Pearl Jam are kind of the grunge equivalent of The Rolling Stones – not quite as popular as their peer superstar group (Nirvana/Beatles) that was more popular but who’s career ended early. Indeed Pearl Jam was among the most popular groups to break out of the Seattle scene but are still recording and remain very popular. Initially tapped as riding the grunge trend with a slightly more mainstream rock sound, the group has live a sort of neo-hippy ethic that remains anything but mainstream. The group consists of Eddie Vedder (lead vocals, guitar), Jeff Ament (bass guitar), Stone Gossard (rhythm guitar), and Mike McCready (lead guitar), and a series of drummers – most notably ex-Soundgarden Matt Cameron.

The group was formed from the ashes of Mother Love Bone, when lead singer Andrew Wood died of an overdose. Gossard and Ament (who were in the seminal grunge group Green River) looked to form a new group and soon started practicing with McCready. Vedder was discovered thanks to a tip from former Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Jack Irons (Irons would join Pearl Jam in 1994).

The group’s debut album Ten was released in the summer of 1991, becoming one of the most mainstream early “alternative” albums. Though many songs had a mainstream rock sound, many of the songs dealt with dark subjects such as suicide, loneliness, and murder. The album built slowly, and broke through in the spring of 1992 with the release of the video for “Even Flow” – showcasing the group’s electric live show and very much set in the “plaid” wearing Seattle scene. The album has since sold more than 13 million copies.

Even Flow” started with a massive guitar riff and included lyrics by Vedder about a homeless man. The man in the song is mentally ill/insane. The song was the group’s breakthrough single, hitting #3 on the mainstream rock charts.