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10 Moments In Scott Weiland’s Memoir That We Hope End Up In His Biopic

photo: Daigo Oliva

Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!” – Hunter S. Thompson

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“You Got No Right.” The Stone Temple Pilots singer Scott Weiland sang about his troubled second marriage and struggle for legal rights on the tenth track of Velvet Revolver’s debut album Contraband (2004). Who owns Scott Weiland’s rights now? On June 28th, the news broke that the rights to Scott’s autobiography, Not Dead & Not For Sale: A Memoir, had been acquired by Dark Pictures and producer Orion Williams. The team plans to adapt the book into a feature film called Paper Heart. Although Not Dead & Not For Sale was co-authored with the help of prolific author David Ritz, the memoir remains wholly Weiland’s story in

its rawness. The unique thing about the book is that one feels that its narrator has yet to fully process the memories he relates. Hence, the work maintains an open-ended quality. It was written during a crossroads in Scott’s life, wherein he was optimistically experimenting with new creative and romantic undertakings.

Paper Heart, like Not Dead & Not For Sale, takes its name from STP’s single “Trippin’ on a Hole in a Paper Heart” — one of the band’s calling-card songs along with “Plush” and “Vasoline.” “Trippin’ on a Hole in a Paper Heart” features Scott’s free-associative beatnik style at its best. It comes as a reassurance, therefore, that Orion Williams, brings experience from having produced films like Big Sur (2003), which features Jean-Marc Barr as the beatnik novelist Jack Kérouac. Dark Projects, co-founded by Jennifer Erwin and Anne C. Beagan, is a production company without any completed credits. It has four other titles that have yet to progress past the script stage. If Beagan’s entertainment background is lacking, that is because she retired from the FBI in 2000. She was the youngest FBI agent ever to be eligible to do so. While still in the FBI, Beagan also worked as an advisor on shows like Dick Wolf's on FBI and FBI: Most Wanted. Erwin, by contrast, has produced shows like America's Next Top Model, Mindhunter, Behind the Music. Since both ladies are Stone Temple Pilots fans, we hope that they will handle the making of Paper Heart with care.

It’s been a long ten years since Not Dead & Not For Sale was first published in 2011. Weiland passed away on 3 December 2015 of an overdose while riding in a tour bus through Minnesota with his band the Wildabouts. Cocaine, MDA, and alcohol were found on the bus. The hot-topic buzz that proceeded from Scott’s death seemed ironic. In the late legend’s own words from “Adhesive”: “Sell more records if I’m dead, Purple flowers once again.” Nevertheless, the massive debts that Scott left behind prompted his widow, Jamie Wachtel Weiland, to auction her wedding ring on eBay with the starting bid of $8,000. Jamie also placed portraits of her late husband on Etsy and tried to sell his iconic hats until his daughter reacted aghast. Everyone wanted to purchase the fallen of Weiland: his scarf, tie, pants, and sunglasses were all auctioned. Not Dead & Not For Sale?!

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It would be easy to fall into rock star clichés when making Paper Heart. Scott’s motto?! “Ride [and revamp] the Cliché.” Scott will always be known as a chameleon, who possessed the rare talent to infuse his individualistic essence into diverse styles. Scott Weiland was the grunge-era’s David Bowie, but he could also sing country, blues, or even like Michael Bublé. Scott’s ability to turn any topic into a catchy tune even becomes reminiscent of Seth McFarlane at times. Scott occasionally rocked fishnets and heels. Yet, when given a leather cowboy hat, he transformed into a dead ringer for Clint Eastwood. Scott’s flamboyant fashion sense, which led him to create his own clothing line, combined with his Perry Farrell-like dancing to make him a super-heroic presence. No wonder Marvel recruited him to record tracks for Hulk (2003) and Fantastic Four (2005). Weiland was certainly a cinematic figure with a loaded gun of a story to be told.

Here are 10 things from Scott Weiland’s Not Dead & Not For Sale, that we hope will make it into the artist’s biopic, Paper Heart:

1. Galoshes in Cleveland.

Galoshes represent a leitmotif of Weiland's life. Thus, it feels necessary that the filmmakers behind Paper Heart throw a pair or two into the deal. The singer used to wear galoshes as a boy in the suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio for protection from stormy weather. Weiland concludes his memoir: “In the end, I’m happy in my galoshes. Happy stomping through the rainy mud of my childhood. Happy to remember the crazy chaos of a life dedicated to music and nearly destroyed by drugs. Happy to stop…” Figuratively speaking, Weiland never left Cleveland, but rather constantly reinvented his hometown by mingling its memory with new people and associations. This state of mind is exactly what Happy in Galoshes lent objective reality to through art.

Happy in Galoshes was the title of Weiland's second solo project. This is one of the achievements, which Weiland reflected upon with the most contentment. He compares this solo album to Not Dead & Not For Sale insofar as it reminisces upon his life with nostalgia. The album, released in 2008, was recorded during a period when Stone Temple Pilots had temporarily dissolved. Happy in Galoshes includes the radio single “Missing Cleveland” as well as “Be Not Afraid,” a hymn that Weiland learned in his Ohio altar boy days. Nonetheless, Weiland’s Cleveland days were marred by intense traumas. As a twelve-year-old, Scott was raped by a jocular twenty-year-old high-school senior. Weiland had suppressed this occurrence until it was unearthed during one of his many rehab visits. A recollection from Cleveland that is both heartbreaking and touching took place when Sharon, Scott’s mother, admitted that she was an alcoholic. Dave, Scott’s stepfather, had taken the family to watch a Cavaliers’ game in his company’s luxury box. Dave found a vodka bottle in Sharon’s purse that she had taken from the bar. The family rallied around her in love, tears, and support.

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For the purposes of clarification, Weiland's biological Sharon [maiden name] Williams and Kent Kline divorced when Scott was two years old. After Sharon, a realtor, married Dave Weiland, an aeronautical engineer, the family moved from California to the ironically named town of Chagrin Falls, Ohio. Scott occasionally spent summers in San Jose with Kent’s second family.

2. “You think you can sing in a rock band?”

In 1982, the Weiland family moved back to California and settled down in Orange County. At the time, Scott was an all-American quarterback whose hobbies included surfing, volleyball, softball, and wrestling. Weiland met hip kid Cory Hickok on the football team at Edison High School. Cory first put the challenge of forming a rock band to Weiland: “I don’t mean sing with your choir voice. I mean sing in a rock voice.” This exchange could become a crucial plot point for Paper Heart, seeing as it paved the road for the tumultuous road that followed.

Scott and Cory dubbed their four-member post-punk band Soi-Disant. Scott eventually teamed up with Jersey-native Robert DeLeo, who decided to axe Scott’s bandmates. Thereafter, Stone Temple Pilots was formed with the addition of Eric Kretz and Robert’s brother Dean DeLeo, who was initially reluctant to give up his career as a successful businessman. STP, however, only became known as such in April 1 1992. The band initially dubbed itself Mighty Joe Young and had flirted with the moniker Shirley Temple’s Pussy.

It was during Weiland’s time with Soi-Disant, however, when he became a choir boy no more. Weiland and another bandmate, Scott Tubbs, were kicked out of his Madrigal ensemble of carolers for getting the group drunk on peppermint schnapps. Weiland had in fact smoked weed earlier in his childhood that he had stolen from Kent. Yet, the Soi-Disant era was when computer nerds introduced Scott to cocaine for the first time. Scott became tormented in the wake of his girlfriend’s abortion. One of the most harrowing and definitive episodes of the rocker’s life began when Weiland’s stepfather barged in on an afternoon of coitus between Scott and a girlfriend named Heather. What could be described as the “Pork Chop Affair” ensued later that evening. Scott fled the house from an enraged Dave, who found cocaine and marijuana in Scott’s bedroom and consequently contacted the authorities. The next morning, Scott was whisked away from music theory class on a gurney by paramedics with policemen present. Weiland spent the next three months in a mental institution until he learned the necessity of lying. “Just say what they want you to say.” On “Where’s Your Man?” from 12 Bar Blues, Weiland’s first solo project, Weiland sang: “You know I lied, but if it makes you glad. I'll tell you what you want to hear.” This is a song about losing control and trying to take it back. The philosophy of Weiland’s second wife was also: “If you get caught, lie lie lie.” That said, Weiland could be honest to a fault and once surrendered to police after scoring heroin under the mere suspicion that he might be caught.

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3. Jailhouse Christmas Rock

Scott briefly glossed over one of the most beautiful moments of his life in Not Dead & Not For Sale, which has potential as a powerful scene. In 1999, Weiland endured a shortened sentence of five and-a-half months in a jail recovery center. He was fortunate to be placed there, as opposed to the main population in the downtown L.A. jail. Weiland staged a show of Christmas carols at his facility. His ensemble consisted of himself, a neo-Nazi, and two Crip members. — Not Dead & Not For Sale makes the vocal group seem larger than described elsewhere as a quartet. — Eighty inmates as well as prison staff allegedly gathered to listen in attendance. Weiland told Esquire: “It was cool to show the fuckin' sheriff's deputies that we had something good in us… It sort of shocked them to see us singing so sweet and in harmony. It was a great sort of passive-aggressive way to say fuck you.”

Many great lyrics would also result from Weiland’s troubles with the law, rehab stints, and sober living stays. “Seven Caged Tigers” was written during Scott’s similar 1995 stay in drug jail. The morbid tune was among Scott Weiland’s favorite self-authored songs and the finale to STP’s third studio album, Tiny Music… Songs from the Vatican Gift Shop (1996).

4. Christmas Miracle

In 2002, Scott Weiland's grandmother, whom he called Grammy, made a miraculous recovery. She had contracted a brain infection, encephalitis, that had vanquished her memory. According to doctors, there was almost no hope for recovery. Scott’s grandmother was released from her nursing home to spend Christmas Eve with her family. On Christmas morning, when she found her family gathered around the Christmas tree. It was then immediately clear that she had recovered. She had recovered. As an addict and a family man, faith in the improbable was exactly what Weiland needed. This Christmas miracle came at a high point in Weiland’s life. It was one of the rare moments when Weiland had the feeling of unity and connection that he often craved.

By now, we’ve established the importance of Christmas in Weiland’s life. It reads as a major theme of his life. In 2011, after the time frame of Not Dead & Not For Sale, Weiland released his third solo album The Most Wonderful Time of the Year. He met his third wife, photographer Jamie Wachtel, on the set of his music video for the first track, “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.” Scott was attracted to the fact that the Ohio-native was a parent like himself. Scott enjoyed spending time with Wolfgang, Jamie’s son, and the family’s pit bull dogs. When the couple married in 2013, the bride of the paper-hearted singer wore a dress from The Paper Bag Princess, a vintage shop in Beverly Hills. Two years later, Jamie would see her husband for the last time when they celebrated Thanksgiving dinner together at Maialino in New York. Scott would leave to continue the tour, on which he would die of an accidental overdose.

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5. Births of Noah & Lucy

Scott Weiland was extremely proud of his two children, Noah Mercer Weiland and Lucy Olivia Weiland, who were respectively born in 2000 and 2002. Weiland wrote “Song for Sleeping” for Noah. “There’s so much I could teach you if you only have the time.” This mantra is scrawled in the personal notebook pages included at the end of Not Dead & Not For Sale. Peace is apparent in Weiland’s voice on “Song for Sleeing.” Nevertheless, Mother Mary took an extreme risk while she was eight-months pregnant with Scott’s firstborn. She punched a man in the face for calling Scott a “fag.” Weiland missed Lucy’s birth by thirty seconds, due to tardiness on behalf of his rehab facility to discharge him. We suggest that cameras recreate the moment anyway, or at least depict Scott’s first embrace of his daughter after the mad rush from his hospital to hers.

Both of Weiland’s children have grown into beautiful adults. They are spitting images of both parents. Although Noah was booted from the band he formed with Slash’s son, he is sure to have better luck with Blu Weekend, the new band he formed with Tye Trujillo, the son of Metallica’s Robert Trujillo.

6. “Mary Mary on my Mind”: The Beginning

Mary Forsberg was only sixteen years old when she met Scott Weiland. Weiland was working as a driver for a modeling agency, where he was assigned to chauffeur the reticent would-be Neiman Marcus catalogue girl to her appointments. During the summer when Scott worked for Mary, the furthest the pair encroached on intimacy was when Mary asked Scott to apply her makeup. After Core’s success in 1993, Scott tried to locate Mary while on tour in London. Scott discovered a fluke: Mary was also in London. The two finally consummated their relationship. Mary joined Scott for some of his European tour before they parted again.

Scott’s affair with Mary overlapped with his marriage to his first wife, Jannina Casteneda, whom he ultimately caught cheating in his bed. Weiland’s drug use during his wedding day with Jannina found its parallel in the lyrics of “Trippin’ on a Hole in a Paper Heart.” Unlike that stormy ceremony, Weiland confessed during his wedding to Mary that she was his soulmate. Jannina and Scott would remain amicable, seeing as after their separation she was a “Sour Girl” no more and married a more affluent husband. Listen to Jannina’s brother play the guitar on Scott’s single “Barbarella” (1998).

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Mary would later become violent and embittered towards Scott. She once grabbed Weiland’s mother’s neck, which had recently been operated on, but not without burning Scott’s wardrobe first. Mary destroyed $80,000 of Scott’s clothing as well as other household items. Mary would allege that Scott had been an absent father after their divorce. Nevertheless, many have noted that she made it difficult for Scott to see his children. Mary had been granted full custody after the couple divorced in 2007. In 2009, the ex-wife published an account of her own, Falling to Pieces: A Memoir of Drugs, Rock ‘n’ Roll, and Mental Illness. The first half of the title was borrowed from Velvet Revolver’s best-selling single. Concerning the second clause, Mary had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder like her husband. After she broke up with Scott, Mary claimed that she had been misdiagnosed. Part of the reason for Scott’s erratic behavior later in life can be attributed to poorly prescribed psychiatric medications.

Upon Scott’s death, Mary penned a scathing open letter. The letter commenced: “December 3rd, 2015 is not the day Scott Weiland died. It is the official day the public will use to mourn him, and it was the last day he could be propped up in front of a microphone for the financial benefit or enjoyment of others.” On the Howard Stern Show, Weiland reported paying $60,000 a month in child support to Mary as ordered by the California court system. This forced Scott to prioritize touring above his health. This may have killed Scott in the end. Although Scott never stopped paying for his association with Mary, the story of the beginning of their seemingly fated whirlwind romance is worth the popcorn.

7. Heroin’s First Kiss

According to the timeline in his memoir, Weiland snorted heroin for the first time in 1994 in New York City. The actual year seems to have been 1993. STP was on the Barbecue [Bar-B-Q] Mitzvah Tour with Butthole Surfers and other bands. The musicians were staying at The Royalton Hotel. Weiland and Mary had reunited earlier that day. After the concert that was to take place, the pair had agreed to spend the evening together. Scott would find Mary in the scarlet vintage dress they had just bought in SoHo. Scott and STP then dressed as the members of Kiss with full makeup for the show. Weiland snorted heroin before his performance. Preferring to be alone with his newfound high, Scott chose not to meet Mary that evening. Weiland had smoked heroin previously, but the book frames this event as the pivotal moment in his turn to addiction.

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Soon Scott would begin shooting up. Weiland likened heroin to the “womb.” Its maternal embrace removed his self conscious anxiety. He became a full-blown addict along with Mary, whom he dragged downward. Scott marveled that he had never seen anyone go from zero to full-throttle the way she did. The couple missed appointments, blew through money, and earned the mistrust of their friends. Weiland details an overnight detox gone wrong, during which had not been given enough medication and came to consciousness. The half-hour he spent awake must have seemed especially perilous, considering that withdrawal can lead to cardiac arrest. At one point, Scott was set to check into a rehab center called Exodus. It was no small coincidence that his Butthole Surfer drug buddy Gibby Haynes, one of the crew from that portentous Bar-B-Q Mitzvah tour, along with Kurt Cobain were already checked in. Weiland followed advise to go elsewhere for this reason. Four days later Scott heard that Cobain had committed suicide. Realistically, this would probably mean that Cobain had already left treatment, since he spent several days on the loose, which included a plane flight with Duff McKagan. Furthermore, his corpse was not discovered for three days after his fatal self-shooting. Weiland recounts the further coincidence of running into Courtney Love after jumping out of Jannina’s moving car after she bailed him out of jail. Weiland and Love abused heroin together in her room at the Chateau Marmont.

Heroin was clearly Weiland’s substance of choice. Scott chronicled the beginnings of his cocaine use as a “sexual experience.” Weiland’s view of this drug in the book is antipathetic. According to Scott, cocaine is “evil.” One of the most bizarre moments in Not Dead & Not For Sale’s is when Weiland recalls skeletons as a side-effect of coke use. Weiland claims that these figures manifested themselves in an objective phenomenon that was witnessed by both by him and his dog Otis. “My belief is that the coke I was ingesting activated a paranormal force. That force once took the form of a minitornado, a whirlwind of tremendous energy that came after me and smashed against the side of the house, doing tangible damage.” At the memoir’s start, Weiland mentions that he still drank occasionally. By the book’s close, Weiland stated that he had given up drinking. Weiland explained that booze was often the culprit that impaired his reasoning and made him slip back into drugs. Weiland’s ambiguous relationship to alcohol in the memoir, however, can be perceived as foreboding.

8. Betrayal: Judas Temple Pilots

At times, Scott Weiland and his Stone Temple Pilots bandmates truly bonded. They experienced major career highs with one another and spent an incredible amount of time in close quarters as their work demanded. For example, Shangri-La Dee Da (2001) was recorded in a Malibu mansion that the band and their spouses had temporarily moved into to facilitate the creative process. The band had a family feel, due to the DeLeo brothers. Dean had played a patriarchal role to Robert, and when the band was formed Dean helped to get the ball rolling with his learned business knowledge. Each of the band members abused substances at times and enjoyed partying together. Throughout his life, Weiland craved brotherhood, because he had been so greatly affected by his parents’ divorce and sense of rejection. That is why Weiland’s depiction of the band’s 2003 betrayal is the most painful passage in the book:

The guys… knew I was hurting. “We’re your brothers,” they said. “Just tell us what’s happening. We don’t want to hear about it in the papers. We want you to come to us first.” Brotherhood. Solidarity. Money on the line. We had a million dollars lined up for a gig in Anchorage and two in Hawaii. After we played Jay Leno’s Tonight Show, I gathered up my courage and talked to Dean, Robert, and Eric, man to man. “Okay, guys,” I said. “I’ll level with you. I’ve been chipping. But I have enough meds to get me through these gigs. And I’ll bring a sober guy along with me, at my expense, to make sure I stay straight.

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In short, the Pilots canceled upcoming shows, trashed Scott in the media, and had the group’s lawyers demand that Scott compensate them for the millions of dollars in losses. As mentioned earlier, the band subsequently split up. It is sad to consider that STP had wanted to dedicate Shangri-La Dee Da to the memory of Mother Love Bone’s Andrew Wood — the grunge muse, who inspired Alice in Chains’ hit single “Would?” (1992). “If I would [get clean], would you [support me]?” The members of Stone Temple Pilots figuratively answered “No.” Whether or not Paper Heart captures Scott’s pain will be instrumental to the project’s reception. Likewise, lending depth to the other Pilots’ perspectives will strengthen the conflict.

STP reunited in 2008 after a similar situation with Velvet Revolver. Weiland was fired and replaced by his friend Chester Bennington in a questionable move. Within the context of STP, Bennington’s originality faltered. At times, Bennington’s performances veered off into the comical as he impersonated Scott. STP arrived at their current singer, Jeff Gutt, through an open casting call, which many fans branded as sleazy and pathetic. The X Factor contestant apes Weiland when singing the late icon’s songs and his new material seems rather uninspired and lacks the coolness factor.

9. Working Out?!

As mentioned, Scott’s Velvet Revolver bandmates were not going to allow him time off to go to rehab without paying back what they would lose in revenue for gigs. Scott, having supported his VR peers when they needed rehab, called it quits at the very moment when the supergroup was on top of the world. The arrangement had not been fair. Scott’s history of substance abuse had been apparent, and the band should not have solicited Scott’s help without accepting the risks involved. Anyone could have predicted that the mega-tours that Velvet Revolver was organizing would throw Scott off the wagon. Scott relapsed on tour in England in 2006. Duff McKagan, Slash, Matt Sorum, and Dave Kushner had needed a star. Their public search had generated an outpouring of poor-quality audition tapes. McKagan’s model wife, Susan Holmes, asked Mary on a shopping trip, in order to try to recruit Scott. The band pushed Scott into industry events and bamboozled the dazed and habitually tardy artist into joining the band. Scott later claimed that VR was all about the money to support the vanity of the group’s spouses, who intruded on rehearsals and eventually overtook the band.

Although Weiland claimed that Velvet Revolver wasn’t music of the “soul,” that’s not to say that VR didn’t produce some solid tracks: “Loving the Alien,” “Last Fight” — about Michael Weiland, and “Can’t Get It Outta My Head” — an Electric Light Orchestra cover. Scott was a genius at putting melodies to VR’s instrumentals and many of his lyrics with the group are highly personal. The listener feels both Scott’s suave disillusionment and resilience. A character depiction in Paper Heart that becomes too frail or too hopeless would not feel true. “I’m a tenacious drug addict. I give it up and I don’t give it up. I put it down and I pick it up. But I’m also a tenacious recoverer. I never quit trying to quit. That counts for something.” Scott’s proposed name for the band was Black Velvet Revolver like his father’s liquor, Black Velvet, that he used to steal as a child.

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The interpretation of Scott’s Velvet Revolver days might become cynical if Duff’s initial help is not considered. McKagan, whose pancreas burst in 1994, was the one VR member of the band, who didn’t lapse back onto substances. McKagan recommended that Scott strengthen his sobriety by visiting his guru in the Lake Chelan area of Washington State. Duff lived in the area part-time. Scott learned how to channel his aggression while strengthening his body with martial arts master Sifu Joseph Simonet and kickboxer Addy Fernandez. Scott stayed at the couple’s retreat for three months. Because of all the darkness in Scott’s life, it would serve Paper Heart’s plot to show Scott earnestly working on himself while his career apex. Perhaps Weiland's fighting skills even saved his life. After quitting VR, Weiland was almost killed when he was kidnapped in Paris. Weiland relates that at one point: “One [of the men] had a pair of pliers and was going for my nuts.” Ninja Weiland escaped with a cracked tooth.

10. Loss of Two Brothers

Scott’s father, Kent, had two children, Seth and Matthew, with his second wife Martha. He also adopted Martha’s son, Craig. Scott and Craig became close childhood friends, although it pained Scott that his father favored his stepbrother. One day when Scott was back in Ohio, Craig was hit by a car while on his bicycle in California. Like the lyrics in “Big Bang Baby,” Craig suffered from a hole in his brain. He passed away the next day. Kent delivered the news to young Scott by phone. After Craig’s passing, Kent became even more emotionally inaccessible to Scott.

In Ohio, Scott grew up with Michael Weiland, his younger half-brother. Dave, Scott’s stepfather, had always treated Michael, his biological son, with greater leniency than Scott when it came to substance use. Scott introduced Michael to alcohol, cocaine, and heroin. Michael struggled with addiction, but he had been working towards recovery. Michael, a father of two, passed away suddenly in 2007. Scott juxtaposed receiving the tragic blow with memories of Michael’s belief in elves, which endured into his twenties. Cardiomyopathy, a condition common to Scott, was later given as the official cause of death. By a cruel twist of fate, Weiland’s L.A. kickboxing instructor, Benny, lost his sister on the same day and Matt Sorum’s brother also passed away around that time. Velvet Revolver’s struggle to cope can be heard on Libertad (2007).

Weiland desperately sought to connect with his male family members. “The Man I Didn’t Know” takes Scott’s desire to become close to Kent as its topic. “At forty-two, I’m still looking to connect with him.” Kent — a Doors and Fleetwood Mac fan, who had driven a Pepsi truck — had taught his children how to sing. One Christmas, Scott invited all the boys in his family — including Michael, Noah and his father — to the cabin he had built in Lake Chelan. Although the occasion proceeded nicely, it was ultimately followed by a cruel snub with insult added to injury from Kent. Scott compared his relationship with his father to the “Jaded Lover” of the Jerry Jeff Walker song. Although Kent frequently ghosted Weiland, he called his son on Father’s Day 2015 to say that he had prostate cancer. Sharon was also suffering from cancer. The dying musician broke down. This news may have been one of the final nails on Scott Weiland’s coffin.

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