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February 27th will join February 5th– “The Day The Music Died”– as a day that will forever live in rock and roll infamy. This Wednesday, critical darlings and multi-platinum superstars Stone Temple Pilots shocked the world and devastated fans by announcing the termination of founding vocalist Scott Weiland.
The brevity of the band’s statement, released by their publicist via email, belied the magnitude of the announcement: “Stone Temple Pilots have announced they have officially terminated Scott Weiland.”
With just 11 words, Stone Temple Pilots plunged the music press into near pandemonium. MTV immediately preempted all programming with feverish minute-by-minute coverage and STP tributes, while trade magazine Billboard replaced their main website with an all-black splash page simply reading “STP SPLIT!” RollingStone.com quickly crashed under crushing traffic from fans looking for updates.
News reports from the impromptu Stone Temple Pilots vigils that sprang up worldwide showed mixed reactions from fans. Some were heartbroken; “I cannot believe it,” said Irish fan Thomas Bauriedel. “I feel as though my heart has been ripped from my chest.”
Others reacted with anger and disbelief: “They can’t f–ing fire Scott,” said Houston, TX Pilothead Jonathan Williamson. “That’s like the Stones firing Mick. It’s like the Blowfish firing Hootie.”
President Obama cancelled an appearance at a Virginia fire station, at which he had intended to discuss the impending sequester. “This is a dark time for the American experiment,” Mr. Obama said in a brief press conference. “Today, our nation is too crestfallen to tolerate the petty distractions of politics.” Though the president did not mention Weiland or the Stone Temple Pilots specifically during the statement, he wore a small Stone Temple Pilots pin on his lapel instead of the traditional flag pin.
A White House memo asked that flags on federal buildings to be flown at half-staff through the weekend.
Meanwhile, rumors of a Weiland replacement — ranging from credible to far-fetched — dominated gossip sites through the night. Musician Dave Grohl of ’90s also-rans Nirvana and Foo Fighters issued repeated denials that he was in talks with the Pilots, while TMZ posted unsourced documents pointing to the possibility of Jay-Z and Marcus Mumford sharing vocal duties.
Conspiracy-minded fans speculated the Morrissey’s rash of concert cancellations may have something to do with a secret Stone Temple Pilots collaboration, but the enigmatic Brit quickly posted a denial on fan site true-to-you.net: “Alas, much as I have pleaded and prayed for it to be so, my dear friends in the Stone Temple Pilots shall not be suffering this old fool.”
The Stone Temple Pilots’ camp has been silent since the statement, leaving fans to wonder what’s next for America’s most respected rock group. Scott Weiland has confirmed that he learned of his termination by reading about it in the press; he still intends to embark on his sold-out solo arena tour in the coming months.
Which side will win out in this earth-shaking artistic divorce remains to be seen. Some fans are sure to follow Weiland’s iconic vocals, while others will stick with the unmistakable guitar heroism of Dean DeLeo.
“I will miss their incredible chemistry, but prefer to look on the bright side here,” famous Stone Temple Pilots fan Sir Paul McCartney told CNN. “Now we’ll have twice as many brilliant records to look forward to.”
Newspaper clippings created by the incomparable Josh Boruff.