Friday, June 26, 2009

A Little Vedder Preview From The Honolulu Star Bulletin

 In the lead up to Eddie's Hawaii shows next week, the Honolulu Star Bulletin notices a distinct lack of publicity.

This is a great time to be Eddie Vedder! Tickets for his two shows at the Hawaii Theater sold out so fast back in April -- blink once and you missed out! -- that all he has to do is find the theater, get paid, and then walk out on stage and do the show.

No need to talk to the press about his experiences on his latest tour without Pearl Jam, or what he plans to do after the tour ends here next Thursday, or, perhaps, a few words on behalf of some of the social issues he supports.

No need to show some love to the local radio stations that play his music by doing one of those celebrity station ID spots -- "Hi, I'm Eddie Vedder, and you're listening to [insert name of station here]!" As Jerry Reed put it so well back in 1971 with his Grammy Award-winning country cross-over hit, "When You're Hot, You're Hot."

Vedder is hot.

All things considered, he's earned the right to play "incommunicado," if that's what he wants to do. He's put in his time, paid his dues, and worked hard -- very hard -- for almost 25 years to get to where he is. Vedder didn't have stardom handed to him the way that Bob Marcucci and Pete DeAngelis made-over handsome 14-year old Fabiano Forte into one-name teen idol Fabian.

Nor did Vedder come into the business with the advantages that can come with having a father who has entertainment industry connections. Ricky Nelson, Gary Lewis, Nancy Sinatra and Dino, Desi & Billy all might have made the national pop charts on their own, but it certainly didn't hurt their chances that Ricky's father, Ozzie Nelson, was a former bandleader and producer of the family television show, that Jerry Lewis and Frank Sinatra were international "A-List" celebrities, and that Dino and Desi were the sons of Dean Martin and Desi Arnaz, respectively.

In contrast, and without delving too deep into what is now ancient history for Pearl Jam and Eddie Vedder fans, Vedder got where he is today with no help from either of his fathers.

Vedder didn't learn that Edward Louis Severson Jr., was his biological father, and not merely a friend of his parents, Karen and Peter Mueller, until after his father had died. No help from Dad there. Vedder's mother and stepfather divorced prior to Severson's death, while he was still in high school.

At first, he stayed with his stepfather so that he wouldn't have to change high schools, but by the time he was a senior, he was living on his own, going to high school and supporting himself by working nights.

No help there either.

Vedder eventually dropped out of school, joined his mother and the rest of the family in Chicago and got a job as a waiter; he also earned his GED. Several years later he returned to California and recorded demo tapes while working a variety of odd jobs. He was in and out of several bands in the late '80s -- The Butts, Indian Style and Bad Radio, to name three.

Vedder was working part-time at a gas station when a friend told him that some musicians in Seattle were looking for a singer. Vedder listened to their demo tape, wrote lyrics for three of their songs, recorded the vocals, and sent the tape to Seattle.

He was invited to audition, got the job, and the band became Pearl Jam.

Vedder and Pearl Jam have enjoyed almost non-stop success for two decades despite several abrupt personnel changes, a long-time refusal to make music videos, and a three-year boycott of Ticketmaster in the mid-'90s that received almost no support from their peers in the industry.

Eddie Vedder is known for speaking out on social and political issues between songs at his concerts. Maybe he feels that's the best way to reach the public on behalf of the causes he supports.

Oh well. Maybe next time.