This Saturday, iconic 90’s rock act, Pearl Jam, will open their new art exhibit, Pearl Jam: Home and Away, at Seattle’s Museum of Pop Culture coinciding with the band’s brief U.S. run of “Home” and “Away” stadium shows, which began on Wednesday night with their first of two “Home” performances at the Seattle Mariners‘ Safeco Field. A central piece of the exhibit is a brand-new bronze statue of Andrew Wood, the late Seattle vocalist whose tragic death in 1990 set in motion a chain of events that made Pearl Jam what it is today.

Andrew Wood became a fixture of Seattle’s rising alternative scene in the late 80’s with Malfunkshun and, later, Mother Love Bone. By the end of the decade, Mother Love Bone had developed a loyal following in the Pacific Northwest and was set to release their debut studio album, Apple, in March of 1990–the step that would surely be the band’s breakthrough moment. However, just days before Apple‘s original scheduled release, Andrew Wood was found in a coma, the result of a heroin overdose. He was rushed to the hospital unresponsive, where he died three days later, on March 19th, 1990.

Andrew Wood was roommates with the late Soundgarden frontman, Chris Cornell at the time, and Cornell was inspired to record a tribute to his fallen musical brother. He recruited his Soundgarden bandmate Matt Cameron and former Mother Love Bone members Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament, who in turn recruited guitarist Mike McCready, with whom they were preparing to start a new band, tentatively named Mookie Blaylock.

At the time of the 15-day-long sessions for Temple of the Dog, Ament, Gossard, and McCready were in the process of finding a vocalist for their new group. A young singer named Eddie Vedder had flown up to Seattle from San Diego to audition and ended up adding some backing vocals to a few tracks. Cornell liked the sound of this shy newcomer’s voice, and his passionate track “Hunger Strike” was eventually recorded as a vocal duet between him and Vedder for the album. Following the Temple of the Dog sessions, Cornell and Cameron went back into the studio to record their third (and arguably their best) studio album, Badmotorfinger (1991). Gossard, Ament, McCready, Vedder, and drummer Dave Krusen decided to rename their new band “Pearl Jam,” recorded their debut LP, Ten (1991), and went on to become one of the biggest rock acts of their generation. Cameron would also join Pearl Jam following Soundgarden’s breakup in 1998.

The new Andrew Wood statue was commisioned by Wood’s former bandmate and Pearl Jam bassist Jeff Ament. In a recent interview with Rolling Stone, Ament explained the idea came to him five years ago when he visited Wood’s gravesite, saying, “I was just like, ‘God, this should be so much more rad. So the whole way home we were riffing, ‘If anybody I know deserves a statue, it’s him.’ He would be the one that would love it.” Ament called on master sculptor Mark Walker, who carved out the monumental statue for his late friend.

The permanent home of Andrew Wood’s statue is still undetermined at this point, but Ament hinted at the work of art staying in the Seattle area, noting to Rolling Stone, “There are a lot of things that would be different not just for me, but for the entire Seattle musical community, had it not been for him”.

Below, you can watch a local Seattle news report about Pearl Jam’s new Home and Away art exhibit, which features an interview with the sculpture visionary, Jeff Ament.

[Video: KING 5 News]

[H/T Consequence of Sound]