Pearl Jam

Pearl Jam Artistfacts

  • 1991-
    Eddie VedderVocals, guitar
    Michael McCreadyGuitar
    Stone GossardGuitar
    Jeff AmentBass
    Dave KrusenDrums1991-1992
    Dave AbbruzzeseDrums1992-1994
    Jack IronsDrums1995-1998
    Matt CameronDrums1998-
  • A great deal of fate and inspiration are part of the Pearl Jam story. Ament and Gossard were in the band Mother Love Bone when the lead singer died of a heroin overdose in March, 1990. They formed a new band with McCready and went looking for a drummer and lead singer. Vedder found them because they asked Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Jack Irons to join them, and while he couldn't do it, he knew Eddie and gave him an instrumental demo tape the band made. Vedder spent one day writing lyrics and adding vocals to the three songs, which got him the job as lead singer. In October, 1990, he flew from his home in San Diego to Seattle, where they hunkered down and recorded most of the Ten album before Eddie flew back to work at the gas station where he was employed.
  • The first name for the band was Mookie Blaylock, after the basketball player who was with the New Jersey Nets at the time. One of Blaylock's trading cards somehow appeared in the tape case of one of their demos, so they chose the name when they needed to come up with something for their first show in October, 1990. Their first album is named after Blaylock's number: Ten.
  • Believing that Ticketmaster had a monopoly and overcharged their fans, they refused to use them and filed a complaint against them with the US Justice Department in 1994. They avoid using Ticketmaster whenever possible, but are forced to when they are the only option.
  • Vedder's wife, Beth, had a band called Hovercraft, and he played drums on their first single. The couple were married from 1994-2000.
  • There are many rumors as to how they got their name, many of them spread by the band when they make stuff up in interviews. Vedder liked to say that his great grandmother was named Pearl, and she made a great hallucinogenic jam, which is what Rolling Stone reported. Other rumors were that it had something to do with Janis Joplin or the basketball player Earl Monroe, who were both nicknamed Pearl, but the real answer is a little less interesting. The group saw Neil Young perform at the Nassau Coliseum when they were in New York to sign their record deal, and Young jammed for hours on just a few songs. Needing a name for the band, and with the word "Jam" in their heads, they combined it with Pearl and chose it because as Jeff Ament says, "there's some weight behind it."
  • Gossard, Vedder, and McCready appeared in the 1992 movie Singles. In the movie, they backed up Matt Dillon in the band Citizen Dick.
  • When their album No Code came out, they released a set of Pearl Jam trading cards. Each card represented a song.
  • Vedder had a bunch of low-paying jobs before he became a rock star. He was a gas station attendant, security guard at the La Valencia hotel, and a waiter before joining Pearl Jam. Vedder was fired from his security guard gig for neglecting his duties in favor of playing the guitar.
  • A performance photo of Vedder made the cover of Time magazine in 1993. The headline read: "All The Rage: Angry young rockers like Pearl Jam give voice to the passions and fears of a generation." Vedder and Kurt Cobain both refused interviews for the story, and Eddie was not happy about the cover.
  • Members of their fan club receive a holiday single every year around Christmas.
  • On June 30, 2000, 9 fans were crushed to death when the crowd surged forward during their set at the Roskilde Festival in Denmark. This had a profound effect on the band and they even considered breaking up, even though it was not their fault and they stopped the show as soon as they knew something was wrong. They decided to keep going and started a US tour a month later. Although they continued touring in the US shortly after the tragic Roskilde incident, they didn't appear again in Europe before the World Tour in 2006. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Lasse - Nykarleby, Finland
  • Ament and Gossard had to get out of their deal with Polygram Records, where they were under contract with Mother Love Bone, before they could ink a deal with Sony. This meant convincing Polygram that they had nothing going on - certainly not a great new lead singer that would help them form one of the best-selling bands of the '90s. The ruse worked, and Sony got Pearl Jam. Mother Love Bone's lawyer and an A&R man formerly with Polygram had both taken positions at Sony Music, and helped shepherd the deal.
  • Early in their career, Vedder would often climb lighting rigs, camera mounts, and just about anything high and dangerous where he could then leap into the crowd. He had no fear, but his bandmates, especially Ament and Gossard, were worried that they were going to lose another lead singer. Vedder says that he wouldn't feel a thing during the show, but would often wake up with bruises and scratches from his antics.
  • Mike McCready suffers from the digestive illness Crohn's disease.
  • Vedder offers little in the way of lyric analysis, to the point that he doesn't always reveal the actual words. On the Ten album, the lyrics are printed in handwritten form with some gaps where he wanted to leave it open for interpretation.
  • The UK Pearl Jam tribute band Pearl Jamm changed its name to Legal Jam in January 2021 after receiving a threatening letter from the Seattle group's lawyers. The cease-and-desist letter accused the tribute band of "damaging the Pearl Jam brand and causing confusion" among fans.

Comments: 16

  • John from Stockton, CaPearl Jam is another name for the secretion a woman releases when she is pleasured sexually. . . Think about it
  • Anthony from Reading, PaElliot in St. Louis,
    You need to pay more attention in English class. It doesn't say Janice Joplin was Eddie's grandmother, the comma in between them means "and". As in his grandmother and Janice Joplin and Earl "The Pearl" Monroe.
  • Matt from Hagerstown, MdDear Artistfacts,

    My name is Mr. Bruno. I"m an English Teacher in Hagerstown, Maryland. On behalf of my three 8th grade classes, we have a story to share.

    For the past three years, I have included the lyrics to "Black" as part of my Journey Through Genres unit. Initially, I introduce "Black" as a poem. In the end of the Journeys Through Genres unit, I ask the kids if they want to hear "Black" being read, and I play your song. They always seem stunned when they realize that a song is really nothing more than poetry married to rhythm.

    I must admit that teaching "Black" is one of the highlights of my year, and the kids love it, too. My students actually whined when I took the lyrics back from them (too much to go over during a 45 minute block of time). They wanted to know how the "poem" ended: I only let them examine the song stanza by stanza, and we only got through the first two stanzas during the first day. Never before have I seen them so hungry for more. One promising young student even asked for a copy of the lyrics. As a teacher, those moments are pure gold. It makes me proud to be an educator.

    When we review "Black," we treat it to literary analysis: we go over Imagery, Metaphor, Mood, Tone, and Symbolism. In addition, we examine the emotional temperature of the piece. The kids seemed to be right-on-the-money with respect to the mood of "Black." They both felt and appreciated the Narrator"s pain as he laments the loss of a girlfriend.

    Here"s what we came up with.

    Empty canvas and untouched sheets of clay suggest that something is incomplete in the Narrator"s life, contrasting the two aspects of his life. When she was in his life, the Narrator/artist was able to produce his work. Now that the relationship is over, he lacks the steam required to continue his art. The words empty and untouched suggest a barren, austere emotional climate. They illuminate potential that goes empty and untouched.

    Comparing the Antagonist to the sun suggests that she provides heat, warmth, and life to the Narrator, the proper "earthen bed" required to nourish and promote the flower of happiness, growth, and self-actualization. In short, she was everything to him. She completed him. This totality can be seen in the fact that the word everything is repeated several times during the subsequent portions of the song. The line, "Now the air I tasted and breathed, has taken a turn" sharply marks Tone. It is the Narrator dropping his mask and speaking directly to us about how he feels about his loss. Not only was she his sun, she was the air that sustained him. And with the souring of the relationship, so sours the air. With the souring of the air comes the souring of the Narrator. He gasps for breath, choking on his situation. This slow, emotional suffocation is mute testimony to the honesty of his pain, his loss, and the slow fragmentation of his security. The Narrator can no longer breathe without suffering, and every breath haunts him. The fact that he is required to breathe this sour air is an ever-present reminder of the Narrator"s all-consuming pain.

    When we reviewed the lines, "And all I taught her was everything / I know she gave me all that she wore," a few students echoed some of my private thoughts. Those lines read as if a young art professor had fallen in love with one of his students. Several students from different classes came up with that interpretation. The bitter hands chafing is testimony to the Narrator rubbing his hands together in a compulsive attempt to cope with his loss. The "washing" of the pictures is a metaphor depicting the destruction of what was once a beautiful relationship. The image of destroying a painting is a powerful symbol showing how one feels when love decays. The loss of that loved one feels like the destruction of a beautiful work of art. The reference to a tattoo suggests that the Narrator"s pain is permanent. The pain is being compared to a tattoo"s ink. Even though that pain will fade/run over time, the Narrator feels that it will always be there, just like a tattoo.

    I feel that, "I take a walk outside / I"m surrounded by some kids at play / I can feel their laughter, so why do I sear"" is one of the most powerful lines in literary history. Those words capture the slow burn endured by those who are haunted by the fading echoes of true love. It"s as if the pain is both amplified by and juxtaposed with the reminder that everyone around the Narrator has permission to be happy, yet he is condemned to what he sees as an eternity of suffering, slow-roasting over the white-hot coals of what was, and taunted by what will never be. The juxtaposition of beautiful laughter and paralytic pain eclipses the Narrator"s happiness, highlighting his angst all the more.

    The "twisted thoughts" can be thought of as the manic replaying of what the Narrator could have done/should have done to salvage the relationship, second-guessing himself and dooming himself to torturous self-examination. This self-questioning erodes the Narrator"s stability, leaving him reeling from his efforts.

    As the Antagonist is being compared to his sun, the line, "How quick the sun can drop away" shows a bitter, clipped Tone, capturing the sarcastic hemorrhage felt by the Narrator. The sun"s dropping is testimony to the fact that the relationship is over. Love"s glow has faded. In her absence, in the sun"s absence, the image created is that of a man trying to scratch out an existence in a bleak word devoid of warmth, light, love, and hope. Trapped within the bleak ruins of his own emotional wasteland, the Narrator feels that he is at risk of drying out and shriveling up. The Narrator identifies with Sisyphus, condemned to an eternity of rolling his emotional boulder up life"s steep inclines.

    If the antagonist can be referred to a precious glass statue, then the, "bitter hands that cradle broken glass," shows how the Narrator cannot heal, despite the end of the relationship. The image created is that of a masochist who cannot release the sharp fragments of something that was once dear to him, trapped within a vicious cycle of self-injury: he holds love"s broken pieces, and they lacerate him. Going against both intuition and friends" sound advice, he hugs it again, perpetuating the cycle of self-mutilation. The word cradle suggests that the Narrator will pursue any hope, however fleeting, of resuscitating the relationship. The fact that the relationship keeps slicing him is as powerful as it is self-defeating.

    When the Narrator"s world turns to black, he bears his soul, naked to the world. He allows the readers a rare glimpse into the true depth of his woe. This hurt, this emotional tattoo, ruins all that he sees, all that he is, and all that he will ever be. This pain is symbolized by the tattoo. His pain is so pervasive that he sees this grief has having amputated part of his future, pillorying hope for what tomorrow could bring.

    "Black" ends with a failed coup-de-grace. Unable to admit defeat and move on, the Narrator cannot shake hands and walk away. While the Narrator recognizes that the Antagonist will be the star in someone else"s sky, he laments that she will not be the star in his sky, agonizing over the fact that it wasn"t meant to be. "Why can"t it be mine"" eliminates any chance of moving on, uprooting any growth made towards closure. Buried within the wasteland of his heart, the Narrator cannot see that he cannot see beyond the immediacy of it all.

    "Black" captures all the emptiness, all the ache, and all the doom felt by most young people when they look back on their clumsy first attempts at love. It is my opinion that "Black" is one of the most powerful pieces of poetry in the textbook that is our world.

    My 8th grade classes are deeply interested in knowing what inspired "Black." From where did it come? From what? That, and they just wanted thank the person (Eddie Vedder) who found a voice for those who had previously suffered in silence.


    Mr. Bruno
  • John from Hendersonville, NcBest band to come out of Seattle. Also had one of the best debut albums ever.
  • Jonathon from Clermont, Fl"Black" just owns! One of the best songs ever! I also like "Even Flow"...
  • Kris from Pittsburgh, PaI bought "Ten" when it debuted in 1991. I was sixteen years old and thought it was one of the greatest albums of all time. Fifteen years later they still rock on and are definately the best rock band out there. It's so nice to see younger people enjoy them. They are gracious to fans and always put on killer shows.
  • Sarah from Tavistock, CanadaI attended my first concerts, two Pearl Jam shows, 5 months ago and was blown away! Pearl Jam is and has been the most talented band for 15 years (one year younger than me) and their music has changed my entire perspective. I hope everyone buys their new album, New World this Spring!
  • Elliot from St. Louis, MoDude, Eddie's grandmother isn't Janice Joplin. His grandmother's actual name was Pearl. That was just Janis's nickname. Read "Five Against One" the (outdated) Pearl Jam biography.
  • Dan from American Fork, UtPearl Jam are too powerful to be beat musicaly. In my eyes they will always stand above other bands. Eddie's lyrics are too amazing to ever be forgotten
  • Elliot from St. Louis, MoIt is a shame that mosy young ppl dont know about Pearl Jam. I am 13 and think they are the greatest rock band ever, but whenever ppl ask me what my favorite band is, no one ever knows who PJ is. Then again, I'm glad that less ppl know who they are, so it doesnt seem like I like them just because they are popular, like some ppl do with other bands. I am too young to actually remember when they were really popular, also. Pearl Jam is the best rock band out there no matter what anyone else thinks!
  • Bruce from Sinking Spring, PaMatt Chamberlain is also a drummer who appeard on a Pearl Jam album. Please see below:

    This is pulled from "", a Pearl Jam fan website:

    A few fans have written in wondering why we included Matt Chamberlain in the "tally of drummers on Pearl Jam albums." Just to clarify, we realize that Chamberlain didn't record in the studio with PJ, BUT his drumming from a live show did wind up on some non-US versions of Ten, so technically he is on a PJ ALBUM. "Alive (live)" recorded on August 3, 1991 at Seattle's RCKNDY with Chamberlain on drums, appears on the New Zealand, European and Japanese versions of Ten. It's very minor, we know, but we figured we'd include it anyway.
  • Robbie from Placentia, CaMatt Cameron used to play drums for Soundgarden from '85-'97
  • Marlow from Perth, Australiathey sure released an album quick! they formed in 91 same year they released their debut.
  • Marlow from Perth, Australiablack is a beautiful rock ballad, with vedder in fine tune belting out the lyrics towaeds the end!
  • Chris from Hull, MaSome years ago before a show, Ed discovered that a book was missing: a book that had all his personal writings in it, and song lyrics as well. Ed freaked out and went on a rant, rave and rage. Gee, this 2001 auction...what a coincidence - the book. Abandoned personal item? Doubt it!
  • Heather from Greenwood, InIn 2001 Eddie Vedder's ex-room mate put abandoned possesions and personal items up for auction on Ebay, calling it "Eddie Vedder garage sale), The items included a book of poetry that had been Eddie, with peronal notes wrtten in it, to which the seller eluded that Eddie took "inspiration" for his song "Immortality" from. A post card Eddie had sent from Seattle when he first went there to join the band, and some personal photos of he with Eddie and Eddie at the home they shared.

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