There really very few people who can claim to have been as consistently brilliant as Pearl Jam. Not a band who have ever truly compromised themselves in the pursuit of success, the alt-rock legends have gained all the notoriety and fortune they need form making standout songs and providing a live show like no other. One of the main reasons for that success is their lead singer Eddie Vedder.
One of the ultimate rock singers, Vedder has made the position his own, setting a blueprint for all other rock vocalists to follow. However, that doesn’t mean he hasn’t had his own inspirations too. Vedder, one of the loudest advocates of music’s power to heal and to help, has never been shy in his admiration for artists but some bands and singers just resonate more loudly with him than others. Below, we’ve got seven of his favourites.
You’d be forgiven for growing a serious ego as the leading man for Pearl Jam. One of the few bands to have remained unchanged by either fame, fortune or fatigue, what the group may possibly lack in avant-garde adventure they make up for in pure and unbridled songwriting. The group are rock stalwarts and rightly deserve all the acclaim they get.
It has made Vedder one of the most sought after rock singers of his generation and has seen the star sing on many different tracks. It is here that we are given the first inkling of his favourite acts while others Vedder outrightly shares his adoration for at every turn. While this list is not in any particular order, the acts do sit atop his list of favourite musicians (something we imagine changes almost every day and could equally include Pixies, Soundgarden, The Who and more), we can be certain of their place in his heart.
Eddie Vedder’s favourite musicians:
One of the most eccentric bands to have ever released a record, Devo are a muso’s choice. It shows off just how dedicated to music Vedder is that he would consider such a band one of his favourites. Confirmation of his love for the band came in 2009 when he and the rest of Pearl Jam dressed up as Devo, energy domes and all, for a special performance of ‘Whip It’.
“I think that Ed decided we were going to do that,” Pearl Jam guitarist Stone Gossard told Rolling Stone in 2009. “We talked about it a month ago and it didn’t really sink in. When I knew we were going to do it and I listened to that song I really started thinking about the impact of Devo. They mean so much to us and it really was a salute to them.”
If you’re a little confused about the connection Vedder and the rest of the band had to Devo you’d be forgiven, as Gossard explains, “If you thought back to Pearl Jam ten years ago, you wouldn’t immediately think we’d be celebrating Devo,” he said.
“You wouldn’t have heard we even liked that band, but everyone in this band was affected by that band. In my perspective, their place in Western pop-music history is pretty clear. They broke down a real barrier of what is typical rock and what you can do within the framework of rock and how you can challenge convention.”
If there was one place on this list that was guaranteed it was the Ramones. A self-confessed super fan, Vedder has long championed the group as one of the most influential in rock and even found himself sharing the stage with his heroes at their last ever show in 1996.
When Vedder was invited to perform with the band, he needed no time to think about taking the opportunity with two greedy hands. The clip below shows the moment he got to join his adolescent heroes on stage for a special cover. The Ramones, ever the disruptive brats they were, chose to finish their set with not a classic Ramones hit but a cover.
The love affair between Vedder and the Ramones had been raging on since the singer first caught wind of the leather-clad punks. Vedder even went on to become great friends with Johnny Ramone, inducting the band into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, proclaiming: “They were armed with two-minute songs that they rattled off like machinegun fire and it was enough to change the Earth’s revolution.” The speech went on for 17 minutes and accurately chronicled Vedder’s adoration for the group.
When Vedder visited the Ramones museum he left behind a letter which read: “Long live the Ramones… the wave that is all breaking all the time — and to my good friend Johnny, how I miss you… Every day and forever… Wish you were here… Then again, you are.”
Undoubtedly one of the greatest songwriters in American history, Bruce Springsteen’s unfiltered recollections of the everyday lives of average Americans has made him a hero among many artists and Vedder is certainly one of them. The two men have shared the stage on numerous occasions and, it turns out, are good friends too.
In fact, just this year, Vedder revealed the vital information Springsteen shared with him when the Pearl Jam frontman was nervous about going on stage solo. “He said, ‘There’s real power when there’s just one person up there. It’s terrifying, for the audience even. It’s a tight-wire act. There’s just something, an intimacy in it, and there’s a power in it.’” Vedder said that it was “one of the greatest things to hear, because suddenly you didn’t feel as vulnerable.”
Where the advice was likely very well received, it was the musical blueprint that Springsteen left that is likely more attuned to Vedder’s work. The Boss’ gruff tone and yet vulnerable stance has led him to become one of the finest storytellers in music and it’s something Vedder applies to his own work.
Watch Vedder and Bruce Springsteen share the stage to sing ‘Better Man’ below.
There aren’t many rock singers of a certain age who won’t cite Bob Dylan as one of the greatest influence of their lives. The freewheelin’ troubadour has had such an impact on music that it is increasingly impossible to ignore him as one of the founding pillars of pop. Vedder certainly thinks so and has covered the singer on numerous occasions.
Throughout Vedder’s career he has jumped on the mic and provided an expert vocal performance of Dylan’s most loved songs including ‘I Shall Be Released’, ‘The Times They Are A-Changing’ and ‘Masters of War’, the latter of which came in 1992 as part of the celebration for Dylan.
The anti-war message of the song is one that Vedder truly belives in which is reflected in his cover which is delivered straight from the heart. “I swear to fucking God, there are people out there who are looking for a reason to kill! They’re looking for a reason to go across borders and take over land that doesn’t belong to them. They should get the fuck out, and mind their own fucking business,” Vedder said on-stage in 2014 which backs up the feeling that inspired Dylan to write ‘Masters of War’ all those decades earlier.
Having covered the star so extensively, it’s fairly easy to assume that Eddie Vedder, perhaps like the rest of the world, is one of Bob Dylan’s biggest fans.
In more recent years, Vedder, who has never turned off his brain to the beauty of modern music, has been beguiled by the work of La Luz. The Los Angeles band have found wide critical acclaim and moderate commercial success with their surf-noir sound and clearly have a fan in Vedder.
Revealed by an online store, the Easy Street, the shop suggested Vedder had become increasingly obsessed by the group. “When Eddie Vedder becomes obsessed with a band, he needs all the material. Between watching the World Series of baseball, composing new songs and practising batting, he sometimes asks us to make a record deal. Ed’s favourite band this year is La Luz.”
As you might imagine, the group were thrilled by the news and have likely been tapping up his phone ever since for a collaboration.
Perhaps a piece of low-hanging fruit but to deny Vedder’s love for the Fab Four would be a grave error. The singer, like almost everybody his age, was completely besotted by John, Paul, George and Ringo. Once selecting their album With The Beatles as one of his favourites of all time, he said: “This is almost a textbook for someone born in 1964.”
“I had a tape that was called ‘Revolver White Album.’ I didn’t find out they were two separate albums until years later. The White Album has songs that appeal to little kids, like ‘Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da,’ Then, if you get into it, you’re listening to ‘Revolution 9.’ I mean, that stuff opens you up. It’s where you first get comfortable with ‘difficult’ listening.”
Since then he has covered nine different Beatles songs from a classic like ‘Blackbird’ to deep cuts like ‘You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away’, all of which speaks to a man completely captivated by the songwriting of The Beatles. However, one time he ended up on the wrong side of Paul McCartney and was accidentally thumped in the face by the Liverpudlian. “I remember when it went away, when the pain subsided and the swelling went down,” he continued. “I kinda missed it.”
Through most of these inclusions, Vedder has paid tribute to his love of the band or artist through cover and, for The Doors, he again joined them on stage. But, unlike most of the other performances, this one fell short. It was during The Doors’ induction into Rock Hall and saw Vedder take to the stage to fill the legendary Jim Morrison’s shoes. Sadly, they didn’t fit.
It’s an awkward performance and one we imagine Vedder would rather forget—but he would never let go of his love for the band. The two artists would also work with each other on occasion with Vedder also taking on the band’s most illustrious tracks too. While The Doors were the kings of counterculture, it was Morrison’s intense and dynamic charisma that Vedder took with him.