The History of Pearl Jam

Formed in Seattle, Washington in 1990, Pearl Jam went on to become one of the most significant acts to come out of the 90’s grunge explosion. Throughout the years, the band has developed an alternative rock sound all their own with their willingness to make changes to their music and evolve with the times. They have also always tried to stand up for what they believe in, whether it be in politics or business practices. Their biggest hits include singles such as "Alive," "Daughter," "Better Man," and "Last Kiss". In this video, we take a look at the history of Pearl Jam.

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Alternative rock band Pearl Jam formed in Seattle, Washington in 1990. Consisting of vocalist and guitarist, Eddie Vedder, bassist Jeff Ament, rhythm guitarist Stone Gossard and lead guitarist Mike McCready, the group went through a number of drummers before finding Matt Cameron in 1998.


Pearl Jam’s debut, Ten, was released on Epic Records in 1991. Mixing classic rock with an anthemic sound, the album peaked at number one on the Billboard chart and helped to popularize grunge music. The dark record spawned hits like “Jeremy” and “Alive.” Pearl Jam supported the record with live gigs that showcased the group’s powerful stage presence.

Second Album

Their 1993 sophomore effort, Vs., topped the Billboard chart. The more raw-sounding album tackled personal and socio-political themes, and yielded songs like “Dissident” and “Daughter.”


However, the members of Pearl Jam were quickly becoming uncomfortable with their growing fame. As a result, they decided to refrain from making music videos and began a boycott of ticket vendor Ticketmaster that would limit future touring.


1994’s Vitalogy was a fast-selling LP made up of ballads, experimental tunes and aggressive rock tracks. It contained songs such as the Grammy-winning, “Spin the Black Circle” and “Better Man.”

"No Code"

In 1995, Pearl Jam collaborated with singer Neil Young on his album, Mirror Ball. The next year, they released No Code, where they experimented with garage rock and world beat. It made a short-lived stay on the top of the charts and generated the single, “Who You Are.”

"Yield" and Return to Music Videos

After a brief tour, Pearl Jam came out with Yield. The 1998 album brought the band back to their earlier rock sound and hit number two on the charts. It included the popular singles, “Given to Fly,” and “Do the Evolution,” which was accompanied by their first music video since 1992.

Back to Touring

Pearl Jam then went back to using Ticketmaster, and supported the record with a full-scale tour. The album, “Live on Two Legs,” was released later that year.

"Last Kiss" and "Binaural"

In 1999, Pearl Jam released their highest-charting single: a cover of the 60’s ballad, “Last Kiss.” They came out with their next effort, Binaural, in 2000. Their experimentation with recording techniques can be heard on the single, “Nothing as it Seems.”


On the Binaural Tour that followed, Pearl Jam recorded every show and released over seventy Official Bootlegs from it. The tour was marred by a tragic accident that caused several deaths during its European leg.

"Riot Act"

Their seventh album was 2002’s Riot Act. Featuring folk and art rock sounds, the disc reached the fifth position on the Billboard 200, and was supported by a politically-charged tour. Then, in 2003, Pearl Jam released the song, “Man of the Hour,” for the soundtrack of the film, “Big Fish,” and this was their first recording without a label.

Self-Titled Album

A number of compilation albums came out in 2004, and featured live performances, rare tracks and hit singles. Then, after signing with J Records, they released their self-titled effort in 2006. The positively reviewed disc marked a return to their rock roots and gave them the number-one single, “World Wide Suicide.”

Compilations and Solo Records

In 2007, Pearl Jam contributed to the soundtrack of the movie, “Reign Over Me” and released a seven-CD box set called Live at the Gorge 05/06. Frontman Eddie Vedder made his solo debut by contributing to the soundtrack of the film, “Into the Wild.”

Politics and "Backspacer"

The next year, Pearl Jam digitally released the documentary, “Vote for Change? 2004” ahead of the 2008 U.S. elections. Their ninth album, Backspacer, dropped in 2009 and was released on their own label, Monkeywrench Records. The number-one disc contained pop and new wave influences, and the single “The Fixer.”

20th Anniversary

In 2011, the band issued the live compilation, Live on Ten Legs and celebrated their twentieth anniversary with a number of releases. Following the 2009 re-release of their debut, Ten, Pearl Jam re-released deluxe editions of their Vs. and Vitalogy albums and came out with a documentary entitled “Pearl Jam Twenty.” Vedder also released his second solo record, Ukulele Songs, that same year.

Continued Success

With their openness to evolve as musicians and their persistence in supporting causes they believe in, Pearl Jam has ensured that they remain relevant to this day.

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