THE BIRTH OF PEARL JAM: Mother Love Bone, Temple Of The Dog


mother love boneThe music scene around Seattle in the late 80’s was booming with garage bands full of skilled musicians who were packing bars and rock clubs yet barely making any dent on rock radio. Bands like Green River (Jeff Ament, Stone Goddard), Malfunkshun (Andrew Wood), The Shemps (Chris Cornell, Kim Thayil), Mad Season (Layne Staley, Mike McCready), and Nirvana (Kurt Cobain, Krist Novoselic) were local heroes with future hall of fame band members in their roster. Mother Love Bone preceded Pearl Jam by three years. Along with Soundgarden, they were the first grunge bands to sign to a major label. Enigmatic lead singer, Andrew Wood, had an amazing stage presence but sadly overdosed on heroin and died before Mother Love Bone reached their full potential.


templeofthedogFollowing Andrew Wood’s death, Chris Cornell, lead singer of the new band, Soundgarden wrote a couple of tribute songs dedicated to his friend. He wanted a different sound than Soundgarden and enlisted Jeff and Stone from Mother Love Bone along with Mike McCready, another future Pearl Jam member. The new tribute record would be recorded under the name, Temple Of The Dog and their collaboration on Hunger Strike become a grunge rock classic. While recording the record, Cornell’s voice faltered and San Diego singer, Eddie Vedder, was asked to assist Chris. You’ve essentially now got two of the Top 10 rock vocalists of all-time on this historic record. The Temple Of The Dog project went from a two song tribute to a full studio album.


pearl jamThe chemistry between Vedder and the new band was undeniable. With Mother Love Bone now defunct, they reformed as a new band called Mookie Blaylock, named after the Oklahoma Sooner point guard. Epic Records quickly signed the band but informed them that they’d have to change their name. Pearl Jam’s debut record, Ten (Mookie Blaylock’s uniform number), went to #1 and is widely regarded as one of the top rock albums of all-time. Pearl Jam became arguably the most influential band of the grunge era, although Nirvana and Alice In Chains fans will argue this point.