Eddie Vedder, to anyone who has paid attention to his now three-plus decades in the spotlight, is a massive fan of The Who. Refer to Pearl Jam’s frequent covers of ‘Baba O’Riley’, or perhaps the frequency with which Vedder emulates Pete Townshend’s signature windmill guitar playing on songs like ‘Better Man’, or just look at all the times Vedder has joined The Who on stage for evidence of his massive geekdom.
Or maybe just listen to him in any one of various interviews where he gushes about the mod rockers. It’s hard to pin down just which album Vedder connected to most because he’s sung the praises of pretty much everything that the band has released.
“I was around nine when a babysitter snuck Who’s Next onto the turntable,” he told Rolling Stone in 2016. “The parents were gone. The windows shook. The shelves were rattling. Rock & roll. That began an exploration into music that had soul, rebellion, aggression, affection. Destruction. And this was all Who music.”
Vedder had a pretty cool babysitter, considering how that same one apparently gave him Tommy too. “I think a babysitter brought over Tommy. And I’m already into The White Album, so I’m used to, like, two hours of music. I was moved by the theatricality of Tommy. It had an overture, a theme. I got really into listening to it as a linear piece. It went beyond the three-minute song. When you hear these things early on, it changes how you feel about music; you start accepting things that are different.”
Vedder didn’t just keep it reserved to the band’s studio output, as he was effusive about Live at Leeds as well. “Imagine, as a kid, stumbling upon the locomotive that is Live at Leeds. ‘Hi, my name is Eddie. I’m 10 years old and I’m getting my fucking mind blown!”
Once again it’s hard to say which album is Vedder’s favourite, considering that he’s also performed Quadrophenia cuts like ‘I’m One’ and ‘The Punk and The Godfather’ onstage with The Who. Maybe trying to narrow it down is an exercise in futility: Vedder is just a massive fan of The Who, including all of their recorded output.
Fandom doesn’t restrict itself to one album, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a bigger Who fan than Eddie Vedder.