Anybody who’s familiar with Scott Weiland knows that his death on Thursday was a long way coming. During his most successful time as the lead singer of Stone Temple Pilots, his drug use clashed with the band’s popularity on rock radio. It was the cause of many breakups and reunions in STP’s career, as well as the separation of his wildly popular but short-lived supergroup Velvet Revolver with former members of Guns N’ Roses. Even though he had been ill for so long, most people couldn’t help but feel shocked and saddened by the news that the 48-year-old singer had finally succumbed to death from cardiac arrest, according to some sources (although Weiland’s manager has yet to confirm a cause of death).
Once news broke that Weiland had passed away, it seemed like everybody took to the Internet to express their sadness and admiration for the man and his musical work. Although never reaching the status of a cultural legend, Stone Temple Pilots did gain favor with critics for shaking the 90s Alternative tag. Stone Temple Pilots enjoyed a near flawless string of hit singles for most of the decade and into the 21st century, which made them hard to miss if you were into rock music during this era, no matter where in the world you were.
Since their inception and almost immediate success happened at a time when our generation’s artists, fans, and industry stalwarts were starting to discover music, Stone Temple Pilots had a huge influence on Latin American musicians. We asked some of them to tell us what Scott Weiland and Stone Temple Pilots mean to them. Without a doubt, they mirror what many others feel about this tragic loss.
“I listened to ‘Lady Picture Show’ repeatedly on a tape my brother used to own. Today I listened to it a couple more times,” said Angelo Santacruz of Chilean psych rock band Nueva Costa. It’s easy to say STP has so many hits and fans because their songs were good. That’s a more than a little vague, although it’s a trap most fall for when trying to explain the success of an artist. From “Plush” to “Interstate Love Song” to “Tripping In A Hole” to “Sour Girl” and many more, the band not only wrote concise songs with unapologetic hooks, they did so with a sound that stuck upon first listen.
Their music is direct and easy to follow, but beyond the surface, there were rich complexities and influences to be discovered. Like Dinosaur Jr before them (although they never quite reached their level of success), STP mixed influences from diverse artists, including The Beatles, David Bowie, Black Sabbath, and beyond.
Their songs range from heavy and energetic to light and melodic; they could harmonize or play monolithic riffs and everything in between. “I was 11 and a friend showed me ‘Interstate Love Song’ and ‘Plush,’” remembers Pablo Alcantara, better known as Mediopicky. “I think I spent a whole month listening to just these two songs, trying to play them on my air guitar [laughs]. When I started listening to them, I was learning how to play guitar and drums. STP and Velvet Revolver had many songs I wanted to learn, because they had a vibe that is very hard to get nowadays.”
During live performances, STP journeyed through all of rock music’s moods, playing to arenas full of fans singing along to all the words. Weiland was the perfect frontman, leaving the stage buzzing with charismatic energy after each set. Pablo Ferrer of the Spanish website Zona de Obras fondly recalls, “Weiland, along with Chris Cornell, is the most exciting rock singer I’ve seen live. I only saw STP live once, at Mexico City’s MOTOROKR in 2008, and it was amazing. A complete stage animal.”
M3 Music’s Juan S. Ortiz de Zaldumbide put the impact of Stone Temple Pilots, as well as many people’s experience discovering music in the 90s, into words: “I remember exactly how I discovered STP. It was during one of those marathonic sessions at my friend’s house, who I used to visit exclusively because he had cable TV with MTV Latino. We used to watch all the videos, the shows, Ruth – the other VJ, I forgot his name – Beavis and Butthead, Headbanger’s [Ball]. I remember [watching] a bunch of videos that changed the way I saw things and made me adopt the term ‘alternative rock.’ These videos were ‘Warped’ by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, ‘Ella Usó Mi Cabeza Como Un Revolver’ by Soda Stéreo, and ‘Interstate Love Song’ by Stone Temple Pilots. Scott Weiland is one of the three voices of our generation, along with Eddie Vedder and Chris Cornell…Then, on December 18, 2010, they came to Bogotá for the first and only time. I went to see them and I sang every song. At least I saw Scott Weiland in life.”
Their albums might not have been perfect, but they will be immortalized wherever rock music is appreciated. Both their timeless hits and deep cuts will be treasured by fans old and new for years to come.