1- 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.
2- Vedder has inducted four icons into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: the Doors in 1993, Neil Young in 1995, the Ramones in 2002, and the recently departed R.E.M in 2007. For the Doors induction he sang three songs with the band at the ceremony.
3- 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.”
4- Vitalogy was released on vinyl two weeks before it came out on compact disc. The band was in love with vinyl, which was not the cash-cow nostalgia piece that it is today, and wanted fans to hear the album with all the warm hisses and pops that vinyl could give it. We’ve heard it on vinyl, and it’s amazing.
5- Vedder sports the Earth First logo as a tattoo on his leg, which can seen in many live stills. Do not go see a PJ cover band unless their fake Eddie has this tattooed on their leg.
6- 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.
In September 1990, while working the graveyard shift at a Chevron tank farm in San Diego, former Bad Radio frontman Eddie Vedder heard the instrumental demos made by Stone Gossard, Mike McCready, Jeff Ament, and drummer Matt Cameron for the first time (he got the tape from former Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Jack Irons). “When you haven’t slept for days, you get so sensitive that it feels like every nerve is directly exposed,” Vedder later explained. “I went surfing in that sleep-deprived state and totally started dealing with a few things that I hadn’t dealt with. I was really getting focused on this one thing, and I had this music in my mind at the same time. I was literally writing some of these words as I was going up against a wave.”
Vedder raced back to his apartment and taped himself singing over three of the songs. It was a “mini opera” he titled Mamasan featuring “Alive,” “Once,” and “Footsteps.”
In 1993, Vedder told Cameron Crowe what “Alive” was about for him:
“The story of the song is that a mother is with a father, and the father dies. It’s an intense thing because the son looks just like the father. The son grows up to be the father, the person that she lost. His father’s dead, and now this confusion, his mother, his love, how does he love her, how does she love him? In fact, the mother, even though she marries somebody else, there’s no one she’s ever loved more than the father. You know how it is, first loves and stuff. And the guy dies. How could you ever get him back? But the son. He looks exactly like him. It’s uncanny. So she wants him. The son is oblivious to it all. He doesn’t know what the fu*k is going on. He’s still dealing, he’s still growing up. He’s still dealing with love, he’s still dealing with the death of his father. All he knows is ‘I’m still alive’—those three words, that’s totally out of burden.”
Vedder would go on to say that in the opening track “Once,” the son in “Alive” becomes a serial killer. “Footsteps,” which would eventually be a “Jeremy” B side in the United Kingdom, is when he gets executed.
8- Vedder wrote “Jeremy” the night that 16-year-old Jeremy Wade Delle fatally shot himself in front of his classmates in Richardson, Texas. In addition to that incident, he also had an old junior high school classmate who shot up an oceanography room in mind. “So it’s a bit about this kid named Jeremy and it’s also a bit about a kid named Brian that I knew,” Vedder said.
9- Mike McCready suffers from the digestive illness Crohn’s disease.
10- Vedder successfully protested against Epic Records’ insistence that “Black” should get a music video. As bassist Jeff Ament told Rolling Stone, Mark Eitzel—lead singer of the San Francisco-based band American Music Club—told Ament he thought the “Jeremy” video “sucked” because it ruined his vision of the song. Ament admitted that the comment stung, and he told Vedder that, “Ten years from now, I don’t want people to remember our songs as videos.”
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