Scott Weiland, the flamboyant lead singer of celebrated rock bands Stone Temple Pilots and Velvet Revolver, was found dead on his tour bus on Thursday evening.
Weiland, 48, who suffered drug addiction for decades, was due to perform at the Medina Entertainment Center in Minnesota with his band Scott Weiland & the Wildabouts. The show was cancelled earlier in the evening, and his body was discovered at around 9 p.m. local time.
The news was confirmed by Weiland’s wife, Jamie, and his longtime pal, and fellow rock legend, Dave Navarro.
Stone Temple Pilots were one of the seminal grunge rock bands of the ’90s, selling over 40 million records worldwide and taking home a Grammy Award for their hit song “Plush.” Following the band’s split, Weiland formed the supergroup Velvet Revolver with former Guns N’ Roses members Slash and Duff McKagan. Their debut album, Contraband, sold 4 million copies worldwide and earned the group a Grammy.
On hearing word of his passing, actress Juliette Lewis described Weiland “a one of a kind epic force onstage.”
The Recording Academy of America, which organizes the Grammys, said he was “a grunge icon” whose “extraordinary talent and captivating performances will forever live on and inspire legions of rock fans worldwide.”
Navarro, who later joined Red Hot Chili Peppers after making his name as a founding member of Jane’s Addiction, was first to confirm the news. “Just learned our friend Scott Weiland has died,” he wrote in a now-deleted Twitter post. “So gutted, I am thinking of his family tonight.”
An official statement later announced that Weiland had died in his sleep. His death, before he had reached his 50th birthday, came after a public battle with drug addiction that raged throughout his musical successes.
His first band was formed when Weiland met bassist Robert DeLeo at a Black Flag gig. They soon discovered that they were both dating the same woman—but that did not prevent a musical collaboration that would propel both into the alternative rock stratosphere.
After recording a demo as Mighty Joe Young, they changed the band’s name to Stone Temple Pilots. Their first album, Core, was released in 1992, although it took two years for their first smash-hit single “Plush” to win the Grammy for best hard rock performance.
A year after his recognition at the Grammys, Weiland was busted for the first time when he was caught in possession of crack cocaine and heroin.
The band was forced to take a break after the release of their third album, Tiny Music. In a statement they admitted that “[Weiland] has become unable to rehearse or appear for these shows due to his dependency on drugs. He is currently under a doctor’s care in a medical facility.”
That stint in rehab wasn’t enough. In 1998, he pleaded guilty to another charge of heroin possession. The band carried on until 2002, although they struggled to match their early successes.
DUI arrests in 2003 and 2007 suggested that Weiland had failed to put his problems behind him, even though he found more commercial success with Velvet Revolver.
In 2005, Weiland won best hard rock performance at the Grammys again, more than a decade after his first win, with the song “Slither,” which had been top of the Billboard rock charts was nine weeks.
By 2008, Weiland was forced to quit another band. Velvet Revolver bassist, Duff McKagan, who spent 12 years in Guns N’ Roses, said, “Sometimes there’s certain people who’ve just gone too far and you can’t fix it.”
In recent years, Weiland appeared to have hit his stride once again with Scott Weiland & the Wildabouts. Before releasing the new band’s debut album, he told Rolling Stone: “We got really tight as a unit... it made me really want to go into the studio.” Not that all of their live performances could be described as particularly professional.
The day before Blaster was released in March, the Wildabouts guitarist Jeremy Brown died of a drug overdose.
Weiland is survived by his third wife, Jamie, and two children, Noah and Lucy.