The ex-wife of grunge rocker Scott Weiland, who died after years of drug addiction, has urged fans not to glamorise the singer but instead learn from his mistakes.

The former Stone Temple Pilots singer died on Thursday, aged 48, on his tour bus in Minnesota. Police found cocaine nearby.

In an open letter, his first wife Mary Forsberg offered thanks for condolences but described Weiland as an absent father who neglected their children, aged 13 and 15, and often failed to pay child support.

"I don't share this with you to cast judgment, I do so because you most likely know at least one child in the same shoes," she wrote in the letter published late on Monday by Rolling Stone magazine.

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"Let's choose to make this the first time we don't glorify this tragedy with talk of rock and roll and the demons that, by the way, don't have to come with it. Skip the depressing T-shirt with 1967-2015 on it," she wrote, referring to Weiland's years of birth and death.

"Use the money to take a kid to a ballgame or out for icecream."

Weiland, a two-time Grammy winner who was also part of the supergroup Velvet Revolver with former Guns N' Roses members, struggled for years with heroin use and, after believing he overcame the addiction, battled with alcohol.

Stone Temple Pilots helped define the early 1990s grunge genre, a subset of alternative rock known for distorted guitar and often brooding introspection, along with bands such as Nirvana, whose singer Kurt Cobain killed himself in 1994, also after well-publicised drug use.

Forsberg acknowledged that the singer, who remarried after their divorce, had a "brilliant electricity" as a musician but criticised those who turned a blind eye to his problems.

"At some point, someone needs to step up and point out that yes, this will happen again - because as a society we almost encourage it.

"We read awful show reviews, watch videos of artists falling down, unable to recall their lyrics streaming on a teleprompter just a few feet away. And then we click 'add to cart' because what actually belongs in a hospital is now considered art," she said.

People have reacted to the powerful essay on Twitter, with many speaking out in support of Forsberg.

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-AAP