Creed helped fuel one of the music industry’s most robust runs, selling 27 million albums in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan, since its 1997 debut, My Own Prison. Today, frontman Scott Stapp says he’s broke and homeless.
But according to sources, it was only in 2013 that the singer received $1.5 million in advances from from his label Wind-up Records and his publishing company for his 2013 solo album, Proof of Life. An additional $3 million was paid out to Creed for the band’s last record, 2009’s Full Circle, which so far has U.S. sales of 444,000 units, according to Nielsen SoundScan; Stapp would have shared in that as well. No additional money is due at this time since the band and Stapp as a solo artist have not recouped.
The 41-year-old’s estranged wife, Jaclyn, who’s seeking a divorce and temporary sole custody of their two children, says through her attorney Jason Brodie that her husband of almost nine years has a history of “going on drug binges and disappearing for days or weeks at a time. Jaclyn loves Scott very much. It is now apparent, the seriousness of Scott’s health. Jaclyn has taken all the necessary steps to help him.”
A familiar tale in the music business, it has left friends and collaborators, including former publicist Steve Karas of SKH Music and biographer David Ritz, scrambling to find him. Creed guitarist Mark Tremonti wrote on Facebook on Nov. 27, “I know everyone is very worried about Scott; I am as well. I tried reaching out but didn’t have any success.” (He and two other former Creed members are currently in the successful hard rock group Alter Bridge.)
One person who has talked to Stapp, Creed bassist Brian Marshall, wrote on Dec. 2: “It is obvious Scott is not ‘ok’ and that he needs medical help and/or an intervention if he does not surrender to this disease before he hurts himself or others.”
Stapp was last seen Nov. 13 on Interstate 10 in Madison County, Florida when he called 911 asking for an ambulance to take him to a hospital because, as he told police, “someone was trying to kill him.”
In his YouTube rant, Stapp says he has audited his record label and “personal finances”and discovered “a lot was stolen or royalties not paid.” In order to recover the funds, he needs to hire a lawyer to pinpoint the theft and file the appropriate charges. A source close to Stapp says the singer has not yet secured an attorney, despite his taped open call to find one.
Stapp’s stumble has hit a nerve among industry insiders. “Whether these messages are a plea for help or a psychotic episode, someone from MusiCares should find him and reach out,” offers entertainment attorney Dina LaPolt, who represents Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler and Deadmau5.
As for Stapp’s insistence that he’s been robbed, LaPolt is skeptical. “Back in the old days, a lot of that happened, but we have a lot of measures now that have been put into place as businesspeople to try to make sure that doesn’t happen anymore,” she said. “There used to be one person getting all the money, managing the money and managing the group. Now there are a lot of checks and balances that weren’t there 40 years ago.”
With reporting by Ed Christman
A version of this article first appeared in the Dec. 13 issue of Billboard.