Eddie Vedder Biography

Eddie Vedder Biography on Monsters and Critics


"Eddie Vedder" (born "Edward Louis Severson III" on December 23, 1964 in Evanston, Illinois) is the lead singer and one of three guitarists for the rock band Pearl Jam. He is notable for his deep baritone vocal style, and as a cultural icon of alternative rock.

Early years

Vedder was born in the Chicago suburb of Evanston, Illinois, the son of Karen Lee Vedder and Edward Louis Severson, Jr. His parents divorced in 1965, when Eddie was a year old. His mother soon remarried a man named Peter Mueller, and young Eddie was raised believing that Mueller was his biological father.

In the mid-1970s, the family, including Vedder's three younger half-brothers, moved to San Diego County, California. It was at this point that Eddie, who had received a guitar from his mother on his 12th birthday, began turning to music as a source of comfort. His mother and Mueller divorced when Eddie was in his late teens. His mother and brothers moved back to the Chicago area, but Eddie remained with his stepfather in California so he would not have to change high schools.

It was not until after the divorce that Eddie learned the truth about his parentage. Mueller was really his stepfather. Eddie had met his biological father briefly as a child, but had believed that Severson was merely an old friend of his parents. By the time Eddie learned the truth, Severson had died of multiple sclerosis. Eddie's already bad relationship with his stepfather became increasingly strained. He eventually dropped out of San Dieguito High School and joined the rest of his family in Chicago. He also changed his name to "Eddie Vedder", 'Vedder' being his mother's maiden name. This is expressed in the song 'Alive' on the album "Ten".

In 1984, Vedder returned to San Diego with his girlfriend, Beth Liebling. He kept busy recording demo tapes at his home and working various jobs, including positions as a night attendant at a local gas station and a contracted security guard at the La Valencia Hotel in La Jolla.

Early work

Vedder had several stints in San Diego area bands. One included future Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave drummer Brad Wilk. Another one was a Red Hot Chili Peppers cover/tribute band. In 1988, the rather shy singer became the vocalist for the San Diego progressive funk-rock band Bad Radio. During his time with Bad Radio he penned and performed the song 'Better Man', a song based on the relationship between his mother and his stepfather. This song would later become a hit for Pearl Jam.

After leaving Bad Radio in 1990, Vedder's friend and former Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Jack Irons gave him a demo tape from a band in Seattle that was looking for a singer. Vedder recorded vocals for three of the songs, which later became Pearl Jam's 'Alive', 'Once', and 'Footsteps'. Vedder wrote the song lyrics as a mini-opera which he called the 'Mamasan trilogy'. The songs tell the story of a young man who, like Vedder, learns that he had been lied to about his paternity and that his real father is dead ('Alive'). He grows up to become a serial killer ('Once'), and is eventually imprisoned and sentenced to death ('Footsteps').

After hearing the tape, guitarist Stone Gossard and bassist Jeff Ament invited Vedder to come to Seattle to audition for the band that soon became Pearl Jam. They were instantly impressed with his unique sound and the fact that he knew of Andrew Wood.

Very soon after joining Pearl Jam, even before recording "Ten", Vedder was brought in to provide backing vocals on the "Temple of the Dog" album, a tribute to late Mother Love Bone singer Andrew Wood that featured members of both Pearl Jam and Soundgarden.

Pearl Jam

Although best known as a vocalist, Vedder also plays several musical instruments. He plays guitar on many Pearl Jam songs, beginning with 'Rearviewmirror' and 'Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town' from "Vs." He has also contributed performances on the ukulele, the drums, cowbell, harmonica, accordion, and sitar to various Pearl Jam recordings. At concerts Vedder often brings out a tambourine for the final songs of the show, and casts it into the crowd at the end. Vedder has two pedals for his guitar, one is marked 'Soap' (Clean tone) and the other is 'Dirt' (Distortion).

On Pearl Jam records, Vedder uses the pseudonym 'Jerome Turner' for his non-musical (usually design and artwork) contributions. He has also sometimes used the pseudonym of 'Wes C. Addle' ('West Seattle').

Vedder began incorporating political statements into his performances early in his career with Pearl Jam. At concerts he often pauses between songs to engage in brief political commentary. During Pearl Jam's 1992 appearance on "MTV Unplugged", Vedder stood atop his stool, took out a marker pen, and wrote PRO-CHOICE down his arm in large letters. Pearl Jam performed a Rock for Choice benefit concert in Pensacola, Florida in March of 1994, commemorating the one-year anniversary of the assassination of local abortion provider Dr. David Gunn. Pearl Jam were one of the headliners of the 2004 Vote for Change Tour. During Pearl Jam's 2007 Lollapalooza headlining show, Vedder and the band played a song telling the crowd in Chicago to boycott the oil company B.P. Amoco because they had been polluting Lake Michigan and had not planned to stop after they received approval from the government when they enlarged their factories.

Vedder is known for playing 'presets' at Pearl Jam shows, coming onstage with just a guitar (sometimes with a harmonica) and playing one or two songs to warm up the audience for the opening band. The songs performed during this part of the set are frequently slower acoustic songs such as 'Long Road' and Cat Stevens's 'Trouble'. Many of these songs are not frequently on the Pearl Jam set list, giving audiences a chance to hear material in a more intimate manner.

Other work

Vedder has contributed solo material to several soundtracks and compilations, including the soundtracks for the films "Dead Man Walking", "I Am Sam", and "Into the Wild". Vedder wrote two songs for the 2007 feature documentary "Body of War" produced by Ellen Spiro and Phil Donahue: 'No More' (a song referring to the Iraq War) and 'Long Nights'. He contributed an album's worth of songs to the soundtrack for the 2007 film "Into the Wild" including a cover of the Indio song 'Hard Sun'.

In addition to playing with Pearl Jam and Temple of the Dog, Vedder has performed or recorded with numerous well-known artists, including Bruce Springsteen, Dave Matthews, U2, Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, Ben Harper, Tom Petty, Neil Young, Neil Finn, Beck, Mike Ness, Lyle Workman, Presidents of the United States of America, Mark Seymour, Robert Plant, Bad Religion, Red Hot Chili Peppers, R.E.M., Rolling Stones, The Strokes, Victoria Williams, My Morning Jacket, Kings of Leon, Sonic Youth, The Who, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Supersuckers, Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins, Supergrass, Ministry, Chris Cornell, Jack Johnson, Ramones, Iggy Pop, Gary Heffern, Cat Power, Zeke, Peter Frampton, G.E. Smith, Wolfmother, Sleater-Kinney, Mike Watt and the remaining members of The Doors.

Vedder has inducted The Doors, Neil Young, the Ramones, and R.E.M. into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Vedder had a brief acting cameo in the 1992 movie "Singles", along with Jeff Ament and Stone Gossard of Pearl Jam. He appeared as himself, playing drums in lead actor Matt Dillon's backing band, Citizen Dick. He was also interviewed for the 1996 grunge documentary "Hype!". In 2007, he will make a cameo as himself in the upcoming film "Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story".

Personal life

Vedder married longtime girlfriend Beth Liebling in 1994. The couple divorced in 2000. Vedder is currently dating model Jill McCormick. He and McCormick have one daughter, Olivia, who was born June 11, 2004.

Eddie is also a friend of The Who guitarist Pete Townshend, singer Chris Cornell, and was a close friend of the late Ramones guitarist Johnny Ramone, being by Johnny's side on his deathbed. Since Johnny's death, Eddie and Pearl Jam have played the Ramones' 'I Believe in Miracles' regularly at live shows.

Eddie attended San Dieguito High School, now called San Dieguito Academy, and donated more than $10,000 from a local concert towards the construction of a theater for the school.

In his spare time, Eddie is a surfer and active in surf related conservation efforts; most notably, the Surfrider Foundation. He is also a friend of famed surfers Kelly Slater, Laird Hamilton, and fellow musicians Jack Johnson and Ben Harper. He was featured with Laird Hamilton in an episode of the documentary series "Iconoclasts" in 2006. He also has paddled outrigger canoes on occasion and in 2005 was nearly lost at sea trying to paddle from Moloka'i to Oahu.

Vedder shows his support for environmental activism by sporting an Earth First! tattoo on his right calf. The logo is of a monkey wrench crossed with a stone hammer. Vedder is also a vegetarian and animal rights activist.

Eddie Vedder is also a longtime and outspoken supporter for the Free the West Memphis 3 movement, a cause that advocates the release of three teenagers (now in their 30's) who were wrongly convicted in 1994 of the gruesome murders of three little boys in West Memphis, Arkansas.

Eddie is a big Chicago Bulls fan and is a good friend of former Bulls player Dennis Rodman. Vedder is also a long-time fan of the Chicago Cubs, and is good friends with pitcher Kerry Wood. Vedder has sung 'Take Me Out to the Ball Game' at four Cubs games since 1998. In 2007, a few days before performing with Pearl Jam in Chicago for Lollapalooza, he threw out the first pitch at Wrigley Field (the home of the Cubs).

References in songs

Vedder has been referenced in other artists' songs. These include:

that dog.'s 'This Boy', which appears on the album "that dog." (1994). The song's sarcastic lyrics are about the fuss that was made over Vedder, who is referred to as 'this boy' in the song. The members of that dog. eventually met Vedder when they came to record parts for Mike Watt's record "Ball-Hog or Tugboat?" After hearing about it, Vedder asked them for a copy of the record. Vedder has sung parts of the song live.

Todd Snider's 'Talkin' Seattle Grunge Rock Blues', which appears on the album "Songs for the Daily Planet" (1994), features the lyrics 'Moved out to Seattle to play some grunge...Washington state that is...Space needle...Eddie Vedder...Mudhoney.'

The Rugburns' 'Me and Eddie Vedder', which appears on the album "Morning Wood " (1994).

Local H's 'Eddie Vedder', which appears on the album "As Good as Dead" (1996).

SNFU's 'Better Than Eddie Vedder', which appears on the album "FYULABA" (1996).

Simon Townshend's 'Highness', which appears on the album "Animal Soup" (1999), in which Vedder is mentioned as talking to Townshend about his more famous brother, Pete Townshend.

'Weird Al' Yankovic's 'My Baby's In Love with Eddie Vedder', which appears on the album "Running with Scissors" (1999).

Tuff's 'American Hair Band', which appears on the album "The History of Tuff" (2001), features the lyric 'Give Pearl Jam and Eddie a big Fuck You!'

Bowling for Soup's 'Life After Lisa', which appears on the album "Drunk Enough to Dance" (2002), features the lyric 'You stole my heart when Eddie Vedder was king.'

Violent J's 'Shiny Diamonds', which appears on the album "Wizard of the Hood" (2003), features the lyrics 'I'm singing like Eddie Vedder, only better.'

Ryan Shupe & The RubberBand's 'Banjo Boy', which appears on the album "Dream Big" (2005), in which the singer claims to be 'a cross between Béla Fleck and Eddie Vedder, but better.'

MxPx's 'Top of the Charts', which appears on the album "Secret Weapon" (2007), features the lyrics 'They said you need to play it better, they said just sing like Eddie Vedder.'

External links

(Pearl Jam's Ten Club)

(Given to Wail) - Information on Eddie Vedder's equipment in the Gear section of the site

(A Conversation with Eddie Vedder and Tomas Young) at (Body of War)


This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article about Eddie Vedder.