When Temple Of The Dog released their sole album in 1991, nobody expected it to be one of the most iconic albums of the 90s. The project came together from the ashes of Mother Love Bone following the drug overdose of its frontman Andrew Wood, Chris Cornell's close friend and roommate. Devastated, Cornell wrote two songs ("Say Hello 2 Heaven" and "Reach Down") in tribute and he was keen to record them as soon as Soundgarden returned from tour. Instead of his regular band, however, Cornell approached Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament, who were still grieving and trying to piece their lives back together after the demise of Mother Love Bone.
Adopting the name Temple Of The Dog (the name deriving from a lyric in Mother Love Bone's "Man Of Golden Words"), the impromptu grunge supergroup was completed by the addition of future Pearl Jam lead guitarist Mike McCready and Soundgarden (and later Pearl Jam) drummer Matt Cameron. Initially, the plan was to rehearse and record Cornell's new songs simply for a one-off single release, but after TOTD started jamming on additional new material and working up some demos written by Gossard, Ament and Cameron, the focus changed to recording a full-length album. Gossard, Ament, and McCready were also simultaneously forming a new band, which more than six months later would be known as Pearl Jam with vocalist Eddie Vedder as its frontman. Vedder would also sing backup vocals on three of the Temple of the Dog album's songs.
The record's go-to tracks are surely "Say Hello 2 Heaven" and "Hunger Strike." Cornell laid his soul bare on the former, delivering an intimate tribute to his fallen friend. The album's dark horse, the scarred and emotional "Hunger Strike," meanwhile, featured a compelling duet between Cornell and the still unknown Vedder. With grunge in vogue by the summer of '92, Pearl Jam's Ten and Soundgarden's Badmotorfinger were both selling in droves. Accordingly, Temple of the Dog rapidly climbed into the higher echelons of the US Billboard 200, where it eventually peaked at No. 5, selling well over a million copies and yielding a platinum disc for the band.