Temple Of The Dog
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Digging Deep

When 1990 dawned, grunge smouldered but it hadn’t yet exploded on the global stage. Nirvana were still over 12 months shy of recording Nevermind, though several of their hotly tipped Pacific Northwest neighbours were already making inroads into the mainstream.

At this stage, hard-hitting Seattle group Soundgarden were arguably the band most likely to achieve crossover success. Led by charismatic superstar-in-waiting, Chris Cornell, this powerful quartet had begun the transition from local heroes to international superstars during 1989 when they signed to A&M and chalked up their first Billboard 200 hit with the acclaimed Louder Than Love.

Also creating a buzz during ’89 were fellow Seattle scenesters Mother Love Bone. Featuring guitarist Stone Gossard and bassist Jeff Ament from Mark Arm’s much-missed, pre-Mudhoney outfit Green River, MLB were fronted by flamboyant, Marc Bolan-esque vocalist Andrew Wood. Keeping pace with Soundgarden, this exciting quintet had also inked a major deal during 1989, with PolyGram subsidiary Stardog releasing their much-anticipated debut Apple.

Sadly, however, Mother Love Bone’s promising career was abruptly curtailed in March 1990 when Andrew Wood died from a heroin overdose. The news of his passing shattered not only the rest of his bandmates, but also the wider Seattle music community – and, most specifically, Soundgarden, as Chris Cornell was a close friend of Wood’s and also his roommate; in fact, Wood died on the very day when Cornell was due to return from a lengthy bout of touring.

Devastated, Cornell wrote two songs (‘Say Hello 2 Heaven’ and ‘Reach Down’) in tribute to his late friend, and he was keen to record them as soon as Soundgarden returned from a further run of European dates. Instead of his regular band, however, Cornell approached Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament, who were still grieving and trying to piece their lives back together after the demise of Mother Love Bone.

The pair gratefully accepted Cornell’s offer of work and, as Ament later told presenter Damon Stewart on Seattle radio station KIWS 99.9FM’s The New Music Hour, it meant that he and Gossard could again concentrate on being in “a band situation where we could play and make music”.

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Temple Of The Dog

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