Watching a Rock Legend Die
Scott Weiland died four years ago today
It’s been four years to the day since Scott Weiland of Stone Temple Pilots died.
Four years ago, what I knew was inevitable, had finally arrived. The memory continues to haunt me.
On November 14, 2015, I conducted one of Weiland’s last interviews with the press.
He had come to town with his new band The Wildabouts to do a solo show at the former Hard Rock Café in Detroit.
When I received the request two weeks prior, I had reservations. I’d worked with Weiland on other live event promotions for two decades. He was elusive. He was unpredictable. He was tortured. Yet, fans and critics still idolized him as a genius.
"Big Bang Baby, it’s a Crash, Crash, Crash"
The interview started four hours prior to the show.
He walked into the private room with video cameras set up for the interview. He stumbled. Eyes glazed over. He was the remains of a broken man, terrorized by stardom and all that life had dealt him.
He sat down with the interviewer, trying to remember the words to speak, the stories to tell and the songs he sang. As he sipped from his cup filled with “juice,” he went on, struggling to remember his incredibly successful career.
Then, out of nowhere, he stood up in anger and pulled out knife.
It wasn’t a knife to stab, promote violence, or threaten self-infliction. It was to show us how sharp the cut of disappointments past could pierce.
He went on a rant about his ex-wife Mary and the severe distance she needed to create between Weiland and his children. He talked about his decline from rock royalty, to the bitter effects of learning to survive day-to-day as an addict.
After his death, Mary shared her thoughts with Rolling Stone.
The emptiness in his eyes said it all. He checked out. It was just a matter of time before his body caught up.
But the fans and critics still loved him, and I mean, how couldn’t they?
His time with Stone Temple Pilots and Velvet Revolver produced hit after hit after hit.
Weiland was the definition of an iconic front man. He was enigmatic on stage. His psychic fashion sense set trends. The power of his vocals radiated through souls.
Deep down though, his tortured soul begged for acceptance, and ultimately peace. He found that peace through the numbing effects of hard drugs and alcohol.
"I Wanna Cry, but I Gotta Laugh"
Even after that interview, I stayed for the show. My boyfriend at the time (now husband) stood at the side of the small stage with me in horror and awe.
The “awe” came from watching this iconic guy go up there and perform all of the big hits that served as a soundtrack to his life. The “horror” was watching Weiland dissolve right before our eyes.
Loyal until the end, his fans stood in front of him, singing every word to every song, even as Weiland struggled to read the teleprompters that helped him remember his hits.
I managed the meet and greet following his performance. His handlers physically held him up to meet these faithful soldiers called fans. The enthusiasm and excitement were contagious in the room…well, to everyone but Weiland.
As he left, my throat got tight when I said good-bye
The entire day was chaotic. It was draining. It rocked me to the core. I was glad it was over.
But I was sad because it was clear that Weiland’s life was gone. A life he never celebrated when the getting was good. A life he never appreciated. A life he never viewed as anything than “going through the motions.” A life he never found peace in.
He was there physically, but there was little life to him.
Two weeks later he was dead
It was 3 a.m. and my phone was blowing up next to my bed. I got up to look. Right there staring back at me was the broken man I said good-bye to just two weeks earlier.
A wave rushed over me. It wasn’t panic, despair, or sadness. It was a wave of peace – like the kind I had always hoped Weiland would find when he was living.
In that moment, I finally understood the phrase “rest in peace.”