What could have been? What should have been? What would the Seattle music onslaught of the early 90’s have looked like had Andy been alive for it? That is a question that has been pondered more than once by many a music fan in the northwest region of the US and beyond for the last two and half decades.
Today marks the 25th anniversary of the death of the flamboyant and much loved frontman for the legendary Seattle rock band Mother Love Bone. Unfortunately, Landrew(as many fans affectionately call him), did not get to spend enough time on this planet to see just how he affected fans and musicians world wide. Seattle, to be sure, has had it’s share of tragedy but this man of golden word’s passing ranks right up, if not on top, because of what could have been.
The brilliant songwriter Andy Wood was discovered by his girlfriend and our friend Xana [La Fuente] still alive but comatose on March 16th, 1990 after over-dosing on heroin. I have talked to many people that have said Andy had been clean for about a month but he relapsed and shot-up the same amount he had been doing previously. His body could not take that amount because he no longer had the tolerance built up. This has become an all too common occurrence for people that relapse on smack. The doctors kept him on life support for three days but when there was no longer any hope, the plugged was pulled on the life of one of the brightest stars to ever light up the pacific northwest sky.
After Andy died and Apple was released, David Browne of The New York Times stated “Apple may be one of the first great hard-rock records of the 90’s” and that “Andrew Wood could have been the first of the big-league Seattle rock stars.”
Maybe Wood’s passing had an even bigger impact than we’ve been thinking. Of course we know that Pearl Jam would have never been but think about this: Andy’s passing came about at a time when the Seattle musical volcano had began grumbling. Musical seismologists were starting to see things and feel the shake. His death brought more attention to the already rumbling Seattle music family and maybe that was the last little push the local scene needed to attract world wide attention. I don’t really want to call it sympathy but it certainly made people stop and notice. And of course the music of MLB spoke for itself and Apple is an absolutely timeless album.
Andy’s death hit the Seattle scene exceptionally hard and the close-knit community expressed themselves in the best way they knew how. Music. A year after Andy was gone, Chris Cornell of Soundgarden, who had been Andy’s roommate, collaborated with Gossard and Ament(Wood’s bandmates in Mother Love Bone) along with Eddie Vedder, Mike McCready and Matt Cameron to form Temple Of The Dog. Andy Wood made reference to the Temple Of The Dog in Man Of Golden Words, one of the songs that was on Apple.
Facelift, the debut album by Alice in Chains was dedicated to Andrew and the second album Dirt, had the song “Would?”. That song was written for Andrew Wood and some other members of the musical community that had passed because of drugs.
Jerry Cantrell said of the song:
“I was thinking a lot about Andrew Wood at the time. We always had a great time when we did hang out, much like Chris Cornell and I do. There was never really a serious moment or conversation, it was all fun. Andy was a hilarious guy, full of life and it was really sad to lose him… So it was also directed towards people who pass judgments.”
Andy Wood was a gifted songwriter as well an exceptionally charismatic and funny human being. His legacy will live on for a very long time like the shooting star that he was.