It’s been a long year since you’ve been gone

That’s a line from Fall To Pieces.  It was never my favourite Velvet Revolver track, but I’ve grown to really like it over the years. Lyrically, it’s less abstract than a lot of Weiland’s words and, well, there’s also a notable lack of those unexpected twisting melodies… Weiland played it straight.  Played it safe. A ‘I-miss-you-now-you’re-gone’ rock ballad. A shocker.

The anniversary of Weiland’s death has passed and I wasn’t quite sure what to say about it.  I still feel saddened each time I listen to him.  The moments of “He really did die? He really did, didn’t he?” passed after a few months, but they returned a few weeks ago.  During those weeks I stumbled down one of YouTube’s rabbit holes watching video after video of Weiland in action.  In his prime.  Mega-phone in hand, slinking across the stage, a toned rake of a man sneering and writhing as he tells folks that “breathing is the hardest thing to do”

Depending on who you speak to, Weiland in his prime could mean anything.  There are some who would point at the two years at the start of Stone Temple Pilots’ initial emergence and those who point out a handful of moments during the course of a career that was littered with too few moments.  Those moments being a combination of utter brilliance and frustration.  Which is part of the thing with Weiland.

Personally, I haven’t ever really rated Core, but found Purple, Tiny Music…, and No. 4 to be incredible albums.  Alongside Weiland’s 12-Bar Blues, those three albums are perfect examples of Weiland’s unique confessional anti-poetry.  The albums are littered with references to his relationship with drugs (as well as relationships with significant other and his colleagues).  But maybe none quite as clearly as Fall To Pieces.

The sad thing was that we could see the end coming.  Watching the YouTube videos you can see the dip in his performances over the last 10 years.  The decline since the Stone Temple Pilots five years ago is quite starling. Off stage, his relationships with Velvet Revolver and then Stone Temple Pilots colleagues were ending unceremoniously and in acrimony.  Even when they seemed like a solid band of brothers.  He burned bridges and when he burned them, he literally made sure they were cinder and ashes, man.

Crucially, it appeared that there was something more going on.  We were aware that he was bi-polar, but in his last year or so he looked like he was in bad shape.  Slurring his words and less animated in interviews.  There’s unflattering footage out there, but I was all set to go catch Weiland & Co. when they visited Glasgow in October on their UK tour.  This would be the third time I’d catch Weiland (Stone Temple Pilots in 2001 and Velvet Revolver in 2005).  Unfortunately the tour was cancelled.  More than the meds, it looked like the fire had gone out.  But his words deceived how he looked.  He spoke with enthusiasm about The Wildabouts.  Rediscovering his love for the whole music thing.  The Wildabouts sounded better and better, reports about the live shows improved and then… the stage lights went down.

I find it strange that no-one really mentions his mental health, but instead focus on him being a junkie. He was frustrating, but he was tenacious (at being an addict and someone who tried to quit) and, ultimately, he had problems. I didn’t know him, so I remember him as one of the most creative vocalists alternative rock gave us. And yes, he was a junkie.

Anyhoo, I guess what I was wanting to say is that I don’t listen to Weiland’s stuff any more or less than I did prior to learning of his death on December 4th 2015.  Sure I get a bit misty eyed occasionally and wonder about where things would have gone with The Wildabouts, but the music that he left us with is, as I’ve said, brilliant.  Particularly that period between 1994 and 2005.  Purple to Contraband via 12-Bar Blues. The man was a unique talent and, while he may not have lived long enough to be widely considered one of the best, he was, to me, peerless.

It’s just a shame that he could never truly face his demons sober.

Will the memories die? Not likely.

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26 Comments

  1. Insightful and thought provoking write up, J. I don’t know much about Weiland, but I like STP and Velvet Revolver, and I was definitely in the minority of people I knew with respect to Velvet Revolver. ‘Fall to Pieces’ is possibly my favorite of Weiland’s repertoire. I believe he still had untapped talent.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Enjoyed this reflection, J. (If ‘enjoyed’ is quite the right word; not sure). The idea of grief and loss being a process that follows its own arc is very important, as is the observation that addictions and mental health are so very often intertwined. I know we’re here for the music, but I wanted to let you know what I valued and appreciated in your reflection.
    Cheers, Bruce.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Bruce. I think it’s easy for people to forget the connection between addiction and mental health – especially when it’s people that folk don’t know (and more so a celebrity and there’s so much about them in the media, etc).

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Great one J. Scott was an amazing and charismatic frontman. One of the best in his prime. He was so interesting to watch and listen to. It was tragic watching his downfall and I am really surprised it took so long. It was inevitable.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks. At his best he was utterly mesmerising. I always threw him and Perry Farrell together as being two of the most creative and unique that alternative rock gave us. The last of the great rock n’ roll singers… flair and showmanship in abundance.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Rock n’ roll n’ troubles are a blessing and a curse. A great way to express yourself, but ultimately seems to make a lot of harmful things a bit more accessible and, maybe, behaviours a bit more acceptable (“oh that’s what rock stars do”). Maybe.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Great writeup by a Great Fan! Nice spin on your emotions and thoughts on how Weiland and his music impacted you. The man was indeed talented and and his body of work is indeed impressive.
    My personal fav of Weiland is the Purple album. Reason being is STP was opening for the Stones on the ol buzzards Voodoo Lounge Tour and in a stadium that holds 50,000 the place was pretty full for STP so that album just resonated with me than and now. They were so good that night….

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    1. Thanks, Deke. Purple is one of my favourites – to be honest, depending on what day you ask me, it would be my favourite (the other day it would be Tiny Music…).

      I would have loved to have seen them at that point. Fresh off the back of a second album that really did find them raising the bar and supporting the Stones. Weiland in great form and the band having a creative fire that was burning pretty bright.

      The Stones had Blind Melon support them during that tour, too. Talk about two bands that would stun the audience!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Really appreciated this piece J – I wouldn’t be surprised if the mental health component starts to get more attention over the next couple decades (and hopefully it will here and in many other cases).
    I saw him with VR in 2004ish, they were an hour or more late in getting started (there were the inevitable jokes about the band being stopped at the border etc.). But when they took the stage, he was a presence – what a frontman, something I didn’t really ‘get’ until I saw him perform. I never owned beyond Purple, I’ll have to check out the next couple for sure

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Cheers, Geoff. I think you’re spot on about mental health being acknowledged more. In general, its something I see every day and it still surprises me that people find it difficult to acknowledge the contribution it has on behaviour and addiction. If you look back on a lot of the great rock stars, it’s likely that there is an element of mental health. But the media and the industry just doesn’t know what to do (jings, look what they did to Roky Erickson).

      Anyhoo… Velvet Revolver were pretty wonderful when I saw them and I can imagine you were treated to pretty much the same level of awesome. As you point out, his presence was incredible. He owned the stage (which was no mean feat when you consider the company he was in!).

      I’d highly recommend picking up Tiny Music… and No. 4. That’s the essential STP trio, I reckon.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. A great tribute to a man who’s talent and aura you were a huge fan of. I think it’s sad that he never let himself truly heal enough to find something in him(or around him) to live for. He took the drugs to dampen the mental demons, which in turn became even more demons. He never had a chance.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, JH. It was always likely to end that way for Weiland, unfortunately.

      I know I’ve written this one before, but I always think of that line in his memoir about his drug use: “the opiate took me to where I’d always dreamed of going. I can’t name the place, but I can say that I was undisturbed and unafraid, a free-floating man in a space without demons and doubts”.

      There was also a great piece in Esquire a while back, too. A quite frank interview where he says that he never wanted to really quit, because it was the one thing that kept him from killing himself because of the self-hatred he felt. That’s a tough gig.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I put on some revolver this weekend and I really thought: he’s made his mark. He was unique, his growl. He died too young, but he did leave behind quite a catalogue.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Weiland was a big influence in rock, grunge, and metal. Still hard to believe that many of these musicians I used to listen to are gone. But what we can do is go out and remember them by listening to the songs they left us.

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