The year is 1990. The dreams of an exciting, young band from Seattle called Mother Love Bone have sadly come to an end. Andrew Wood, their singer and former vocalist of Malfunkshun, sadly passes away on March 19th due to a heroin overdose. His band, his friends, his family are all in mourning. Chris Cornell, vocalist for Soundgarden, who was Andrew’s roommate at the time, approaches former Mother Love Bone members Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament to work on some material he had written whilst on tour in Europe.
Temple of the Dog is born.
The band name comes directly from the opening lyrics of one of Mother Love Bone’s songs “Man of Golden Words”.
Wanna show you something like the joy inside my heart
Seems I’ve been living in the temple of the dog
Where would I live, if I were a man of golden words?
Or would I live at all?
Only two songs on the album, “Say Hello 2 Heaven” and “Reach Down”, were directly written as a result of Andrew’s death. The rest were re-worked from existing material Chris had written whilst on tour and from demos already written by Stone and Jeff. Also featuring on the record are Matt Cameron (Soundgarden’s drummer) and friends Mike McCready and Eddie Vedder (who formed Pearl Jam a few months after Mother Love Bone’s demise with Stone and Jeff).
Their first single “Hunger Strike” was released in January of 1991 and featured a duet between Chris and Eddie. The band also filmed a music video later on for this song which can be seen below:
The sessions for this album were described as “non-pressure filled” and “a really good thing at the time” for those involved. It also served as the first recording experience for both Eddie and Mike. In comparison to the studio work that Chris had been involved in before with Soundgarden, it was completely different for him. Trading Soundgarden’s loud, aggressive, down-tuned sound for something a bit more slow and melodic, which showed off his capabilities as a songwriter.
On it’s initial release 25 years ago, the album sold around 70,000 copies in the United States alone, which is fairly impressive for a band of relative obscurity (at the time this came out). It received favourable reviews but failed to chart. After the explosion of the grunge music scene that really kickstarted at the end of the year, thanks to Nirvana’s “Nevermind” album, their record label reissued the album. Marketed as a “supergroup” band, Temple of the Dog then went on to sell over 1 million copies of their album in the United States alone and was certified platinum by the RIAA. It was also one of the top selling 100 albums of 1992 and as a resulted charted at number 5 on the Billboard Top 200.
While the band never went on to record any further material and only played one full hour show in the lead up to recording the album along with a tour with Alice In Chains, there have been several “reunion” appearances of the band, mainly at Pearl Jam shows, in recent years.
Will there be any further material from the band in future? At this stage, it is unlikely, but due to the fact that every member (except for Chris Cornell) plays in Pearl Jam these days, it is likely there will be more live appreances as time goes on to treat the fans.
If you’re interested in checking out more music from the band, you can find them on Spotify for streaming, or if you’re still into purchasing CDs, you can find it on Amazon by clicking on the album cover below: