Addiction was Scott Weiland’s cause of death, but not his legacy

addiction scott weilands cause of death not his legacy weiland
Ed Vill
New information about Scott Weiland, the troubled former Stone Temple Pilots frontman who passed away on December 3, offers some tragic yet unsurprising revelations about his cause of death. The Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s results show that Weiland died of complications from alcohol and drugs compounded by the long-term affects of his addictions, as reported by Variety.

The report, released today, shows Weiland died from a “mixed drug toxicity: cocaine, ethanol, and methylenedioxyamphetamine (MDA). Other significant conditions are noted,” the report continues, including “atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, history of asthma and multi-substance dependence.” The official manner of death was ruled as accidental.

Weiland was found on his tour bus in Bloomington, MN while touring with his band The Wildabouts. Shortly after Weiland was discovered unresponsive, his bassist Tommy Black was taken into custody for possession of a substance which “field tested positive for cocaine.” A small baggy of the same substance was found in Weiland’s possession. The news, like today’s toxology report, was exactly what everyone who knew Weiland’s story was waiting to hear — but it is not the end of his story.

For those who followed Weiland’s descent from stage-front sorcerer in STP’s hey days, to his long and chronic battles with abuse of multiple substances, today’s report is far from surprising. While the iconic frontman had short moments of resurgence during his on-again-off-again relationship with STP (which also included a solid rock album with supergroup Velvet Revolver) the writing seems to have been on the wall for years: Though riddled with talent, Weiland never seemed to be able to overcome his addiction demons.

However, while middle-age obscurity can be attributed to the singer’s exiting life with more whimper than bang, those who knew him during the peak of STP’s influence over the rock scene remember Weiland as one of the most formidable forces of his era — an era, it should be noted, which includes Kurt Cobain, Layne Staley (of Alice in Chains), and Shannon Hoon (Blind Melon), each of whom died a tragic death, while also leaving behind a quilted legacy that brought about one of the most influential and high-impact moments in rock history.

Smashing Pumpkins founder and frontman Billy Corgan, who was famously critical of Stone Temple Pilots following their initial debut, counted Weiland among that group, leaving a poignant tribute to the singer following his death on the Smashing Pumpkins website. Calling Weiland one of the “great voices of a generation,” Corgan recounted his realization of how much talent and pure artistic innovation the band brought to the table during their storied run — particularly in their first three albums.

“Having just woken to the news of this passing, I feel compelled to put pen to paper and pay my respects to Scott,” Corgan begins, explaining a bond that grew between the two as their paths crossed in the sometimes-lonely Hollywood music glitterati scene.

“It was STP’s 3rd album that had got me hooked,” Corgan recalls, “a wizardly mix of glam and post-punk, and I confessed to Scott, as well as the band many times, how wrong I’d been in assessing their native brilliance. And like Bowie can and does, it was Scott’s phrasing that pushed his music into a unique, and hard to pin down, aesthetic sonicsphere.”

“… I’d like to share a thought which though clumsy, I hope would please Scott In Hominum. And that is if you asked me who I truly believed were the great voices of our generation, I’d say it were he, Layne (Staley), and Kurt (Cobain).

“So it goes beyond tragedy to say it is we who lost them, and not the other way round…”

Like so many before him, the revelations about Weiland’s cause of death are layered with cautionary lessons, but they’re by no means the end of the story. He will live on in the echoes of rock and roll for years to come thanks to his contribution to one of the most exciting and authentic musical moments in modern history.

Weiland’s legacy is one of a troubled artist who, nonetheless, brought his artform to new heights at a time when artistic integrity and mainstream radio met, for the briefest of moments, as equals on the same stage. For those few years in the mid ’90s the world listened as one, all of us following the same handful of bands who undeniably changed the world around them — artistically if not socially — for the better.

Scott Weiland was 48 at the time of his death. Follow our STP playlist below to hear some of his best moments in life.

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