Childhood & Early Life
Eddie Vedder was born as Edward Louis Severson III on December 23, 1964 in Evanston, Illinois to Karan Lee Vedder and Edward Louis Severson Jr.
When Vedder was just one year old his parents separated and his mother remarried Peter Mueller. During his childhood days Vedder believed Mueller to be his biological father and was known by the name of Edward Mueller.
In the Mid-70s, the family moved to San Diego, California. Since his family was large and extensive with seven siblings, young Vedder turned to music to comfort himself. During this time, he attended the San Dieguito High School.
When Vedder was in his teens, his mother and Mueller divorced. Not wanting to change high school, he chose to live with his stepfather, while his mother moved to Chicago. He took up night job at a drug store. During this time, he realized his true parentage.
Since managing work and studies was getting increasingly difficult, he dropped out of high school, joining his family in Chicago. Meanwhile, he changed his name to Eddie Vedder. In the early 1980s, while working as a waiter, he earned his high school GED.
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In 1984, Vedder went back to San Diego. He took up several odd jobs while pursuing a career in music. He started off by recording demo tapes and worked on-and-off in various San Diego bands.
In 1988, he took up the position of a vocalist in the band, Bad Radio. Ever since his inclusion, the band music which centred on progressive funk shifted to alternative rock sound.
His stint with the Bad Radio did not last long. Meanwhile, he met former drummer, Jack Irons of Red Hot Chilli Peppers fame, who encouraged him to try for a band in Seattle. Vedder penned the lyrics and recorded the vocals of the three songs and mailed the demo tapes to Seattle. Interestingly, these three songs eventually became Pearl Jam's “Alive”, “Once”, and “Footsteps”.
Impressed by his vocals, he was invited by Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament who in turn were working for a new project, Temple of the Dog. He not just provided background vocals for the album but went on to sing a duet with Cornell. In 1991, ‘Temple of the Dog’ was released on A&M Records.
While working on ‘Temple of Dog’, Ament, Gossard, and McCready formed Pearl Jam in 1990. They recruited Vedder as one of the drummers for the band. Signing to Epic Records, in 1991, the band came up with their debut album, ‘Ten’.
With their maiden album, ‘Ten’, instead of foraying into mainstream music, Pearl Jam, diverted to alternative music. The risk paid off handsomely as ‘Ten’ went on to become the best-selling alternative music album, having been certified 13x Platinum.
Soon after its release, ‘Ten’ created waves in the music fraternity. Its single, ‘Jeremy’ received two Grammy award nominations and four MTV Video Music Awards. Till date, it ranks at #207 on the Rolling Stone magazine’s List of 50 Greatest Albums of All Time and at #11 on VH1s List of 100 Greatest Songs of 90s.
Post the superlative success of ‘Ten’, the band toured extensively. After the tour without making much ado, the band hit on the studio to record what would eventually become their second offering, ‘Vs.’ Released in 1993, the album set the record for the most number of copies sold in a week.
‘Vs.’ met with overwhelming response from the music fans which can be judged from the fact that for a straight five weeks, it was at #1 on Billboard 200. The album received Grammy Award nominations for Best Rock Album. Its songs, ‘Daughter’ and ‘Go’ received one Grammy award nomination each.
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With two back to back successful albums, expectations were mounting on Pearl Jam to bring out a change in the music scenario. Feeling bowed under the intense pressure, the band decided to cut on the promotion and music video. Furthermore, it boycotted Ticketmaster which limited its touring in United States.
The latter half of 1994 witnessed the release of Pearl Jam’s third studio album, ‘Vitalogy’. The album went on to create a hat trick by becoming the third straight album to reach multi-platinum status. Vedder’s role play in the band changed as he was featured on rhythm guitar, backup vocals and drumming.
Interestingly, songs of ‘Vitalogy’ were themed on the intense pressure of fame felt by the band members. The album went on to receive two Grammy Award nominations. Its single, ‘Spin the Black Circle’ won a Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock Performance. The album made it at #492 on the Rolling Stone magazine's List of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
In 1998, the band came up with their fourth studio album, ‘No Code’. The upward-climbing graph met with a halt as ‘No Code’ despite debuting at #1 on Billboard 200 failed to keep the interest of listeners and soon fell down the charts. Subsequently, the band released ‘Yield’ in 1998, their fifth album. Its single, ‘Do the Evolution’ received Grammy nomination for Best Hard Rock Performance.
In 1998, the band recorded ‘Last Kiss’ a cover of a 1960s ballad made famous by J. Frank Wilson and the Cavaliers. Released as a Christmas single, the song broke all previous records, peaking at #2 on the Billboard charts, thus becoming Pearl Jam’s highest-charting single.
Year 2000 witnessed the release of the band’s sixth studio album, ‘Binaural. Its single, ‘Grievance’ received a Grammy nomination for Best Hard Rock Performance. Meanwhile, from 2000 to 2001, the band released 72 live albums.
In 2002, ‘Pearl Jam’ came up with their seventh consecutive studio album, ‘Riot Act’. Following year, they came up with the song, ‘Man of the Hour’ for 2003 film, ‘Big Fish’, which was nominated for a Golden Globe award. The song was written by Vedder.
The band, ‘Pearl Jam’ released three more studio albums, including ‘Pearl Jam’, Backspacer’ and ‘Lightning Bolt’ in 2006, 2009 and 2013 respectively.
Vedder’s career wasn’t just limited to his contribution in ‘Pearl Jam’. Contrastingly, he dominated the music scene with his solos for several compilations and soundtracks including, ‘Dream Man Walking’, ‘I Am Sam’, ‘Brokendown Melody’, ‘Body of War’, ‘Reign Over Me’ and ‘Better Days’.
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For the 2007 film, ‘Into the Wild’, he contributed an album’s worth songs, including covers for the songs, ‘Hard Sun’ and ‘Society’. Based on folk sound, his maiden album was greatly appreciated as he won several nominations at Golden Globe and Grammy awards.
In 2008, he set forth for his debut solo tour for promoting the soundtrack of ‘Into the Wild’, covering the length and breadth of the country
After a stint of contributions as a band member, in films and several soundtracks and compilations, Vedder finally came up with his second album, ‘Ukulele Songs’ on May 31, 2011. As the title explains, the songs and covers were performed on ukulele.
Vedder’s contribution as a band member wasn’t just limited to ‘Temple of the Dog’ and ‘Pearl Jam’. He instead performed and recorded with numerous other artists and bands. Furthermore, he also made live performances with other artists.
Vedder tried his hand at acting, his debut performance being a cameo role for the film, ‘Singles’. He followed this up with ‘Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story’. He appeared on several documentaries and the television show ‘Portlandia’