Stone Temple Pilots (sometimes abbreviated as STP) is an American rock band from San Diego, California, that originally consisted of Scott Weiland (lead vocals), brothers Dean DeLeo (guitar) and Robert DeLeo (bass, backing vocals), and Eric Kretz (drums). From the band’s formation in 1989, its line-up remained unchanged until the firing of Weiland in February 2013. Linkin Park vocalist Chester Bennington joined the band in May 2013. In November 2015, Bennington left the band to focus solely on Linkin Park. On December 3, 2015, Weiland was found dead on his tour bus before a performance with his band The Wildabouts. In 2016, the band launched an online audition for a new lead vocalist. On November 14, 2017, the band played their first show with new lead singer Jeff Gutt.
After forming in 1989 under the name Mighty Joe Young, the band signed with Atlantic Records and changed its name to Stone Temple Pilots. The band’s debut album, Core (1992), was a commercial success, and they went on to become one of the most commercially successful bands of the 1990s. The band released four more studio albums: Purple (1994), Tiny Music… Songs from the Vatican Gift Shop (1996), No. 4 (1999) and Shangri-La Dee Da (2001), before separating in 2002, after which the band members partook in various projects (most notably Velvet Revolver and Army of Anyone). The band eventually reconvened in 2008 for a reunion tour, released a new self-titled album in 2010, and actively toured until Chester Bennington’s departure. The band’s only material with Bennington was the EP High Rise in 2013.
While initially rising to fame as part of the grunge movement of the early 1990s, further releases from the band expressed a variety of influences, including psychedelic rock, bossa nova and classic rock. The band’s evolution throughout the 1990s and early 2000s involved periods of commercial highs and lows, brought about in part by Weiland’s well-publicized struggles with drug addiction.
1985–1992: Formation and early years as Mighty Joe Young
Two conflicting stories of how frontman Scott Weiland and bassist Robert DeLeo met have been described by the band; one was that Weiland and DeLeo met at a Black Flag concert in Long Beach, California in 1985. They began discussing their girlfriends, only to realize they were dating the same woman. However, instead of letting this come between them, they developed a bond and formed a band after they each subsequently broke it off with the girl. Weiland presented a different version of meeting Robert in his autobiography, stating that Weiland and his friends—guitarist Corey Hicock and drummer David Allin—pursued Robert after witnessing him play live with him sitting in during sets at various gigs with their band Soi Disant.
However, after a few years Allin went his separate way pursuing other interests. The remaining members witnessed drummer Eric Kretz play in a Long Beach club and convinced him to join the band. Guitarist Hicock eventually left the band in 1989; in need of a replacement and auditioning many guitarists, Robert suggested his older brother, Dean. At the time, Dean was a successful businessman who had left behind his previous career as a musician, but still played guitar as a hobby. The band managed to convince Dean to play guitar for Swing, completing the original STP lineup. Dean reportedly refused to continue playing in a band called “Swing”, and shortly afterwards the band became Mighty Joe Young. The band recorded a demo tape that was completed around 1990. The Mighty Joe Young demo features tracks that would go on to be re-recorded for the band’s first studio album, as well as some musical styles that would not be featured on any of STP’s studio albums, such as funk and yodeling.
Mighty Joe Young played several gigs in the San Diego area, building up a fanbase. Their first show was supporting Henry Rollins at the Whisky a Go Go. The group then began to work on their debut album with Brendan O’Brien. During the recording, they received a call from their lawyer who informed them that there was a bluesman who had already claimed the name Mighty Joe Young. Inspired by the STP Motor Oil stickers that the band members were fans of in their youth, various ideas on the initials “STP” were shared by the band, including “Shirley Temple’s Pussy” and Stereo Temple Pirates. They eventually settled on the name “Stone Temple Pilots”.
1992–1995: Core and Purple
Stone Temple Pilots developed a fan base in San Diego clubs. In 1992, Stone Temple Pilots signed with Atlantic Records.
Their first album, Core, was released on September 29, 1992, and peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard Albums Chart. Core was a big success, producing hits “Sex Type Thing”, “Plush”, “Creep”, and “Wicked Garden”.
While the album was a major commercial success, some in the music press criticized the band as “grunge imitators”. The same year, Scott Weiland and Dean DeLeo played an acoustic version of “Plush” on the MTV show “Headbanger’s Ball.” This is considered one of Weiland’s greatest vocal performances.
Despite hostile reviews from some critics, Stone Temple Pilots continued to gain fans. They toured for four weeks, opening for bands such as Rage Against the Machine and Megadeth. 1993 brought continued success on the road, with the band headlining a two-and-a-half-month American tour, often performing at benefits for pro-choice organizations.
In 1993, the band filmed an episode of MTV Unplugged, where they debuted the song “Big Empty”. In a January 1994 Rolling Stone poll, the band was simultaneously voted Best New Band by Rolling Stone’s readers and Worst New Band by the magazine’s music critics. The following month the group won Favorite Pop/Rock New Artist and Heavy Metal/Hard Rock New Artist at the American Music Awards. In March 1994, the group won a Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock Performance for the song “Plush”.
In the spring of 1994, Stone Temple Pilots returned to the studio to work on their second album, Purple. Completed in less than a month, Purple debuted at number one in the United States upon its release on June 7, 1994.
The radio-friendly “Interstate Love Song” quickly became a big hit, spending a record-setting fifteen weeks atop the album rock tracks chart.
Other hits from the album included “Vasoline” and “Big Empty” (the latter also being featured on the soundtrack to the film The Crow). By October, just four months after its release, Purple had sold three million copies.
1995–2002: Tiny Music, No. 4, and Shangri-La Dee Da
In October 1995, the band regrouped to begin recording its third album, renting out a mansion in Santa Barbara, California for the band to live together during the recording process.
Stone Temple Pilots released the album Tiny Music… Songs from the Vatican Gift Shop, on March 5, 1996. The album’s sound marked a drastic change from their previous outings, oriented more in the direction of glam rock and psychedelic music than that of the hard rock/grunge sound that propelled them to popularity; critical reception, at the time, was mixed.
Rolling Stone, a magazine known for its initial dismissal of the band’s music, held a favorable opinion of the album, regarding the release as the group’s best effort to date. They expressed surprise, however, at “the clattering, upbeat character of the music” given Weiland’s much-publicized run-ins with drugs and the law. Stone Temple Pilots were also featured on the cover of issue No. 753 in February 1997.
The band was only partially successful in being able to tour in support of Tiny Music… and pulled out of a support slot on Kiss’ reunion tour. A short tour in the fall of 1996 ensued in the U.S. but final dates at the end of December in Hawaii and some dates in 1997 had to be cancelled in order for Weiland to go to rehab.
The band then decided to take a break to work on other projects. “I can’t call the kettle black,” remarked Kiss drummer Peter Criss. “I just pray for the guy and hope that he gets himself better because they really are a great band.”
The band, sans Weiland, recruited Dave Coutts, the frontman of Ten Inch Men, and performed under the moniker Talk Show.
Talk Show released one eponymous album in 1997 before dissolving. Meanwhile, pursuing his own musical interests, Weiland released his first solo album, 12 Bar Blues, in 1998. Although both albums received moderate critical praise, neither was commercially successful.
In late 1998, the band regrouped and began work on a fourth Stone Temple Pilots album. Released in 1999, No. 4 was conceived as a “back-to-basics” rock album in the vein of Core or Purple. Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic compared the album’s sound to contemporary alternative metal bands and wrote in his review “it’s as if STP decided to compete directly with the new generation of alt-metal bands who prize aggression over hooks or riffs.” STP scored one of its biggest hits since the success of Core and Purple with the single “Sour Girl”, fueled by a popular music video starring Sarah Michelle Gellar of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fame. The band also recorded an episode of VH1 Storytellers, and went on a summer tour with the Red Hot Chili Peppers. No. 4 would eventually be certified platinum by the RIAA.
During the summer of 2001, the band released its fifth album, Shangri-La Dee Da, which produced one modest rock radio hit in “Days of the Week”.
Stone Temple Pilots performed “Revolution” live during Come Together: A Night for John Lennon’s Words and Music, a television special in tribute to Lennon that raised funds for victims of the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center.
After their performance received significant radio airplay, the group recorded a studio version of the song, which was released as a single in November 2001. The song reached number 30 on the US Mainstream Rock Tracks chart.
Despite promotion of the album by going on tour with Linkin Park and Godsmack on the Family Values Tour, Shangri-La Dee Da was a commercial disappointment. At that point, marketing support from their label was reportedly minimal, and the band decided to put a hold on any future albums. However, the band recorded “All in the Suit That You Wear”, a song intended to be the lead single on the soundtrack for the 2002 film Spider-Man. However, Chad Kroeger’s song “Hero” was ultimately chosen as the lead single.
2002–2008: Separation and members’ other projects
Despite reports that the band had begun work on a sixth studio album in 2002, the band had dissolved by the end of that year, after reports of an altercation between Dean DeLeo and Weiland after the last show of Stone Temple Pilots’ fall 2002 tour. As a capstone to the band’s career, Atlantic Records released a greatest hits album, Thank You, with a bonus DVD of archive material and music videos, in 2003.
Following the band’s dissolution, Weiland was recruited to join the successful supergroup Velvet Revolver with Guns N’ Roses members Slash (guitar), Matt Sorum (drums), and Duff McKagan (bass) and former Wasted Youth guitarist Dave Kushner. The band released two albums, Contraband in 2004 and Libertad in 2007 before breaking up in 2008.
Likewise, the DeLeo brothers formed the supergroup Army of Anyone with vocalist Richard Patrick of the industrial rock band Filter and session drummer Ray Luzier. The band released its self-titled in 2006 before going on “indefinite hiatus” in 2007. Eric Kretz kept a lower profile during this time, operating his own studio, Bomb Shelter Studios, and drumming for the band Spiralarms.
2008–2011: Reunion and self-titled album
According to Dean DeLeo, steps toward a Stone Temple Pilots reformation started with a phone call from Weiland’s wife, Mary Forsberg. She invited the DeLeo brothers to play at a private beach party, which led to the reconciliation of Weiland and the DeLeo brothers. In 2007, Dean DeLeo and Weiland discussed a concert promoter’s offer to headline several summer festivals. Weiland subsequently left Velvet Revolver in April 2008 and the following month, Stone Temple Pilots announced they were reuniting for a 65-date North American tour.
The group officially reunited for a private gig at the Houdini Mansion and held their first public show on Jimmy Kimmel Live! on May 1.
Stone Temple Pilots toured throughout the summer and fall, headlining the Virgin Mobile Festival in Baltimore on August of that year as well as the 10th annual Voodoo Experience in New Orleans. The band’s six-month reunion tour wrapped up on Halloween 2008 in Pelham, Alabama.
After taking a short break to allow Scott to support his recently released second solo album, production for the band’s sixth studio album began in mid-2009. The band also went on the road for a 13-date North American summer tour in 2009, taking place in-between the tours for Scott Weiland’s second solo album.
The band showcased new material at South by Southwest in 2010, and also appeared at England’s Download Festival 2010 in June, as well as at the Hurricane Festival and the Southside Festival in Germany. The band also performed during the Final Four Concert Series in Indianapolis on April 2, 2010.
The band appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman for the first time in ten years on May 19, performing “Between the Lines”. The band’s self-titled sixth album was released on May 25, 2010, debuting at No. 2 on the Billboard 200.
Towards the end of 2010, STP announced they were rescheduling several U.S. tour dates so that the band could take a “short break”. STP toured Southeast Asia for the first time in 2011, playing in Philippines (Manila), Singapore, and Indonesia (Jakarta). Following this, the band played successful shows in Australia, including sold out performances in Sydney and Melbourne.
2011–2013: Split with Weiland and legal proceedings
In December 2011, Dean DeLeo told Rolling Stone, “what I’d like to see happen is the band go out and do more intimate shows – really lovely theaters around the country.” DeLeo also commented on a possible extended reissue of Core including live archived material, “We have tons of live recordings from that era, and we didn’t multi-track record that stuff. There’s no fixes, so they’d sound incredible if we just master them”.
On January 2, 2012, Scott Weiland also commented on the 20th anniversary of Core, saying “Well, we’re doing a lot of special things. [There’s] a lot of archival footage that we’re putting together, a coffee table book, hopefully a brand new album – so many ideas. A box set and then a tour, of course.” On June 26, STP released its first-ever concert film, Alive in the Windy City, on DVD and Blu-ray. The performance was filmed at a sold-out show in March 2010 at the Riviera Theatre in Chicago.
From then on, the band began to experience problems, and suspicions were raised that tensions within the band had arisen again. Despite the band’s claims that their fall tour would be celebrating the 20th anniversary of Core, this did not happen. According to Weiland’s bandmates, they did not want to do the celebration because they believed that he no longer had the vocal range to perform some of the album’s songs. Weiland then decided to perform the latter songs that they did not want to play on a separate solo tour. The rest of the band decided to hide their anger and frustration towards his decision, causing Weiland to assume that they were all on the same page.
On September 17, at a show in Abbotsford, British Columbia, STP arrived nearly two hours late, and cut their set 30 minutes short, angering many fans. The following day, the band released a brief statement announcing that that night’s show in Lethbridge, Alberta was cancelled due to Weiland being ordered to go on “48 hours complete vocal rest due to strained vocal cords.”
On December 7, in response to a public declaration from Weiland that he was “completely open” to returning to Velvet Revolver and a radio DJ’s questions about the state of that band, Slash (Weiland’s former bandmate with Velvet Revolver) told Minneapolis/St. Paul radio station 93X that he had heard rumors Weiland had been fired from Stone Temple Pilots, citing this as a possible reason for Weiland’s eagerness to return to Velvet Revolver, something that he quickly dismissed.
On February 27, 2013, Stone Temple Pilots fired Weiland. The firing was officially announced as Weiland left on tour with his solo band. Both parties issued lawsuits over the right to perform with the Stone Temple Pilots name; both were settled out of court, with the DeLeo brothers and Kretz retaining the rights to perform under the name.
2013–2015: With Chester Bennington, and Weiland’s death
On May 18, 2013, the three remaining members of Stone Temple Pilots performed with Chester Bennington of Linkin Park, appearing as special guests at the 21st Annual KROQ Weenie Roast, and the May 19, 2013 Live 105 BFD festival near San Francisco, where they performed a new song, “Out of Time”.
On May 19, 2013, STP released a free download of their new single “Out of Time” with Bennington now an official member. Bennington had exclaimed years before in interviews that being in Stone Temple Pilots was his lifelong dream. The new lineup performed again on May 30, 2013 at the MusiCares MAP Fund Benefit Concert in Los Angeles, California, and were joined by Weiland’s former bandmates Slash and Duff McKagan on stage to perform “All the Young Dudes”.
On July 15, 2013, STP announced that it would embark on a small tour in September with Filter as the opening act. Stone Temple Pilots released a five-track EP titled High Rise on October 8, 2013, through Play Pen, LLC, credited as Stone Temple Pilots with Chester Bennington. The album’s second single, “Black Heart”, was released through iHeart Radio on September 18, 2013. They officially dropped “with Chester Bennington” from their name in March 2015. On November 9, 2015, Bennington announced he was amicably leaving Stone Temple Pilots to focus more on Linkin Park.
On December 3, 2015, Scott Weiland was found dead on his tour bus in Minnesota. Stone Temple Pilots released a statement noting his passing in which they thanked him for his time with them and said he was “gifted beyond words”.
2016–present: Core reissue, new singer Jeff Gutt and upcoming seventh studio album
In February 2016, Stone Temple Pilots launched an online audition for a new vocalist, stating, “If you think you have what it takes to front this band, record with this band, and tour with this band, we would dig hearing from you.”
In September of that year, rumors circulated about “Fillipino musician John Borja being the top candidate for the job.” In February 2017, it was reported by AlternativeNation.net that the band “has already selected their singer, so they have their hearts set on somebody,” though it was not revealed who. That same article, however, called Borja and X Factor season 3 runner-up Jeff Gutt “two rumored finalists.”
On July 20, 2017, Bennington committed suicide at the age of 41. The band paid tribute by releasing an open letter to him. On July 26, 2017, the band announced that a 25th anniversary edition of Core would be released on September 29, 2017. The reissue includes a 25th Anniversary box set, it includes a remastered version of the album, previously unreleased demos and b-sides, and parts of three live performances from 1993 (Castaic Lake Natural Amphitheater, Reading Festival, and MTV Unplugged).
In October 2017, Dean DeLeo said that the band’s search for a new vocalist was “going great,” and that the band is “working on new material.” On November 14, the band revealed that Jeff Gutt had been chosen as their new lead singer.
On November 15, 2017, the band released a new song, “Meadow” from their upcoming studio album.