Pearl Jam is a Seattle, WA based rock band formed in 1990, considered to be one of the most popular and influential groups of the 1990s. Along with Nirvana, Alice in Chains, and Soundgarden (often cited collectively as the “Big Four of grunge” as well as “The Seattle Four”), Pearl Jam helped popularize the grunge movement of the early 1990s. Moreover, they are also the only mainstream grunge band that has remained active since the dissolution of their contemporaries.
Originally formed as “Mookie Blaylock”, the band was formed primarily by former members of Mother Love Bone following the death of that band’s lead singer Andrew Wood. Based on the recommendation of former Red Hot Chili Peppers (and future Pearl Jam) drummer Jack Irons, Eddie Vedder came to record a demo for guitarist Stone Gossard and bassist Jeff Ament and eventually relocated from San Diego to join the band in Seattle.
Pearl Jam largely draws influence from such acts as Neil Young, The Who, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Ramones, Jimi Hendrix and The Rolling Stones. They are known among their fans to stick to their own vision, ignoring current trends in popular music, and giving their fans more than the record companies and ticketing agencies would care to allow.
Pearl Jam is currently a group of five people, including Eddie Vedder (vocals), Stone Gossard (rhythm guitar), Mike McCready (lead guitar), Jeff Ament (bass) and former Soundgarden drummer Matt Cameron. For the last few years Pearl Jam have employed Kenneth “Boom” Gaspar on keyboard, though he is not an official member of the band.
The band has released eight studio albums, since debuting with Ten back in 1991. Their album, Vs., released in 1993 has been cited for its record breaking sales (900,000 during its first week). Vitalogy, Pearl Jam’s third, was released in 1994 with a membership change. Jack Irons (formerly a drummer for Red Hot Chilli Peppers) replaced Dave Abruzzese, who had replaced Dave Krusen on the second record.
In 1995, Pearl Jam teamed up with Neil Young and produced an album called Mirrorball. An EP called Merkinball was also recorded during these sessions, featuring the songs I Got ID and Long Road.
No Code and Yield were released as the band’s fourth and fifth albums in 1996 and 1998. Jack Irons left the band not long after the release of Yield, and Matt Cameron became the 4th new drummer. The reason for Jack’s departure has been listed as health problems (carpal tunnel). Cameron’s debut, Binaural, was released in 2000, however, he first appeared on the mass-release live album, Live on Two Legs. Riot Act followed Binaural in 2002.
Pearl Jam has been known to allow fans to bring in recording devices to their shows and in the past has encouraged fans to record their shows. However, in recent years, Pearl Jam has elected to go a different route with boot leggers. They started to offer their concerts for sale, on CD and in mp3 format, during their 2003 world tour. Fans can purchase a whole concert for 9.99 from their website. Pearl Jam have released several live albums for purchase, initially, through their fan club before general sale in record stores, such as Live on Two Legs in 1998 and the fan favorite, Live At Benaroya Hall, in 2004. The band have started using download software for the latest tour, to enable fans to find the shows they want to hear, either due to the fact they were there, or because they want to hear a rare b-side performed live. The shows go up on the band’s website 3 to 4 days after the shows, making it a great commuincad for fans. The CDs from previous tours have recently finally sold out worldwide, after going on general sale around the world in 2001 and 2003/4 respectively.
In 2003, Pearl Jam released a compilation of 31 B-sides and outtakes from previous albums in the form of a double disc set called Lost Dogs. Also in 2003, Pearl Jam released a single called Man of the Hour for the motion picture ‘Big Fish.’ In 2004, their old label, Epic released a greatest hits album entitled, “Rearviewmirror”. This marked the end of Pearl Jam’s contractual agreement with Sony BMG, at least under the Epic label.
In May 2006, Pearl Jam released their eighth studio album, titled ‘Pearl Jam’, under their new label J Records. And the new record also mark their return to mainstream music, they produced their first majorly released music video after “Jeremy” in 1991 with “Life Wasted” taken from the latest (Although videos for Do The Evolution (Yield), I Am Mine (Riot Act) and World Wide Suicide (Pearl Jam) have all enjoyed minor success). Pearl Jam also appeared on several television shows, such as Letterman, and enjoyed a successful show on VH1’s ‘Storytellers’ series. The band embarked on a successful tour of Canada and the US in 2005, and in 2006 they toured the US, then Europe after a six years absence and finally Australia, after three years away. After many rumours, it has now been confirmed that Pearl Jam will tour again in Europe in 2007.
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.The band added a date at the Chicago House of Blues to their 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.
It has been confirmed that Pearl Jam will headline the 2008 Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, Tennessee.