Pearl Jam

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The current Pearl Jam lineup. From back to front: Matt Cameron, Jeff Ament, Mike McCready (with hands together), Stone Gossard (standing), and Eddie Vedder.

Pearl Jam was one of the most popular bands of the grunge music era in the early 1990s. Before their mainstream success as "Pearl Jam", certain members had recorded successfully as Green River, Mother Love Bone and Temple of the Dog.


Current members


Pearl Jam was born from the bosom of Mother Love Bone. With the death of Mother Love Bone frontman Andy Wood and the disintegration of the band, Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament set out to create their next band. They recruited guitarist Mike McCready and, with the help of Matt Cameron on drums, recorded a 3 song demo tape. This tape made it to ex-Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Jack Irons, who passed it on to Eddie Vedder during one of their hiking trips. Eddie listened to the tape shortly before going surfing. While he was out in the water, the music played in his head and the lyrics came to him. He rushed back home and in one flurry of creativity recorded the vocals to three songs (Alive, Footsteps, and Once). The songs were what Eddie would later describe as a mini-opera. They formed a story of incest, madness, and murder that became known to fans as the "Mamasan trilogy". He sent the tape with his vocals back to the band and they were so impressed that they had Vedder fly to Seattle to try out for the band. Eddie and the band hit it off and, with the addition of Dave Krusen on drums, Mookie Blaylock was formed. After being signed to Epic, there was some concern from record executives about the band being named after a professional basketball player who was still playing, so the band brainstormed on new names. After briefly considering Reenk Roink, they settled on Pearl Jam.

The band came up with their peculiar name while congregated at B&O Espresso, a Seattle coffeehouse. Eddie Vedder has claimed that the name Pearl Jam is an inside joke having to do with a hallucinogenic, peyote-laced jam that Eddie's grandmother Pearl was known for. Many people, however, consider that story to be nothing more than a joke. These people point out that it is probably not a coincidence that the phrase "pearl jam" had been in usage for some time as a euphemism for semen.

Pearl Jam's drummer, Dave Krusen, left the band shortly before the launch of their debut album. He was replaced by Matt Chamberlain, who had previously played with Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians. After playing only a handful of shows - at least one of which was filmed and became the "Alive" video - Chamberlain received an offer to join the Saturday Night Live band, which he accepted. Before he left, he suggested a drummer named Dave Abbruzzese as his replacement. Abbruzzese joined shortly after, playing the rest of Pearl Jam's live shows supporting the Ten album and continuing on to record with the band for the next two albums.

Pearl Jam became a key member of the Seattle grunge explosion, along with Nirvana, Alice in Chains, and Soundgarden. Kurt Cobain at one point angrily attacked the group because he saw them as commercial "sell outs"; however Kurt and Eddie Vedder later reconciled and reportedly became friends. (See Green River)

Their debut album Ten (after Mookie Blaylock's jersey number, since they could not name the band after him), contains eleven tracks, many of them dealing with dark subjects like depression, suicide, loneliness, and murder. Their first album produced three smash hits that propelled them into the music scene (Evenflow, Alive, and Jeremy). Their video "Jeremy" was a huge hit on MTV and won several video music awards including Video of the Year, and Best Group Video.

Pearl Jam's first three albums were huge, commercially and critically. Their second album Vs. set an all time record for copies sold in the first week of release. The third album Vitalogy became the second quickest selling album in history with more than 877,000 units sold the first week. Vitalogy also holds another distinction: the vinyl version of the album was released two weeks before the cd and cassette versions. The song "Spin The Black Circle" - an homage to the seven-inch single - from their third album, won a Grammy award in 1995.

Over the next few years, Pearl Jam's popularity declined, in part because of their unwillingness to record videos and because of a lawsuit alleging a Ticketmaster monopoly which stifled the launch of supportive tours. Another reason for its decline in popularity may be due to its uncommercial and experimental nature. The first CD could be classed as grunge, but their later body of work was more diffcult to categorize.

In 1994, Pearl Jam fired Dave Abbruzzese due to artistic differences. They announced his replacement, Jack Irons, in 1995. Jack Irons was the person who originally introduced singer Eddie Vedder to the band, so it was very fitting for him to end up being the new drummer.

In 1995, Pearl Jam backed up longtime idol Neil Young on his album Mirror Ball. Contractual obligations prevented the use of the band's name anywhere on the album, but the members were all credited individually in the album's liner notes. Young then returned the favor by playing with Pearl Jam on their two-song EP, Merkin Ball.

In August of 1996, exactly five years after the release of Ten, the band released their fourth album, No Code. The album continued the musical growth displayed on Vs. and Vitalogy, and alienated many who were just waiting for the band to remake Ten. The band, however, had no interest in continually repeating itself.

In 1998, Pearl Jam released its fifth album, Yield. The album was proclaimed as a return to the band's early, straight-forward-rock sound. For the first time since 1993, they allowed a video to be filmed for one of their songs, "Do the Evolution", and they toured in support of the album. The album went gold.

In 1999, Pearl Jam once again changed drummers. Jack Irons left the band due to health concerns and was replaced with former Soundgarden drummer Matt Cameron.

After the release of Binaural in 2000, and the resulting tour of Europe and North America, the band hit upon a unique idea. Noting the popularity of illegal bootleg recordings, and the desire of fans to own a copy of the shows they attended, Pearl Jam hatched a plan to professionally record each and every show on their tour. They originally intended to release these official bootlegs only to fan club members, but their record contract prevented them from doing so. Pearl Jam released all of the albums in record stores as well as through their fan club. All totalled, they released 72 albums, most of them double, and set a record for most albums to debut in the Billboard top 200 at the same time. A further 72 albums were released from the 2003 tour, and they continue releasing more of these "bootlegs" to this day.

Unfortunately, the 2000 European tour ended when on June 30 a tragic accident happened at the Roskilde Festival in Denmark, where fans were crushed and suffocated as the crowd rushed to the front. The band stopped playing and tried to calm the crowd when they realized what was happening, but it was already too late and 9 people were killed. The two remaining dates of the tour were cancelled, and the band seriously considered retiring after this event. Some controversy arose over who was responsible for the accident after Pearl Jam was blamed in the official investigation. The band was later cleared of responsiblity, with officials finding the safety measures employed by the festival organizers were inadequate.

In June 2003, the band announced they were officially leaving their label of twelve years, Epic Records. This move is viewed as something of a coup and has been described as " institution leaving another, the most popular and important American rock band of the '90's, voluntarily rejecting the grandest label heritage...". Pearl Jam states it has "no interest at this time" of signing with another label and is "excited about our freedom". Pundits say if Pearl Jam's move is successful, it may be the death knell of the music industry as we know it.

Pearl Jam were outspoken supporters of Ralph Nader's presidency run in 2000. In 2004, the band explicitly withdrew its support for Nader, with members appearing in Rolling Stone to promote the candidacy of John Kerry, and on the Vote for Change tour.



Studio albums

Year Title Label Chart positions US sales
August 27, 1991 Ten Epic #2 US, #18 UK 12,000,000
October 19, 1993 Vs. Sony #1 US, #2 UK 7,000,000
*December 6, 1994 Vitalogy Epic #1 US, #4 UK 5,000,000
August 27, 1996 No Code Epic #1 US, #3 UK 1,000,000
February 3, 1998 Yield Epic #2 US, #7 UK 1,500,000
May 16, 2000 Binaural Epic #2 US, #5 UK 720,000
November 12, 2002 Riot Act Epic #5 US, #34 UK 500,000

Live albums and compilations

Year Title Label Chart positions US sales
June 27, 1995 Mirror Ball (with Neil Young) Reprise #5 US, #4 UK 500,000
November 24, 1998 Live on Two Legs Epic #15 US 1,000,000
November 11, 2003 Lost Dogs Epic #15 US 500,000
July 27, 2004 Live at Benaroya Hall Epic #18 US -
November 16, 2004 Rearviewmirror: Greatest Hits 1991-2003 Epic #16 US 500,000

Hit singles

  • From "Ten"
    • 1992 "Alive" #16 UK
    • 1992 "Even Flow" #27 UK
    • 1992 "Jeremy" #7 US (1995 release), #15 UK
  • From "Vs."
    • 1994 "Daughter" #18 UK
    • 1994 "Dissident" #14 UK
    • 1994 "Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town"
  • From "Vitalogy"
    • 1994 "Spin the Black Circle" #10 UK
    • 1994 "Tremor Christ" #18 US
    • 1995 "Not for You" #34 UK
    • 1995 "Corduroy"
  • Non-album single recorded with Neil Young during the "Mirror Ball" sessions
    • 1995 "I Got ID" #25 UK
  • From "No Code"
    • 1996 "Who You Are" #31 US, #18 UK
    • 1996 "Hail, Hail"
  • From "Yield"
    • 1998 "Given to Fly" #21 US, #12 UK
    • 1998 "Wishlist" #30 UK
  • From "No Boundaries: A Benefit for the Kosovar Refugees" various artists charity album
    • 1999 "Last Kiss" #2 US
  • From "Binaural"
    • 2000 "Nothing as It Seems" #22 UK
  • From "Riot Act"
    • 2002 "I am Mine" #26 UK

List of Pearl Jam songs covered by others

See also


  • Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Pearl Jam (". All Music Guide. Retrieved June 13, 2005.

External links

es:Pearl Jam fr:Pearl Jam it:Pearl Jam ja:パール・ジャム he:פרל ג'אם nl:Pearl Jam no:Pearl Jam pl:Pearl Jam pt:Pearl Jam sq:Pearl Jam fi:Pearl Jam sv:Pearl Jam


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