The group began taking shape in the mid-80s when bassist Robert De Leo graduated from high school and moved from his native New Jersey to California. Robert had played with his guitarist brother Dean in a New Jersey covers band called Tyrus, but neither had seriously considered music as a career.
Dean followed his younger brother and they settled in San Diego.
Meanwhile, Scott Weiland – who had grown up near Cleveland and moved, aged 15, to Huntington Beach, California – was soaking in the thriving Orange County punk rock scene. He met Robert at a Black Flag show in Long Beach and the two discovered they had been sleeping with the same girl. They hit it off anyway.
Hooking up with drummer Eric Kretz and calling themselves Mighty Joe Young, the foursome played their first gig in August 1990 at the Whisky in Los Angeles. After building a following, the band were signed to Atlantic, inking the deal on April Fool’s Day 1992.
A month later they were recording their debut album.
Two days before they were due to hand in the finished tapes and artwork, they got a call from their lawyer informing them that an elderly blues singer already had claim to the moniker Mighty Joe Young. It took them two weeks of brainstorming to come up with the name Stone Temple Pilots.
After Core (1992) was released, it didn’t take long for rock fans to decide they liked the way it sounded. The album took off almost immediately – largely on the momentum of the video for Weiland’s anti-date-rape song, Sex Type Thing, which was picked up by MTV on Headbanger’s Ball and then put into “stress rotation”.
Core began a steady climb up the charts, but unfortunately, as soon as STP hit the tour trail to support the album controversies began emerging.
First, Weiland found himself in the position of defending Sex Type Thing to individuals who took the first person approach he used in the song literally.
STP also raised eyebrows by turning down an offer from Aerosmith to open their summer arena tour, opting instead to do a smaller tour with the Butthole Surfers – a move that was perceived by many as an attempt by STP to distance themselves from Aerosmith’s mainstream audience and cultivate “alternative” credibility.
In June 1994, their second album Purple debuted at #1 and went on to sell more than 6 million copies. Meanwhile, frontman Scott Weiland began flirting with hard drugs, beginning with his introduction to heroin on STP’s late ’93 tour with the Butthole Surfers.
Tiny Music . . . Songs from the Vatican Gift Shop was released on 5 March 1996. The album sound marked a distinct change from their previous outings, leaning more towards glam rock and psychedelia than that of the hard rock/grunge sound that propelled them to popularity.
Every move Weiland made after his May 1995 drug arrest – and his much-publicised, mandatory stint in rehab – became fodder for the gossip mill, and over the next three years, he was in and out of drug rehab programs 13 times while the rest of the band went on hiatus.
In 1998 the band regrouped and began work on their fourth album No. 4 (1999). The album provided one of their biggest hits since Core with the single Sour Girl helped on its way by a popular music video starring Sarah Michelle Gellar of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Shangri-La Dee Da (1999) was a disappointing album and produced only one modest hit, Days of the Week.
Despite reports that the band had begun work on their sixth album in 2002, STP had dissolved by the end of that year, after an altercation between Dean DeLeo and Weiland.