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One Year Ago: Scott Weiland Dies From Drug Overdose

Larry Busacca, Getty Images
Larry Busacca, Getty Images

Many of Scott Weiland‘s fans thought the singer was clean when he started touring with his last band, Scott Weiland & the Wildabouts, in late 2015. The night of his death, on Dec. 3, 2015, the band was scheduled to play a show at the Medina Entertainment Center in Medina, Minnesota.

Then at 8:22PM, police in Bloomington, Minn. responded to a call a call about an “unresponsive male in a recreational motor vehicle.” When they arrived, they found the man, Weiland, was dead. Initial reports suggested he died in his sleep from cardiac arrest, but toxicology results conducted by The Hennepin County Medical Examiner in Minneapolis, and released on Dec. 18, determined that Weiland died from an accidental overdose of cocaine, alcohol and methylenedioxyamphetamine (MDA). The report also mentioned that Weiland had a history of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, asthma and multi-substance dependence, which may have contributed to his death.

The day after he died, police in Bloomington announced that they had found a small quantity of cocaine in the band’s tour bus in the bedroom area where Weiland’s body was found. Wildabouts bassist Tommy Black was arrested for possession, but released the next day.

After learning about Weiland’s death, his former bandmates in Stone Temple Pilots – the group with which he became famous – posted a letter on Facebook: “Dear Scott, Let us start by saying thank you for sharing your life with us,” they wrote. “Together we crafted a legacy of music that has given so many people happiness and great memories. The memories are many and they run deep for us. We know amidst the good and the bad you struggled, time and time again. It’s what made you who you were. You were gifted beyond words, Scott. Part of that gift was part of your curse. With deep sorrow for you and your family, we are saddened to see you go. All of our love and respect.
We will miss you brother — Robert, Eric, Dean.”

Weiland had a long history of drug and alcohol abuse. In 1995 he was convicted of buying crack cocaine and sentenced to a year of probation. Over the next four years, Weiland was arrested for a DUI and a domestic violence charge and he spent five months in jail in 1999 after violating his probation on an August 1998 conviction for heroin possession. In early 1998 he went into rehab. He cleaned up and relapsed numerous times but claimed to have kicked drugs in 2002.

“Drugs worked for me until they didn’t,” Weiland told me in September 2013. “They were fun until they were absolutely heinously nightmarish. But that’s all way in the past. I’d abuse on and off. I’d go through a period of using for a while, but then I’d go get clean and stop and I’d go through that whole cycle of rehabbing that became very expensive – more so than the drugs ever were.”

In an interview with Loudwire’s Full Metal Jackie that ran on June 4 , 2014, Weiland reiterated that he had been clean for 13 years. The comment came after accusations from Filter frontman Richard Patrick that Weiland was still using.

Although Weiland was a powerful singer and charismatic frontman, his problems with drugs uprooted his career on numerous occasions. He fronted Stone Temple Pilots from 1986 until 2002, performing on five gold, platinum and multi-platinum albums before his personal issues led to the band’s break up.

After leaving Stone Temple Pilots, Weiland joined Velvet Revolver and recorded two albums with the super group before leaving to reunite with Stone Temple Pilots in 2008. The band released an eponymous album in 2010 and toured through 2012.

In February of 2013, Stone Temple Pilots fired Weiland for erratic and irresponsible behavior and hired Linkin Park vocalist Chester Bennington. “I had an issue with being late to shows,” Weiland told me. “I can admit that. And it’s not just shows, I have a time problem in general and I’m working on being closer to right on time to the dentist or to a business meeting. I’ve always had a problem with it and my friends call it living on Weiland time.”

In addition to his work with Stone Temple Pilots and Velvet Revolver, Weiland released two solo albums and the Scott Weiland and the Wildabouts record Blaster. He also recorded vocals for the self-titled Art of Anarchy album, which came out June 2, 2015.

Weiland was buried at a private funeral on Dec. 11 at Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Los Angeles. Members of Stone Temple Pilots and Velvet Revolver were there to honor their former bandmate.

Loudwire contributor Jon Wiederhorn is the co-author of Louder Than Hell: The Definitive Oral History of Metal, as well as the co-author of Scott Ian’s autobiography, I’m the Man: The Story of That Guy From Anthrax, and Al Jourgensen’s autobiography, Ministry: The Lost Gospels According to Al Jourgensen.

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