It may sound a little weird and not everyone knows it either, but the Grunge scene in Seattle did not start with "Pearl Jam", "Nirvana", "Soundgarden" or "Alice in Chains". It's not that we're trying to downplay them (God forbid), these are the bands that gained worldwide popularity and commercial success, but there were other bands and artists who lit the spark and founded the Grunge scene in Seattle.
(Photo: Lance Mercer)
One of the showy, charismatic, funny, and talented characters was the character of Andrew Wood.
So let's get to know him and along the way, we'll get some understanding of how the Grunge scene started:
1. His full name is Andrew Patrick Wood, he was born in Columbus on 8 January 1966 and grew up on Bainbridge Island
2. He is the youngest of three siblings with the other two being: Kevin and Brian.
3. He grew up in a very musical family with both parents encouraging their children to learn and play different and varied instruments.
4. Wood grew to be a fan of Elton John, Queen, Kiss, and Aerosmith.
5. He started smoking and drinking at the age of 12.
6. In 1980 when he was only 14 he formed with his brother Kevin his first band "Malfunkshun".
(Photo: Lance Mercer)
7. Initially the band consists of four members, the two brothers with one on guitar and the other a singer, and two other members on drums and bass, Dave Hunt and Dave Rees.
8. The other two members stayed for just one show and left the band. Andrew decides to take over the bass, and the two join Regan Hagar on drums and become a powerful trio!
9. Not just powerful... a powerful alter ego trio! Inspired by Kiss, the three wear (literally) different characters on stage with heavy makeup and glamorous clothes. The most notable of which is Wood who went on stage with his mother's evening clothes and gave himself the stage name "L'Andrew the Love Child".
10. The band was known for its grandiose performances that made any 20-person club in Seattle feel like a 20,000-seat stadium. Wood was insane and unpredictable on stage, many times he would wander with his bass among the people in the audience, some say it was so mesmerizing that it was feared that they were enchanted.
11. During this time Wood developed a very great dependence on drugs as their use increased until in 1985 at the age of only 19 he hospitalized himself in a rehab facility for the first time.
12. After leaving rehab, the band records the songs "With Yo 'Heart (Not Yo' Hands)" and "Stars-N-You" for the famous compilation album "Deep Six". During the recordings, Wood brought with him a number of costumes and when asked why he brought them since there is no audience, he replied... that he must get into character.
13. The album "Deep Six" released in September 1986 is a milestone in the local music scene in Seattle, it is a collection of the five leading bands in that period in Seattle and contains 14 songs.
The "founding fathers" who participated in the recording of the album are: Malfunkshun, Melvins, Skin Yard, Soundgarden, and Green River.
14. The band "Malfunkshun" did not release any albums of their own during its activity at that time. When they approached the record company Sub Pop, which led the local scene, they encountered a refusal that was explained by the fact that they were not "Grunge" enough !!
Read below about the band's album release...
15. At that time Wood recorded a number of songs on a tape called "Melodies and Dreams" which he would duplicate into 20 copies and on the cover he put a picture of his face with the makeup. He scattered them among the local record stores that sold all the tapes within days.
16. In 1987, shortly after the release of the album "Deep Six" the band ceased operations, and Wood and drummer Reagan began collaborating with "Green River" band members Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament.
17. At the time Wood was sharing an apartment with Chris Cornell. Wood asked him to bring to the apartment his girlfriend Xana La Fuente who worked in a clothing store. It turns out that Chris also worked at that clothing store at the time and what actually happened was that the two were the ones who paid for the living, while Wood was sitting all day in the boiler room writing music.
(Photo: Chris Cornell Facebook)
18. Chris admired Wood's talent and ability to write without barriers, inhibitions, or fear of criticism from others. In one interview he said that while he was writing two songs Wood was writing ten. Wood felt and behaved the same way about the dress and the way he appeared, he was brave and confident (we are talking about age 22...).
19. Back to the quartet... At first, they started performing with covers under the name "Lords of the Wasteland" but very quickly they realized the potential inherent in them, and then the change began...
20. In early 1988 Wood decided to form the largest rock band in America of the '90s. The quartet that included Wood, Jeff, Stone, and Greg Gilmore (from Skin Yard) who replaced Regan, added Bruce Fairweather (from Green River) and gave itself the name "Mother Love Bone".
(Photo: Lance Mercer)
21. With two talented guitarists by his side now, architects of the Seattle music scene, Wood's writing, and creative possibilities have grown and expanded significantly to an entirely different level.
22. A very strong buzz was created in Seattle over the band and many record companies began the pursuit of the signing of the Fantastic Five. In November 1988, the band signed a contract with Mercury Records / Stardog, a subsidiary of PolyGram.
23. In March 1989 the band released an EP with six songs called "Shine", making them the first band in Seattle to release an album under a major record label. The album was a success and the sales volume was large, which only reinforced the buzz around the band and its success.
24. At the end of 1989 the band members returned to the studio in California to record their debut album "Apple", the album included 13 songs and was written mostly by Wood & Stone. The album was scheduled to be released in March 1990.
25. At that time Wood came out of drug rehab for the second time but shortly afterward and only a few days before the planned release of the album, on March 19, 1990, when he was only 24 years old, Wood passed away as a result of an overdose. His girlfriend found him lying in their apartment on the floor and was rushed to the hospital where he died three days later.
26. Chris Cornell returned from his tour with "Soundgarden" and discovered that his good friend and roommate had passed away. He immediately went on tour because he thought it would be easier for him to deal with the grief, but a few months later he returned and was still depressed and sad. As a result of the inability to deal with the grief he decides to write and together with the members of "Mother Love Bone," he releases the band/album "Temple Of The Dog" in memory of Wood.
27. In 1995 Stone collected 13 "Malfunkshun" songs and released them under his label Loosegroove Records with the album name being "Return to Olympus".
28. The song "Chloe Dancer / Crown of Thorns" from the EP "Shine" is part of the soundtrack of the movie "Singles".
29. In 2005 director Scot Barbour released a documentary called "Malfunkshun: The Andrew Wood Story" documenting Wood's career.
30. In 2011 the album "Melodies & Dreams" was released which is a collection of songs that Wood recorded but were not released commercially.
31. In 2016, a double album was released that includes a collection of songs by Mother Love bone from various sources such as live performances, studio recordings, "Shine" and more.
We invite you to watch the documentary "Hype!". Which really shows what happened at that time in Seattle and how the Grunge scene was created.
Listen to the double album "On Earth As It Is: The Complete Works" on: Spotify, Apple Music