Once upon a time … in the Seattle grunge years, it was hard to keep track of everyone jumping into bands with each other. They were catching all kinds of singer/song-writer feelings, sharing Doc Martens, doing drugs and most likely exchanging women. Unlike the story of Sleeping Beauty, however, their fairytale ended before it even began and they never woke up to escape their villains.
ONE | Let’s start with one of the first Seattle supergroups: Green River. Formed in 1984, Green River pretty much pioneered the grunge music scene – and raised some amazing band members – who all went on to form a web of gritty music for the genre. A mix of heavy, punky noise, Green River was made up of Jeff Ament on bass; vocalist/guitarist Mark Arm; guitarist Steve Turner; drummer Alex Vincent; and later guitarist Stone Gossard and Bruce Fairweather when Turner and Arm left to form Mudhoney.
Fun fact:Come on Down is largely considered the first true grunge record. Ever.
TWO | Mother Love Bone was founded by ex-Green River members Gossard, Ament and Fairweather in 1987 with Andrew Wood (roomies with Soundgarden’s late Chris Cornell at the time). The band became very popular in Seattle, and was about to release its debut album in 1990, when Wood tragically overdosed on heroin.
Fun fact: Experts agree Mother Love Bone would have become massive and Wood is said to be the greatest rock star you never knew.
THREE | Temple of the Dog is formed by Cornell in 1990 as a tribute band for his late friend and roommate: Wood. The lineup also included Gossard and Ament from Mother Love Bone; Mike McCready (of Pearl Jam fame) on lead guitar; drummer Matt Cameron (from Pearl Jam and Soundgarden); and Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder. Huge hits like “Say Hello 2 Heaven” and “Hunger Strike” briefly put Temple of the Dog on the map.
Fun fact: “Hunger Strike” was Vedder’s first featured vocal on a record.
FOUR | Amidst this side-hustle band, Pearl Jam is formed the same year with Vedder, McCready, Gossard, Ament, Cameron and drummer Dave Krusen (and a stream of other drummers through the years) – the rest is history!
Fun fact: The name “Pearl Jam” came in part from Vedder’s grandma’s name and the band members inspired by a jam session at a Neil Young concert.
FIVE | Then came the supergroup Mad Season. Formed in 1994, members of the band included drummer Barrett Martin from Screaming Trees; the late vocalist Layne Staley of Alice In Chains; bassist John Baker Saunders (who died of a heroin overdose in 1999); McCready; and guest vocalist Mark Lanegan (also of Screaming Trees). They only took roughly two weeks to produce their only album: Above.
Fun fact: “Mad Season” is a term referring to a season of drinking and drug abuse.
Keep your flannel on because I’m not ignoring Alice in Chains, Soundgarden and Nirvana. Clearly they were part of the grunge scene, too, but this story is about five specific bands whose members collaborated in such genius ways, they started a whole genre. Sadly, a large percentage of these Rockstar greats are no longer with us due to mental illness and drug abuse, but their stories (and music!) still live on.
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[Featured image via Unsplash]