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March 19Posted Friday, March 20, 2009, at 9:30 AM
But on March 19, 1990, one death changed the scope of music.
Before there was Pearl Jam, there was a little band from Seattle called Mother Love Bone.
When taking a listen to the band, one would quickly discover labeling it as "Grunge" is inappropriate.
In fact, the band resembled more of the Los Angeles "Hair" Metal that was getting airplay at the time.
Mother Love Bone featured some great musicians, including guitar players Stone Gossard (who would later form Pearl Jam), and Bruce Fairweather, drummer Greg Gilmore (who at one time played with Guns N Roses bassist Duff McKagen in Ten Minute Warning) and bass player Jeff Ament (who also helped form Pearl Jam).
The band was fronted by arguably the best frontman to grace a stage since Queen's Freddie Mercury.
Andrew Wood was the lead singer for Mother Love Bone and died of a heroin overdose only weeks before the release of the band's debut album, "Apple."
It was his brainchild essentially.
Wood had previously fronted Malfunkshun with his brother Kevin Wood (guitar) and drummer Regan Hagar.
Wood's family set up roots in the Seattle area after moving from Dallas, Texas.
According to reports, Andrew Wood was the ideal frontman as he was always "on."
According to Seattle music engineer and musician Jack Endino in the 1996 movie "Hype!," Wood was the "only stand-up comedian frontman in Seattle."
Wood's first band, Malfunkshun, had labored in the Seattle scene for several years.
When Gossard and Ament left the group Green River, Wood took Hager with him and eventually started jamming with the duo in a band called The Lords of the Wasteland.
That band morphed into Mother Love Bone with the additions of Gilmore and Fairweather.
A label battle ensued as the band signed to Polygram records. The band subsequently released an EP, "Shine," before heading back to the studio to record "Apple."
In between recording sessions, the band toured the states with English band Dogs D'Amour, to great success.
But only weeks before the release of "Apple," Wood's old demon came back to haunt him.
For years, Wood struggled with drug use, having spent time in and out of rehab.
Ironically, he claimed to be sober in his final magazine interview, only to be discovered by his fiance days later in a comatose state.
Reports say Wood laid in a coma in a hospital for a few days before suffering a cerebral hemorrhage.
All that was left of his music legacy were recordings held by his brother in addition to music recorded with Malfunkshun and Mother Love Bone.
"Apple" was eventually released, but went largely unnoticed until the advent of "Grunge" music, and the movie "Singles," which featured Mother Love Bone's song, "Crown of Thorns," on its soundtrack.
I have long believed if Wood had not died, the band Pearl Jam may never have existed.
Mother Love Bone was that good.
Wood was that good. His antics on the stage must have been unbelievable.
I've seen video footage of him live. His stage presence was amazing. He wore outlandish clothing, and sang in a tenor similar to Led Zeppelin's Robert Plant.
Following Wood's death, then-Soundgarden frontman and Wood's former roommate Chris Cornell, suggested to Gossard and Ament they come with him into the recording studio to record two songs in Wood's honor.
Those recording, "Say Hello 2 Heaven," and "Reach Down," helped spawn the band Temple of the Dog, which recorded its only album shortly after. One singer, who was auditioning for the band Mookie Blaylock, which Gossard and Ament were in the process of creating, was also invited to the recording sessions for Temple of the Dog.
Eddie Vedder, who eventually joined Mookie Blaylock, which was renamed Peal Jam.
Many songs were written and released in Wood's honor, including Alice In Chains' "Would," which also appeared on the "Singles," soundtrack.
The Temple of the Dog recording received little notice until the music industry took ahold of the likes of Nirvana, Soundgarden and Pearl Jam.
Despite receiving a Grammy nod for "Louder than Love," Soundgarden's "Badmotorfinger" and the song "Outshined," received airplay.
Alice In Chains, "Man in the Box," started getting played, along with a song called "Smells Like Teen Spirit."
Then, Pearl Jam hit the airwaves with "Alive," "Jeremy," and then some.
But none of this would have happened had Wood not died, in my opinion.
The Seattle music scene has had plenty to be sorrowful for. Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain died April 5, 1994, and Alice In Chains vocalist Layne Staley died the same date only eight years later.
But Wood's death not only started the "Grunge" chain of events, it also left many wondering why.
Only a couple of years after his death, "Shine" and "Apple" were combined and released under the name "Mother Love Bone."
I would recommend that anyone take a listen to this album. Whimsical lyrics, soaring guitar riffs. Nothing at all like the "Grunge" music that appeared only one year later.
Mother Love Bone and their singer could have transformed music.
It turns out, in a way, they did.
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