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Stone Temple Pilots return ... for how long? 

Weiland's actions bring band's future into question

I can remember it like it was yesterday -- walking into Vintage Vinyl, an indie record store in New Jersey, back in 1992 and picking up a copy of Core by Stone Temple Pilots. When I told my brother -- and fellow music aficionado -- Brian about it, he said, "Why did you buy that? They're probably some kind of screaming metal band and you're not into that ..."

Well, I had heard the debut single, "Sex Type Thing," and it piqued enough curiosity for me to pick up the album. I wasn't disappointed. It was unlike a lot of the music going around those days -- kind of grunge, a handful of hard rock, a smidgen of pop.

By the time I got back to college after the holiday break, a group of my friends had also picked the album up and we compared notes -- which songs were good, which were bad and we pondered why "Plush" was so damn repetitive.

Two years later, the band had released their second album, Purple, and appeared at Woodstock '94. There were plenty of hits off the sophomore album and everyone expected big things. However, if you saw some of his live performances on television, you got your first hint that all may not be right with frontman Scott Weiland.

During one performance, the singer wore a blue dress, white gloves and almost clown-like makeup and flailed around the stage for the duration of the show. Sure, there's an entertainment factor in that, but there also seemed to be something darker peeking out.

In 1995, Weiland was arrested for heroin and cocaine possession. In 1998, he was arrested for heroin possession again. In 1999, another heroin violation. In 2003, he was arrested for drug possession yet again. In that same year, Stone Temple Pilots went on hiatus.

The band had released six albums, won an American Music Award (in 1994 for Favorite Rock/Pop New Artist) and a Grammy (in 1994 for Best Hard Rock Performance).

Meanwhile, a supposedly clean Weiland hooked up with former Guns N' Roses members to form Velvet Revolver and the rest of STP hooked up with Filter singer Richard Patrick to form Army of Anyone.

After two successful albums, it appeared that drugs once again were the fuel to a fire and Velvet Revolver announced that Weiland was no longer in the band. As Patrick decided to go back to record another Filter record, the cards were set for a Stone Temple Pilots reunion.

On May 17 of this year, Stone Temple Pilots played their first show in five years and kicked off a 65-date tour that hits Charlotte on Aug. 17.

It hasn't gone off without a hitch. During a June 2 show in New Jersey, the band was roughly an hour late for their set, at which point a semicoherent Weiland rambled between songs and forgot the lyrics to some, as well.

As it all plays out, you can't help but draw some kind of comparison to Jim Morrison. The Doors' singer was often in an altered state on stage and had moments where he shined and others where he was, well, shit.

At Bonnaroo earlier this year, I met a former tour manager for Velvet Revolver. She said there were moments when Weiland was as nice as could be, and other times when he didn't even recognize her.

So, I had to ask -- "Could you see the breakup of Velvet Revolver coming?"

Her response was expected. "From the first day of the first tour. You had a group of guys that were married and sober and one that hadn't grown up and had trouble staying sober ..."

Now, this is all alleged. I'm not Weiland's friend, family or sponsor. I can only go off of what is reported and seen. A friend of mine was at Rock on the Range -- the band's first show of the tour -- and said Stone Temple Pilot's show was one of the best he's ever seen and Weiland was flawless.

Hopefully, drugs won't be the end for Weiland like they have for so many singers -- GG Allin, Tim Buckley, Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix, Billie Holiday, Shannon Hoon, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Bradley Nowell, Gram Parsons, Elvis Presley, Layne Staley and Sid Vicious ... to, sadly, name a few ...

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