Pearl Jam: Twenty Inspiring Years

By Carlos Roberto

Eddie Vedder lead vocals, guitars; Matt Cameron on the drums; Stone Gossard rhythm guitar; Mike McCready lead guitar; and Jeff Ament bass guitar.

If you know me at all, you know how much the band Pearl Jam inspires me; whenever I hear their music, I feel of rush of creativity, and am inspired to aim for greatness. While I realize it’s a tad cliché, the band changed my life.

And this inspiration goes beyond the music. We share a passion for our art: Pearl Jam constantly pushes the boundaries during concerts by scaling walls and jumping into the arms of fans—in order to entertain. I do the same: I’ve been known to scale a wall or two to capture a great photo, and constantly throw myself into my work.

I reside in Los Angeles, but am originally from South America—Peru. Nothing about my journey to LA, where I became a photographer and music promoter, was easy. However, Pearl Jam has provided a soundtrack throughout the years and pushed me to persevere.

At times I can’t believe it’s been twenty years. Many fans that were there at the outset are nearing middle age, and the rest aren’t far behind. Those that follow the band closely have become like brothers and sisters in a close family—or the Pearl Jamily as we often refer. Over the years Pearl Jamily has grown up, but like a fine wine, we have only gotten better with time.

Pearl Jam has been described as having “spent much of the past decade deliberately tearing apart their own fame.” Regardless, 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 most of its contemporaries from the alternative rock breakthrough of the early 1990s. And All Music refers to Pearl Jam as “the most popular American rock ‘n’ roll band of the ‘90s (along with Nirvana) that’s become one of the greatest rock bands of all time.”

When asked if he was feeling nostalgic about Pearl Jam’s anniversary, Eddie Vedder replied: “I feel like we have to keep our eyes on the road. Being nostalgic is like taking an off-ramp and getting a sandwich—and then you get back on the highway. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life at the gas station.”

Well, Pearl Jam is taking the time to enjoy a sandwich or two.

To celebrate their milestone, 28,000 members of the Pearl Jamily got together in East Troy, Wisconsin, on Sept. 3 and 4 for a special two-night event at the Alpine Valley Amphitheatre. Despite pouring rain, everyone in attendance watched, listened, and celebrated Pearl Jam and the icons they have become over the last two decades. The band opened with “Release” from their debut album Ten. Next up, a cover of “Arms Aloft” by Joe Strummer and The Mescaleros perfectly picked up the tempo before rolling into “Do the Evolution” from the often-overlooked album Yield. The band picked this site not just because of Wisconsin’s central location in the U.S., but because it served as a pristine getaway to spend time with old friends who have been there since the early days.

In addition to more concerts, the band is releasing a Cameron Crowe-directed film, Pearl Jam Twenty, which captures the bands inspiring journey over the years—along with an accompanying book and soundtrack. Pearl Jam will also be taking their 20th anniversary festivities south and will be playing in parts of Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Peru, Costa Rica, and Mexico City.

A complete list of the festivities and tour dates can be found on the band’s website, www.pearljam.com.


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