Early 2016 has seen the release of the 18th book overall by yours truly, Greg Prato, which is about the life and career of Scott Weiland, entitled ‘Scott Weiland: Memories of a Rock Star.’ Below is an exclusive excerpt from the book (which focuses on what made Scott unique as a performer), as well as additional info about the book:
From late 1992 and throughout the remainder of the decade, if you spent any amount of time watching MTV or listening to rock radio, you were bound to come in contact with a tune by Stone Temple Pilots. With such classic releases as ‘Core,’ ‘Purple,’ and ‘Tiny Music…Songs from the Vatican Gift Shop’ selling millions and spawning countless hits (“Sex Type Thing,” “Plush,” “Creep,” “Vasoline,” “Interstate Love Song,” “Big Empty,” “Big Bang Baby,” etc.), STP is now widely considered one of rock’s all-time great acts.
And during this time, there were few rock frontmen who commanded an audience and generated as many headlines as Scott Weiland. Despite fronting another successful band, Velvet Revolver, and issuing his own critically acclaimed solo albums, Weiland could not overcome his demons – passing away in 2015 (at the age of 48).
‘Scott Weiland: Memories of a Rock Star’ features nearly 30 all-new interviews conducted exclusively for this book, including members of bands that toured with STP (Megadeth, Meat Puppets, Blind Melon, etc.), worked with Scott (Scott’s autobiography co-author David Ritz, video directors Kevin Kerslake and Josh Taft, producer/engineer Chris Goss, etc.), or were friends and/or admirers of Scott’s music (Richard Patrick, Bob Forrest, Matt Pinfield, Eddie Trunk, etc.). Get ready for an honest and accurate portrayal of Scott Weiland!
Chapter 5: The Performer
What made Scott unique as a performer?
DAVID ELLEFSON [Megadeth bassist]: Probably the thing that captivated me the most right out of the gate is when I think this was even at Long Beach Arena, the very first night they played…there were two things. I saw their kit set up and had the “STP oil can logo” on there. And the first thing that hit me was, “That’s a lawsuit waiting to happen!” They obviously quickly moved away from that. But then the second thing was Scott with the megaphone, singing into the microphone. I thought that was such a cool hook – it was so simple and so creative, and it really made such a cool sound. Those were the moments to me that I saw bands doing things like that as, “These are moments of really ingenious creativity.” And Scott definitely had that.
CHRISTOPHER THORN [Blind Melon guitarist]: When you think of “the megaphone,” you think of him first, don’t you? [Laughs] As a cool little trademark. It’s like a little bit of production value at the live show.
MATT PINFIELD [Radio host, former MTV VJ]: He probably wasn’t the first person to use a megaphone, but the fact that he would use a megaphone…his live performances, his movements, he was creating his own thing. But taking his heroes like Bowie and cultivating them, and taking that synthesis of all those things that he loved growing up – including Kiss and Aerosmith, because everybody grew up on that stuff. But also the Beatles. He was not afraid to go out there and be himself. I think that’s the thing that was so great about Scott live.
MINA CAPUTO [Life of Agony singer]: I think there are a lot of “plug-in singers,” and Scott was definitely one of those singers that was like, “Fuck it…this is my last performance.” It’s the same attitude I take – it doesn’t matter where I am, in whatever capacity of crowd, I’ll always give it my last. There are a lot of plug-in people – they sound the same every night, they’re not alternating melodies to their words, it’s just the fucking same every night. They’re not taking risks with their words or their melodies, they’re not pushing their range to be lower or higher. And that’s what I loved about Scott. And each record had its own character and had its own attitude. ‘Tiny Music,’ which was pretty much one of my favorite Pilots records, was very different from ‘Shangri-La Dee Da.’ And that’s what I love. It’s not that same guy or girl on the album that you expect. There’s always an element of surprise and their visions were kaleidoscopic. One of the greatest bands in the world.
CHRISTOPHER THORN: Scott had an incredible Iggy Pop/Mick Jagger/Steven Tyler…he was all the greats wrapped up into one. And I also think that feeling of being unleashed and unhinged is a really great thing in rock n’ roll. Not all bands have that. For me, personally, I kind of miss that. I love a band that you see, where you’re like, “Fuck. I don’t know how this is going to end. Something can catch on fire or somebody can implode at this point!” And Scott and Shannon both had that live. When Blind Melon played, I didn’t know if we were going to get through the end of the show. I didn’t know if Shannon was going to wind up hurting himself or hurting somebody. And Scott had that same thing. It felt unhinged and a little scary. All great rock n’ roll is that way. The role model is the Rolling Stones – you see them perform back in those days, and you’re like, “I hope there’s not a riot.” And sometimes, there was.
And that feeling is a part of rock n’ roll – that’s what makes people intrigued by rock n’ roll. It’s like why people go to amusement parks and go on a roller coaster. That feeling, it’s a hard thing – you can’t fake it. If somebody sees that you’re faking it, they don’t buy it. Fans are smart. They know when something is the real deal. And Scott was the real deal. That band was the real deal. That’s undeniable. You can’t say anything other than they were the real deal. I miss that feeling in rock n’ roll.
I would say Cage the Elephant kind of has that for me these days. But there are very few bands that have that energy, where you’re like, “Man, this is a little scary. And the songs are great.” You feel lit up as a fan, watching it. I love that feeling, and Scott was one of the all-time greats of giving you that feeling. I saw him in Velvet Revolver many years after I’d seen Stone Temple Pilots, and he still had it. I think when Velvet Revolver first started, he was doing real good with sobriety. I saw a show at the Roxy – kind of a private show, when they first came out – and it was incredible. It made you go, “Oh God. These guys are the real deal.”
TRAVIS STEVER [Coheed and Cambria guitarist]: I think it was more of an awkward…you know how they say that Axl Rose does the snake kind of thing? He’s got this stage presence kind of thing where he really literally slithered around that I felt like it had a pseudo-psychedelic kind of thing to his presence. I feel like he did a combination of a visual thing, mixed with really being able to articulate – when he was in his right mind – the words and how he was singing things. Towards when they came in, just being a frontman could not be enough in a way – as frontmen had done so much already. And somehow, even just standing there, he had a presence that visually made it stunning. He did these awkward dances that gave it a visual trippiness. I wish that I could articulate it more, because I watched a bunch of footage a couple of days after he had passed away, and trying to understand why people thought he was such an incredible frontman. And when I saw him, I did too, but there was nothing really special – it’s just something about how he carried himself.
It’s almost like it was awkward to the point of fascination. Some of his moves and some of the things he did – the weird dance and shit – were awkward to the point of fascination. And you know who I can relate to doing that kind of frontman thing – especially in his older age? Perry Farrell. Just doing that weird shit that somehow, it still works. But the difference is when I saw Scott Weiland and when I see a lot of footage, his voice was also so powerful. And later on, there were a lot of lyrics that came out of him that were quite relatable and a cool way of putting things. More straight-to-the-point than some of the other music – especially since I just used Perry Farrell as an example. Sometimes he did things that were like, “That was a pretty poetic way of putting it.” But I think that was easy for Stone Temple Pilots, because let’s face it, it really usually breaks down to the lyrics and the vocals for your “everyman rock.” And I think that’s why Stone Temple Pilots broke through pretty well, too. Which, good on him, that he was able to do that. So I guess the description is you were fixated on this awkward psychedelic slithering that he would do, as he actually belt the shit out.
CHARLIE BENANTE [Anthrax drummer]: He had this kind of funky, almost Axl Rose-ish dance that he did. Always seeing things about him prior to the band, he was a jock – he was into sports and stuff like that. That’s why I always felt there was a bit of phoniness in him – it wasn’t real. Because what guy plays sports and is a jock, and then almost wants to be looked at as this introspective type of person? It just didn’t gel with me. But I always thought the band was way better than him.
KEVIN MARTIN [Candlebox singer]: One of the greatest performers ever. His slither…he was like a snake on stage. And pulling from all the greats, like T. Rex, David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Joey Ramone. I think he was a great studier of the great rock stars. But I think that he personified it, rather than copied it. Like the Seattle scene, we were all the “jump around and break shit and stagedive guys.” And then there was Scott, who was like, “I’m going to be Jim Morrison. I am Jim Morrison at this moment.” I think that’s really what set him apart from all those performers in the ’90s that went on to have great careers. He had a quality that was very snake-like and fluid and aggressive and angry – like a viper.
CURT KIRKWOOD [Meat Puppets singer/guitarist]: He was smooth. I wouldn’t say he put a lot into his dancing, but his moves were good and something as a frontman, it’s always kind of cool to see somebody who has something like that, who had a snaky sort of thing and seemed a little larger than life. It was kind of like David Bowie. Whenever I’d see him, it seems like no matter where you are watching, you were in the front row, because he was engaging physically, and naturally, vocally.
CHRIS GOSS [Masters of Reality singer/guitarist, producer/engineer (Magnificent Bastards producer, 12 Bar Blues engineer, ‘Tiny Music’ vocal engineer)]: Scott was a spaz on stage! He kind of had a “monkey/spaz vibe” that was kind of cool. And he wasn’t doing the “I’m sensitive” thing. It was more like a wildman. And it was dark, confusing, and violent at times. I thought it was a really good reflection of what was going on. The first thing, it’s showbiz, right? And you have an obligation to do a show. But at the same time, some artists have the ability to let the mood that they’re in that day prevail, and not fake it. And not be a Pollyanna about it. I think he had that ability, that when he was off, he let it show – he didn’t give a fuck. And that runs all the way from Miles Davis. Only a certain amount of people can get away with that, and not thinking they’re an asshole for being that way.
DAVID ELLEFSON: In particular, somewhere in the Midwest [on the tour that STP opened for Megadeth] – it might have been Nashville – and I remember standing on stage right, watching them. And I’ll never forget it, it was kind of this smaller, sweaty, half-theater/club kind of venue. The place was packed and they had this really cool vibe about them. And I remember Scott always had his sweater on, and it’s hot as hell inside. There was something special about that night – where the band was really cranking, a hot, sweaty venue, and Scott’s up there.
He had this way about him where he wasn’t like a frontman like a Rob Halford or Bruce Dickinson, who really got in people’s faces and had this very commandeering sort of mannerism about himself. He had this very…almost stand there on the stage, looking at the ceiling, sunglasses on, like he’s really off in his own little artistic world up there. And it’s almost like he was in his own world and it didn’t matter if anyone was in the audience or not. And he performed like that. He performed the songs. He didn’t perform for the audience.
SCOTT LUCAS [Local H singer/guitarist]: Those guys looked good. They looked sharp. And that was the thing – when we started that tour [Local H opened for a STP arena tour in 1996], we were still very much like, baggy jeans and baggy t-shirts. And they would come out and they looked great. They looked like they should be on a big stage. And we looked like we should be in somebody’s garage. My girlfriend, she was like, “This isn’t going to do. You guys look like idiots next to these guys.” She had sent me a bunch of clothes and I started wearing them, and they noticed! I didn’t feel completely right in them, but it was kind of fun. That whole tour was sort of like a…fuck it – just do all those type of things you wanted to do. But those guys were very much…what’s the Pavement line? They’re elegant. [In reference to the Pavement song “Range Life,” in which they refer to STP as “Elegant bachelors”] And there’s a lot of elegance to the way Scott moved as a live performer. That clearly, I think we realized pretty quickly wasn’t for us. We couldn’t pull it off. But he had the confidence to pull that off.
KEVIN MARTIN: Maybe six times [Candlebox played shows with STP]. I never saw him perform bad. Never. Even when he was fucked up. We played a show with them in 2002 in Tampa, and he was a trainwreck…but he was fuckin’ on fire. I played a show with him last year  in Shreveport, and it was bad. I’ve got to say, that was a bad show. He was in bad shape. The band was phenomenal – I’ve known Tommy Black [the bassist for Scott’s last band, Scott Weiland & the Wildabouts] for years. The band was stellar, but Scott was in bad shape.
BRETT BUCHANAN [Alternative Nation website founder/editor/reporter]: I saw Velvet Revolver twice – in 2006 and 2007. I saw STP in May ’08, June ’08…I probably saw Scott about twelve times. The Hollywood Bowl show I went to in 2008, this was the first full-length STP show I ever saw. I saw them on ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live’ just before. It’s the best concert I’ve ever been to – I don’t see how anybody’s going to ever top it. He threw his shirt off, he brought crazy stage energy, he made somebody’s grandma dance – she was on the side of the stage. Just the way he moved combined Jagger, Bowie, so many guys. And then the megaphone – which became such a signature part of his act, and it shows what kind of longevity he had. He didn’t start using the megaphone as a regular thing – outside of on the ‘Core’ tour for “Naked Sunday” – until the ‘No. 4’ tour. He started using the megaphone then, and that started to be his signature trademark. And that’s another really unique aspect about Scott live. He was just so unpredictable. Obviously, the trainwrecks were depressing the last few years, but before that, he was able to channel whatever he was going through at the time into passionate performances live.
MINA CAPUTO: I’ve seen him solo a couple of times, I’ve seen Stone Temple Pilots probably twice on every record, because me and all the friends I grew up with back in the days, the Pilots were one of our…it was Pilots, Radiohead, and so many great bands. I saw them a lot, but never played with Stone Temple Pilots. But had the opportunity to play with Velvet Revolver, which was really cool – and that was twice. Every song, every word, every second was memorable. When you’re looking at Slash and Scott and all the cats, it’s like, every-fucking-thing is memorable. Because I grew up with all these people, and they were like my second wave of Gods.
CARLA HARVEY [Butcher Babies singer]: I saw them when I was a kid and I was blown away by his performance – just the way that he moved on stage. He had such a big presence and I was really attracted to that. I wanted to be a singer ever since I was a child, and I was blown away by the power that he had. I saw Nirvana around the same time, and it was kind of a sad time when I saw Nirvana, because Kurt Cobain literally stood there in the middle of the stage, like a broken human being. And at the same time, I saw Stone Temple Pilots, and it was such a dynamic difference between him and Scott. Scott moves around so much and he had such a powerful persona on stage. And it blew me away.
CHARLIE BENANTE: The last time I saw Stone Temple Pilots with him was here in Chicago, and I think the band broke up that night after the show. I remember it was really bad – they went on really late and I didn’t see them afterwards, because there was “a situation” backstage. I saw him here in Chicago on the Family Values Tour, and he was a fuckin’ mess – a mess. It pissed me off so much, too. I saw them when they opened for…I don’t remember who it was, on the first album tour, and I thought they were awesome. And then I saw them at Roseland on their own, saw them at Jones Beach. Always liked them.
TRAVIS STEVER: I had never seen them live and we did a festival with them in in the Midwest. It might have been Milwaukee. And they blew me away. I remember thinking, “Holy shit! They’re on their game.” It blew me away – especially the crowd. And their set reminded you just how many incredible songs they had, that you don’t put them in the category until you’re listening. I know they have a greatest hits collection, but I don’t own that – I have the records.
And having the records, you don’t remember how many of them were actually hits. I don’t know if they were in the top-ten on the charts, but they were definitely on the rock radio. So they’re going through playing all these songs, and it’s one after the other. It was really being able to see them in action, and seeing how the brothers play so well together, and the whole band, in general. Because as a frontman, even the awkward dancing he would do was perfect for the music. I didn’t get to see them early on in what people would call “their prime.” But I got to see them when he first came back, and it was really on fire.
CURT KIRKWOOD: I would say so [that Scott put in just as much effort performing in front of small crowds that he did in front of big crowds]. I played all different kinds of places with him – crowds of 30,000 folks and then House of Blues-type places, too. Not just Scott, the whole band – I never saw them bad. I’ve seen STP a lot, and they always bring it.
BRETT BUCHANAN: Like I said, I saw STP at the Hollywood Bowl – which they sold out – in 2008. And then a year later, I saw them at the House of Blues on Sunset Strip – which has now been torn down – and that held maybe 500 people. And that was one of the best times I ever saw them live. He totally brought it. 500 people or 20,000 people, he brought it every night.
TIM WILLIAMS [Vision of Disorder singer]: Their style, the way they looked, the way he moved on stage, but later in this career, out of everybody in the band, they’re all great, but he really ran with it. As he got older and got better, he really became an amazing frontman. And I say that being a frontman myself, there’s frontmen…and there’s not frontmen. And that’s it. There’s no grey area. Period. And he was one of the last – and I will say this truly – true frontmen in this world. There are very few that are left. I haven’t seen anybody coming up that matches…maybe it’s just a different time and these people don’t exist anymore.
But Scott Weiland was one of the very last, true frontmen. And he was an amazing talent. The way he carried himself, the way he performed on stage, his voice, he was a real frontman. He was outstanding. Before things started to get dark for him later in his career, he was unstoppable. He was his own entity. He lit up the fucking stage. Stone Temple Pilots are a rock band – they’re not screaming, bloody, crazy riffs. They depend on a different type of intensity, and that guy, that frontman…either you have it or you don’t. He had it.
SHANDON SAHM [Meat Puppets drummer]: One of the great frontmen of all-time – up there with all of the greats. He definitely accomplished what a lot of musicians try to do.
TROY MEISS [Meat Puppets touring guitarist (in 1994)]: Whether you like the guy or not, whether you’re a fan of the band, Scott Weiland could take a crowd of 20,000 people and put them in his pocket. Every single person would be singing along, every word. And he would make people feel like he was singing to them. He definitely had some magic.
EDDIE TRUNK [‘That Metal Show’ co-host, ‘Eddie Trunk Rocks’ radio host]: There were a lot of bands out around that time that really underplayed it. It wasn’t so cool to be a rock star and a frontman. Scott came out and really stood out because he was the opposite of what many were doing on stage at the time. He moved, worked the crowd, really came with great energy.
Photos by Steven J. Messina.