History Temple of the Dog

Temple of the Dog – History (part 3): the album

His death hit the Seattle music scene hard; very hard. Not only for his bandmates, but for his friends, his coworkers, his housemates, one of which was Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell. Trying to find an outlet for his enormous grief, Chris penned a few songs in tribute to Andy, which were “Reach Down” and “Say Hello 2 Heaven.” He decided to ask Stone and Jeff, Andy’s friends and bandmates, if they’d like to record them, for a possible single release. At the time, Soundgarden had yet to become superstars, and Stone and Jeff were just beginning the painful work of putting a new vehicle together, following the untimely demise of Mother Love Bone. Chris recruited his Soundgarden compatriot Matt Cameron, who coincidentally at that time was working with Gossard, Ament and a new co-conspirator, one Mike McCready.

“It was initially my idea because of a couple of songs I recorded,” Chris [Cornell] explains, “but the idea was mainly to do a single as opposed to a whole record. And the thing was, the rest of the guys in Temple, they sort of thought, well, maybe we should make it a little bit longer project, like an EP or something. The more we talked about it, the more songs kept flying out, and it ended up being an album. It didn’t feel like a morose project. It felt sort of celebratory.” – Reflex magazine, 12/91

The sessions grew into the Temple Of The Dog project. Not all of the songs were directly about Andy; however, they didn’t fit into the Soundgarden format, and the “Gossman Project,” as it was allegedly called, was strictly experimental at that time. Stone, Mike, Jeff and Matt had recorded some demos together, with the two projects occasionally crossing borders, as demonstrated by the shared relationship between Temple Of The Dog’s “Times of Trouble” and Pearl Jam’s “Footsteps.” (“Times of Trouble” ended up on the demo tape that the project was circulating to potential members.) They were still recruiting members, and during the sessions they ended up auditioning a potential frontman: San Diego surfer boy Eddie Vedder, who first arrived in Seattle in the fall of 1990. The Temple Of The Dog album was recorded during the late fall and winter of 1990; Ament, Gossard and McCready would work with Chris at night, then jam with Eddie in the newly-christened Mookie Blaylock in the afternoons.

The album was released in April 1991, and initial sales were modest at best. The band members were still largely unknowns beyond the Seattle music scene, and no one really expected more to happen with the project than that. The band played one official, full show (as verified by Matt Cameron), at the Off Ramp CafĂ©, on November 13, 1990. (Eddie wasn’t there; our reckoning is that he had gone back to San Diego to pack his things up and drive back to Seattle.)

Continue reading: History of Temple of the Dog – Part 4, why it can’t happen again.

Back to History of Temple of the Dog – Index.