Eddie VedderVocals, guitar
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.
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.