Biography and Profile of Stone Temple Pilots

Stone Temple Pilots
Stone Temple Pilots. Photo: Chapman Baehler.

Stone Temple Pilots got their start thanks to a chance meeting between singer Scott Weiland and bassist Robert DeLeo in Southern California at a 1986 Black Flag concert. Discovering they were seeing the same girl, they became unlikely friends. Recruiting drummer Eric Kretz and guitarist Dean DeLeo (Robert’s brother), the group dubbed themselves Mighty Joe Young. But after learning that a blues artist already had the name, they changed their moniker to Stone Temple Pilots.

Instant Success ... and Immediate Backlash

Based out of San Diego, STP signed with Atlantic Records in 1991, releasing their first album, Core, the following year. Coming at the height of grunge, Core demonstrated a departure from the rock albums of the era. Weiland’s vocals, dripping with attitude, recalled the rock-star swagger of older groups like Guns N’ Roses and the Doors, and Dean DeLeo’s metal-tinged guitar riffs drew comparisons to the unapologetically accessible arena rock of the '70s. Core sold an impressive 8 million copies in the U.S., but that didn’t stop critics from accusing the band of being an unimaginative amalgam of popular rock styles.

No Sophomore Slump

Those who predicted that STP would be one-trick ponies had to eat their words when Purple, the band’s 1994 follow-up, sold 6 million copies in the U.S. Featuring hits like “Vasoline” and “Interstate Love Song,” which each topped the Billboard Mainstream Rock charts, Purple focused on hard rock but unlike Core also made room for pop songs like “Still Remains” and the Led Zeppelin-style acoustic number “Pretty Penny.” By this point, Stone Temple Pilots were well on their way to becoming one of the decade’s most divisive bands: Journalists and hipsters did not respect them, but mainstream audiences adored them.

Drug Problems

Soon, the band had more to worry about than negative reviews. In 1995, Weiland was arrested and later convicted on charges of buying crack cocaine. He received a sentence of probation for one year. Those legal problems caused strife within the band, although their next album, 1996’s Tiny Music ... Songs From the Vatican Gift Shop, didn’t directly address those issues.

The album failed to match the sales totals of STP’s previous two records, due in part to Weiland’s debilitating drug addiction and visits to rehab facilities, which forced the band to shorten their tour to support the record.

Diminishing Commercial Power

A few years of solo albums and side projects concluded in 1999 when Stone Temple Pilots returned with their fourth album, No. 4. Many factors contributed to No. 4 being the band’s weakest-selling effort to that point: The grunge era had passed, Weiland’s drug problems had diminished the band’s commercial standing and focus, and the songs weren’t as dynamic as on previous albums. By this point, extracurricular activities were keeping the band busier than their musical explorations: Weiland survived a heroin overdose but was ordered to serve prison time since possessing the drug was a violation of his probation.

The End ... and the Rebirth

In 2001, the band released Shangri-La Dee Da, a modest success that was hampered by the same difficulties that contributed to No. 4’s commercial liabilities. Leaving a greatest-hits album, Thank You, in their wake, the members of Stone Temple Pilots ceased their partnership in 2003. It appeared to be the end of the band for good when Weiland became the singer of Velvet Revolver, but STP reunited in 2008, around the same time that Weiland left Velvet Revolver.

The band planned a summer tour and discussed working on a new album.

Stone Temple Pilots Return With ... Stone Temple Pilots

Stone Temple Pilots made good on their promise to work on another album when they released Stone Temple Pilots on May 25, 2010. Instrumentalists Robert and Dean DeLeo and Eric Kretz recorded in separate studios from singer Scott Weiland. The DeLeo brother chose to self-produce the album, against Atlantic Records advice, without longtime producer Brendan O'Brien who helmed their previous albums. STP's sixth album and first new studio album in nine years was the last to feature singer Scott Weiland. After touring from 2010 to 2012, STP fired Weiland in February 2013 and replaced him with Linkin Park singer Chester Bennington.

High Rise EP with Chester Bennington, Scott Weiland's Passing, and New Singer Auditions

After Scott Weiland's dismissal, the band recorded and released the five-song EP High Rise in 2013 as Stone Temple Pilots with Chester Bennington.

STP toured sporadically with Bennington when the singer's schedule with Linkin Park accommodated from 2013 to 2015. On November 9, 2015, Bennington announced that he was amicably leaving STP to focus entirely on Linkin Park. Weiland died of a drug-related heart attack on December 3, 2015 while on tour with his band, Scott Weiland & The Wildabouts. Stone Temple Pilots announced a worldwide lead singer search on February 5, 2016 with hopefuls submitting audition demo recordings to STP's website. STP is currently in the process of auditioning prospective lead singers in person.

Current Lineup

Dean DeLeo - guitar
Robert DeLeo - bass
Eric Kretz - drums

Former Members

Scott Weiland - vocals
Chester Bennington - vocals
 

Discography

Core (1992)
Purple (1994)
Tiny Music ... Songs From the Vatican Gift Shop (1996)
No. 4 (1999)
Shangri-La Dee Da (2001)
Thank You (greatest hits) (2003)
Stone Temple Pilots (2010)
High Rise (2013) (As Stone Temple Pilots with Chester Bennington)

Essential Album: Thank You

Stone Temple Pilots never made the same album twice, which is a testament to their willingness to experiment but also makes it difficult when deciding which of their records to choose as a start to your collection. With that in mind, Thank You is the most logical option since this greatest-hits collection distills the group's myriad styles onto one disc. Hard rock, pop ballads and glam are all represented on Thank You, making the argument that STP were such an interesting group because they decided early on that rather than being just one type of band, they'd be several all at the same time.

(Edited by Bob Schallau)