- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Former “The X Factor” contestant Jeff Gutt has been chosen to follow in the footsteps of late Stone Temple Pilots vocalists Scott Weiland and Chester Bennington as the seminal rock group’s newest lead singer.

Mr. Gutt, 41, made his live debut fronting the Grammy Award-winning alternative rock group at an invite-only concert in Hollywood held Tuesday evening shortly after he was revealed as the band’s newest member during a SiriusXM pre-show broadcast.

The concert marked the band’s first public performance in 18 months, and its first since Bennington, its last full-time frontman, committed suicide earlier this year.

Stone Temple Pilots were formed in the late 1980s by Weiland, drummer Eric Kretz and brothers Dean and Robert Deleo on guitar and bass, respectively. The group first made it big during the grunge boom of the early 1990s, and its debut record, 1992’s “Core,” peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard Albums Chart and earned the band a Grammy Award for “Best Hard Rock Performance.” The group enjoyed steady success throughout the decade before initially dissolving in 2002 only to reunite six years later.

The group fired Weiland in February 2013 and replaced him a few months later with Bennington, the lead vocalist of fellow rock group Linkin Park. Bennington announced he was leaving Stone Temple Pilots in November 2015, and he played his last show with the band in March 2016 while they sought out a replacement.

Weiland died of a drug overdose while on tour with his solo band in December 2015, and Bennington passed away in July as a result of suicide by hanging. They were 48 and 41, respectively.

Their former bandmates ultimately received about 15,000 submissions from would-be replacements before deciding to bring on board Mr. Gutt, the third-place finalist on season 3 of “The X Factor” television show, Rolling Stone reported Wednesday.

“We wanted someone who would not only do our earlier songs justice, but would also write new songs and carve out a different path forward with us. It took some time, but we found our guy,” Stone Temple Pilots guitarist Dean DeLeo said in a press release.

“No one will ever fill Scott’s shoes and I’m not trying to — he’s a legend. But these songs deserve to be performed and people want to hear them. I’m just honored that the guys chose me to help them continue to build this band’s legacy,” Mr. Gutt said in a press release.

Stone Temple Pilots released its first song with Mr. Gutt on Wednesday, “Meadow,” and plans to issue a full-length record in 2018, Rolling Stone reported – its first since 2010.

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