In the ballad “My Own Prison,” the first major hit from the Christian rock band Creed, singer Scott Stapp summoned his best Eddie Vedder impression and crooned, “I cry out to God / Seeking only his decision / Gabriel stands and confirms / I’ve created my own prison.”
Creed would go on to sell 40 million albums worldwide, earning it the distinction of being the ninth biggest-selling band of the ’90s, and took home a Grammy Award in 2001 for the tune “With Arms Wide Open.” But the band became a Nickelback-esque pop culture punch-line, derided for its shameless fusion of power balladry and Christian dogma, which was augmented by Stapp’s Jesus-like appearance, complete with shoulder-length brown hair and striking eyes.
Take a 2000 episode of the zeitgeisty sitcom Gilmore Girls, in which Brian (played by John Cabrera) is being grilled by his pals about being devout while still rocking out. “But no way are we playing Creed, man,” says one of his friends. “That’s where we draw the line,” replies another.
The constant derision seems to have gotten to the group’s frontman. In a disturbing, grainy video posted late Tuesday night on Facebook, a haggard-looking Stapp issued what he called “Public Statement #1,” addressing what he calls the “slanderous, libelous rumors over the last few weeks,” including a death hoax, allegations of drug use, and rehab rumors.“I’m sober as can be,” said Stapp, 41. Eight weeks ago, he said, he began an audit of his finances and his record label, and discovered that “a lot of money was stolen from me, or royalties not paid, and that’s when all hell began to break loose.”
Stapp added, “In the last few years, I’ve rededicated myself to Christ.” He teared up talking about his young son Jagger, who he says is being hurt by all the rumors. “I want my son to know, Jagger, that your dad is sober. No drugs, and no alcohol. This is a vicious attack…over the last four or five weeks, all of a sudden the IRS has frozen my bank accounts two or three times to leave me completely penniless.”
He claimed that he was the victim of identity theft and that someone changed his passwords and transferred all the money out of his bank accounts. Because of a “clerical error,” he added, the IRS put a freeze on his money for nine to 10 months, and he is seeking an attorney so he can fight to reclaim his honor, as his “civil rights have been violated.”“Right now, I’m living in a Holiday Inn by the grace of God, because there’s been a couple of weeks that I’ve had to sleep in my truck,” he said. “I had no money—not even for gas, or food—and I went two days without eating because I had no money, and ended up in an emergency room.”
Most of Stapp’s problems, at least historically, have been tied to his alcohol and drug abuse, which appears to stem from balancing the trappings of fame with the responsibility of being a single father.
He split from his first wife, Hillaree, after 16 months of marriage in 1998. Following the split, she gave birth to their son, Jagger. Stapp gained sole custody of their son, and the last time they spoke for a while was in 2002, when she was arrested for simple assault after striking him across the face with her cellphone. Afterward, he drank and popped pills regularly. He even allegedly had a nickname for his violent, aggressive alter ego: Rick.
“Basically, Scott was a cool, normal guy,” former Creed sound engineer Kirk Kelsey told Rolling Stone. “But fame caused the biggest destruction of his personality. The more power he got, the more corrupted he became.”
In 2002, he was arrested for reckless driving after swerving his SUV off the highway. Then, following the smashing success of Creed’s third album, Weathered, which was certified six times platinum and certified as the highest-selling rock album of 2003, Stapp’s substance abuse problems got more serious. In a 2006 interview with Rolling Stone, he confessed that while touring in support of Weathered, he became addicted to Percocet, Xanax, and the steroid prednisone to treat throat problems. When he quit the drugs—but not the drinking—he said, “I wanted to end my life.”
One evening, after guzzling a bottle of whiskey, Stapp said he grabbed two MP5 machine guns from his collection. He claimed he thought anyone remotely associated with Creed wanted him dead, so that he’d transform into a “Kurt Cobain martyr-type” to sell more records. Stapp pointed the guns to his head, but then his eyes caught a picture of his 4-year-old son, who inspired the hit song “With Arms Wide Open.” “And in an instant, I just turned and shot the house up,” he said. “And I just broke down. I was like, ‘I was about to blow my head off. How low can I get?’”
Stapp sobered up but, following Creed’s breakup in 2004 and the release of his platinum-selling solo album The Great Divide that same year, he fell off the wagon again. According to the Rolling Stone piece, he allegedly sucker-punched the drummer of the band 311 and accidentally struck the band member’s wife in the follow-through. Later, he appeared in an episode of the Spike TV celebrity poker show Casino Cinema drunk, slurring, and shouting epithets at the other players—saying Dave Grohl had “a little cock” and begging for a smooch from Howard Stern’s wife, Beth Ostrosky.
After cleaning up again, Stapp married former Miss New York USA Jaclyn Nesheiwat in 2006. But on February 12, just a day after their Miami wedding, he was arrested for being drunk and belligerent while the newlyweds tried to board a plane at LAX en route to their honeymoon in Hawaii. That same year, a sex tape shot in 1999 hit the Internet depicting Stapp and Kid Rock receiving oral sex on the back of a tour bus from groupies. The following May, Stapp was booked and charged with domestic assault after coming home drunk and getting into a fight with his wife at their home in Boca Raton, Florida.
“He got angrier and allegedly threw a glass bottle of Orangina, almost hitting her in the right side of her face,” sheriff spokesman Paul Miller told E! Online. “She was in fear at that point that he might do something else, so that’s when Palm Beach County deputies were called to the scene.”
Stapp delivered a public apology to his wife, and the charges were dropped. And things seemed fine between the couple, with the crooner appearing sober and healthier-looking, with a new crew cut. He even released an autobiography, Sinner’s Creed, in 2012. During the promo tour for the book, he claimed that the rapper T.I. saved him from another suicide attempt at a low point several years prior. In the middle of a drug binge, he said, he began hearing voices in his head and decided to jump off a balcony at Miami’s Delano Hotel. He fell 40 feet and fractured his skull, hip, and nose, and lay there motionless.
“I laid out there for two and a half hours and my guardian angel showed up—rapper T.I.,” Stapp told MTV News. “He immediately took care of the situation and saved my life.”
But recently, things seem to have begun taking a turn for the worse. According to media reports, Stapp’s second wife filed for divorce. She sought full custody of their children, claiming he disappeared from their home in early October and hasn’t told her where he is. The divorce petition also claims that Stapp was ingesting amphetamines and steroids, said he could talk to God, and posed a threat both to himself and his family.
There were also, according to reports, several text messages on file in the petition:
“Florida is not safe. Biological weapons on the way. U have to leave with kids and meet me in Atlanta.”
“I’m coming to get you Satan and children. No mercy. You know how this ends. God created you and now God is ending you.”“God is telling me something about Palm Springs and Nashville so there’s a connection somehow. He’s also telling me DEA for some reason.”
“I wouldn’t doubt it if the CIA is behind Alcoholics Anonymous.”
If Stapp’s Tuesday night video is any indication, these paranoid delusions seem to be continuing. Meanwhile, according to TMZ, a representative for the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office said a wellness check was conducted at Stapp’s home last week and that after speaking with Stapp and his wife, officers determined that the situation was under control.
“The truth will prevail,” Stapp proclaimed in the video. “The truth will come out…I love you all, man.”