Pearl Jam is an American rock band formed in Seattle, Washington, in 1990. Since its inception, the band’s line-up has comprised Eddie Vedder (lead vocals), Mike McCready (lead guitar), Stone Gossard (rhythm guitar) and Jeff Ament (bass). The band’s fifth member is drummer Matt Cameron (also of Soundgarden), who has been with the band since 1998. Boom Gaspar (piano) has also been a session/touring member with the band since 2002. Drummers Dave Krusen, Matt Chamberlain, Dave Abbruzzese and Jack Irons are former members of the band.
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1. Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament were members of pioneering grunge band Green River during the mid-1980s.
2. Green River toured and recorded to moderate success but disbanded in 1987 due to a stylistic division between the pair and bandmates Mark Arm and Steve Turner.
3. In late 1987, Gossard and Ament began playing with Malfunkshun vocalist Andrew Wood, eventually organizing the band Mother Love Bone.
4. In 1988 and 1989, the band recorded and toured to increasing interest and found the support of the PolyGram record label, which signed the band in early 1989. Mother Love Bone’s debut album, Apple, was released in July 1990, four months after Wood died of a heroin overdose.
5. Ament and Gossard were devastated by the death of Wood and the resulting demise of Mother Love Bone. Gossard spent his time afterwards writing material that was harder-edged than what he had been doing previously.
6. After a few months, Gossard started practicing with fellow Seattle guitarist Mike McCready, whose band, Shadow, had broken up; McCready in turn encouraged Gossard to reconnect with Ament.
7. After practicing for a while, the trio sent out a five-song demo tape in order to find a singer and a drummer. They gave former Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Jack Irons the demo to see if he would be interested in joining the band and to distribute the demo to anyone he felt might fit the lead vocal position.
8. Irons passed on the invitation but gave the demo to his basketball buddy, San Diego, California singer Eddie Vedder.
9. Vedder was the lead vocalist for a San Diego band, Bad Radio, and worked part-time at a gas station.
10. He listened to the tape shortly before going surfing, where lyrics came to him. He then recorded the vocals to three of the songs (“Alive”, “Once”, and “Footsteps”) in what he later described as a “mini-opera” entitled Momma-Son.
11. Vedder sent the tape with his vocals back to the three Seattle musicians, who were impressed enough to fly Vedder up to Seattle for an audition. Within a week, Vedder had joined the band.
12. With the addition of Dave Krusen on drums, the band took the name Mookie Blaylock, in reference to the then-active All-Star basketball player. The band played its first official show at the Off Ramp Café in Seattle on October 22, 1990, and soon signed to Epic Records and renamed themselves Pearl Jam.
12. In an early promotional interview, Vedder said that the name “Pearl Jam” was a reference to his great-grandmother Pearl, who was married to a Native American and had a special recipe for peyote-laced jam.
13. In a 2006 Rolling Stone cover story however, Vedder admitted that this story was “total bullshit”, even though he indeed had a great-grandma named Pearl.
14. Ament and McCready explained that Ament came up with “pearl”, and that the band later settled on “Pearl Jam” after attending a concert by Neil Young, in which he extended his songs as improvisations of 15–20 minutes in length.
15. Formed after the demise of Gossard and Ament’s previous band, Mother Love Bone, Pearl Jam broke into the mainstream with its debut album, Ten, in 1991.
16. One of the key bands in the grunge movement of the early 1990s, over the course of the band’s career, its members became noted for their refusal to adhere to traditional music industry practices, including refusing to make proper music videos or give interviews, and engaging in a much-publicized boycott of Ticketmaster.
17. In 2006, Rolling Stone described the band as having “spent much of the past decade deliberately tearing apart their own fame.”
18. To date, the band has sold nearly 32 million records in the United States and an estimated 60 million worldwide.
19. Pearl Jam has outlasted and outsold many of its contemporaries from the alternative rock breakthrough of the early 1990s, and is considered one of the most influential bands of that decade.
20. Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic referred to Pearl Jam as “the most popular American rock & roll band of the ’90s”.
21. In 2016, Pearl Jam were selected to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, in their first year of eligibility.
22. Compared with the other grunge bands of the early 1990s, Pearl Jam’s style is noticeably less heavy and harkens back to the classic rock music of the 1970s.
23. Pearl Jam has cited many punk rock and classic rock bands as influences, including The Who, Led Zeppelin, Neil Young, Kiss and the Ramones.
24. Pearl Jam’s success has been attributed to its sound, which fuses “the riff-heavy stadium rock of the ’70s with the grit and anger of ’80s post-punk, without ever neglecting hooks and choruses.”
25. Gossard’s rhythm guitar style is known for its sense of beat and groove, while McCready’s lead guitar style, influenced by artists such as Jimi Hendrix, has been described as “feel-oriented” and “rootsy.”
26. Pearl Jam has broadened its musical range with subsequent releases.
27. As he had more influence on the band’s sound, Vedder sought to make the band’s musical output less catchy.
28. By 1994’s Vitalogy, the band began to incorporate more punk influences into its music.
29. The band’s 1996 album, No Code, was a deliberate break from the musical style of Ten.
30. The songs on the album featured elements of garage rock, worldbeat, and experimentalism.
31. After 1998’s Yield, which was somewhat of a return to the straightforward rock approach of the band’s early work, the band dabbled with experimental art rock on 2000’s Binaural and folk rock elements on 2002’s Riot Act.
32. The band’s 2006 album, Pearl Jam, was cited as a return to the band’s early sound.
33. The band’s 2009 album, Backspacer, contains elements of pop and new wave.
34. Critic Jim DeRogatis describes Vedder’s vocals as a “Jim Morrison-like vocal growl.”
35. While Nirvana had brought grunge to the mainstream in the early 1990s with Nevermind, Pearl Jam’s debut Ten outsold it in the United States, and the band became “the most popular American rock & roll band of the ’90s” according to AllMusic.
36. Pearl Jam has been described as “modern rock radio’s most influential stylists – the workmanlike midtempo chug of songs like “Alive” and “Even Flow” just melodic enough to get moshers singing along.”. The band inspired and influenced a number of bands, ranging from Silverchair to Puddle of Mudd and The Strokes.
37. The band has also been credited for inspiring the indie rock scene of 90s-era urban Pakistan, that has since evolved into a rich rock music culture in the country.
38. Throughout its career, Pearl Jam has promoted wider social and political issues, from pro-choice sentiments to opposition to George W. Bush’s presidency. Vedder acts as the band’s spokesman on these issues.
39. The band has promoted an array of causes, including awareness of Crohn’s disease, which Mike McCready suffers from, Ticketmaster venue monopolization and the environment and wildlife protection, among others.
40. Guitarist Stone Gossard has been active in environmental pursuits, and has been an advocate of Pearl Jam’s carbon neutral policy, offsetting the band’s environmental impact.
41. Vedder has advocated for the release of the West Memphis 3 for years and Damien Echols, a member of the three, shares a writing credit for the song “Army Reserve” (from Pearl Jam).
42. The band, and especially frontman Eddie Vedder, have been vocal supporters of the pro-choice movement. In 1992, Spin printed an article by Vedder, entitled “Reclamation”, which detailed his views on abortion.
43. In an MTV Unplugged concert the same year, Vedder stood on a stool and wrote “PRO-CHOICE!” on his arm in protest when the band performed the song “Porch”. The band are members of a number of pro-choice organizations, including Choice USA and Voters for Choice.
44. As members of Rock the Vote and Vote for Change, the band has encouraged voter registration and participation in United States elections. Vedder was outspoken in support of Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader in 2000, and Pearl Jam played a series of concerts on the Vote for Change tour in October 2004, supporting the candidacy of John Kerry for U.S. President.
45. In a Rolling Stone feature showcasing the Vote for Change tour’s performers, Vedder told the magazine, “I supported Ralph Nader in 2000, but it’s a time of crisis. We have to get a new administration in.”
46. Vedder sometimes comments on politics between songs, often to criticize U.S. foreign policy, and a number of his songs, including “Bu$hleaguer” and “World Wide Suicide”, are openly critical of the Bush administration.
47. At Lollapalooza 2007, Vedder spoke out against BP Amoco dumping effluent in Lake Michigan, and at the end of “Daughter”, he sang the lyrics “George Bush leave this world alone/George Bush find yourself another home”.
48. In the beginning of the second encore Vedder invited Iraq war veteran Tomas Young, the subject of the documentary Body of War, onto the stage to urge an end to the war. Young in turn introduced Ben Harper, who contributed vocals to “No More” and “Rockin’ in the Free World”.
49. The band later discovered that some of the Bush-related lyrics were excised from the AT&T webcast of the event, and questioned whether that constitutes censorship. AT&T later apologized and blamed the censorship on contractor Davie Brown Entertainment.
50. Pearl Jam has performed numerous benefit concerts in aid of charities. For example, the band headlined a Seattle concert in 2001 to support the United Nations’ efforts to combat world hunger.
51. The band added a date at the Chicago House of Blues to its 2005 tour to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina; the concert proceeds were donated to Habitat for Humanity, the American Red Cross and the Jazz Foundation of America.
52. In 2011, Pearl Jam was named 2011 Planet Defenders by Rock The Earth for their environmental activism and their large-scale efforts to decrease their own carbon emissions.
53. Kurt Cobain despised them. After ‘Ten’ became a hit, Nirvana‘s frontman called Pearl Jam sellouts, claiming that it wasn’t a real indie-rock record because of all the guitar solos that were on it. Cobain and Vedder eventually became friends.
54. They backed Neil Young on an album but didn’t get credit. Pearl Jam were Neil Young‘s backing band on his 1995 album ‘Mirror Ball.’ But because of legal reasons, they couldn’t be identified as such and settled for individual credits in the album’s sleeve notes.
55. Their highest-charting song is a cover originally issued to their fan club. In 1998, the group recorded a cover of J. Frank Wilson and the Cavaliers’ 1964 No. 2 hit ‘Last Kiss’ for its annual Christmas fan-club single. Eventually released to the public, it ended up reaching No. 2.