You never know how life will turn out for a little boy. Scott Weiland is the idolized singer for Stone Temple Pilots and the ex-singer of Velvet Revolver -- yet he was tripped up by bipolar disorder, heroin (he's in recovery) and arrests.
When he was small, Weiland was an altar boy. He went to church every Sunday and loved singing the hymn "Be Not Afraid" with his mom.
"The hair used to stand up on the back of your neck," Weiland tells me, "and my mom would hold my hand, and I would always see tears go down her face when she'd sing."
And they sang, "If you stand before the power of hell/ and death is at your side/ know that I am with you, through it all/ Be not afraid."
Weiland's younger brother Michael was by their side. But Michael's journey ended in tragedy.
Two years ago, as Weiland has put it, Michael couldn't see his kids because of a restraining order, he gave up on everything and overdosed, dying with a broken heart.
The mother of these two brothers asked Weiland to play a recording of "Be Not Afraid" at Michael's funeral.
"Mom, I think we can one-up that," he told her. He wanted to record the hymn with co-writer Doug Grean.
"No, honey," his mom said. "I don't want you to put yourself out on this right now, not after everything we're all going through."
But Weiland -- who takes his son to church on high holidays -- found the song a positive comfort on which to focus.
"Doug and I," he says, "performed it at my brother's ceremony in front of all the friends and family.
"To get through that song at the Los Angeles Cathedral was nearly impossible without choking up on tears.
"I miss him every day."
Weiland did coke at some point in 2007, but he's stayed off heroin for four years.
"Yeah, things are going really good, actually," concerning his recovery.
He found inspiration in reading the story of Bill W., co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, but also in reading (while in "drug jail") Hermann Hesse's classic "Siddhartha."
"It kind of changed my way of looking at things," he says.
Siddhartha quests for peace and enlightenment through a long life of lust, fortune and loss. As Weiland, 41, says, Siddhartha realizes attaining goals isn't the same as joy.
"Ultimately, that's not happiness," Weiland says. "He ends up finding it out in the end, and remembering that he heard it early on: that happiness is not reaching that destination; it's the journey."
STP HAS 18 NEW SONGS
Weiland -- who performs with a solo band at Aliante Station on Friday ($33-$55; 547-5300) -- put "Be Not Afraid" on his winter solo album, " 'Happy' in Galoshes."
But he also is reunited with STP, which tours in July and is ready to take on a new album.
"We've already got 18 songs written. We'll probably whittle it down to the best 12," he says. "But then there'll be a lot of other songs ready for the next record."
That means STP has no rumblings of breaking up again. Sometimes, communication deteriorates among band members, but that's human nature, he says.
"We're working with (producer) Don Was. And if he could make records with the (Rolling) Stones and all their shenanigans ... then he can handle STP."
By the way, in 1990, STP played with Nirvana and Sonic Youth in Vegas. Weiland talks about the gig in my blog.
A SOAPY VEGAS JOURNO
Emily Gimmel has been doing double duty, covering Vegas news for 702.tv while filming SoapNet's "Southern Belles" in hometown Louisville, Ky.
"I don't want to be a reality star, per se," says Gimmel, 25, with a background in TV news. "A television star -- yes. Or a journalist."
These are odd days for journalists. We do more to promote our news organizations and ourselves. But we have our limits. What are Gimmel's?
"There's a lot I wouldn't want to do, just because I know my dad watches everything. When we covered the porn convention, I went, but I would not be on camera," she says. "I was not gonna be associated with some of those people on camera, because I know my dad has feelings."
Check her out on "The View" Thursday, promoting that night's debut of "Belles."
E-mail email@example.com or blog-post at reviewjournal.com/elfman.