Pearl Jam is an American rock band that formed in Seattle, Washington, in 1990. Since its inception, the band's line-up has included Eddie Vedder (lead vocals, guitar), Jeff Ament (bass guitar), Stone Gossard (rhythm guitar), and Mike McCready (lead guitar). The band's current drummer is Matt Cameron, also of Soundgarden, who has been with the band since 1998.
Formed after the demise of Ament and Gossard's previous band Mother Love Bone, Pearl Jam broke into the mainstream with its debut album, Ten. One of the key bands of the grunge movement in the early 1990s, Pearl Jam was criticized early on as being a corporate cash-in on the alternative rock explosion. However, over the course of the band's career its members became noted for their refusal to adhere to traditional music industry practices, including refusing to make music videos and engaging in a much-publicized boycott of Ticketmaster. In 2006, Rolling Stone described the band as having "spent much of the past decade deliberately tearing apart their own fame."
Since its inception, the band has sold over thirty million records in the U.S. and an estimated sixty million worldwide. Pearl Jam has outlasted many of its contemporaries from the alternative rock breakthrough of the early 1990s, and is considered one of the most influential bands of the decade. Allmusic refers to Pearl Jam as "the most popular American rock & roll band of the '90s."Compared with the other grunge bands of the early 1990s, Pearl Jamís style is noticeably less heavy and harkens back to the classic rock music of the 1970s. Pearl Jam has cited many punk rock and classic rock bands as influences, including The Who, Neil Young, and the Ramones. Pearl Jamís success has been attributed to its sound, which fuses "the riff-heavy stadium rock of the '70s with the grit and anger of '80s post-punk, without ever neglecting hooks and choruses." Gossard's rhythm guitar style is known for its sense of beat and groove, while McCready's lead guitar style, influenced by artists such as Jimi Hendrix, has been described as "feel-oriented" and "rootsy."
Pearl Jam has broadened its musical range with subsequent releases. As he had more influence on the band's sound, Vedder sought to make the band's musical output less catchy. He said, "I felt that with more popularity, we were going to be crushed, our heads were going to pop like grapes." By 1994ís Vitalogy, the band began to incorporate more punk influences into its music. The bandís 1996 album, No Code, was a deliberate break from the musical style of Ten. The songs on the album featured elements of garage rock, worldbeat, and experimentalism. After 1998ís Yield, which was somewhat of a return to the straightforward rock approach of the band's early work, the band dabbled with experimental art rock on 2000ís Binaural and folk rock elements on 2002ís Riot Act. The bandís 2006 album, Pearl Jam, was cited as a return to the bandís early sound. The band's 2009 album, Backspacer, contains elements of pop and New Wave.
Critic Jim DeRogatis describes Vedder's vocals as a "Jim Morrison-like vocal growl." Greg Prato of Allmusic said, "With his hard-hitting and often confessional lyrical style and Jim Morrison-esque baritone, Vedder also became one of the most copied lead singers in all of rock." Vedder's lyrical topics range from personal ("Alive", "Better Man") to social and political concerns ("Even Flow", "World Wide Suicide"). His lyrics have often invoked the use of storytelling and have included themes of freedom, individualism, and sympathy for troubled individuals. When the band started, Gossard and McCready were clearly designated as rhythm and lead guitarists, respectively. The dynamic began to change when Vedder started to play more rhythm guitar during the Vitalogy era. McCready said in 2006, "Even though there are three guitars, I think there's maybe more room now. Stone will pull back and play a two-note line and Ed will do a power chord thing, and I fit into all that."