Eddie Vedder on the band that “incalculably enriched my life”

Eddie Vedder

For any aspiring musician, there are a few bands that will always be there for them. It can be difficult to find inspiration at times. But every artist returns to their musical roots to be inspired, usually by listening to the records that inspired them to make music in the first place. Many people can connect with their favorite artists through the sounds of vinyl. But one classic rock staple touched Eddie Vedder on a spiritual level.

Vedder first decided to pursue music full-time. But he never imagined he’d become one of the world’s most famous rock stars. It was entertaining to imagine what it would be like. Vedder was convinced that becoming a successful musician and touring the world was not in his future. So he took a job as a gas station attendant in San Diego and played music as a hobby.

After forming a relationship with former Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist Jack Irons, Vedder was able to relocate to the North to play with a band called Mookie Blaylock, which later became Pearl Jam. He had no plans to play more than a few local shows. But the band’s music quickly spread beyond the area, making Ten one of the decade’s biggest debut releases.

Most musicians would celebrate such a feat but Vedder was hesitant. He believed that he was unprepared for the massive adulation that came with success. Vedder may have felt lost in his thoughts for the majority of his time in the spotlight, Pete Townshend had seen it all before.

Not wanting to stay with The Who for more than a few years, Townshend dealt with fame by devoting all of his energy to his music. On albums such as Tommy and Quadrophenia, Townshend told intricate stories about disturbing topics. He spoke for many rock fans who didn’t know how to express themselves. It included Vedder when he first became interested in music.

Vedder became enamored with albums such as Live at Leeds and Quadrophenia. Later he spoke to Rolling Stone about how much The Who influenced his understanding of music. He said, “I speak for all Who fans when I say that being a fan of the Who has incalculably enriched my life.What bothers me about the Who is how they smashed through every door of rock and roll, leaving rubble and little else for the rest of us to claim.

Outside of their chaotic shows, Vedder could relate to Townshend’s search for spiritual fulfillment through music. Vedder would use Pearl Jam songs like ‘Black‘ to translate his thoughts into something transcendent. It turned a traditional tale of heartache into an emotional exorcism whenever he performed live.

The Pearl Jam frontman would also take cues from how Townshend structured his pieces. He transformed the first handful of Pearl Jam demos given to him into a short rock opera called MamaSon. The massive hit ‘Alive‘ served as the story’s first act. Eddie Vedder may have felt lost in the world before he became famous. As Townshend began to embrace his rock star persona, one could consider him the rock and roll stepfather.

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