When Scott Weiland Was a Newspaperman
Scott Weiland, seen here in 2007, died last week, having never forgotten his newspapering days.
Scott Weiland's career, from his rise as Stone Temple Pilots frontman in the 1990s to his days as singer for the supergroup Velvet Revolver, is well documented. But one section of his biography is less well known: his days as a newspaperman.
In the late 1980s, Weiland worked for the Los Angeles Daily Journal, a small legal newspaper where many a journalist got his or her start. Weiland was a layout artist or, as they called it then, "paste-up" guy. A fresh-faced kid in his 20s, Weiland would literally cut — with scissors — stories, photos and ads and lay them out on a board, creating the next day's paper by hand.
Bobby Levins was a staff photographer at the Journal from 1984 to 1997, and he remembers Weiland well. The two worked less than 20 feet from each other, in a cramped, dingy office in downtown L.A., catty-corner from the Los Angeles Times building on Spring Street.
Nearly all Daily Journal employees drove to work. Weiland rode his skateboard.
"He was a really creative person," Levins recalls. "Always drawing — any abstract thing, other than what was at hand. Probably not the easiest guy to manage."
At the time, Weiland was in a band known by different names, including Mighty Joe Young. Eventually, they settled on the name Stone Temple Pilots.The nascent group played all over the city — Club Lingerie, the Coconut Teaszer and the Fudge Factory in Silver Lake, a tiny storefront with maybe enough space for 40 audience members, and another 50 spilling out onto the sidewalk, craning their necks to get a glimpse of the up-and-coming band. Levins says Daily Journal employees could be seen at nearly every show — sometimes as many as 15 of them.
"He was very outgoing, a consummate salesman," Levins says. "You felt bad if you didn’t follow his direction."
Weiland quit the Journal in either 1990 or 1991 to focus on music. Katrina Dewey, then a young reporter for the Journal, remembers his goodbye party at the Redwood, better known for its status as L.A. Times' bar.
"I really didn’t know him," Dewey says. "A group of us went to the Redwood. He said that he was going off to pursue his dream. Walking a block and a half back to the Daily Journal office, I remember thinking, 'This is so cute.' I said to him, 'Don’t worry, you can always come back to the Daily Journal.'" She laughs and adds: "He was always really sweet to everyone."
The Daily Journal staff saw little of Weiland after he left the paper. Levins bumped into him in Little Tokyo a few years later. Weiland, skateboard in hand, told Levins his band had just signed their first record deal.
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"Things got really big really quick for him," Levins says. Months later, Stone Temple Pilots opened for Neil Young at the Sports Arena. Levins and his wife, Jean Guccione, who also worked at the Journal (she's now director of communications for the L.A. County District Attorney), were in the audience.
That was the last time they saw Weiland until about six years ago, on Father's Day. They were flying back to Los Angeles from New Orleans and they had a layover in Las Vegas, where their flight was delayed. They were sitting on the floor when they heard a familiar voice. It was Weiland.
They hesitated at first — would he even remember them? They approached anyway.
Not only did he remember them, Levins says, but he remembered a good number of Daily Journal staff members and asked about all of them — this is roughly 20 years after quitting the paper.
"He remembered and asked more specific questions about his time at the Daily Journal than probably we would have had," Levins says. "Just about everybody he asked about had all died. When he got to the fourth person — Cindy, the other paste-up woman — she had recently passed away.
"He laughed. He said, 'Man, thank goodness I got out of the newspaper business.'"
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