...we've got the means to make amends. I am lost, I'm no guide, but I'm by your side. (Pearl Jam, Leash)

Friday, February 03, 2006

Behind the Music: Eddie Vedder, Bad Radio & early Pearl Jam

Look closely at the '80s photo above and you may recognize now famous Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder sporting some extremely questionable fashion choices in 1989 with his band Bad Radio. While living and working in San Diego (as a gas station attendant), Ed was a driven songwriter on a passionate quest to be heard and have his music heard. The early Vedder/Bad Radio recordings are still floating around, both demos and live performances. I think it is interesting to hear that same awesome voice, albeit over some music that sounds pretty, well, 1989. But it is a hell of a lot better than most of the other top albums of 1989 (to refresh your memory, Bobby Brown, Debbie Gibson, Milli Vanilli, and everyone's favorite saccharine American Idol judge, Paula Abdul. That is the year my fifth-grade classmate Carl Harris promised me tickets to the New Kids on the Block concert, and I was sorely disheartened when they did not materialize. Ah, 1989.).

"Believe You Me" - Bad Radio
In 1990, Bad Radio won the battle of the bands (San Diego) contest at Rio's using this song.

"Homeless" - Bad Radio
Interesting to me how the subject matter here is strongly reminiscent of Even Flow. I also love the way his voice soars on the final verse, "Look me in the eye just this one time I mean it, I won't be here tomorrow, there's only one place left to go..."

"Betterman" - Bad Radio
(did you know this was a Bad Radio song? Kind of scratchy live recording, but cool)

While doin' his thing in San Diego, the roots of PJ were beginning to form further up the coast in Seattle. The story is full of kismet: Stone Gossard, Jeff Ament and Mike McCready were already playing together, working on stuff for Temple of the Dog. They had just finished a three-song instrumental demo with Matt Cameron (Soundgarden) on drums. This cassette tape demo found its way down to Vedder via ex-Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Jack Irons, who passed it along to Ed during a hiking trip together.

When Vedder got this instrumental demo tape, he listened to it several times, and then headed out to the companionship of the waves for an afternoon of surfing. Amisdt the solitude of the ocean, lyrics began to percolate. Vedder then dubbed these lyrics as vocals over the cassette tape and called it the Mamasan Trilogy: Part One - Alive, Part Two - Once, and Part 3 - Footsteps. It tells a story which Vedder calls a sort of mini-opera.

Well, the guys in Seattle liked what they heard when the tape was returned to them, and Vedder flew up to Seattle at the end of October 1990 to test the waters musically together. They clicked. That first week of rehearsals (10/23/90) and some of the demo versions of songs that they laid down are still extant, and today you get to hear 'em too:


Even Flow
(will later become one of my favorite songs, Yellow Ledbetter)
Weird A
Daddy Could Swear I Declare


Vedder, Ament, McCready, and Gossard (with the addition of Dave Krusen on drums) called their new band Mookie Blaylock, in reference the pro-basketball point guard of the same name (pictured right....uh, jersey number Ten). This name was changed (legal trademark concerns) in favor of Pearl Jam, after briefly considering the name Reenk Roink, and the band was solidified. And fifteen years later, we all still reap the benefits.

Thanks, as always, to The Sky I Scrape for some of the PJ history.

NOTE: If you dig the "remember when" music history like I do, also jet on over to the featurette that (superfan) Chad put together on Elliott Smith back when he was just a young-un, fronting a band called Stranger Than Fiction. The high school photo is priceless.

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At February 05, 2006 3:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is my first time here and i'm pretty sure i downloaded everything you've posted! great great great work here, thanks!

At February 14, 2006 12:10 AM, Blogger Tama said...

i stumbled my way into your site from the Pearl Jam forum. I've seen quite a few PJ postings here. Keep on the good work and spread love and PJ.

At June 23, 2006 5:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you like the Bad Radio demos, you'll like "Eddie Vedder Solo Home Demos" on Disc 3 of Hallucinogenic Recipe which contains the best song Pearl Jam has never recorded - - I Just Wanted You to Know.


At June 24, 2006 5:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, Heather, where are you in Colorado? I'm in Colorado Springs ... from San Diego. Back in the day, I used to chill with Eddie and Bad Radio - did some shows together and stuff.

Steven Saint

At August 29, 2006 5:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't forget Malfunkshun,Green River, Mr. Epp...and MOTHER LOVE BONE...Mudhoney...
Some classic early Grunge history...as you listen to the bands progress...it's simply amazing....
It's easy to see why PJ is the most famous...it's the most radio friendly....and you can not blam them one bit....and it's still good music...

At November 15, 2006 5:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


ive been rather nostalgic for some Pearl Jam lately, so it was quite nice to stumble across this little bit of history. some of it i knew, but not the details or tracks themselves.

im surprised how strong and distinct Eddie's voice sounded even back then.

btw - Yellow Ledbetter is my favorite song period. what a kick to hear it in its infancy. i love that its taken on so many different incarnations - ever-changing, and yet... you can always sing along to it with a little Eddie mumble.


At January 06, 2007 10:56 PM, Blogger Daddy Rich said...

Heather, what a fool I was thinking I could hook someone like you up with something rare you didn't already have (with better sound, no less). Sigh. One day, I will. Thanks, as always.

At January 14, 2007 7:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tremendous.... I did not have any of their first week demos's. Thanks!!!


At February 06, 2007 11:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for this,it's excellent! Eddie sounds so young but even in the early stages you can tell he and the guys were destined for great things!love the funky 'Daddy..'!Don't suppose you have mtv unplugged lurking anywhere...?Thats raw. Worth asking!

At February 12, 2007 5:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love your words talking about a good group, its my first time here but no the last time I love your Blog.

At February 24, 2007 11:15 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

I am a long time PJ fan, and these recordings are so pure...just fantastic!
Thanks so much for this and take care.

At February 27, 2007 11:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is AMAZING. I have never been able to find this much great Pearl Jam audio... that is so good and so historic in one place. I just have 2 corrections to make off of both this site, and one of the comments left here. The "Eddie Vedder Home Recordings" on Hallucinogenic Recipe, are actually the original Bad Radio demos, taken from both the "Tower Records Demo" and "What The Funk?". Also, the "Live version" of Betterman you have there is in fact not live. Vedder simply took the tape home and dubbed an audience over it. The band still does not know why to this day. You can find a lot of this information by searching for "Crossroads: The Unofficial Bad Radio Site" while it is "unofficial" it does have a lot of interviews with band members that shine light on much of this stuff. GREAT job though. I'm gonna be coming here a lot more now.

At April 01, 2007 5:48 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

hi, your Bad Radio original of 'Betterman' isn't working, i'd really appreciate it if you could get it up and running again :D...also thanks a lot for all the stuff, your a legend :D

At April 26, 2007 10:27 PM, Blogger VEDDER JUNKIE said...


At July 17, 2007 1:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

THANK YOU!!! finally i found a believe you me download.

At July 19, 2007 3:40 AM, Blogger sexysadie68 said...

Thanks Heather. I had the same reaction to Believe You Me as vedder junkie. He just sounds so pure and clean - with that baby face! Wild little puppy. It's hard to believe how well they meshed in just a week. I saw PJ for the first time in April of '92 and I'll never forget it.

At August 11, 2007 10:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

magnificent! Ive been searching for a new "copy" of Girl since my cd with said song was stolen some 10 years ago.
You've made my night.

At August 12, 2007 8:09 AM, Blogger Breno said...

The site is really cool never heard any of bad radios stuff until now thanx for opening my ears to it homeless rocks thanx very much

At August 17, 2007 9:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Check out this site! http://boots.forum2go.nl/ LOADS of audio and video bootlegs!!! Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Korn, Deftones, SOAD...

At August 19, 2007 6:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi there. :) I love your site. :) Would there be a way for you to repost Bad Radio's "Better Man"? I tried downloading it, but it said "Not Found." If it's not possible, then that's ok too. Thanks for the songs. :)

At August 30, 2007 8:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I grew up in San Diego,although I never got a chance to hear them, My Brother played drums with the bassist from bad radio in another band called,"The Jan Brady Experience." They never went too far, but it was during this time I was introduced to the bad radio cassette... I am so glad I can hear those tunes again.

At November 21, 2007 1:30 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a superb, informative and deeply nostalgic post. Thank you.

At November 21, 2007 1:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a superb, informative and deeply nostalgic post. Thank you.

At November 21, 2007 1:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a superb, informative and deeply nostalgic post. Thank you.

At November 30, 2007 11:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

thanks for everything
specially the pre-pearl jam, mookie blaylock, songs

At January 20, 2008 1:07 PM, Blogger Gugel said...

You've officially got a new reader after finding this post.

At May 12, 2008 11:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Superb, I once downloaded a performance from Gimli Motorsport off here. Absolutely quality, makes my life. Love the first week stuff.

At June 18, 2008 11:30 AM, Blogger Stefanos K said...

hey, better man does not work!


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