Mother Love Bone was established in 1988 by former Green River members Jeff Ament, Bruce Fairweather and Stone Gossard, former Malfunkshun frontman Andrew Wood and former Ten Minute Warning and Skin Yard drummer Greg Gilmore. Initially, the group was formed in 1987 out of the cover band Lords of the Wasteland which featured Wood, Gossard, Ament and Malfunkshun drummer Regan Hagar. By early 1988 the band had added Fairweather, replaced Hagar with drummer Greg Gilmore and changed its name to Mother Love Bone.
This new line-up quickly set about recording and playing area shows and by late 1988 had become one of Seattle’s more promising bands. Wood’s exuberant on-stage personality, outlandish clothes and dreamy lyrics helped bring attention to the band. In the 1996 grunge documentary, Hype!, Seattle engineer Jack Endino called Wood “the only stand-up comedian frontman in Seattle,” a reference to Wood’s playful style of interacting with Mother Love Bone fans.
In early 1989, the band signed to PolyGram subsidiary Mercury Records. As part of its contract PolyGram also created the Stardog Records imprint exclusively for the band. In March 1989, the group issued its debut EP, Shine, becoming the first of the new crop of Seattle bands to have a release on a major label. The record sold well and rapidly increased the hype surrounding the band. John Book of Allmusic said the “record contributed to the buzz about the Seattle music scene.”
In late 1989, the group returned to the studio (this time in San Francisco, California) to record its debut album, Apple. Despite some initial difficulties, the record was on-time for its projected March 1990 release. By this point interest in the band had hit a fever pitch and it seemed destined that the band were going to make it big. Only days before Apple was slated to be released, however, frontman Andrew Wood, who had a long history with drug problems, overdosed on heroin. After spending a few days in the hospital in a coma, Wood died, effectively bringing the group to an end. The album would see release later that year on July 19, 1990. Kim Neely of Rolling Stone said that the album “succeeds where countless other hard rock albums have failed, capturing the essence of what made Zep immortal – dynamics, kids! – and giving it a unique Nineties spin.”