Although they formed in 1985 – six years prior to the mainstream grunge explosion – and far from the overcast skies of Seattle in sunny San Diego, they were immediately lumped into the nebulous grunge genre. Frontman Scott Weiland – looking a little like Alice in Chains‘ Layne Staley and sounding a whole lot like Pearl Jam‘s Eddie Vedder – quickly became a polarizing figure while the rest of the band (guitarist Dean DeLeo, bassist Robert DeLeo and drummer Eric Kretz) churned out guitar-fueled anthems heavily indebted to ’70s arena rockers like Cheap Trick but with a distinctly ’90s pop sensibility.
Depending on who you asked, STP were either the scene’s pre-eminent hitmakers or a commercialized answer to legitimate grunge. In a 1994 Rolling Stone poll, readers voted them Best New Band while the magazine’s staff voted them Worst New Band.
But Stone Temple Pilots quickly moved away from the sound that brought them to the masses and forged their own – one that fused jangle-pop and psychedelia with massive hooks and precise song craft. Although Weiland’s personal battles often led to a constant sense that the band could implode at any minute (and it often did), it all added to the band’s mystique – until, of course, they permanently separated in 2013. And now we’ve lost Weiland forever.