Music For Rhinos - 1990: The Making of Pearl Jam by Jessica

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Music For Rhinos - 1990: The Making of Pearl Jam by Jessica
winter The new decade had dawned brightly for 23-year-old
Stone Gossard, 26-year-old Jeff Ament and their Mother Love Bone
bandmates. The band's first full-length album, Apple, was in the can,
manager Kelly Curtis was planning a tour to follow its release in April,
and frontman Andy Wood was clean. Their first gig of 1990 was two
days after New Year's day (five days before Andy's 24th birthday) at the
Vogue, the little club that by then had the words MOTHER LOVE BONE
painted across the outside of the building. The hopeful and excited band
was buoyed further, Andy noted from the stage, by the birth of Kelly's
first child, a daughter1, earlier that day.
January passed with a late-month headlining set at Legends in Tacoma.
February also went by in a blur for them as, 1200 miles south in San
Diego at a low-ceilinged club called the Bacchanal nestled between an
AM/PM market and a hardware store in a nondescript strip mall, Eddie
Vedder took the stage fronting a band called Bad Radio one last time on
the same pre-Valentine's day that Nelson Mandela was finally freed.2
Eddie made sure to mention that fact to the half empty club, which was
festooned with huge expressive charcoals of Albert Einstein and Pete
Townshend that would later find their way into the studio as Pearl Jam
recorded Ten. Pouncing manically around the smallish stage with his
cargo shorts' crotch x-ed out in silver duct tape and his long brown
mane layered in a classic late-80s skater cut, Eddie's stance, his look, and
even his vocals evoked the Red Hot Chili Peppers. He had recently
decided to quit Bad Radio. Just two weeks before this chilly Sunday night
at the Bacchanal, what was supposed to be his final gig with the band —
a benefit: the Rain Forest Music Fest, February 23 at the East County
Performing Arts Center — had been cancelled because the venue's
1
She was the baby surrounded by the band members in a photo in the liner notes of
–Jessica letkemann, October 2010 Mother Love Bone's Apple and on the cover of Pearl Jam's 1992 "Jeremy" single.
2
A day short of one year later, he played there fronting Mookie Blaylock/Pearl Jam.
Text copyright 2010 Jessica Letkemann. all rights reserved.
a TwoFeetThick.com Production
by Jessica Letkemann
Pearl Jam
The Making of
1990
Music For Rhinos
there is so much more to
the story of how pearl jam
formed than has ever been
shared. to uncover it, I
interviewed eddie vedder,
stone gossard, jeff ament,
matt Cameron, chris
cornell & other key
players, I dug up original
1990 PJ artifacts & hunted
down rare audio, I
triangulated dates &
gathered every fact. to
celebrate Pearl Jam's 20th
birthday, I'm proud to
present the fruits of over
10 years of exhaustive
original research. brew a
pot of coffee, fire up your
printer, & prepare for a
long, engrossing read in
unprecedented detail about
the events of 1990,
the year that a series of
magically wild
coincidences brought
together the unlikely
group of people that
became pearl jam.
A Bacchanal ad for Bad Radio's last show with Eddie Vedder
(Feb. 11, 1990), in the San Diego Reader.
2
board feared that a rock audience would damage the plush 1200 seater.
Pogoing on the Bacchanal stage with his Kiedis in full strut and his black
Telecaster at hand, Vedder knew his future was somewhere else.
Mike McCready, meanwhile, was still very much in musical hibernation after
the breakup of his longtime band Shadow. He still played his guitar
occasionally, but his routine mostly revolved around work at an Italian
place called Julia's3, reading up on political theory, and the classes he was
taking at Shoreline Community College in pursuit of the degree he hadn't
had interest in during the Shadow years.
It's surprising that Stone and Mike had never been in a band together. They
met and became friends as tweens at Madrona School in 1977, but Mike
had veered off into metal and joined Warrior while Stone was still over
half a decade from even picking up the guitar. There hadn't been an
opportunity, no matter how incestuous music in Seattle became in the
ensuing years, for them to team up. Stone had leapt from high school into
Green River and had been on a seemingly set course since then. Mike had
ridden Warrior into Shadow and then had put his guitar away. Now, of
course, Stone was in Love Bone and they were about to hit the big time4.
Chance stepped in that February by way of a house party that both
guitarists happened to attend. Mike hadn't felt like going and fellow
musician Pete Droge 5 had had to talk him into it. Bummed, tired, or just
not in the mood, Mike got drunk and retreated into a corner with a guitar.
He put on a Stevie Ray Vaughn record and blissed out playing licks along
to it, oblivious to the room around him. During his reverie, Stone Gossard
happened to walk by and was immediately impressed. McCready, for his
part, was psyched that Stone had liked his noodling. The moment passed,
but the spark was filed in Stone's mind. It would be only a few months
before he would retrieve it.
spring
In March, the PolyGram Records machine behind MLB's Apple ground into
gear. There were interviews to do, and the three-month-long national tour
just weeks away in May. Unlike Eddie at that February Bad Radio gig, no
one in Mother Love Bone knew that their 10-song set at the Central
Tavern that second Friday of March would be the band's last. The final
song of the night was "Crown Of Thorns."
Six days later on March 15, Andy gave an interview, his last, to Rip's
Michael Browning. The next night, a Friday night, after 116 days clean,
Andy decided to blow off a meeting with Kelly and a prospective Mother
Love Bone tour manager to get a fix. He brought the heroin back to the
Queen Anne apartment he shared with fiancée, Xana LaFuente. At half
past ten, Xana returned to find Andy face down on their bed, unconscious,
but alive.
Rushed to Harborview Medical Center, he was in a coma all weekend and
3
his condition was deteriorating. On Monday, Toni and David Wood
A half-block from Julia's, on a quiet residential street in the Wallingford section of
consulted with their youngest son's doctors and made the impossible
Seattle sometime in early 1990, the City of Seattle re-laid the sidewalks, and someone,
perhaps a guitarist on his way to work (possibly someone who was buddies with Stone to decision to pull the plug. Over the next three hours, nearly two-dozen
boot), had paused to draw in the wet cement. First, the wedded, feathered 'VH' logo of
family members visited him, followed by many of his friends. Xana, alone,
Van Halen, and then the words 'Mother Love Bone.'
followed and cut a lock of his hair. After waiting for Andy's old roommate,
4
Ironically, Mother Love Bone once opened for Shadow at Seattle's Gorilla Gardens club. Soundgarden singer Chris Cornell, to arrive from the airport after rushing
5
Droge, who had recently worked alongside McCready at a pizza place called Piecora's,
back to Seattle from tour, Andy's parents, Xana, his brothers Kevin and
also had the distinction of having replaced Gossard in future Soundgarden bassist Ben
Brian, Kelly, and bandmates Stone, Jeff, Bruce Fairweather, and Greg
Shepherd's band March Of Crimes in 1983 when he was only 15.
music for rhinos 1990: The making of Pearl Jam by Jessica Letkemann a twofeetthick.com production
Andy Wood's handwritten setllist for Mother Love Bone's
last-ever show, March 9, 1990 at Seattle's Central Tavern.
3
Gilmore gathered around his bed, the doctors stopped the machines. With
his idol Freddie Mercury singing in the background, Andy died.
Those close to Andy arranged a public memorial at the Paramount
Theater downtown five days after he passed away. Everyone who'd ever
met him, it seemed, (and many who didn't) attended, ducking into the
spacious theater under a marquee that read "Andy Wood R.I.P."
"[It] was even worse than I expected," Mudhoney's Mark Arm wrote in Rip
magazine six years later.A "The place reeked of incense, a tape of howling
noises (wolves I assume) played over the p.a. system. Druids roamed the
stage holding candles. The place was packed with people who didn't seem
to know who Andy was, just that this was some sort of rock event that
you were supposed to go to. After Andy's father said a few words, people
were free to get up and say a few words themselves if they felt the need.
This ran the gamut from a druid (who kept calling Andy 'Randy') speaking
hokey 'new age' drivel, to Narcotics Anonymous confessionals. The only
people who made any sense were Andy's longtime friends Mara West and
[Malfunkshun drummer] Regan Hagar6 who had the guts to call bullshit on
the whole deal."
One other person talking sense that night, however, had been Andy's dad.
Despite his grief, David Wood took the mic and called out to the
remaining members of Mother Love Bone. Continue on, he told them.
Find success. Be on TV. Find a new singer, "but whatever you do," he
begged them, "make sure he's not a junkie."B
In the weeks that followed, Jeff, Stone, Greg, and Bruce began to deal with
what would become of their band. The tour, clearly, couldn't happen, but
the record was still in the can. As spring bloomed, they agreed it should
come out anyway, and PolyGram scheduled a release date in July. Then the
bassist and one guitarist walked in one direction, and the second guitarist
and the drummer walked in the other. Bruce and Greg quickly formed
Blind Horse 7 and forged ahead. Stone and Jeff had been playing together
for six years but neither one jumped into planning a musical future
together.
For the time being there was LuvCo., an informal cover band with a shifting
line-up that played Skynyrd and Aerosmith hits for kicks. LuvCo. played
only four shows around Seattle during the first half of the year and counted
among the members of its freeform line-up, Jeff Ament, Mike McCready,
Richard Stuverud (who rejoins the story a few years down the road with
Jeff in Three Fish), Shawn Smith (who comes back into the picture in two
years with Stone in Brad), and Chris Friel (formerly of McCready's Shadow,
who jumps back into the story in a few months with Stone's demos). "It
was a pretty low key thing, just for fun," Shawn Smith told me a few years
laterC. Serious or not, it was in LuvCo., that Jeff was first personally
acquainted with Mike's playing.
summer
Not long after Stone remembered seeing McCready and deciding to invite
him over to jam in mid-June, Eddie was climbing into ex-Red Hot Chili
Peppers drummer Jack Irons' big black car in L.A. on July 23 to head out
for a camping trip in Yosemite National Park with fellow Chilis and other
L.A. musicians. Crucially, the trip would keep Eddie Vedder fresh in Jack
Irons' mind when a certain guitarist and bassist came calling that summer.
6
Hagar, who was the drummer of the proto-Mother Love Bone band Lords Of The
Wasteland in addition to playing in Malfunkshun with Andy Wood from 1980-1987,
rejoins the Pearl Jam story in 1992 as drummer of Stone Gossard's side-band Brad and
in 1994 as co-founder, with Gossard, of Loosegroove Records.
7
The lineage of Blind Horse is pretty confusing. Before War Babies, and probably at the
same time he was in LuvCo., Richard Stuverud was in Blind Horse. Tom Gunn, who'd
been in LuvCo., went on to War Babies.
music for rhinos 1990: The making of Pearl Jam by Jessica Letkemann a twofeetthick.com production
4
Left & Below Right: Ed's journal notes
about the Yosemite trip with Jack Irons (July
23,1990) from the 2009 Ten deluxe
edition. Below Left: Mother Love Bone
written into the sidewalk cement in 1990
near Julia's, where Mike McCready worked.
(PHOTO BY JESSICA LETKEMANN)
Meanwhile, after LuvCo. fizzled, Richard Stuverud asked Jeff to join his real
band, War Babies. Stuverud and Ament had become fast friends and aside
from bands, they spent plenty of time during this period just jamming.
"Playing with Richard, I kind of got my love for playing music back," Jeff told
me in 1999D. "And a lot of that love was just us two playing together, like
playing grooves together. And then at the same time, Stone and I were
talking every day. We'd ride our bikes down to the center of town and
have discussions about things. He told me that he had played a couple
times with Mike McCready and he'd written a few songs. And he wanted
to know if I'd come and, you know, listen to the songs or play along or
whatever."
"After Andy died, I was kind of questioning whether I wanted to play music
anymore," said Jeff, who was considering going the route McCready had
taken and getting that graphic design degree he'd abandoned in 1983 to
chase his musical dreams. "And right at the same time, the guys in War
Babies had just gotten rid of their bass player and they asked me if I
wanted to at least play these few shows with them. So I went out and
played with them, went in the studio with them. [It was] the summer of
'90."
Jeff had two choices laying before him, and he took both at first. There was
Stone's embryonic project, with its possible PolyGram backing (they were
technically still signed) and the chance to continue playing with Stone
(marking their third band together). But there was also War Babies, who
were also managed by Kelly Curtis and who, by mid-June, had signed a
record deal with Columbia. They had gigs lined up, and were set to start
recording their debut album in November. Jeff was invited along for the
ride. Among the gigs he played with them were at least two at the Central
Tavern, one right before they got signed where Andy's Xana, members of
Queensryche and Alice in Chains (who themselves had recently signed to
Columbia) spent a fleeting moment hanging out informally in front of the
club. He played a second War Babies Central show on June 16, just after
they signed. A few days later, they also opened for XYZ from L.A. at the
Moore. 8
STONE GOSSARD DEMOS
"At that point, after Andy died, Stone was the only person [from Mother
Love Bone] writing on a really consistent level," Jeff explained. Gossard and
McCready were honing riffs into songs in Gossard's parents' attic in Capitol
Hill, the same space where Green River and Mother Love Bone had once
gathered.
"It takes somebody to jump off a cliff, [to] just do it," Gossard told me
recentlyE, recalling his drive to put together a new band after Mother Love
Bone. "I had the personality type that said let's just keep going."
Mike, for his part, lobbied Stone to invite Jeff and showed up at a War
Babies gig to convince him. Jeff says he agreed to "listen to the songs or
play along or whatever."F Up in the attic, Stone Mike and Jeff jammed on
Gossard riffs that formed the basis of later songs that had been born back
when Andy Wood was still treading the boards, preaching the good-time
love rock gospel. "Dollar Short," the music that would come to be Pearl
Jam's "Alive," had started life as a full-on Mother Love Bone song, Gossard
reveals. Complete with Andy Wood lyrics, Gossard remembers that MLB
even performed it at a Portland gig. "I think we played it at the last Mother
8
War Babies also played a benefit for friend Kristen Barry at the Off Ramp on Tuesday,
August 21 opening for Alice In Chains and others, but it's unknown if Jeff was on bass. An
8.17.90 Seattle Post-Intelligencer article previewed a Mother Love Bone listening party
that was being held the next night at Parker's. Curiously, the piece mentioned that "Son
of Man, Mother Love Bone, and another band will perform a live show." Obviously,
Mother Love Bone wasn't there, per se. But, is it possible that the surviving members got
up on stage? Or could Gossard's new crew have jammed at this gig?
music for rhinos 1990: The making of Pearl Jam by Jessica Letkemann a twofeetthick.com production
5
"It takes somebody to jump
off a cliff, [to] just do it. I
had the personality type that
said let's just keep going."
-Stone Gossard
on starting a new band
after Mother Love Bone
Love Bone show at Satyricon9," he says. "There's a taper down in Portland
who might have it. I've never heard it [again], but I'm super curious."G The
riff "Troubled Times" not only became the Temple of the Dog song "Times
Of Trouble" and Pearl Jam's "Footsteps," it had also been a half-finished
Mother Love Bone song called "So Pleasing" that Andy Wood gave
salacious, off-the-cuff lyrics.
For the new band, other songs evolved that summer, complex
architectures of chord progressions and interlocking parts. Lyric- and
singerless, Gossard gave these compositions riff-based working titles like
"Richards E" ("Something about it reminded me of Keith Richards," he says)
and "Agyptian Crave" ("It was kind of an eastern scale except it was in the
key of A.") "I've got tapes and tapes and tapes of things just named 'Riff 1',
'Riff 2' which I'll never look at again because I need to remember," Gossard
explains. "I need the name to remind me of it. So [the riff titles were] just a
loose association thing."
With a dozen of these written, Stone was ready to complete the line up
with a drummer and a singer. He decided to borrow a drummer so that
they could record his instrumentals. Soundgarden's Matt Cameron, who
they were already about to work with on Chris Cornell's Andy Wood
tribute Temple of the Dog (more on that later), readily agreed to pinch hit.
The resulting demo would be the calling card for potential bandmates.
"Matt Cameron was the best drummer in town, everybody knew it," says
Gossard. "So when I wanted to do demos, I was like, 'I don't have a
drummer [but] maybe I can just get a guy to come in: Matt. It didn't
require him to be in the band. It was just the idea that, God, he's the
greatest [and] maybe he wants to do it."
9
Per a flyer of the show, Mother Love Bone played Satyricon on August 3, 1989.
Without a recording it's unclear if this is the show Stone is talking about. Portland is a
reasonable drive from Seattle, so MLB likely played there fairly often.
Cameron had been one of the most admired drummers in the small
Seattle scene since his mid-80s days with Jack Endino (later engineer of
some of the most noted records of the era) and Daniel House in Skin
Yard. Soundgarden had managed to land him in 1986. "I knew [Stone and
Jeff] from when I first started playing with Skin Yard," Cameron told me in
1999H. "They went to Skin Yard shows. I met them at parties and saw
them around."
"For sure, in terms of learning Pearl Jam music -- what became Ten, that
was all starting with Mike and I in the attic of my parents' house. We
learned the arrangements first and got a hold of Jeff again and Matt,"
Gossard saysI. "Matt and Jeff were probably learning them together right
away [after] Mike had had a first or second pass at something so he had at
least a rough idea of what he was gonna do."
With Jeff onboard and Cameron filling in, rehearsals continued in mutual
friend and fellow musician Kristen Barry's basement as well as at Gossard's
rented house. Stone mapped out the songs on giant sheets seemingly
straight out of a boardroom brainstorming session. "I remember Stoney
had written out these big charts, like big paper presentation tablature
charts. And he was writing out the letter G four times to the letter E. He
was fond of writing out charts," Cameron laughed at the memory when
talking to me in 1999.
"They were just pieces of cardboard boxes basically just sort of cut out,"
Gossard explains. " I didn't really know how – and still don't know how –
to write any real charts, but it had four of these things and three of these
things just so we could look at something while he's playing and know how
many phrases we were going to do before we made a change."
The makeshift group entered Chris Hanzsek and Jack Endino's Reciprocal
studio on NW Leary Way in August for the Stone Gossard Demos sessions.
Hanzsek, who had engineered both Soundgarden and Green River's
contributions to the seminal Seattle compilation Deep Six four years earlier,
music for rhinos 1990: The making of Pearl Jam by Jessica Letkemann a twofeetthick.com production
6
Left: one of the two
Reciprocal studio-labeled
audio reels containing
the Stone Gossard
Demos 1990. Below:
the circa 1990 logo of
Reciprocal.
was behind the boards. Over two consecutive weekends, McCready,
Ament, and Gossard hammered out twelve instrumentals10 with
Cameron and McCready's ex-Shadow bandmate Chris Friel sitting in on
drums when Cameron wasn't available. Drafted by McCready, it's Friel
who drums on the instrumental demos they made of "Troubled Times"
and "E Ballad." In a 2002 email exchange with me, Endino remembered
that Hanzsek labeled the raw reels "Stone and Co."J
When they went into Reciprocal, "I'm sure I had my charts," Stone laughs. "I
was very driven... I was pretty excited that it was going from song ideas in
your head to arrangements with bass and drums that sounded like
somebody could, you know, sing on 'em."
And so it was that even as they were recording that August, "Stone and
Co." also retreated to their new Galleria Potatohead basement rehearsal
space to audition singers and drummers.
jaunt, found that Jack wasn't home and left the tape with his wife-to-be.
No matter exactly how the cassette reached Jack, it certainly did. Stone
and Jeff were definitely in Los Angeles more than once, including a stint for
a few days starting sometime before September 13 for the Concrete
Foundations Forum metal convention at the Sheraton Plaza La Reina near
LAX to promote Love Bone, scout for players, and do interviews,
according to a little blurb in Seattle's Rocket weekly newspaper at the time.
During those trips in August and September they would talk with both the
Los Angeles Times and Rolling Stone. Interestingly, they were sure to
mention their call for new bandmates in the RS interview11 and Jeff
expressly said they had their heart set on a singer that was anything but like
Andy Wood: "To go out and find another singer who looked like Andy
and maybe sang a little bit like Andy would just be prostitution." Shortly
after the September 20 issue hit the stands on September 7, they had
found their guys.
Jack had been trying to reconnect with Alain Johannes from What Is This?
wanted: singer & Drummer
and Natasha Schneider since before he'd walked away from the Chili
Michael Goldstone, the young A&R guy who'd signed Mother Love Bone
Peppers, blinded with grief over his best friend and bandmate Hillel
to PolyGram was eager to bring this new project over to new his gig at
Slovak's heroin overdose on June 27, 1988. By fall 1990, Jack had not only
Epic. Goldstone was among the first to get a copy of the Stone Gossard
finally put together Eleven with Johannes and Schneider, he had agreed to
Demos, which had been edited down to five instrumentals. At a party in
hit the road with Red Kross in mid-September. Additionally, his first child
early September, Goldstone ran into Jack Irons, who he knew from the
was on the way. Drumming for Gossard's new project, therefore, wasn't
early '80s pre-Chili-Peppers band What is This?, which had briefly been
something Jack could sign on for, but he did agree to pass the tape along
signed to Goldstone's earlier employer, MCA. One version of the story has
to a more likely drummer or singer. Jack and our workaholic surferit that Goldstone sent Irons the tape; the story Stone and Jeff most often
songwriter-singer Eddie Vedder, meanwhile, had been close friends since
tell is that they personally gave it to Jack. Another version has it that Stone
they'd met at a November 21, 1989 Joe Strummer gig at the Bacchanal
and/or Jeff stopped by Irons' place in L.A. while on a Love Bone publicity
11
10
Full Stone Gossard Demos 1990 tracklist: The King, Dollar Short, Richards E, E
Ballad, Wreck of Edmund Fitzgerald, Weird A, 7Up, Doobee E, Agyptian Crave, Troubled
Times, Evil E, Folk D. Edmund Fitzgerald is no relation to the Gordon Lightfoot song.
The Rolling Stone piece, by writer Dave DiMartino, also ran an odd photo of "Mother
Love Bone" taken for the magazine: Bruce Fairweather, Stone, and Jeff but no Greg
Gilmore. Jeff, poignantly, is in a LuvCo. t-shirt and Team Love Bone shorts. Rolling Stone,
Sept. 20, 1990, page 24.
music for rhinos 1990: The making of Pearl Jam by Jessica Letkemann a twofeetthick.com production
7
"this strange twist in my
life having to do with a father that I
didn't know was my father until later
in my adolescent years... I would catch
looks on my mom's face once in a
while. I think she was seeing my real
dad in me. He had been long passed
'Alive' was about
[away]. Sometimes we're a little bit
like carbon copies, you know."
-Eddie vedder
where Ed was a roadie and Jack had been Strummer's tour drummer.
Fresh from the Yosemite trip, it was Eddie that sprang to Jack's mind.
In the months since 25-year-old Eddie Vedder had left Bad Radio, he'd
hooked up with drummer Brad Wilk and guitarist Kyle Baer to form a
short-lived L.A. based funk-rock band called Indian Style. "I'd been playing
with Brad since high school," Baer told BAM magazine in 1992K. "We were
in party bands together. I was into Led Zeppelin, the Clash, and the
Ramones. When we finally got it together, we had a sort of Chili Pepperish
funk thing, and Eddie Vedder was the singer. We were called Indian Style."
Shortly thereafter Wilk hooked up with Tom Morello, who, like Eddie, was
a SoCal transplant from the Chicago area, and moved on to the thenforming Rage Against the Machine.12 Baer put together Greta, which
released a couple of records on PolyGram 13 before crumbling in the mid
'90s. And Vedder, Vedder was looking for a new gig, possibly on his own.
Irons' copy of Gossard's tape found him first.
Jack quickly recommended Vedder to Stone and Stone gave the OK to
pass along the tape to him. "Jack had just been hanging out with Eddie and
Ed had been coming up from San Diego and hanging out with [his
girlfriend] Beth, who worked in L.A. at the time," Jeff explained to me in
1999L. "Jack and Ed were playing basketball one day and Jack said, 'hey man
I got this tape by these guys...'"
And so it was that Jack gave the SG Demos to Ed during a basketball game
in L.A. Typically, the pair played on Friday nights, but it's unclear if Jack
12
Michael Goldstone, who signed both Mother Love Bone and Pearl Jam, would also
end up signing Rage Against The Machine in 1991.
13
Greta's two albums are No Biting (1993) and This is Greta! (1995). Incidentally,
both were released on PolyGram's Stardog imprint, which had been named by and
created for Mother Love Bone back in 1988 and resurrected in 1991 to release records
by Ugly Kid Joe and "alternative/metal street level bands," according to an Aug. 25, 1992
PolyGram press release.
handed it over during the normal weekly game (and then Ed sat on it for a
few days) or if they played hoops randomly on September 12, a
Wednesday (jibbing with the oft-told idea that Ed was inspired
immediately).
Either way, three hours of highway south from L.A. in San Diego, Ed
arrived at work for his graveyard shift at a Chevron petroleum warehouse
just as the date crossed into September 13 at midnight, and he began to
really listen to the tape. Five instrumentals. "Dollar Short," "Troubled
Times," "E Ballad," "Richard E" and "Agyptian Crave." He listened to the tape
over and over that night at work.
9.13.1990 Momma-s0n
Eight AM on September 13, he clocked out, threw his board into the back
of his black '89 Toyota pick-up truck, and hit Pacific Beach as the fog crept
in off the ocean. The music rolled with the waves as he surfed. Difficult
themes from his own teen years surfaced and lyrics began to coalesce in
his mind. By the time he got out of the water, three melodies and sets of
lyrics were forming. He raced to his girlfriend's place in nearby Mission
Beach because it was much closer than his own digs out east near the
Bacchanal. The words might slip away if he didn't hurry.
Still wet that Thursday morning, he scribbled outlines on sticky notes from
work, pulled out his trusty four-track, and began to sing. Out came three
songs, a brief rock opera shades of his beloved Who's Tommy. "The first
thing that was written was these three songs," Ed said on stage in 1994.M
"Without even knowing these guys, we kind of wrote music together. It
was this cool, little mini opera... about birth… incest… and death."
"Dollar Short" became "Alive," Act One, where Eddie shoehorned wideeyed autobiography about the lies surrounding his parentage into the
groove, rounding out the developing storyline with some fiction about
incest. The story told in "Alive," Eddie explained to me in 1999N, was
music for rhinos 1990: The making of Pearl Jam by Jessica Letkemann a twofeetthick.com production
Eddie Vedder's handmade 'Momma-Son' cassette cover, September 19, 1990.
This exact replica appears in the 2009 Ten deluxe reissue boxed set.
8
inspired by "a situation I felt I could draw from... this strange twist in my life
having to do with a father that I didn't know was my father until later in my
adolescent years. And then looking back and realizing the whole time that I
was growing up I was maybe meeting him briefly. I would catch looks on
my mom's face once in a while. I don't know what it was really, but I think
she was seeing my real dad in me. He had been long passed [away].
Sometimes we're a little bit like carbon copies, you know."
"When they finally did tell me," Eddie continued, "I had already been playing
music for quite awhile. And they said, 'That's where you get your musical
talent. He was like a lounge singer or something. And I thought, 'Well, fuck
you. He never showed me a chord, I've done this on my own.' That's how
you feel, and rightly so, as an adolescent: that you get so little credit for so
many things, that when you do something, you want the credit. But what I
tried to do [with "Alive"] off that was make it a little more interesting and
turn it into more of a serial killer type scenario. So lyrically, I ended up with
a totally fictional piece creating a situation where the mom was going back
– and it's pretty warped here – but the mom goes back, sees the child as
the carbon copy of the dad, the person she loved, the guy who's gone, and
she can't help herself. She goes for the son."O
"What I'd like to clarify," Eddie went on, speaking of the incest in the song,
"is that this never happened [in real life], you see." Did people really think
that? "I think so! I found that out from my mom, who, God forbid she
needs anymore trouble in her life. She's been through a lot. But that was
my right as a writer to be able to do whatever I want with it."
Next, the driving "Agyptian Crave" became "Once," Act Two, in which the
protagonist from "Alive" has become "a serial killer [who'd] been abused by
his folks" thus provoking the "nasty things [he did] to other people," Vedder
told the crowd at a Pearl Jam show four years laterP. "The second song
was 'Once,' which was again dealing with life and death and craziness,"
Eddie said to me in 1999. "That was him going to trial for his crimes or
whatever.... I had the silly call and answer [verses]. There's like a trial and a
jury."
"Troubled Times" morphed into "Footsteps" for the coda, Act Three.
Somber and desolate even as an instrumental, Eddie's words and voice 14
sharpen the song's forlorn feeling. He builds in intensity singing about the
protagonist who in the end finds himself locked up for his crimes.
"Footsteps," Eddie explained, "is when he's in the jail cell."
Eddie brought the mix-down of his four-track tape in to work that night, as
Thursday rolled into Friday, September 14. He filled the long hours by
crafting artwork for the new music on the office copier, shades of the
distressed, Xeroxed flyer and cassette j-card creations he'd done for Bad
Radio and his own solo demos, again copying his goggled face, adding
prison bar-like lines and drawing swirls that resembled four sperm fertilizing
an egg in Wite-Out before dating it 9/13. He scrawled "For Stone + Jeff"
on the tape he'd recorded over, a Merle Haggard compilation called "Best
of The 80s" (due out Oct. 5, 1990), and whited-out all of the Haggard info
on the tape itself except for a track called "A Friend In California," and
letters spelling out, "E D D I E."
In the process Vedder named the three-song package "Momma-son," a
poignant variation on the term mamasan, inspired in part, he confirmed to
me in 1999Q, by a line in the Clash's "Straight to Hell." Mamasan, literally, is
a loose rendering of the Japanese for "mother-teacher," or more generally,
a maternal figure. In the Clash song, Mamasan is the mother of an
Amerasian kid whose G.I. dad abandoned them in Vietnam when he was
14
At the start of Gossard instrumental "Troubled Times," someone sneezes. Adding his
vocals to create "Footsteps" on "Momma-Son," Eddie answers the sneeze with "bless you."
music for rhinos 1990: The making of Pearl Jam by Jessica Letkemann a twofeetthick.com production
9
Eddie Vedder's hand-written 'Momma-Son' tape, September 13, 1990.
An exact replica is in the 2009 Ten deluxe edition.
sent home from the war. "Momma-Son," then, is an all-too-fitting name for
a trilogy about the crimes of a fatherless son. 15
Eddie dropped the tape in the mail addressed to Jeff in Seattle that Friday
morning after work. Two days later, ironically, he would come across the
issue of Rolling Stone that included Jeff and Stone's search for a new singer.
Despite the oft-told bit about how Eddie jetted off for Seattle without ever
meeting his would-be bandmates, Jack actually made introductions at that
metal convention trip in Eddie's neck of the woods in mid-September. Jeff
has spoken at least twice of meeting Eddie face-to-face before Eddie sang
over the tape. In a 2000 KNND interview, Jeff also mentioned that Eddie
passed along his own demo tape, "just him and a guitar" to them before
tackling their songs. In January of 1991, Stone flat out told a Seattle radio's
KXRX, "we met [Eddie] in LA and then flew him up two weeks later."R
"We met him at the Hyatt hotel and said hello and just got to look at each
other. Immediately, he was a humble guy and really excited. He played it
pretty cool and it seemed right," Stone told me recently, confirming the
fact that they met in L.A. before Ed ever went north.S
Stone and Jeff, meanwhile, pressed on with filling out the band. Those last
weeks of September, they invited Dave Krusen down to the Galleria
Potatohead basement to audition. A fellow Seattle scenester named Tal
Goettling, who knew Stone and Jeff from playing in a series of his own
bands on bills with Green River and possibly even Jeff's first band
Deranged Diction, passed the Stone Gossard Demos tape along to Krusen, a
good friend who'd drummed in a couple of his old bands. There were at
least two Krusen audition sessions bookending another Jeff and Stone
Mother Love Bone-related business trip, this time to New York in late
September or early October. Without any fanfare, he was invited to join
the band.
"Momma-Son" reached Seattle around Tuesday, September 18, and Jeff
was blown away when he listened to what Ed had done with the music.
He played it a second time to make sure it had the same effect on
repeated listens before picking up the phone to beckon Stone, who had a
car and could get to Jeff's faster than Jeff could reach Stone on his bike.
Stone's opinion matched Jeff's. "As soon as we heard the work that he had
done," Jeff told me in 1999T, "I was pretty much beside myself. [We said]
we gotta get this guy up here somehow."
They wanted him bad, but first they were gonna have to find him. "I was
really hard to get a hold of," Eddie said on 91X San Diego in 1994. "I hate
phones. Between the midnight shifts and my schedule, my self-imposed
disciplines, I was never around for phones. I found out a week [after
mailing the tape] that Jeff and Stone had been trying to get a hold of me.
Jack told me they wanted to fly me up to Seattle or something. Fly me up
to Seattle? Fly me up? They can afford [that]? Shouldn't I hitchhike or
something?"
Jeff finally managed to get Ed on the phone, and over a series of rhapsodic
chats, plane tickets were bought with money pitched in by Michael
Goldstone, and Eddie secured a week's vacation on short notice from his
job. And sometime among all of the plan making, Eddie turned Stone's "E
Ballad" into "Black."
On October 7, the day before the trip north, Eddie drove up to Irvine, CA
and spent his Sunday afternoon at the proto-Lollapalooza multi-act rock
show A Gathering of the Tribes, which had been organized by the Cult's
Ian Astbury.16 On the bill that day, most notably, was Soundgarden, and
15
16
It was also a fitting title considering that it was at a gig by the Clash's Joe Strummer
gin San Diego where Eddie first met Jack Irons, the man who connected the two parties
that became Pearl Jam.
Astbury was an acquaintance and major fan of Mother Love Bone who had been so
deeply affected by Andy Wood's death the he was involved in producing an anti-drug
video financed by donations at Wood's Paramount memorial, according to a March 23,
music for rhinos 1990: The making of Pearl Jam by Jessica Letkemann a twofeetthick.com production
10
"You can't stop too long &
think about it too much
because you've got to believe
that the spirit of rock 'n'
roll is going to bring you
the right guy."
-stone gossard
on hiring eddie vedder
the first week they jammed
Eddie, in future years onstage with Pearl Jam17 , repeatedly and fondly
recalled how one day he was in the pit, twenty yards from Matt Cameron
and Chris Cornell, and the very next day he was in Seattle being welcomed
into Stone and Jeff's nascent band and contributing to Cornell and
Cameron's ad-hoc Temple of the Dog.
now to the point where I'm kind of laughing that I could have just sort of
been ready to move forward but not jumping [on] the top of a mountain."
"It was sort of like an audition process but it wasn't an audition really,"
Chris Cornell told me in 2001V. Cornell, who was rehearsing Temple with
Stone, Jeff, Mike and Mike in the Gossard/Ament space that week,
remembered that, "[Eddie] had already written lyrics to several of Stoney's
10.8.1990 THE first 'FIRST WEEK'
songs and they were finished, you know. [They were] really close to what
Eddie landed at Sea-Tac airport at 2pm on the afternoon of Monday,
ended up being on Ten. So they were pretty far down the road, but they
October 8, 1990, Columbus Day. And true to the promise Jeff had made
didn't know each other. There was a lot of, 'let's just see if we can hang
him, he was at Potatohead standing in front of a microphone within the
out with each other kind of thing. We know we can write songs together,
hour. Stone, Jeff, Mike, and Dave picked up their instruments and began
let's see if we can stand each other.'"
playing "Dollar Short" and Eddie opened his mouth and "Alive" came out. It Before they found Vedder, of course, other singers had considered the gig
was a foregone conclusion from that moment that Eddie Vedder was in.
or had been brought in for auditions, Gossard explains, saying that LuvCo.
frontman Shawn Smith, later of his side band Brad, was possibly among
"It was just pretty evident," Gossard confirmsU. "We didn't hem and haw
those who mulled it over for a hot second. Ty Willman, however, was a
too much about it. We listened to a few tapes from people but we were
serious contender. "At one point," Stone says, "I was really like, let's try to
working off the same principles that we started out with in the other
bands. Just get some guys and go. You can't stop too long and think about go for it with Ty. But Ty was in Green Apple Quick Step and loved his
band; his band was fantastic. And [he] was like, 'I gotta go with my guys.'"
it too much because you've got to believe [in] the circumstances; that the
Willman did eventually re-enter Gossard's musical life, singing lead 11 years
spirit of rock 'n' roll is going to bring you the right guy. Trust it. I think in
particular, Jeff Ament knew right away. Probably others did [too]. I thought later on some of Gossard's 2001 solo album Bayleaf. Many years after the
auditions, Potatohead's co-owner Spike Mafford told a Seattle paper that a
Ed was fantastic but I don't think I really understood how fantastic he was
until about eight years ago, particularly in terms of his lyrical content and
succession of candidates came through the basement space to try out.W
stuff like that. I just didn't spend that much time really listening to lyrics
Stone and Jeff, meanwhile, had shared "Momma-Son" with Michael
before. I just had a certain aesthetic that I was used to and his was pretty
Goldstone (by then with Epic Records) and Love Bone/"Stone & Co."
different. We were coming from different places. I've always been
manager Kelly Curtis. They were impressed, no, flabbergasted and felt that
appreciative of him as a singer and as a songwriter but it just keeps growing lightning had struck twice. Goldstone was prepared to sign them, so the
pair immediately set about getting the new band set up at Epic.
The first session with Eddie lasted a good ten hours, right up to around
1990 Seattle Post-Intelligencer article by Gene Stout. Astbury also wrote a 1994 song,
midnight going into October 9. That night, the second Temple of the Dog
"Sacred Life", which mentions Andy.
rehearsal had been scheduled. Chris Cornell encountered Eddie for the
17
He mentioned it at PJ's SoCal 10.7.1991 & 6.2.2003 shows., among other times.
music for rhinos 1990: The making of Pearl Jam by Jessica Letkemann a twofeetthick.com production
11
"if I think back on those
songs & song titles, they're
all life & death."
-Eddie Vedder
on writing the 1st pJ s ongs
"all of the sudden I was
in a band with the singer
I wanted to be. I felt
the same way about
mike & Stone."
-Jeff ament
on pJ's 1s t rehearsals
first time in the hallway outside the room. "He was very quiet and very shy
and didn't have a lot to say," Cornell told me in 2001. "He was under a lot
of pressure, a lonely guy away from home in a room full of a bunch of
people who had a lot of experience in bands. He was by himself, just
singing his words and doing his thing." But, within hours Ed was also dueting
on Cornell's "Hunger Strike."
"I had both chorus melodies, the low one and the high one," Cornell
remembered.X "And Eddie was sitting there waiting for a rehearsal [with
Stone, Jeff, Mike, and Dave]. He was smart enough to be able to tell that I
was clearly writing these two separate parts and was intending on singing
them both myself and figured, 'well, while I'm here I'll make it easier.' So he
walked up, stepped up to the mic. He didn't have any intention of it going
any further than that. That was my prompting. I didn't know who he was,
and nobody else knew who he was. I just thought he had a great voice and
it sounded great on that song."
Different accounts of Eddie's first week in Seattle have him staying at
different places: Jeff's one-bedroom apartment near the Space Needle,
Kelly Curtis' guest room, Chris Cornell's place, and even just spending the
night at Potatohead. The truth is he probably logged time at each of these
places in those early days. He did almost no sleeping, however. Gossard
project sessions began daily at around noon and continued at a pace of
eight to ten hours a day, fueled by the excitement of how well everything
was coming together.
"We rehearsed in the basement," Eddie told Spin in 2001, "and the alley
that we were on was like crack-alley central. I remember having to use the
restroom upstairs and going through these rooms that smelled of oil paint
and sawdust and stuff. The guys would come in and we'd practice and
maybe go play some pool and then come back and keep working
surrounded by Gatorade bottles with piss in them from those times when
[we] didn't feel like walking up the stairs."
"If you look at what happened previous to us meeting," Eddie told me in
1999, "[Stone and Jeff] had just lost their singer in a tragic way and I think
that as I was reaching adulthood I was trying to deal with the loss of my
father who I never really got to know. Even though they were dissimilar
situations, it was all based on life and death. If I think back on those songs
and song titles, they're all life and death. Obviously, 'Alive' is."
That crucial song's title said everything about what initially connected
Vedder with Gossard and Ament. They were "still alive," and survival and
being survivors has been a thread that has run through Pearl Jam's story
ever since, right through future songs like "Rearviewmirror," "Given to Fly,"
and "Light Years," beyond the Roskilde tragedy ten summers later, and into
right now, as the band reaches its 20th year together.
"The place that I go to a lot when we play 'Alive' is that I think of Andy,"
Jeff told me in 1999.Y "I remember Andy and I telling Stone we thought it
sounded like 'Love Theme From Kiss' on the first Kiss record. We
constantly told him it reminded us of a slightly faster version of that song.
And the very first time I heard [Eddie's] lyrics, I thought of Andy too. I
thought of Stone and I coming through the other end."
By their fifth day together, propelled by adrenaline and caffeine, they'd
written fully half of the songs that would later appear on Ten. Aside from
"Black," "Alive," "Once," and "Footsteps," which Eddie had before he even
got there, the embryonic band also came up with "Even Flow," very loosely
based on Stone's riff "The King," as well as "Release," and "Oceans." This is
all not to mention the several other songs they wrote then that didn't wind
up on Ten. "Alone" ("Richards E") later became a Pearl Jam b-side. "Girl"
("Evil E") and "Goat" were not officially released until the deluxe 2009 Ten
reissue, though "Girl" had been played live in early 1991 and was available
on bootlegs since the mid-90s. "Breath," from the Gossard project riff
"Doobee E," later turned up on the Singles soundtrack. "Doobee E" had
been on the tape of demos Stone gave Chris Cornell and Gossard
remembers that Cornell actually began writing lyrics to it. "It was I think
music for rhinos 1990: The making of Pearl Jam by Jessica Letkemann a twofeetthick.com production
Eddie Vedder's handwritten cover for the first tape the
future Pearl Jam ever made together, October 13,
1990. Note that he says it was "after six days"
confirming his arrival in Seattle was on October 8.
12
during the Temple of the Dog sessions and I sent him a demo with a
bunch of songs," Gossard remembers.Z "Matt had played [the instrumental]
'Breath' as part of those demos. [Chris] told me, 'I've got something for
this song. And I remember I told him, 'Aw, you know I really want to save
that for Pearl Jam.' Because I was so excited about [the band] and the
song. I felt like, 'I can't give it to you,' which is like, oh my God, crazy."
"I had a conversation with Chris Cornell recently and we talked about that
song," Stone continuesAA. "He was like, 'yeah, I worked on that a little bit
but I never actually finished it.' So there's not actually a song out there and
he doesn't know where it is or anything. That's one that's probably going
to have to be unearthed in another 30 or 40 years," Gossard laughs.
"Release," a searching son's elegiac call out to an absent father, was born
that first week when, with their portable recorder rolling, Stone was
noodling around with an arpeggio that inspired Eddie to further reflect on
his smalltime singer/musician dad's passing a decade before. "Stone was
playing something and the words just came out of me. I remember going
into the hallway and having to take a minute to myself just to... because all
of this stuff was just pouring out," Eddie said to me in 1999, pausing and
sighing. BB "It's hard to think back on that. It's all life or death."
"OH DEAR DAD, CAN YOU SEE ME NOW? I AM MYSELF, LIKE YOU SOMEHOW. / I WAIT UP
IN THE DARK FOR YOU TO SPEAK TO ME. I'LL HOLD THE PAIN, RELEASE ME."
"That cassette was the song really," Eddie continued. "We [later] recorded
it [for Ten] with that exact arrangement and a better microphone or
something."
"Oceans," which gelled on that Thursday October 11, was also born of an
off-hand jam that inspired Vedder. "Beth [and I] were never apart, you
know," Ed went on. "After four days it felt like four months. I went to put
money in the parking meter and I got locked out of the basement. Jeff and
Stone were playing and I knew that they couldn't hear me pounding on the
back door. I could hear the bass coming through the wall out in the alley.
Here I am in this rainy alley in godforsaken Seattle missing Beth. So I just
sat in the alley [and wrote the lyrics]. I didn't waste any time. If you notice,
the words are written exactly to the bassline."
"The first few times that we played together in the basement, I was like,
'Man, I'm in a really great band right now," Jeff told me in 1999. "If I could
have been a singer, any singer, all of the sudden I was in the room with the
singer I wanted to be. I felt the same way about Mike and Stone. All of the
sudden, I was in a band with a real lead guitarist for the first time, and a
rhythm guitar player and songwriter who was writing incredible grooves.
Whether anybody else was going to like it or not, I didn't know. But for
the first time ever, I really liked the band I was in."
On the Saturday, October 13th, they committed the fruits of their week
live to digital audio tape (DAT). "Even Flow," "Once," "Breath," "Release,"
"Girl," "Alive," "Alone," "Oceans," and "Black," filled the tape along with
"Goat," "improv," and "quick jams, etc." according to Ed's handwritten
scribble on one copy of the cassette dub's cover. 18 Eddie added those
three song-pieces later, when he was back home in San Diego dubbing
tapes for friends. "Improv" turned out to contain the seeds of "Yellow
Ledbetter," based on a Mike McCready riff. "Quick Jams, etc." was the
instrumental "Weird A." Sent off to a buddy for an opinion on the music,
Ed also wrote "this was only after 6 days... it will get better." To have
written that well in that quantity in that short a time negates a lot of the
unpolished nature of the tape and many of the sharp edges yet to be
rounded, but as good as it already was, it most certainly did get better.
"I just remember that week being, if I had to choose any week as the most
important or the biggest crossroads, it was that one," Eddie said to me in
1999. "I had been working on my own in music and trying to write songs
18
Eddie immediately got busy making copies of these first week tapes, each with a
personalized cover. At least three of them have surfaced in the 20 years since Ed dubbed
them. He even labeled one 10/13 tape, "Eddie V. in Seattle with Love Bone."
music for rhinos 1990: The making of Pearl Jam by Jessica Letkemann a twofeetthick.com production
13
"If I had to choose
any week as the most
important or the
biggest crossroads,
it was that one."
-eddie vedder
on the week that
changed his life
even just to entertain myself and have bands. I was fortunate that I had a
pretty good work ethic up to that point, because I sure needed all the
tools that I had for that week."
The story of Pearl Jam's first week has long since become an "...and on the
seventh day they rested" creation tale, told slightly differently each time,
that's one of the band's central legends.
Ah the legend.
Jeff, Stone, Eddie and Mike have said it a million times to different
publications:
"WE HAD FIVE DAYS OF REHEARSALS, WE WROTE TEN SONGS,
AND THEN WE PLAYED A SHOW. ON THE SEVENTH DAY WE
WENT INTO THE STUDIO AND THEN TO SEE THE BULLS PLAY THE
CC
SONICS IN THE KINGDOME." – VED DER
"FOR FIVE DAYS STRAIGHT WE REHEARSED EIGHT TO TEN HOURS
A DAY. WE WENT INTO THE STUDIO AND LAID DOWN TEN
SONGS RIGHT AFTER THAT. THEN ON THE SIXTH DAY
DD
WE…PLAYED A SHOW."-AMENT *
"BY THE END OF THE WEEK WE HAD WRITTEN THREE NEW
SONGS AND HE HAD WRITTEN LYRICS TO THREE MORE OF OUR
SONGS. WE WENT INTO A STUDIO TO RECORD AND ON THE
EE
LAST DAY WE PLAYED A SHOW." -AME NT
"FIVE DAYS OF REHEARSING AND WRITING. WE CAME UP WITH
TEN SONGS. ON THE SIXTH DAY WE PLAYED A SHOW IN
FF
SEATTLE. AND THE SEVENTH DAY RECORDED IT ALL." -VED DER
"THEN WE WENT TO THE MOUNTAINTOP AND REJOICED" –
GG
GOS SARD, GOOFING.
But things weren't quite that simple.
The biggest difference between myth and reality is that the "first week" was
really two different weeks lumped together. In real life, it's true that Eddie
flew up to Seattle and the band rehearsed and wrote for six days (as
described in the section about the week of October 8 above). But then
the truth diverges from legend. Hand-labeled tapes, a photo definitively
placing Vedder in San Diego on October 14, early interview footage, a
postcard Ed sent his roommates, and the date of the basketball game
reveal that instead of playing a show on the sixth day and recording and
going to a Bulls game on the seventh; Ed took part in recording the DAT
tape on the sixth day, went home to San Diego on the seventh day and
came back up about a week later, playing the band's first show, recording
again, and going to that basketball game then.19
10.20.1990 The 2nd 'First Week'
More precisely, McCready drove Eddie back to Sea-Tac at 5am on Sunday
morning, October 14, the "seventh day." Ed flew home to San Diego and
worked the James Taylor concert at San Diego State University's Open Air
19
Several things make it clear that the whirlwind of Pearl Jam's genesis took longer than
one week. In November of 1991 in footage that never aired, Stone told MTV that "we
had all of the material [for Ten] written within two separate times of Eddie coming up [to
Seattle] for about a week at a time. He came up for a week and we actually ended up
recording about ten songs. And then he came up about a week later and we did
probably another ten or so." The handwritten j-cards of the two early October tapes the
band made are two further pieces of the puzzle. Eddie labeled the first one "Eddie
Vedder in Seattle 10/13," mentioned the tape had been made "after only six days."
Eddie labeled the second tape 10/23. Meanwhile, Ed was definitely back in San Diego
for the James Taylor gig because a roommate later posted a Polaroid on eBay showing
Eddie holding up an Avalon laminate. Ed wrote "J.T. 10/14. Last night at O.A.T. (court)"
on it in black Sharpie and the roommate explained that the was taken photo right after
a James Taylor concert. A quick look at newspapers from the time reveals that James
Taylor did indeed play San Diego's Open Air Theater on October 14, 1990. Another
crucial bit of information about this period came from that same unscrupulous roommate,
who went on to take to eBay to post scans of a postcard Eddie had sent him from
Seattle. Eddie dated it 10/22, and the postmark was 10/25/90. In it he mentions he'll be
coming home from Seattle on the 29th. The dates of the Off-Ramp show and the Bulls
game further support the fact that the "first week" was two separate weeklong parts.
music for rhinos 1990: The making of Pearl Jam by Jessica Letkemann a twofeetthick.com production
14
The Polaroid of
Eddie at the
James Taylor
concert in San
Diego on
October 14,
1990 (handlabeled by
Eddie). It helps
prove the Ed's
"first week" in
Seattle was
really a threeweek period
bisected by a
week back
home in San
Diego.
Theater (the last show of the season) as a runner for the promoter,
Avalon Attractions. At midnight he clocked in for his usual shift. He either
talked his superiors into immediately taking off another week or else he
was so blown away by what had happened in Seattle that he didn't care
much what they thought about him taking more time off to return there.
Either way, he flew up again and was in Seattle nearly a week later on
Saturday, October 20 when, according to Ed's note in the 2009 Ten box
set, "Goat" was recorded on his Walkman in the Potatohead basement.
Jeff, like Eddie, was intent on not wasting a second, and in Eddie's absence
he had booked the band at a small place called the Off Ramp as a sort of
live audition. Located, as its name suggested, right off of Interstate 5, the
Off Ramp was a 200 capacity club that in the closing months of 1990 was
still a lesbian bar on the weekends and a rock venue during the week.
Aside from music, the core of the band also discovered a mutual love of
basketball and when it came time for a name to play under at the Off
Ramp, they went with Mookie Blaylock, the name of the New Jersey Nets
rookie point guard with the funny moniker whose trading card one of
them had stuck in the j-card of their first week tape.
across his chest, his long curls (still growing out from that tri-layered, sideshorn skater cut) tucked haphazardly into a big, fluffy Ament-esque hat, and
his eyes clamped shut. But his soon-to-be signature baritone soared out
over the sparse crowd as Jeff popped down into the empty pit during the
end jam. "And that was just the soundcheck," Stone mumbled on stage,
bemused.
By the time the set began in earnest not long later, many more onlookers
were there to size-up Jeff and Stone's new creation. Since Pearl Jam's star
rose a year later, just about every person in the Seattle music community
has at one time claimed to have been in that audience to watch the
phoenix rise.
"Release" opened with its twinkling arpeggio, but accompanied by a
plodding, two note bass-line that has not appeared in any subsequent
recording or performance of the song. Still unfinished, Ed began
improvising an intro centered around "on a whispering wind." The
soundman was caught unaware of just how low Ed's voice would rumble
once he made it to the first verse and the club was filled with a loud,
electric hum as his moans boomed into the mic. The multi-level structure
of "Alone" clicked in just right, but Eddie hadn't yet worked out the lyrics
so he sang what he'd written, filling in the blanks with creative mumbles,
10.22.1990 The first show
Mookie Blaylock's thirty-five minute long, eight-song 20 debut that Monday varied repetitions, and sections made up on the spot.
night, October 22, displayed a band in the process of coalescing, testing the A lone heckler hollered "Don't stop, baby" in the breaks between Mike's
random bursts of between-song soloing, but as Stone slid into the main riff
waters. They stood on the tiny stage, tuning and then wading into a
of "Alive," everyone in the crowd seemed to shut up. While every other
muddy, slowed down "Even Flow." Eddie's stage presence and voice were
song they played that night was obviously still rough around the edges,
intensely different from his last Bad Radio gig only eight months before.
"Alive" emerged whole. Eddie didn't stumble over even half a syllable, his
Instead of jumping around, grinning, singing in a Kiedis-influenced speedwords projectiles hurtling from his gut. Eddie had also torn off the fluffy hat
tenor, Eddie started the Off Ramp gig with his arms clenched diffidently
and began to come out of his shell a little bit, banging his head here and
there, convulsing, leaning into the mic and filling the stage.
20
Because the only known source recording of the show, a video, starts and stops and
That night, "Once" took a giant step closer to its final version, shedding its
starts again between songs, it's possible that their set was longer and that they played
Momma-son spoken verses ("Yeah, I did it. Tell them I did it It's not that I'm
more songs.
music for rhinos 1990: The making of Pearl Jam by Jessica Letkemann a twofeetthick.com production
The postcard Eddie wrote home to his roommates on the very day
the future Pearl Jam played it's first show, October 22, 1990.
15
not sorry, it's just that I don't feel sad") and falsetto refrains ("What'd you
do? Why'd you do it?") and moving towards the verse structure it would
have on Ten. Live that night, Ed seemed to be singing half-finished verses
and completely improvising.
At one point, a random guy in the audience standing near one of the three
different people videotaping the show for posterity was caught on the
camcorder's mic just after an impressive McCready solo saying "My God!
Where did they find this guy?"
Before trying out "Even Flow" for real this time, Ed said "Hey Stone, did you
miss these guys?" Ironically, he could have been referring to headliners
Inspector Luv & the Ride Me Babies (soon to be known as Green Apple
Quick Step), whose frontman Ty Willman had almost aced him out off the
job as Mookie Blaylock/Pearl Jam's singer (Stone, remember, had nearly
hired Ty before Eddie came into the picture). But more likely, Eddie was
talking about the Seattle audience, who were certainly curious about Stone
and Jeff's new project.
"Black," which Stone, Jeff, and Mike had been jamming on for months and
which Eddie had had a couple of weeks to digest since he'd written lyrics,
bore striking resemblance to its later recorded form, the only notable
difference being a slight lyric difference in the "beautiful life" passage.
"Breath" was much rougher, it's verses nearly whole but sung in a clipped
staccato with Ed tagging "Life is what it's worth, don't miss what it's worth"
over a chaotic end jam of Mike and Stone's guitars slugging it out not quite
in harmony. It's odd that Ed encouraged the crowd, who'd never heard of
him or these songs before, to "sing with me" during the impromptu "when
he's happy, when he's sad" refrain that trailed off into a beautiful high note.
Ending the set with "Girl," standard version, neither stunning nor dismal,
they left the stage as unassumingly as they had entered.
Cornell, who was in the crowd, remembers that the just-born group made
a big impression. "The first show didn't have that kind of uncomfortable
feeling that bands often have the first time they play," Cornell said in my
2001 interview with him. "I'd heard the songs but hadn't heard Eddie's
voice when he sings live. Most bands are better on record… I could tell
from the first two songs that this band was going to be an amazing live
band. All of the people standing around me, by about the third or fourth
song, had this mysterial glow in their eyes like they understood that this
was a special moment. Not understanding that this is going to be a band
that's going to go on and sell millions of records and have a place in rock
history, but simply, we just saw an amazing show that we'll take with us
and remember no matter what happens in the future."
Gossard's feeling from the stage, on the other hand, was much more
tentative. "I remember feeling nervous, not feeling ready to go out and do it,"
Stone said to me about the first show. "I know we'd committed to it. Jeff was
really excited about doing a show. Ed was enthusiastic about it. And I was
probably like, 'Hey, let's give it a couple weeks. Come back and let's practice
a couple more times and then we'll get out there. Don't worry. We're gonna
do it.' But they wanted to do it so we just did. I think it came off ok. It was
just that you had to take your first step and we were already committed to it.
We said yes, this is our new singer. We're gonna go for it."HH
On a Mother Love Bone postcard he dated 10/22, Eddie wrote home:
"You're not going to believe it. I love Seattle. More unbelievable, it loves
me. This city and its people totally embraced me. And within that
warmth/vibe, I've written/played some of the most important music of my
life. It's been a very intense Volume 11 21 experience. It's changed me and
somehow I've affected the people here too."
10.23.1990 recording & Hoops
The next day they took another stab at a recording. According to "the
legend," they went into "the studio" at this point, but Eddie's 10/23 tape
21
A This Is Spinal Tap reference?
music for rhinos 1990: The making of Pearl Jam by Jessica Letkemann a twofeetthick.com production
16
One of Eddie's hand-labeled
tapes of Mookie Blaylock's (soon
to be Pearl Jam's) recording on
October 23, 1990.
case says it was a home-grown four track made at the rehearsal studio.
Meanwhile, the sound quality of the songs suggests a more sophisticated
recording in an actual studio.
And while Eddie hand wrote 10/23 on the cases, there are still questions
about what date the music on the cassette was recorded. "Goat," the onetake novelty recorded 10/20, had been added to the 10/13 tape as filler
when Ed sent it out in later weeks. The music on the 10/13 tape in its
entirety has never circulated among Pearl Jam fans. It is certain, however
that a tape was made on both 10/13 and 10/23, per Eddie's handwritten
tape cases, but he almost definitely augmented the latter with tunes from
the earlier session and vice versa. Just as with Stone sending out his
instrumentals to anyone with a lead on a drummer or singer, Eddie was
clearly proud of the music he was making in Seattle and he immediately
dubbed off copies of the new group's tapes for friends, hand-labeling and
personalizing the cover each time. To illustrate just how new it all was, on
at least one 10/23 tape cover, Eddie misspelled Mike's last name as
"McCreedy."
The full-on studio session would come later, at the end of November
when Mookie Blaylock pooled $800 of their own cash to make a demo at
London Bridge with Temple and future Ten producer Rick Parashar.
Unfortunately, no songs from that session have surfaced.
The music on Eddie's "10/23" tape, meanwhile, captured him still
somewhat green, not yet entirely confident about his range and power, but
easily demonstrating his impressive voice. Most notably on "Even Flow"
(with it's not-quite-sussed bassline) and a high-hat heavy "Once," he sings in
a higher register and clips the end of his verses. He also holds back, not
always letting himself fully rip into screams and high notes. But during the
course of the demo, there are several wide-open glimpses of the places he
can take his voice, especially during an ethereal "Oceans," the basso
"Release," and a very delicate "Black."
McCready, for his part, handed in several impressive solos, as in "Breath"
which matches the later released version, and "Alive," "Alone," and "Girl."
On "Even Flow," an anemic pedal deflates his effect. He'd also been slotted
into the right channel, which greets ears honed on later Pearl Jam
recordings oddly (Stone would come to traditionally own the right channel,
per his position on stage).
"Release" begins with bass harmonics, and the opening moan is delayed. Ed
is in particularly good voice there, singing unbridled but melodiously. "Alive"
sounds very close to its Ten version, save for Ed's tentative choruses.
Stone's got some great labyrinthine, nearly operatic riffing on "Alone," but
that's nearly lost in the hasty mix. Shades of the '92 b-side "remix" version
(and unlike the version on Ten), "Oceans" here has a backbeat, and it
shuffles along like a slow dance over a strummed bassline from Jeff.
Of all the songs, "Black"'s lyrics differ the most from their final form. Instead
of "all five horizons revolved around her sun" it's the less oblique "all of my
horizon revolved around her sun." "As the earth to the sun" is nearly
spoken. Rather than "all I taught her was everything," the next line is the
more vulnerable, regretful "all I wanted was everything." Later, he sings
"why do I tear" instead of "why do I sear." Clearly, this earliest available
non-live version of "Black" finds the song's protagonist more heartbroken
and yet less volatile (sadder rather than angrier) than in later readings.
Possibly to show range, or maybe just to fill out the running time, four
curiosities were tacked on. "Goat" starts with Eddie chanting "Goat, goat,
goat," interrupted by a severe little guitar part, and then some oddball stuff
about a girl "from Scandinavia." The choruses, during which he's joined by
someone (Mike? Stone?) singing in a bizarro falsetto, are "She was an evil
little goat." Everyone starts baaaahing. Like goats. Laughter ensues. The
music ends abruptly, cut off before the take ends. "Quick Jams," again, is an
early attempt at "Yellow Ledbetter" that starts after the take is underway.
Overall, it's whole lot less Hendrix-y than it would come to be, even when
McCready hits the wah wah in the middle of the first solo. And the vocal
music for rhinos 1990: The making of Pearl Jam by Jessica Letkemann a twofeetthick.com production
17
A ticket stub, presumably used by a member of Pearl Jam, for the SonicsBulls game on October 23, 1990 which the whole band attended to
celebrate their formation. This stub appears in the Ten deluxe edition.
melody, structure, and lyrics are not yet fully formed, though the Vedder
mumbles here did carry over into the released version. Nevertheless, some
of the decipherable bits of the jabberwocky include "where do you go
when you're not around? Have I seen you? Can you breathe, can you
touch away?" along with the unintentionally fitting "I don't know what I
wanna say." But one part of the final "Ledbetter" that is here is the line "I
see them out on the porch, but they don't wave."
Also on the 10/23 tape is a minute long excerpt of the Gossard Demos
instrumental "Weird A," which wasn't rerecorded or embellished at all, and
a cover of Gladys Knight and the Pips' 1972 hit "Daddy Could Swear (I
Declare)" labeled simply "Daddy." "Daddy" is clearly not Mookie Blaylock.
The rhythm section, with its slap bass and bongos, is far funkier than
Ament and Krusen. Eddie's voice is overwrought and hopped up in a style
much more reminiscent of Bad Radio. But this track, Gossard confirms, was
actually an Indian Style demo from the past summer. And even just by
listening, you can tell the dance-oriented sound and lack of a second guitar
fits Indian Style's line-up and funk-rock M.O. much more closely than either
Bad Radio's 80s rock sound or the earnest shades of Mookie. "Daddy" also
sports a muddier mix and the general sense that it'd been copied tape to
tape many times, supporting Stone's confirmation that it was Indian Style.
Rather than resting after recording on October 23, or as Stone later
goofed, going to the mountaintop and rejoicing, the members of Mookie
Blaylock took a cue from their namesake and celebrated with basketball:
they went to the Kingdome and watched Eddie's Chicago Bulls trash Stone
and Jeff's Seattle Supersonics in an exhibition game. Rehearsals, Temple
sessions, sightseeing, it's still unknown what Eddie did with the rest of his
second trip to Seattle, but his postcard home suggests he didn't get back
until Monday, October 29. Jeff, meanwhile, had definitely left town for a
trip to New York by Friday, October 26, according to a postcard he sent
his brother (reprinted in the 2007 poster book Pearl Jam vs. Ames Bros.), so
full band rehearsals were certainly on hold by then. 22
11.1990 temple of the dog
While Eddie was home wrapping his head around his adventures in Seattle,
Temple of the Dog moved out of its rehearsal phase and into its album
recording phase. It had been born as Chris Cornell's self-therapy after the
death of former roommate Andy Wood. Soundgarden was playing a midMarch 1990 make-up date with Faith No More at Maxwell's, a 150capacity club/eatery in Hoboken, New Jersey when Cornell heard that
Andy had just overdosed and was in a coma. Having barely ruled out
canceling, Cornell dedicated the performance to Andy and punctuated the
set with dark comments about drug addiction. So far from Seattle, the
crowd didn't get it. When Andy died a couple of days later, Cornell was
moved to write "Say Hello to Heaven," and "Reach Down."
"He came from an island23 and he died from the street.
He hurt so bad like a soul breaking, but he never said
nothing to me." -"Say Hello to Heaven"
The night that Andy Wood died, the Mother Love Bone guys and all of
Andy's friends had gathered at manager Kelly's house. Among them was
filmmaker Cameron Crowe, who was in town putting together his next
22
Jeff's postcard, dated October 29, 1990, says "The New York trip is almost over. Saw
Red Kross last night. Tonight Kings X and Alice In Chains. We recorded 10 songs with
Eddie and played a show. Amazing. Maybe the best thing Stone and I have ever done.
We're totally excited about this." Incidentally, Alice In Chains played at the Limelight in
New York on October 27. Kings X would open for Pearl Jam in 1994 and Jeff would work
on music with frontman Doug Pinnick in the 2000s. Jeff saw Red Kross in New York
presumably on October 26, and surely noticed that Jack Irons was behind the drumkit.
23
Andy was from Bainbridge Island, WA, near Seattle.
music for rhinos 1990: The making of Pearl Jam by Jessica Letkemann a twofeetthick.com production
18
Jeff's postcard to his brother days after Mookie Blaylock/Pearl Jam's 1st show &
10/23 recording session. This appears in the poster book Pearl Jam Vs. Ames Bros.
film loosely based on love and music in Seattle.24 He later recalled Cornell
putting a hand on Jeff's shoulder in a gesture of shared grief and saying, "I'm
gonna call you tomorrow. We're gonna ride bikes and fucking smoke
cigarettes." It's unclear if the call came the next day, but soon Cornell had
picked up the phone to make music inspired by Wood.
"Obviously ["Heaven" and "Reach Down"] weren't Soundgarden songs,"
Cornell told me in 2001II, so he decided to try to actually team up with
Andy's bandmates. "[I] sat on the songs for a few weeks. You know how
writers are. I just wasn't sure if they were good or if anybody would be
interested, and I had made some tapes and gave them to Susan25 to give
to Stone and Jeff but didn't hear anything back, just kind of forgot about it."
But by the time of the Gossard project jams in the early summer, "they had
listened to the songs," says Cornell. "Jeff said he was surprised at how
different they were from other things that he'd heard me do, and yeah
they would be interested in doing something. His position was, 'let's make
a whole record.' I thought ,'OK, that sounds great.' Andy had just gangs of
little solo recordings he'd done at my house, four-tracks and things like
that. The biggest tragedy when you lose someone that's young and not
already famous is that people aren't gonna get to hear these amazing
songs. So we discussed doing [my] two songs and then covering a bunch of
Andy's solo stuff that no one [would otherwise] ever hear. Unfortunately
the wound was really fresh with Andy's family and friends. They were
getting concerned that somehow we were gonna be exploiting his
memory. That made all three of us really angry. We responded to that by
saying, 'well screw these guys, we'll just make our own record.' Stone
suggested rather than Bruce from Love Bone why not use this new guy
[Mike McCready], have it be some older relationships but also some new
ones, and Stone also gave me a tape of three [of his own] songs26 , and I
wrote lyrics and melodies to those. Then I just started digging in my tapes
and pulling out songs that might fit musically with what we were doing as
well as I wrote several other songs in a very short period of time."
"We immediately had ten songs, no problem," Cornell continues. "We
decided to go make a record with just ten songs, record ten, release ten.
Don't screw around. We started rehearsing the songs and that was the
first time I met Ed. [At] the second rehearsal, I had pulled out Hunger
Strike and I had this feeling it was just going to be filler. It had one verse
and then a chorus that repeated itself a bunch of times. It just felt like
something that would be a vignette in the record and sort of round it off
and then we'd have ten songs. That moment of him just walking up to the
microphone and helping me out is really how a big part of how that song
happened. [I thought], 'Why don't I sing a verse and then the band comes
in. He sings the second verse, and even though it's the same words,
because it's two different singers, that'll make it two separate verses. Then
all of a sudden we'll have a song.' So we tried that and it was fantastic."
Temple rehearsals gave way to the recording of the self-titled album in
November. "It was only going to be a one-off deal, but I wanted it to feel
like a band," says Cornell. To that end, they booked a one-night-only set at
the Off Ramp opening for Bathtub Gin and Inspector Luv and the Ride Me
Babies on November 13, while Eddie was still back in San Diego. "Nobody
26
24
The film, of course, was Singles, filmed in 1991 and released in 1992. It featured the
members of Pearl Jam and Soundgarden.
25
Susan Silver, Cornell's wife and Soundgarden's manager. She shared an office with
Kelly Curtis and co-managed Alice in Chains with him in those days so she would have
had regular contact with Kelly's band Mother Love Bone coming in for him.
The songs Stone gave Chris were the Gossard project instrumentals "Troubled Times,"
"7 Up," and "Evil E." Gossard says Cornell told him he worked on a song with "Evil E." but
Gossard opted to save the riff for Vedder, who had turned it into "Breath." Stone's music
for "Troubled Times" found life not only as the Temple song "Times of Trouble" but
simultaneously as Pearl Jam's "Footsteps.", Gossard's "7 Up" music became "Pushin'
Forward Back," with lyrics by Chris Cornell.
music for rhinos 1990: The making of Pearl Jam by Jessica Letkemann a twofeetthick.com production
19
"all of the people
around me had this
mysterial glow in their
eyes... not understanding
that this is going to be a
band with a place in rock
history but simply: we just
saw an amazing show."
-chris cornell
on witnessing
pearl jam's 1st sh ow
was used to going to see a band play that many mellow songs in a row,"
Cornell remembers of the nine-song performance. "There was a lot of
people who were really into it but nobody had even heard the songs
before. So it was really strange, it was almost like a debut show and a swan
song at the same time. Some violence ensued where one of our good
friends who's worked for Pearl Jam and Soundgarden over the years got
hit in the face with a bottle and had to go to the emergency room.27 That
overshadowed everything else. It was like the Seattle Altamont. The
suburban metal fans were starting to come out of their caves and don their
'73 Aerosmith T-shirts to see bands [like Temple] because we had
elements of '70s hard rock and there was some growing pains from that. It
wasn't a seamless transition from this post-punk urban scene into starting
to draw the leftover late-'70s metal fans. Seattle was always kind of a hardrock guitar town. It's kind of funny, kids who go to college seem to be
dumber and handle themselves worse than kids who wash dishes at a
restaurant downtown and read a lot of books."
When Eddie had returned home from Seattle around October 29, he
again had to work the midnight shift that night. But instead of asking for
more time off for a future trip to Seattle, he gave 30 days notice and put
the wheels in motion to pull up stakes and move there. In late November,
he packed up his pick up and made the 19-hour drive north, leaving the
small San Diego music scene, his home and his steady job behind, and
trusting that his seven-year relationship with girlfriend Beth, who remained
at her L.A. job in the Virgin Records publicity department, could withstand
an indefinite long-distance period. In essence, he put all of his faith in the
idea that Mookie Blaylock was worth risking everything he had.
The Blaylock demo session at London Bridge with Rick Parashar was
waiting for Vedder when he returned to Seattle that Thanksgiving. That
long weekend also held sessions with Temple, who — not coincidentally
— were recording the album at London Bridge with Parashar. Chris
Cornell, speaking to me in 2001, tells the story best:
"It took us 14 days to record and mix Temple. It was very cathartic to
have all of us in a room. We were making a record on one hand, but
on the other hand we were also telling stories about Andy. I can't
imagine a more healthy way to deal with the tragic death of a friend
who is young and brilliant than to just be spending time together and
doing this whole creative thing. Green River and Soundgarden were all
friends, but I was never close friends with Stone or Jeff until Andrew
died. [That] drew all of his friends together. Now we have this record
that stands in history as being our tribute toward this guy.
"[In addition to lead vocals on "Hunger Strike"], Eddie ended up singing
backgrounds on three other songs. 28 [Mike] had already been playing
for a long time but that was his first [record]. It was exciting to be this
co-producer trying to get the best performance out of this guy who'd
never made a record before. I just fell in love with the guy. He had
that really young sort of hungry sensibility towards playing the guitar. [I
wanted] "Reach Down" to be a long piece with a long free form jam, in
a sense trying to bust out of the post-punk rebellion, two-and-a-half
minute song type of thing. One of the things that everybody hated
about the excess of the '70s was these endless bass and guitar solo,
and it was just the right time to bring back the endless bass and guitar
solo. In rehearsal, we'd get to the solo section and I would say, 'I'll
leave the room, don't stop playing this solo section until I come back.'
I would shut the door and sit right behind it and listen until it was a
little bit too long. Then I'd come back in. [During the album sessions] I
was kind of dissatisfied with the fact that Mike was afraid that he was
going to step on somebody else's toes if he went off. I said, 'this is your
27
It was Eric Johnson, who would become PJ's longtime tour manager, that got
clobbered. Soon after the incident, a Seattle Times article about a Mookie Blaylock/Alice
in Chains show mentions "injured roadie Eric Johnson."
28
Eddie sings back up on "Four Walled World," "Pushin' Forward Back," and "Your
Savior." Listen for his baritone behind the choruses on the right channel.
music for rhinos 1990: The making of Pearl Jam by Jessica Letkemann a twofeetthick.com production
29
At a different show, "Mike came up on stage once at a Halloween show in a dress,"
Rick Friel says. "He scored that night with a dress on. Never let it be said the New York
Dolls weren't on to something."
30
Soundgarden, Mother Love Bone, and War Babies were among the lucky few.
more than any of the little clubs Mookie Blaylock had played so
far, and a lot of the music community was in attendance. On top
of all that, AIC's set was being filmed for release as a home
video.
Mookie's performance opened, as would become Pearl Jam
custom, with the soft "Release." By the end of the set, Chris
Cornell had been moved to join them onstage for an impromptu
Temple mini-set. As the feedback squalled, Chris scooped Eddie
up into his arms and pointed at him, prompting the crowd to
applaud its acceptance of the newcomer, before sitting Eddie
atop his 6'2" shoulders as the last song ended.
1990, a year in flux for everyone involved, came to a close
at the Washington State ranch of two other distinguished
members of that Moore Theater audience, director/rock writer
Cameron Crowe and his wife, Nancy Wilson of Heart. Stone,
Jeff, Mike, Dave and Eddie celebrated New Year's Eve with
Crowe, Wilson and fellow musicians including members of Alice
in Chains. The band that would soon change their name to Pearl
Jam drank tons of champagne and jammed far into the wee
hours, their lives about to change completely. 
jessicaa t twofeetthick.com
time. You've got five and a half minutes, and nobody here is going to
be able to fill it up except for you.'"JJ
The "Reach Down" that made the album was over 11 minutes
long; Mike's two-part solo fills a full five minutes, 49 seconds of
the song.
The 14 days of Temple sessions had been weekend days that
stretched into December, concurrent with yet more Mookie
Blaylock rehearsals and a small handful of gigs. Mookie's second
show was a slot at the Vogue opening for Bathtub Gin and jokerockers El Steiner on December 19KK. El Steiner was formed by
an outlandish guy named Larry Steiner who rounded up a
shifting cast of characters, this night including Mike's old
bandmates Rick and Chris Friel from Shadow. In a 2000
interview with me LL, Rick Friel remembered El Steiner as "sort of
like a party on wheels, this crazy band with three or four songs
that we just kept playing over and over again in different ways,
making up covers on stage, making up silly songs. [That night] we
got Eddie to sing along on 'God of Thunder.'29 " Mookie's set
that night has yet to surface in recorded form, and the details
seem to be lost to memory.
The band's true coming out party, however, was opening for
Alice in Chains on December 22, the day before Eddie's 26th
birthday. The show was a big deal because it was the celebration
of the release of AIC's debut album, Facelift. AIC had been only
one of a handful of Seattle bands of the era to make it to the
majors30 . The 1419-seat Moore Theatre also held a whole lot
Text copyright 2010 Jessica Letkemann. all rights reserved.
An ad in the Rocket for Alice In Chians "with surprise
guests?!" Mookie Blaylock on December 22, 1990 at
Seattle's Moore Theatre.
20
music for rhinos 1990: The making of Pearl Jam by Jessica Letkemann a twofeetthick.com production
21
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jessica Letkemann is based in New York and is currently
managing editor of Billboard's website, Billboard.com.
Previously, she has been on staff at Spin, Premiere, and Circus
magazines. Following seven years publishing her print Pearl
Jam zine Tickle My Nausea (1995-2002), Jessica co-founded PJ
fansite TwoFeetThick.com with fellow fans Kathy Davis and
John Reynolds in 2003. Jessica's first Pearl Jam show was at
Lollapalooza near Chicago on August 2, 1992. Her 100th
Pearl Jam show was August 24, 2009 in Chicago.
thank you for reading this! And thanks
pearl jam for being part of so many
important moments in my life over the
past two decades. here's to many more
decades to come.
comments are welcome. contact the
author at: JESSICAatTWOFEETTHICK.COM
text copyright 2010 Jessica Letkemann
ABOUT THE COVER
The front and back covers of Music For Rhinos – 1990: The
Making Of Pearl Jam were designed and photographed by
Michelle M uis e. Aside from being the major Pearl Jam fan
responsible for TwoFeetThick.com's 2009 redesign, Michelle
is currently the art director for the New England Patriots. Her
personal design website is Muisedesign.com
SOURCE NOTES
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U
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V
Shawn Smith interviewed by author (Jessica Letkemann), July 1997.
W
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X
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Eddie Vedder interviewed by author (Jessica Letkemann), June 1999.
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Rick Friel interview by author (Jessica Letkemann), February 2000.
S
Stone Gossard interviewed by author (Jessica Letkemann) & John Reynolds,
September 22, 2010.
music for rhinos 1990: The making of Pearl Jam by Jessica Letkemann a twofeetthick.com production