How Temple of the Dog “Hunger Strike” came together

The early 1990s were an exciting and transformative time in the world of rock music. Bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Soundgarden were on the rise, and the Seattle grunge scene was about to explode. However, before that explosion, Temple of the Dog came together to create its one and only album, which included the hit song "Hunger Strike." In this article, we will explore the moment when "Hunger Strike" was conceived and the impact the song had on the grunge era and the music world.

band's sole studio album

The Project

Temple of the Dog was a side project originated as a tribute to Andrew Wood, the late frontman of Mother Love Bone and Malfunkshun. Temple of the Dog members included musicians from Soundgarden (Chris Cornell and Matt Cameron) and Mookie Blaylock (Stone Gossard, Jeff Ament, and guitarist Mike McCready). Mookie Blaylock will soon become Pearl Jam. Eddie Vedder, who had recently moved to Seattle was invited as a guest. 

The band chose its name from a reference to the lyrics of the Mother Love Bone song "Man of Golden Words."

The band recorded its self-titled album at London Bridge Studio in Seattle between November and December of 1990. The album was produced by the late Rick Parashar. While the album was not released until April 1991, it marked a significant moment in the grunge scene of the early 1990s. 

amazing songs written by TOTD

The Record

The recording of "Hunger Strike" was a pivotal moment for the band. Chris Cornell wrote the song, and he had initially intended to sing it himself.

However, during the recording process, Eddie Vedder was in the studio working on his own music and was asked to contribute backing vocals to the song. When he heard Cornell's vocals on the track, he was so impressed that he asked to sing the second verse himself.

One of the unique aspects of Temple of the Dog was the synergy between the Chris Cornell and Eddie Vedder.

The combination of Cornell's powerful vocals and Vedder's distinctive voice created a haunting sound that captured the raw emotion and intensity of the Seattle scene. Stone Gossard pointed that out in Pearl Jam Twenty.

The lyrics of the song are a reflection of the pain and loss that many musicians were experiencing at the time, particularly after the death of Andrew Wood. The chorus of the song, "I'm going hungry," is a powerful statement of despair and longing that resonated with fans around the world.

"Hunger Strike" is not only a musically powerful song but also carries profound emotional weight. This section delves deeper into the themes and lyrics of the song, discussing how it captured the spirit of the era and resonated with listeners.

TOTD: accompanying music video

The Release

When "Hunger Strike" was released as a single in 1991, it quickly became a hit. The song reached number four on the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart and helped to solidify Temple of the Dog's place in the grunge pantheon.

The band never toured in the 1990s to support the album. However, the band reformed in 2016 and toured to celebrate the 25th anniversary of their self-titled album. "Hunger Strike" remains one of the most iconic songs of the era and a testament to the talent and creativity of the musicians involved.

Temple of the Dog posing at the Tower Theater, outside Philadelphia

The Influence

In the years since its release, "Hunger Strike" has continued to influence and inspire musicians around the world. Its impact can be heard in the work of countless artists, from the grunge bands of the 1990s to the alt-rock and indie bands of today.

Even after more than three decades since its release, "Hunger Strike" and Temple of the Dog continue to leave an enduring legacy. The song's impact reverberated far beyond its initial success and continues to inspire and influence musicians across generations.

Temple of the Dog's "Hunger Strike" captured the essence of the grunge era with its raw, emotive lyrics and powerful vocal performances. Its popularity and chart success solidified Temple of the Dog's place in the history of rock music. The song reached number four on the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart, introducing the band to a wider audience and cementing their reputation within the grunge scene.

Beyond its commercial success, "Hunger Strike" remains an iconic song due to its timeless themes and musical craftsmanship. The collaboration between Chris Cornell and Eddie Vedder brought together two distinct voices that perfectly captured the essence of the grunge movement.

eddie vedder close up on hunger strike video

The song's influence can be heard in the work of countless artists who have followed in the footsteps of the grunge era. Its impact extends not only to subsequent grunge bands but also to the alt-rock and indie scenes that emerged in later years.

The raw emotion and powerful vocal delivery showcased in "Hunger Strike" have become hallmarks of the genre, inspiring musicians to explore similar depths of expression.

Moreover, Temple of the Dog's one and only album stands as a testament to the power of collaboration and musical synergy. The band members' combined talents and shared vision created something truly remarkable.

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