It’s pretty rare for a 48 year-old man to die in his sleep. It is not pretty rare for a 48 year-old on again off again drug addict to die in his sleep which is a pretty safe assumption when it comes to the untimely (yet predictable) death of Scott Weiland.
There is a war on drugs in this country but it’s not the external nonsense our country is fighting. The real war on drugs happens inside of every drug addict, 100% of the time, and it doesn’t matter where they are in their sobriety. It’s a constant struggle. If you’re actively using then getting high is your main focus. It’s what drives every thought of every day. If you’re sober then not getting high is your main focus, all day everyday, one day at a time. This is what I think about when I think of Scott Weiland and that is precisely why I found myself somewhat irrationally tearing up upon hearing of his death. I felt like a fucking idiot, crying over the former frontman of Stone Temple Pilots. Hopefully he’s running through that Wicked Garden in the sky or maybe that fly finally extricated itself from vaseline or perhaps he’s waxing poetic with a Heavenly Sour Girl. It’s possible he’s now chit-chatting with Brandon Lee about how it can’t rain all the time (by the way The Crow is mandatory viewing for this weekend).
Drugs are a helluva drug and as the daughter of a recovering heroin addict my heart always goes out to people like Scott Weiland. That’s what I find so goddamn upsetting about a man whose body was literally heroin chic. Which came first, the heroin or the chic? I can’t tell you how many “Oh I thought he was already dead,” posts I’ve seen on The Interwebz. I get it. You want to look cool by letting the world know you have long since moved on from your Interstate Love Song days and you haven’t given Scott Weiland more than a passing thought since the late 90’s. That’s okay, it’s clear that Scott Weiland died because he was also not giving himself more than a passing thought since the late 90’s and whew boy isn’t that the problem. I really wish he had. I really wish he wasn’t a drug addict dead at 48. It’s not because his music was so great (it was fine, I enjoyed it) and it’s not because he was so great (I obviously couldn’t tell you). As with any addict I mourn for what could have been, not what was, and Weiland just happened to exist during a time in my life which was ripe for future nostalgia.
I saw him perform, solo, at DC’s largest radio festival, the HFStival, in 1998. We shared finger foods backstage. A few years later, after I had moved to Los Angeles, I saw him slumped over the counter at the Johnny Rockets on Melrose. I tried to shake him but when someone on heroin nods out, they’re definitely more out than in. In May of this year my mother and I saw his new band, Scott Weiland & The Wildabouts, at Rams Head in Annapolis. That venue is small and felt even smaller after picturing him performing on a stage at RFK to 45,000+ people. I tried not to wonder if he felt bad about being there, if he was unhappy with where he was in life. I tried to ignore the fact that a recent video of him messing up the lyrics to a Stone Temple Pilots song had surfaced. The show was good…enough. They played enough STP songs to keep the fans happy. That’s precisely what you expect from a show like that. He seemed fine. Fine is not necessarily good in the world of the addict as the old joke is Fucked up Insecure Neurotic and Emotional which is a recipe for ongoing use or relapse. I think he was really F.I.NE. which is what ultimately led to his death, at 48, in the back of a tour bus. I’m willing to bet he died doing what he loved, sadly, but I’m not going to let that stop me from listening to way too much Stone Temple Pilots this weekend and quoting a fair amount from The Crow. I guess he was tired of walkin’, his shoes were worn thin.