(photo by Charles Epting)
Sad news with the death of singer Scott Weiland, just 48 years old. Weiland attended Edison High School here in Huntington Beach, and his band Stone Temple Pilots regularly played Night Moves on Warner and Springdale during their early years. I interviewed Scott a couple of years ago when he released an album of Christmas standards. He was ridiculed by many for the release, but in speaking to him, you could tell it meant the world to him. Right after this, I saw him perform these songs at the Galaxy in Santa Ana and while the crowd gave him flack for ignoring his well known hits, he ignored them and stuck to what he wanted to do.
Here is my interview:
Two-time Grammy® winner Scott Weiland loves the holidays, so much so that he has just released ‘The Most Wonderful Time of the Year’ from Rhino. Featuring many popular Christmas classics, the album also includes the singer’s own original holiday song, ‘Happy Christmas And Many More.’ The seeds for the album were planted two years ago when Weiland first performed ‘Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas’ on ‘The Tonight Show With Jay Leno.’ Inspired by Frank Sinatra’s legendary 1957 recording of the song, Weiland took things to the next logical step, which was a full album. In addition to traditional renditions holiday favorites, Weiland also includes a reggae version of ‘O Holy Night’ along with several other surprises.
Accompanying the album, Weiland wrote this heartfelt note: ‘I hope this music, a labor of love from all of ‘us,’ finds you and touches your heart and soul. For that was the purpose of it. Not just these fabulous musicians but moreover, it was the absolute intent of the original writers, players, and legendary icons from days long gone. I have to pause and wonder…whether it be Frank, Bing, or Nat King Cole himself. Are these times really so different? A lot of these tunes were written during times of strife within our country and, in fact, around the world. Whether it be the depression or wartime, when these Christmas messages were sent out to men & women of our armed services in a fox hole or hospital, just as today those brave souls who dare to give it all.’
Weiland got into the holiday spirit in a recent discussion with Chris Epting about the album.
This album will be a surprise to many ears.
(Laughing) I know! To my kids, included. But what can I say? There are things as an artist that just become so inspiring, that you have to answer the call. For years I’ve wanted to do this, in this way, and I’m totally proud of the results. I hope people are surprised, but that they understand how important this was to me.
Have your kids heard it yet?
Just little pieces of it. It’s hard being divorced, especially during the holidays, but my ex and I find a way to make it work and keep the holidays special for our two kids. But they’ll be hearing the whole thing soon when I see them.
Is there one holiday song that stands above the rest for you?
I’d have to say ‘The Christmas Song,’ by Mel Torme. He co-wrote the song, so I think he had a special feel for it. But there is something about his voice that resonates with me in a way no other does. His nickname was ‘The Velvet Fog.’ When you hear his tone and texture, you realize what a perfect nickname that was.
You add some new touches to some of the songs, like the reggae approach to ‘O Holy Night.’
I wanted to at least try a few new things because people are so familiar with many of these songs already. As an artist I feel you have to do that. But I didn’t want to do to too much. I mean, these songs are pretty well built already.
Any idea where an album like this might lead you in the future? Towards some other standards perhaps?
You never know. I keep an open artistic mind. But I will tell you; this was an amazing experience for me. This era of songwriting is something I loved when I was growing up, and I would love to explore some more of these in the future. They just pull you in. they are so emotional and real.
What about holiday TV classics? Do you have a favorite?
Definitely, ‘Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town.’
What is it about that one?
Well, great story and characters. But it’s the Winter Warlock that still gets me. When they give him the toy choo-choo train, and his heart melts, it’s so beautiful and makes such a statement about the human condition. How he changes his ways. That made a huge impression on me.
RIP Scott Weiland.