It’s been almost a week since the death of Scott Weiland. On Thursday, December 3, the 48 year-old rock singer was found unresponsive on his tour bus in Bloomington, Minn. hours before he was to play a show with his latest band, the Wildabouts. But most knew him as the frontman for Stone Temple Pilots and Velvet Revolver. A slew of media reports ensued, mourning his loss, highlighting his longtime drug addiction, and recounting his meteoric rise with STP in the ‘90s. But few seemed to relate anything about the days before the fame, when a young, hungry Weiland (born Scott Richard Kline) inhabited OC through his teens into his early 20s.
Back then, the charismatic Edison High School freshman—born in San Jose and transplanted from Ohio to Huntington Beach—found his roots here as a budding rock star, playing in bands many of his later fans have probably never heard of. Initially teaming up with high school friend Corey Hickok to form Soi-Disant, Weiland built his rep as an undeniably charismatic frontman, which carried over to his band Swing in the late '80s, followed by Mighty Joe Young, which would eventually become known as Stone Temple Pilots. Through it all, friends, fans and bandmates at the time got to witness Weiland’s early evolution, the heights of his success and his decades-long downward spiral. The Weekly got a chance to hear from a handful of those people who were there for the OC-chapter of Weiland’s life to offer a glimpse of who he was back then.
Corey Hickok [Scott's longtime friend, guitarist in Swing]
When Scott moved to Southern California from Ohio, his family settled in Huntington Beach. He went to Edison High School as a freshman. He played on the freshmen Football team and was in the choir. I was playing in a band (Awkward Positions) with my brother Ross, and Scott would come to watch and was intrigued by the whole idea of creating music. Eventually, I asked Scott if he would like to sing for a new band I was forming. Scott jumped at the opportunity. We immediately clicked and before long Soi-Disant were playing in small clubs all over Orange County. By the time we were Juniors in high school, we had a part time gig at a famous club called Deja-Vu. Once a week they would get a to play a full set of originals in between DJ music and started to create a rather impressive following. At 16 years-old, our band Soi-Disant was hiring tour busses to come to Edison High School and bringing upwards of 200 kids to watch us play at The Roxy in Los Angeles. Within minutes of the busses pulling up in front of The Roxy the place was packed and Soi-Disant was playing to a sold out crowd.
Rachel Wright [Ex-girlfriend of Corey Hickok, guitarist for Swing]
I distinctly remember the night I met Scott, he walked up to a club called Designs Night Club [in Costa Mesa near South Coast Plaza] where I was doing promotions and occasionally go-go dancing. He walked up with Corey Hickok who was the lead guitarist for Swing. I greeted these good looking fellows and ended up falling in love with Corey and we had a long term relationship all through the Swing days. Corey and Scott showed up to Designs to try to book a gig for a venue called Happy House, back then their music had a heavy funk influence, which fit in well for that particular club. From then on, I attended every Swing show. They played gigs in OC and LA with the Coconut Teazser [in L.A.] being an ongoing venue for them. One night at that club, Scott got a little fancy on stage and decided to do a stage dive into the crowd. Little did he know he happened to land on my mom and his boot ended up hitting her in the face. My mom was fine, but when Scott realized who he’d landed on he was mortified and after the show, being the gentlemen he was, he apologized. Scott had great stage presence, he knew how to work a crowd, he was charismatic, and dynamic. He had soul.
Michael McFadin [Co-founder of Ubiquity Records] I first met Scott Weiland in high school through his best friend Corey Hickok whom I had known since elementary school. All three of us loved music, in particular, David Bowie. Scott could talk about music for hours.
Years later in the mid/late ‘80s I was a DJ and threw underground parties around town and I booked bands for the events, including Scott Weiland’s band at the time called Swing and Anton Newcomb's (from Brian Jonestown Massacre) band at the time, Homeland. Both Scott and Anton (Anton also did performance art at the parties) were very actively involved in helping me promote all the events and distributing flyers etc.
In 1988, I moved to San Francisco and subsequently founded The Groove Merchant record store and Ubiquity Records and Anton also came to SF and was starting to have success with BJM. I hadn't heard from Scott and was unaware of STP until one night my mom called and said “I'm watching MTV and that Scott kid that came to your wedding is on, he's a rock star now!” I was always proud that the three of us who sorta started from nothing managed to make some kind of success doing what we loved.
Jacque Parson [Friend of Scott’s]
Scott was very talented and very hard working. Ironically I remember back in the early days, he would come down on us if we were doing ecstasy and things of that nature as we did heading to the clubs and shows, a lot of nights he would only drink water even when we would bring the party home. He would tell us that he needed to stay healthy and he wanted to be sharp. He knew he was going to make it and he was determined…and [he] made it all right right to the top! We were so proud and amazed that he really did it. He really did exactly what he set out to do, for me it was pretty shocking to hear that he was now involved in a rock-n- roll lifestyle that included drugs, which took him away. He was also dealing with bipolar issues as he got older, one of my very last conversations with him was related to how hard he was struggling with that as well as his son. My heart truly went out to him, Scott had a big heart and he was very loyal to the people he considered his friends. And that's what I will always remember about my friend.
George Fryer [Former OC Weekly writer]
I worked at the Balboa Cinema in the early ‘80s and used to let this kid in free to all the punk and mod movies because he never had any money. Years later, my band Peace Corp was playing with Agent Orange whom he was checking out and came up and said “Hey, nice guitar work!” I thanked him and reminded him about the Balboa and he said “That was you? Damn thanks man, those movies saved my life!” Then he proceeded to buy all my drinks the rest of the night and every night I saw him after that.
Bob Thomsen [Big Drill Car/ Magnificent Bastards—Scott’s side project]
When I met him he was dating my wife Mary Ann before we were married. My wife and I had been friends since high school and I was in a band called Big Drill Car. She moved up to LA and I was going on tour with Big Drill Car and my wife started dating Scott when his band was called Swing, like a Red Hot Chili Peppers type band. She used to come to our shows and bring Scott and that’s how I met him. He was just a very motivated, super eager, hungry guy.
Funny story: When my wife and I started dating again, we had a big get together after a Big Drill Car show and Scott came over with some friends and my roommate was the guitarist in Swing, Cory Hickok and Scott was hanging out and kind of giving me and Mary Ann some shit like ‘Oh so you two are in love now? You should get married then!’ And I said ‘Oh, that’s a good idea.’ So I proposed to her right in front of him and she said yes. He kind of initiated us getting engaged.
When he started on having a fallout with STP, he started a side project called Magnificent Bastards and he asked me to be in that. It was with Zander Schloss and Victor Indrizzo who played drums in Beck’s band for a while. It was a really good band but just doomed from the start because it became a way for Scott to do drugs and not get in trouble with all the trappings of STP. So it was very hard to be productive in that band. And that wound up falling apart and becoming his first solo record.
Just being in the Magnificent Bastards project with him, that was sort of the height of his heroin use and and there were some times when I didn’t think he was going to be alive for another couple weeks. I haven’t read his book, but he’s always had the same approach to everything, which was full throttle. When I first met him he was just this super eager, super hungry, super driven guy who wanted nothing more than to be a rockstar. Once he got there, that drive took on a different meaning and different things took the place of becoming a rockstar, like he was never really content or happy with what he had. It was like he was trying to fill a hole.