Stone Temple Pilots Weren’t Pearl Jam Ripoffs

Many critics of the era considered STP to be a grunge clone; specifically, many claimed that Scott Weiland was a poor man’s Eddie Vedder, “ripping off” Vedder’s style in order to make a quick buck. Though that opinion has been greatly subsided in the 22 years since the release of STP’s Core, there are still a number of music fans and media outlets who latch onto this shallow concept. It only takes a brief look at the facts an a good listen to the music to really understand how their similarities were mostly coincidental.


STP, in its earliest incarnation, formed somewhere around 1985, with Robert DeLeo on bass, Corey Hickock on Guitar, and David Allin on drums. That lineup recorded under the name Swing, while a demo recorded in 1990 with Dean DeLeo on guitar under the name Mighty Joe Young included grungy songs from Core like “Where The River Goes” and “Wicked Garden”, a full year before the release of Temple of the Dog (Eddie Vedder’s first appearance in the public eye) and Ten. Sure, Pearl Jam’s instrumentalists had long been active in bands like Mother Love Bone and Green River, but those groups sounded nothing like Pearl Jam.


Objectively speaking, early STP was much heavier than early Pearl Jam. Pearl Jam took the classic arena rock sound in the vein of The Who and made it their own, bolstered by Mike McCready’s Hendrix-esque guitar solos, while STP kind of blasted through with aggressive, three minute songs. Pearl Jam didn’t have a song on Ten really sounding pissed off enough to rival “Sex Type Thing”, while STP didn’t have a song sprawling enough to rival “Alive”. I’m not advocating one style over the other, just simply stating that both bands did what they in their own departments very well.

Weiland (Details Magazine 1994): I have a lot of respect for Eddie Vedder and the ideals and things he stands for. As an artist he’s very valid. But I never really thought if you put us next to each other we looked like Siamese Twins!

Weiland, (Stone Temple Pilots: Fully Illustrated, 1994): What is ‘grunge’? I think the music industry just comes up with these neat little categories to package everything in. I just care about artists making music with artistic integrity, which matters and which gets noticed, and I hop ewe’re doing that. There are bands like Helmet and Sonic Youth in New York, who’ve been around a while but not received much recognition, bands in Seattle like Nirvana or Mudhoney, L7 in LA, Smashing Pumpkins, Fugazi… it goes on and on… the bands in Seattle don’t sound anything alike! Nirvana don’t sound like Mudhoney, who don’t sound anything like Alice in Chains or Soundgarden. I have a hard time figuring out the whole thing.

Dean DeLeo (Stone Temple Pilots: Fully Illustrated, 1994): I’m fucking sick of hearing Seattle comparisons! My brother Robert wrote a lot of the material on Core and he hasn’t even heard the Pearl Jam album to this day!


I can’t say just how much the arrival of Pearl Jam really affected the music scene considering I was a resounding -2 years old when Ten came out, but from an objective point of view, its safe to say that the general audience was not used to the idea of baritone singers when they first heard Eddie sing. When STP burst into the scene, many were quick to blast them as a “Pearl Jam ripoff” based solely on Scott’s baritone vocals. How hard is it to believe that the two singers simply had similar tastes growing up? However, by the time Scott Stapp rolled into the scene, this excuse kind of became tired.

Dean DeLeo (Stone Temple Pilots: Fully Illustrated, 1994): If we model ourselves on anybody I’d like to make a reference to Led Zeppelin or Queen. All the bands who are around right now were in their garages not so long ago, jamming and playing along to Aerosmith and Zeppelin and Kiss!


Many casual fans dismiss any of STP’s catalog after 1994’s Purple, when in fact their most eclectic and inspired material came from 1996’s Tiny Music… Songs From The Vatican Gift Shop, tinged with acid rock sensibilities and a new raspy vocal style from Weiland. 1999’s No. 4 returned to a heavier style for the band, though Weiland’s vocals alternate back and forth between snappy baritone and smooth. 2001’s Shangri La-Dee Da veered off into plenty of weird directions for the band (Scott having referred to it as a “concept album” as opposed to being a straightforward rock album) while 2010’s self-titled reunion record has been described by Spin, The Globe & Mail,, and the band members themselves as being inspired by 60’s bands.

  • God

    Scott Weiland ripped off Scott Stapp! Think about it…..they have the same 1st name

  • Raj

    The critics had nothing better to do than to tear down STP. STP is very diverse musically and both bands are nowhere close to one another musically. They happen to release their debut album in 1992, any earlier and we wouldn’t even be having this discussion.

  • Raustrum

    Didn’t Kurt call them the Stone Gossard Plagiarists?

  • Eddie Yarler

    It doesn’t really matter what anyone thinks of STP because they were massively successful and still have fans to this day in spite of being inactive. Same thing with Creed. What critics deem “Good” and what people want to hear is obviously different so who gives a shit what some snob from Seattle, Rolling Stone or the internet thinks?
    As for this article I prefer Stone Temple Pilots to Pearl Jam. STP was always the better hard rock band and their experimentation came effortlessly while Pearl Jam always sounded forced. However, Scott Weiland is a hot mess and the band’s comeback is now ruined because of his addictions.
    I also prefer Creed to Pearl Jam. Creed never had the self-entitled snobbery Pearl Jam came with in regards to politics, town of origin and ethics. I also think they did hard rock way better than Pearl Jam and up until their comeback album were perfectly comfortable with who they were. However, Scott Stapp and Mark Tremonti can’t stand each other enough to get in the same room to make another good album….
    Of the three successful yarler bands of the 90s only Pearl Jam kept it together so yea, I guess I’m stuck with Pearl Jam when it comes to new music.

  • Eddie Yarler

    Anyways 🙂 good article. Fuck rock snobs. Saying STP ripped off Pearl Jam is choosing to be ignorant.

  • Bill Austeh

    STP has made some of the best music out of all the bands from back then. Imagine if Scott had no problems. They would of been even bigger than PJ !

    Regardless they have a place among the best Rock bands ever. Scott had his own style as did the rest. The Seattle bands were just nuts and thought they were the only thing in music at the time.

  • NHRoccodog

    Is this debate seriously still going on? Why are people still talking about whether or not STP is a Pearl Jam ripoff? Go pick on Creed. One was from Seattle, Washington and the other was from San Diego, California.