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  • Putting the music first but standing up for their rights when necessary, Pearl Jam has

  • raged both inside and outside of the machine for three decades, and its members have a

  • lot of stories to tell.

  • Here's a look into the legendary and untold truth of Pearl Jam.

  • The core of Pearl Jam, the instrumental duo that gives the band its sound and soul, is

  • the one-two punch of guitarist Stone Gossard and bassist Jeff Ament.

  • Before forming one of the biggest rock bands the world has ever seen, they'd already been

  • playing together for yearsfirst in the proto-grunge Seattle band Green River, and

  • then in Mother Love Bone with charismatic lead singer Andrew Wood.

  • Mother Love Bone was poised to become one of the biggest bands of the '90s… but sadly,

  • Wood overdosed on heroin just months before the release of their first album.

  • However, Ament and Gossard didn't want to quit making music with one another, so they

  • laid down some demo tracks for a new band.

  • They needed a drummer for the project, and they sent their tape to their friend Jack

  • Irons, who'd recently left his gig behind the kit for Red Hot Chili Peppers.

  • Irons wasn't interested in drumming for the Seattle combo at least, not right away but

  • he passed the tape along to a guy that he played basketball with, an aspiring singer

  • named Eddie Vedder.

  • "How did you guys know that it would work out?"

  • "We didn't know it was going to work out.

  • It just felt very good from the time we started."

  • Irons also gave the band one of its biggest breaks: He asked the Red Hot Chili Peppers

  • to let this new group open for the band on its 1991 concert tour, and they agreed.

  • Following Andrew Wood's tragic death, his friend and former roommate Chris Cornell of

  • Soundgarden formed a supergroup to pay tribute to the man.

  • Members included Stone Gossard, Jeff Ament, drummer Matt Cameron, guitarist Mike McCready,

  • and Eddie Vedder.

  • As the late Chris Cornell told Rockline,

  • "The name came from a line in a song that was a Mother Love Bone song where the lyrics

  • were written by Andy Wood."

  • The self-titled debut record hit record stores in spring 1991 and spawned the hit "Hunger

  • Strike."

  • It sold 70,000 copies or so in its initial weeks, and pre-dated the August 1991 release

  • of Pearl Jam's debut Ten.

  • Meanwhile, Ament told Guitar World,

  • "I remember when [Temple of the Dog] was coming out, we had just picked our name, and we said

  • [to A&M Records], 'Can you put Pearl Jam on the sticker because it'll be a good thing

  • for us?'

  • We didn't want it to say Mother Love Bone, and they refused."

  • Pearl Jam is arguably one of the best band names in rock history but it wasn't the band's

  • first name.

  • The group improbably used to go by the name Mookie Blaylock, named after an NBA player

  • who joined the league in 1989 right around the same time Eddie Vedder joined forces with

  • his bandmates.

  • But later, they wisely decided upon Pearl Jam… a name with slightly scandalous origins.

  • In 1991, Vedder told Rolling Stone that

  • "My great-grandpa was an Indian and totally into hallucinogenics and peyote.

  • Great-grandma Pearl used to make this hallucinogenic preserve that there's total stories about.

  • We don't have the recipe, though."

  • "It was this hallucinogenic jam.

  • It was great-grandma Pearl's jam."

  • Seeing as it's a rather short leap from "Pearl's preserve" to "Pearl Jam," Vedder's story was

  • accepted as fact for about 15 years.

  • But then, he admitted to Rolling Stone in in 2006,

  • "[That story was] total bulls—-."

  • Vedder did have a great-grandmother named Pearl that much is true.

  • But how the band got their name is a different story.

  • The bandmates reportedly sat around a Seattle restaurant and tried to come up with a name

  • that was better than Mookie Blaylock.

  • Bassist Jeff Ament thought something with "pearl" in the name would sound nice.

  • And then the band got inspired after checking out a three-hour Neil Young concert.

  • As Ament told Rolling Stone:

  • "Every song was like a fifteen-or twenty-minute jam.

  • So that's how 'jam' got added on to the name.

  • Or at least that's how I remember it."

  • You'll have to decide for yourself whether or not to believe him.

  • We've been burned By Pearl Jam before.

  • With its punk-inspired, DIY ethos, the Seattle grunge scene was in many ways the opposite

  • of the excessive, bloated, hair metal bands that preceded it.

  • Motley Crue's Vince Neil was clearly displeased by this development:

  • And it wasn't long before the music industry wanted a piece of the action.

  • Jeff Ament told Classic Rock in 2016,

  • "We had about 15 labels come to see us in Seattle.

  • By the end of the process, [Mother Love Bone] was being offered $400,000.

  • We'd spent maybe $2000 on Green River and suddenly we were being told we could spend

  • $250,000 on our first Mother Love Bone record, and we were thinking 'How is that possible?'"

  • Ament says that when it came to Pearl Jam's Ten,

  • "I think we spent about $25,000 making the record and about three times that mixing it,

  • but it was still a third of the money that we'd spent making the Mother Love Bone record.

  • We didn't expect the record to be a huge deal."

  • But of course, it was a big deal a straightforward rock record that managed to go platinum 13

  • times over.

  • That's not to say it was an easy album to record.

  • In fact, the band had a really hard time re-creating its demo version of "Alive" in a recording

  • studio.

  • They ultimately decided to use the original demo, adding in a new guitar solo from Mike

  • McCready.

  • As for "Even Flow," McCready estimates that the band recorded the song as many as 70 times.

  • He tells the Daily Record that,

  • "We played that thing over and over until we hated each other."

  • And now for a surprise pop quiz: What was Pearl Jam's biggest hit?

  • "Alive"?

  • "Jeremy"?

  • "Better Man"?

  • The answer is none of the above.

  • While those are certainly some of the band's most memorable songs, Pearl Jam's most successful

  • tune so far is "Last Kiss."

  • It's the only Pearl Jam song to ever reach the top five of the Billboard Hot 100 pop

  • chart, peaking at #2 in 1999.

  • It's a bit of an outlier for Pearl Jam, as it's a slightly tongue-in-cheek cover of a

  • song made popular in 1964 by J. Frank Wilson and the Cavaliers.

  • It's similar in theme to The Shangri-Las' "Leader of the Pack" and Ray Peterson's "Tell

  • Laura I Love Her" … basically, it's one more melodramatic pop song from the '60s about

  • a teen dying in a horrific car accident.

  • Eddie Vedder tells Spin that he had found a copy of the Cavaliers' version one day,

  • memorized it, then sang it for a small Seattle club audience just hours later.

  • Soon after the performance, the whole band played it at a sound check, recorded it, spent

  • $1,500 mixing it, and then released it as a fan-club only single for Christmas 1998.

  • "Last Kiss" wasn't initially intended for commercial releasebut radio stations started

  • playing the song anyway.

  • By the summer of 1999, it was as inescapable as Santana's "Smooth."

  • The band's label wanted to release "Last Kiss" as a physical single, and Pearl Jam went for

  • it on the condition that the proceeds go to charity.

  • "Last Kiss" wound up on the track list of the 1999 benefit disc No Boundaries: A Benefit

  • for the Kosovar Refugees.

  • Pearl Jam toured far and wide in the early '90s… and to get access to the biggest and

  • best venues, the band had to work with Ticketmaster.

  • Pearl Jam wanted as many of their fans to see them live as possible.

  • According to Rolling Stone, the band capped ticket prices in 1994 at $18, plus a service

  • fee of no more than $1.80.

  • That went against Ticketmaster's policy of tacking on fees of double or triple that amount,

  • and the company ultimately wouldn't acquiesce to Pearl Jam's low-cost demands.

  • Not that Ticketmaster really needed that money.

  • According to the company's Encyclopedia.com entry,

  • "Ticketmaster sold a whopping 52 million tickets to entertainment and sporting events in 1994

  • and captured about $200 million in revenues."

  • With an urging from the U.S. Department of Justice, the Pearl Jam filed an antitrust

  • complaint, triggering a federal investigation into Ticketmaster and whether or not the company

  • held an illegal monopoly.

  • Pearl Jam alleged that Ticketmaster bought out competitors and then signed exclusivity

  • deals with major concert venues, leaving both bands and fans with no choice but to use Ticketmaster

  • and pay whatever price the company demanded.

  • "There's no deal with us and Ticketmaster.

  • We're not playing Ticketmaster shows this summer."

  • After a year-long investigation, the Department of Justice didn't take any action, simply

  • closing the case.

  • Ticketmaster took that as a victory, with a spokesman telling Rolling Stone,

  • "Luckily the facts were on our side, and we prevailed."

  • So Pearl Jam didn't really win its case, and its 1995 tour consisted of just a few shows

  • held in the few venues that weren't controlled by Ticketmaster.

  • In August 2007, Pearl Jam headlined the Lollapalooza festival in Chicago, and the set was streamed

  • on Blue Room, AT&T's online service.

  • According to the Associated Press, AT&T didn't broadcast entirely live, as AT&T instituted

  • a delay of a few seconds in case it needed to muffle any profanity.

  • However, the content monitors got a little trigger-happy with the bleep button.

  • At one point, Eddie Vedder interpolated a part of Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the

  • Wall," and sang,

  • "George Bush leave this world alone."

  • Well, the monitors censored that line, and it was cut out of the webcast, as was the

  • lyric,

  • "George Bush find yourself another home."

  • Pearl Jam later took to their website to say,

  • "If a company that is controlling a webcast is cutting out bits of our performance not

  • based on laws, but on their own preferences and interpretations fans have little choice

  • but to watch the censored version."

  • An AT&T spokesman apologized on behalf of the company and said that the censorship was

  • made in error.

  • By the time the band was ready to release their third studio album in 1994, Pearl Jam

  • was one of the most powerful bands on the planet.

  • Their two previous records, Ten and Vs., had each sold tens of millions of copies and generated

  • numerous radio hits.

  • So when it came time for Vitalogy, Pearl Jam had the freedom to do whatever they wanted

  • to do... so they decided to use the album to celebrate vinyl.

  • LPs were still huge throughout the '80s, and they experienced a nostalgic resurgence after

  • 2000, but the format was basically considered obsolete in 1994 thanks to compact discs.