Saturday, December 03, 2016

The First Domino to Fall: Reflecting, with Video Tributes, on a Musically Tragic Year Since the Death of Scott Weiland on 12/3/15

One year ago today, on December 3, 2015, late in the evening, I heard about the death of Scott Weiland, best known as the lead singer for Stone Temple Pilots.

Weiland, whose battles with substance abuse were chronicled for decades, died on a tour bus in Bloomington, MN, prior to a scheduled show with his latest band, The Wildabouts (he had been dismissed from STP for the last time in 2013).

At no point would hearing of the signer's passing been too much of a shock, but it was nonetheless a surprise, and I instantly texted word of it to my friend Paolo, a considerably more avid STP fan than me.

Perhaps because Stone Temple Pilots initially sounded rather derivative of Pearl Jam, and probably due to Weiland's problem's coming to overshadow the band's music and success, I can't say that I was a major STP fan during their mid-90s heyday, even as some of their songs--"Plush," "Vasoline," "Interstate Love Song," etc.--were inescapable and enjoyable.

I subsequently came to appreciate STP a bit more, seeing them for the first time at Chicago's Riviera Theatre in 2002, and even more delectably at the same venue, with Paolo, in March 2010. Whatever Weiland's past (or perhaps still present) problems, the band roared spectacularly at the Riv.

That show was recorded for a DVD called the Alive in the Windy City, from which the closing "Trippin' on a Hole in a Paper Heart" is one of several clips to be found on YouTube:

I should also mention that I enjoyed Scott Weiland's work as the lead vocalist for Velvet Revolver--comprised of Slash and other Guns 'n Roses veterans--including two solid albums and a concert in 2005 that I thought was phenomenal.

In part due to the demons which continued to demonstrably plague him and further diminished his musical relevancy, I can't say I was devastated by Weiland's death, which seemed more inevitable than most. But I was saddened.

Obviously, Scott Weiland wasn't the first rock star to die suddenly or prematurely, and celebrities die with regularity. But while musical legends like B.B. King and jazz saxophonist Ornette Coleman died in 2015, both were in their upper 80s. And although the passings of Lesley Gore, Ben E. King, Percy Sledge and others prior to Weiland last year we worth noting and ruing, the losses didn't feel like an epidemic.

Since Scott Weiland's death on this day last year, they have.

With the bulk of the passings coming in 2016, this year has clearly been one of the worst in rock (and music) history. But because I trace the dominoes of death to Scott Weiland, I'll pay tribute to those musicians who have passed in the last 365 days, hoping we can get into 2017 and well beyond without any other legendary losses.

I'll include a few clips I found that pay special tribute to a few of the stars that meant the most to me; though a rather long list, it isn't exhaustive and I apologize if I omitted anyone who affected your life.

I am focusing here specifically on the musical talent that has left the world over the past year, but will also note the deaths of (not comprehensively nor chronologically): Muhammad Ali, Gene Wilder, Alan Rickman, Abe Vigoda, Harper Lee, Joe Garagiola, Johann Cruyff, Patty Duke, Morley Safer, Gordie Howe, Anton Yelchin, Elie Wiesel, John Saunders, Jose Fernandez, Curtis Hanson, Edward Albee, Arnold Palmer, Gwen Ifill, Robert Vaughn, Florence Henderson and members of the Chapecoense soccer team.

Musical deaths since that of Scott Weiland on December 3, 2015:

● Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead, December 28, 2015

● Natalie Cole, December 31, 2015


● Pierre Boulez, January 5

● Otis Clay, January 8

● David Bowie, January 10

● Kevin Junior of The Chamber Strings, January 16

● Dale Griffin of Mott the Hoople, January 17

● Glenn Frey of The Eagles, January 18

● Paul Kantner and Signe Toly Anderson of Jefferson Airplane, January 28

● Maurice White of Earth, Wind & Fire, February 3

● Dan Hicks of Dan Hicks & His Hot Licks, February 6

● Viola Beach, English indie rock band, February 13
(Kris Leonard, River Reeves, Tomas Lowe, Jack Dakin)

● Vanity, February 16

● Joey Feek of Joey + Rory, March 4

● George Martin, Beatles producer, March 8

● Keith Emerson of Emerson, Lake & Palmer, March 10

● Frank Sinatra Jr., March 16

● Phife Dawg of A Tribe Called Quest, March 22

● Merle Haggard, April 6

● Prince, April 21

● Lonnie Mack, April 21

Billy Paul, April 24

● Guy Clark, May 17

● John Berry original member of Beastie Boys, May 19

● Christina Grimmie, June 10

● Ralph Stanley, June 23

● Bernie Worrell of Parliament-Funkadelic and Talking Heads sideman, June 24

● Scotty Moore of Elvis Presley's band, June 28

● Alan Vega of Suicide, July 16

● Sandy Pearlman, July 26

● Buckwheat Zydeco, September 24

● Pete Burns of Dead or Alive, October 23

● Bobby Vee, October 24

● Leonard Cohen, November 7

● Leon Russell, November 13

● Mose Allison, November 15

● Sharon Jones, November 18

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