Sex, Drugs, Christian Rock ‘N’ Roll: The Fall Of Creed’s Scott Stapp

Senior Pop Culture Editor
12.19.14 73 Comments

“We are not a Christian band. This is a question we are asked a lot because of some of the references made in the lyrics. A Christian band has an agenda to lead others to believe in their specific religious beliefs. We have no agenda!”

That quote comes from Scott Stapp, in regards to the common assumption that because he wrote songs called “With Arms Wide Open,” Creed was a Christian band first and rock group second. This is apparently wrong. From a 1999 interview with guitarist Mark Tremonti:

“When we first came out in America, some people asked us if were a Christian band,” says [Tremonti]. “Then they heard our music and realized that we weren’t. But it’s worked to our advantage because a lot of kids who aren’t allowed to listen to Marilyn Manson can listen to us, because there’s nothing wrong with what we’re saying.”

“The Christian rock thing is a big misconception. It’s not entirely wrong — we all have morals, but that’s it,” he adds. (Via)

Stapp grew up in a fundamentalist Christian family with a cruel stepfather, and while he believed in (and feared) God, he didn’t begin embracing Him — insert “born-again Christian” here — until the mid-2000s when his life was falling apart. It still is, actually, with Stapp most recently threatening to kill President Obama, only eight years after a video of him getting a blowjob from groupies with Kid Rock went viral. What happened? A lot.

In 1997, Creed released their debut album, My Own Prison; by 1999, they were one of the biggest bands in the world, and being one of the biggest bands in the world means you have to deal with everything that makes fame the best and worst thing ever. Stapp once said, “When I was first labeled a rock star…I couldn’t bridge that notion with Jesus’ ministry. I saw rock stars — myself included — as self-consumed hedonists and materialists.” The guilt was eating at him, but it didn’t stop him from drinking, taking drugs, and indulging in the flesh, including the infamous tour bus sex tape. He even had a nickname for the hard-partying side of his personality: Rick.

“Basically, Scott was a cool, normal guy,” former Creed sound engineer Kirk Kelsey told Rolling Stone. “But fame caused the biggest destruction of his personality. The more power he got, the more corrupted he became.” (Via)

It’s a story you’ve heard a million times before — I believe the saying goes, “absolute fame corrupts butt-rock vocalists absolutely” — and Stapp had trouble dealing with fame.

In 2002, he was arrested for reckless driving after swerving his SUV off the highway. Then, following the smashing success of Creed’s third album, Weathered, which was certified six times platinum and certified as the highest-selling rock album of 2003, Stapp’s substance abuse problems got more serious. In a 2006 interview with Rolling Stone, he confessed that while touring in support of Weathered, he became addicted to Percocet, Xanax, and the steroid prednisone to treat throat problems. When he quit the drugs—but not the drinking—he said, “I wanted to end my life.” (Via)

And he almost did, getting so far as to drunkenly put two MP5s to his head. Here’s what Stapp had to say about the incident in his 2012 memoir, Sinner’s Creed.

He writes that there was “no way out of this misery except to end it. The pain can’t get any worse…[A]ccept death. Be a martyr. Go down in history with Hendrix, Bonham, Joplin, Morrison, and Cobain.” (Via)

But before he pulled the trigger, he saw a photo of his four-year-old son, Jagger.

Stapp says it had “come to life,” and Jagger was saying, “I love you, Daddy. I need you, Daddy. Stop it, Daddy.” Stapp ended up firing 36 shots around the room, destroying “every award and achievement I had won with Creed,” but also that “Jagger’s unconditional love had saved my life.” (Via)

If Stapp’s life was turned into a biopic, this would be the end of act two, the nearly-violent low point before our hero realizes he has so much to live for. But life isn’t a movie, and the near-suicide didn’t lead to a life of redemption; it brought misery. In 2007, a year after he got married to Miss New York USA 2004 winner Jaclyn Nesheiwat, Stapp was arrested for throwing “a bottle of Orangina at…her head,” but the charge was dropped after he publicly apologized, and because he “missed and the bottle broke.” This wasn’t his only run-in with the law: in 2006, less than 24 hours removed from his wedding with Nesheiwat, the cops nabbed him for public intoxication. Alcohol is a recurring subject for Stapp. He appeared on an episode of Casino Cinema drunk, saying that Dave Grohl had a “little c*ck,” and brawled with members of 311.

We had just finished dinner and were at the hotel bar to watch the Lakers game when Scott Stapp walked in being very loud and obnoxious,” [311’s S.A.] Martinez tells Rolling Stone. “In fact, one of the first things he said was that he loved to fight. So he started doing shots and breaking the glass on the bar, almost hitting one of our crew guys. My wife and I moved to a table and eventually Scott made his way over and sat down. He was looking for attention. Even before that, he had wadded up a napkin that he lobbed in our direction. It was pathetic, and we tried to ignore him, but it was impossible. Then he made a pretty disrespectful comment to my wife, which I’d rather not repeat, but in no uncertain terms, the word ‘f*ck’ was used. That’s when [drummer] Chad [Sexton] walked over.”

“I had run into Scott that day,” says Sexton. “We have some things in common, like the same producer, and we chatted for a few minutes. So knowing we got along earlier, I kindly asked him not to disrespect anybody and reminded him that we’re all friends. That’s when he sucker-punched me — hit me right in the face.” (Via)

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