That Time We Met Scott Weiland

In the summer of 1993 (July 17th to be exact) Jim Olson and I went to see Stone Temple Pilots at the Aragon Ballroom in Chicago. They were so early in their meteoric rise that they were opening for the Butthole Surfers. Admittedly I was there to see STP in the same way, two years earlier, I bought Van Halen tickets not to see that ridiculous power drill song — but to catch Alice In Chains opening. I was familiar with a few songs from the Surfers and was excited to see them but for us, the show was STP.

I don’t know the history between the two bands, but they played for a loooong time and even broke down to do some of the living room acoustic stuff they would make a staple of their performances later on, but what stuck with me was what happened after the set.

As soon as STP closed with “Plush” the crowd began to pour towards the back of the theater and out the door. Jim and I saddled up to the bar in the back of the room and waited for the Butthole Surfers to get on stage and about 5 minutes later a guy walks up next to us and orders a beer. I turn to see that it is Scott Weiland and for reasons I will never know, neither Jim nor I fan-boyed out at all. We nodded and said “hello.”

He nodded back with venom in his eyes as he watched these kids literally run out of the Aragon Ballroom. He looked at us and said; “I cannot fucking believe they are leaving. It makes me not want to play if all they want to see is the goddamn single.” He took a long swig of the beer and told us to enjoy the show as he ambled off.

Jim looked at me, “guess we aren’t leaving, cause no way do I want that guy mad at me too.”

The version of Plush above is one of my favorite things (and just about every Gen Xer) the band did because it captures the pain and energy of the song in a way that the plugged in version doesn’t. It also gives you a glimpse into what was to become of the band, you can nearly see the demons swimming around him in this performance which is what makes it captivating and sad at the same time.

There are those who will say he had it coming, they say the same things about Kurt Cobain, Lanye + Mike Starr of Alice in Chains, Hendrix, Joplin, Morrison, or anyone else who overdosed as an artist.

These people have likely never dealt with addiction in their family or circle of friends to understand how hopeless it feels to watch this behavior, the whole time knowing this can happen, at any time.

Last night was that time as Scott Weiland died in his sleep and while his death is not surprising, it is incredibly sad. Sad for his family, his friends, and his fans and sad because anytime this happens I wonder if there really is a threshold of creativity the human brain can handle before it has to cross over into destructive behaviors just to keep the beautiful insanity going.

As much as I would love to say that these sorts of tales lead to people being inspired and changing behaviors so we never have to talk about losing someone to addiction at age 48 again, that just isn’t realistic.

We were blessed as fans to enjoy the art that he left behind knowing that he left too soon. #RIP #ScottWeiland

Eric HultgrenComment