Pearl Jam, the band that dominated American rock & roll in the '90s even as they fought the control and commercialism of the recording industry, is still rockiní out, almost 20 years after their inception. In 2009, they released their ninth studio album, Backspacer, touring to support the release, and has continued to tour since, both for their own fans and to support a multitude of activist causes, including Habitat for Humanity and the American Red Cross.
Guitarist Stone Gossard and bassist Jeff Ament had helped create a promising Seattle-based group called Mother Love Bone, which fell apart in 1990 after its flamboyant lead vocalist Andrew Wood died of a heroin overdose. When Gossard and Ament were ready to rejoin the music scene, they brought together Mike McCready on lead guitar, Dave Krusen on drums and Eddie Vedder on lead vocals. They named themselves 'Mookie Blaylock,' but to avoid legal complications of using the name of a living person, in fact, an active player in the NBA, they chose again, this time Pearl Jam. The formation of the new group had involved a demo record; many of its songs were packaged as part of their multi-platinum album, Ten, a year later.
The Grunge rock phenomenon swept the group to superstardom. They continued to produce multi-platinum albums, despite their refusal to be forced into making videos or charging the high prices demanded by Ticketmaster. Legal conflicts ensued, with the Justice Department eventually ruling against Pearl Jam. The hassles did not prevent their winning the 1995 Grammy for Best Hard Rock Performance with the song 'Spin the Black Circle.' An even bigger hit was their cover of an oldie by the name of 'Last Kiss.'
Riot Act, named for the 1715 British law designed to keep groups from assembling in protest, was Pearl Jam's seventh album, or 80th if you count the 73 full European and American dates recorded in full and released in an unprecedented series of double-CD sets released in 2001 and 2002. The practice of recording every concert continues, and will be repeated again. But nothing can match the fun of getting your tickets and becoming part of the action.
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