Andrew Wood (1966-1990)
The flamboyant frontman of Mother Love Bone was tipped by many to be the breakout star of the Seattle music scene before his life was ended prematurely on 19th March 1990, after an accidental heroin overdose three days earlier.
Vocalist Wood – who was born in Columbus, Mississippi but grew up in Washington state – had struggled with substance abuse from a young age, stretching back to the early to mid 1980s when he was still in his first band Malfunkshun he began with his brother Kevin.
Wood was heavily influenced by glam rock like KISS and Marc Bolan, and this set him apart from many of his grunge-era peers. After Malfunkshun ended, he began jamming with ex-Green River members Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament, and the sessions quickly led to the formation of a new band called Mother Love Bone (with guitarist Bruce Fairweather and drummer Greg Gilmore joining shortly after). The band quickly earned a cult following and signed a record deal with PolyGram. They released a six-song EP entitled Shine, which received some praise from critics, and before Wood passed away they had finished recorded what would wind up being both their debut and final album, Apple.
After Wood died, several of his bandmates and friends went on to achieve multi-platinum success, including Gossard and Ament with Pearl Jam and his former roommate Chris Cornell with Soundgarden. Cornell also formed the supergroup Temple Of The Dog shortly after Wood’s passing for one album, with songs such as ‘Say Hello To Heaven’ written in tribute to him. Jerry Cantrell of Alice In Chains also wrote his band’s hit single ‘Would?’ with the former Mother Love Bone frontman in mind. That song and Wood’s ‘Chloe Dancer / Crown Of Thorns’ would both feature on the soundtrack to the 1992 movie Singles, which focused its gaze on the emerging Seattle music scene.
Wood was cremated and his gravestone sits in the Miller-Woodlawn Memorial Park in Bremerton, Washington. It simply reads: Andrew P. Wood 1966-1990.
Location: Miller-Woodlawn Memorial Park, Kitsap Way, Bremerton, Washington, USA 98312
The amiable frontman of Seattle grunge pioneers Soundgarden and alt-rock supergroup Audioslave was regarded by many of his peers and predecessors as one of best vocalists in heavy rock history.
Born Christopher John Boyle in Seattle, Washington in July 1964, Cornell showed a love and aptitude for music from an early age. He formed Soundgarden in 1984 with his close friend Kim Thayil, and they would go on to release their debut LP Ultramega OK on the notable independent record label SST.
The band’s commercial breakthrough though was in grunge’s watershed year of 1991, in the shape of the critically acclaimed Badmotorfinger. The record fused their metal and punk influences together into something contemporary and original. The album featured some of the band’s best known songs, including “Rusty Cage” (later covered by Johnny Cash),”Jesus Christ Pose” and “Outshined.” Cornell’s increasingly impressive vocals were also evidenced on “Room A Thousand Years Wide” and “Mind Riot”.
At this point, Soundgarden has become one of the biggest rock bands in the world, and their next record Superunknown catapulted them into MTV Award winning stars. The 1994 LP featured their most famous song “Black Hole Sun”, as well as fan favourites like “Fell On Black Days” and “The Day I Tried To Live”. The band broke up soon after 1996’s Down On The Upside though, and Cornell soon joined ex-Rage Against The Machine members in a new project entitled Audioslave. He also kept himself busy by releasing several solo records and performing the lead song for the James Bond film Casino Royale. In 2010 Soundgarden reformed and toured extensively.
Cornell was candid in both interviews and through his lyrics about his depression and substance abuse problems. Tragically, those struggles got the better of the much-loved frontman, as on the morning of May 18, 2017, shortly after performing at a Soundgarden concert in Detroit, he was found unresponsive in the bathroom of his hotel room in an apparent hanging.
Cornell was buried at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Hollywood, California, where his funeral was held. At the funeral, Linkin Park singer Chester Bennington sung Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallejuah’ in tribute to his close friend. Heartbreakingly, he would be found dead by hanging on Cornell’s birthday in his L.A. home on 20th July 2017.
Location: Hollywood Forever Cemetery, 6000 Santa Monica Boulevard, Los Angeles, California, USA 90038
Best known as the bassist in the Courtney Love fronted grunge band Hole, Kristen Pfaff was a highly thought of musician in indie circles until her untimely death.
Born in Buffalo, New York on the 26th May 1967, Pfaff began learning bass guitar in Minnesota after graduating from University there. Shortly after she co-founded the noise-rock band Janitor Joe with whom she recorded 2 albums and a bunch of singles.
It was whilst playing a show in Janitor Joe that she caught the attention of Love and Eric Erlandson, who were looking for a new bass player. After much deliberation, she eventually was convinced to leave Minneapolis, move to Seattle and join Hole in 1993.
Whilst with Hole Pfaff would record the band’s highly thought 0f sophomore effort Live Through This, which was released just days after Love’s husband Kurt Cobain was found dead in their Seattle home.
Tragically, Pfaff would join her good friend Cobain a mere 2 months later, after an apparent heroin overdose in her apartment. Like Cobain, she was just 27 years old, and became another name registered in the so-called ’27 Club’ of rock casualties.
Location: Forest Lawn Cemetery, 1411 Delaware Avenue, Buffalo, New York, USA 14209
Mia Zapata (1965-1993)
The lead singer of Seattle punks The Gits, Mia Zapata’s life was cut tragically short in the early hours of 7th July 1993 when she was murdered on her way home from a music venue in the city.
Born in Louisville, Kentucky on 25th August 1965, Zapata got into punk rock as a teenager and moved to Seattle in 1989 after forming The Gits whilst at college in Ohio.
Zapata’s band had just begun to reach a wider audience with several acclaimed singles and 1992’s Frenching The Bully LP when she was killed in the most despicable way possible.
Zapata’s murder was unsolved for over a decade (the flagship Seattle bands Soundgarden, Nirvana and Pearl Jam funded a private investigator for three years to try and catch her killer). But in 2003 police discovered that a Florida based fisherman from Cuba was the murderer via DNA testing.
Her gravestone fittingly reads: Mia Katherine Zapata Cherished Daughter – Sister – Artist – Friend – Git.
Location: Cave Hill Cemetery, Baxter Ave, Louisville, Kentucky, USA 40204
Grunge icons not buried: Kurt Cobain (1967-1994), Layne Stayley (1967-2002), Scott Weiland (1967-2015)