If you saw a legend in the making, would you know it? For us music-aholics we see countless shows with even more bands hitting the stage all vying for our attention. Out of all ’em it’s hard to discern just who we will be talking about in the months or years following that set, and more often than not (no matter how good the band might have been), we move on and forget about them. Its sad but true. Every once and a while, however, we get lucky, and one of those small bands turns out to be the next big thing, and maybe, just maybe, they end up in the pantheon of musics greatest. Ill admit, it hasnt happened for me quite yet, but it did for a small audience in 1990 at the Off Ramp Café in Seattle, Washington with the little known band Temple of the Dog.
A quick history lesson:
Before Pearl Jam and Soundgarden became household names, both bands key members (Chris Cornell, Mike McCready, Eddy Vedder, Stone Gossard, Jeff Ament, and Matt Cameron) came together to tribute their late friend Andrew Wood after his tragic death of a heroin overdose earlier in March of ’90. The death inspired Cornell to contact Woods fellow band mates of Mother Love Bone to come together for a tribute record of sorts. With them, he penned two songs, Reach Down and Say Hello To Heaven, both to say farewell to their lost friend and band mate. What was supposed to be a small homage quickly turned in to something bigger as both Pearl Jam and Soundgarden began picking up steam in the early nineties.
In November of 1990, the group decided to play a few test gigs, one of which would take place at the small Seattle venue, the Off Ramp Café. The hour-long set tested out the songs that would later become the first and only Temple of the Dog record. It was bittersweet as they worked out the kinks and bared their souls for an audience that seemed to be more concerned with their next drink than the heartbreaking lyrics that screamed out of Cornel and Vedders vocal chords. Later some of the members would try and claim the songs as a Pearl Jam record, but the dispute was quickly laid to rest thus leaving us with the short but sweat legend of the Dog.
Some of the Off Ramp gig was recorded, and while it’s grainy to view, it’s a little funny to see almost 20 years later a grunged out, long haired Cornel introducing the Pearl Jam guitarist McCready to a largely unaware crowd. This specific clip is of the later of the two previously mentioned songs. For those kids born post-1990, enjoy some rock history, and ponder this, would you have known of the greatness that was just a few feet away?