By Peter Lindblad
Scott Weiland's troubled life has ended, his well-documented battles with his addictions are over. Many are just waking up to the news that he died in his sleep and have expressed their sadness via social media.
Tributes are pouring in, and he is deserving of them, as Weiland was one of the last true rock stars, handsome, fashionable and debonair with a wild streak a mile wide and a riveting, charismatic stage presence. Not to mention that he had a commanding, confident voice capable of delivering the songs and poetry of Stone Temple Pilots and Velvet Revolver with an assured air of someone who wanted all eyes and ears on him, but didn't need it. He was like a rock 'n' roll matador. Jesus, the guy even sang through a megaphone.
Weiland was no shrinking violet, which was actually refreshing. He sought the spotlight onstage at a time when many of his contemporaries were trying to flee it. And ironically enough, it was the onset of grunge – the very movement that made him a star – that seemed to foster a sense of guilt and shame for chasing fame and fortune. Weiland wouldn't have any of that. He dressed to attract attention. He dated beautiful women. He was damn sexy! Which seems like a terribly inappropriate thing to say now, but he was.
And, at the same time, he was at least partly responsible for making music that deeply touched people. Classic songs like "Plush," "Interstate Love Song," "Big Empty," "Wicked Garden," and"Vasoline" are proving to have real staying power, as does Velvet Revolver's "Slither." Their surreal, evocative lyrics left the door wide open to interpretation. Where some see them as nonsensical and shallow, others find sensuality, imaginative metaphors and interesting puzzles, as well as thoughtful ruminations about death, deceit, confusion and love in classics.
Is he a tragic figure? That's always a tricky question when it comes to those with self-destructive tendencies. We still don't know the actual cause of death. Those who cling tightly to the notion that "it's better to burn out than fade away" might believe that Weiland was the poster boy for such a philosophy. Then again, he was 48, not 27 – which seems to be the age when rock stars of a similar bent shuffle off this mortal coil. So, if he did indeed burn out, it was a very slow burn.
To those closest to him, however, such talk is horribly crass and offensive. It trivializes his life. All they care about is that he is gone and they are grieving the loss of their friend or their family member, no matter how difficult the relationship. To the rest of us, the fans, another great artistic voice has been silenced and somebody we felt close to, who somehow understood us even though we'd never met, is never coming back. So, yes, he is a tragic figure in that he died too young and had more to give. Rest well, Scott. "Where ya going to tomorrow?" None of us truly knows.