Green River were formed in Seattle in 1984, taking their name from the area's notorious, then-recent serial killer (who wasn't brought to justice until around two decades later). Lead vocalist/guitarist Mark Arm and guitarist Steve Turner
had previously played together in the local hardcore bands Mr. Epp and the Limp Richerds, while drummer Alex Vincent (aka Alex Shumway) came from Spluii Numa and bassist Jeff Ament
from Deranged Diction. Late in the year, second guitarist Stone Gossard
's onetime bandmate in the Ducky Boys
-- came onboard, allowing Arm to concentrate exclusively on singing. Green River started playing local clubs, and in 1985 they recorded two tracks for the compilation album Deep Six, the inaugural release on local indie C/Z Records (it also featured early tracks by Soundgarden
, the Melvins
, and Skin Yard
). Later in 1985, Green River went to New York to record their debut EP, Come On Down, for the Homestead label.
Following the release of Come On Down, Steve Turner
left the band (reportedly over his distaste for its metal influences) and was replaced by Bruce Fairweather, who had played with Ament
in Deranged Diction. In the summer of 1986, the group recorded another EP, Dry as a Bone, in Seattle with producer Jack Endino
; it was issued by Bruce Pavitt's fledgling Sub Pop label in July 1987. Green River subsequently began work on an eight-song mini-album for Sub Pop, which was released in early 1988 under the title Rehab Doll. By the time it appeared, though, intra-band tensions were tearing Green River apart. The central issue was commercialism: Gossard
wanted to pursue a major-label deal, while Arm preferred to remain independent and record for Sub Pop. The final straw apparently stemmed from a gig in Los Angeles; Arm wanted to give his friends backstage passes, but found that Ament
had reserved them all for A&R reps who never showed up. Not long after Rehab Doll appeared, Green River officially disbanded.