forty eight year old musician had a chequered history with addiction problems, but cut a forceful presence onstage and his career gained him a legion of fans.
With his breakthrough band Stone Temple Pilots on the edge of the grunge scene, he gained popularity quickly and their 1992 debut album ‘Core’ became a best-seller – eventually shifting over 8,000,000 units – and its singles ‘Plush’ and ‘Sex Type Thing’ retained a popularity with alternative rock fans during the following decades. While that album is among the band’s best selling – and will always arguably their best known – it’s the follow up, ‘Purple’ issued two years later which best shows off Weiland the song writer and performer. From the opening crunch of ‘Meatplow’ with its strong chorus and fudgy harmonies, it’s clear from the outset that this is a huge step up. The heavier usage of acoustic guitars and occasional leanings towards psychedelia – always topped with Weiland’s obtuse sense of lyrical construct – remains the band’s masterwork. If there’s any truth that every artist has one great album in them, this was his.
STP experimented with more psychedelic grunge on 1996’s ‘Tiny Music’ and even power pop on later albums, particularly 2001’s ‘Shangri-La Dee Da’ and 2010’s self titled disc, giving the band a surprisingly strong comeback. Weiland even found time to apply his distinctive vocal talents to music of a more experimental nature on his first solo album (the widely overlooked ’12 Bar Blues’) and eventually reach out to a more traditional rock audience with Velvet Revolver, a supergroup with Slash and Duff McKagan. Although this union proved relatively short-lived, it showed Weiland to be a vocalist with a broader ability.
The end of his career found Scott releasing more solo material, retaining an on-off presence within Stone Temple Pilots and touring with his own band, The Wildabouts.
Scott should have been around for longer, but let’s remember him at his best. ‘Purple’ is twenty one years old at the time of his passing and sounds as good as it ever did.