'I'd Put Pearl Jam on Top of That List': Northwest Rock Veterans Discuss the Band's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction
Pearl Jam's upcoming Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction is giving Seattle's so-called grunge scene of the late '80s and early '90s reason to cheer again.
The group will become part of the Rock Hall's class of 2017, joining Journey, Electric Light Orchestra, Yes, Tupac Shakur, Joan Baez and Nile Rodgers on April 7 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. They'll be joining Nirvana, who was inducted at the same venue in 2014 -- like Pearl Jam, its first year of eligibility. That's given some pre-holiday cheer to some of the band's peers, though one thinks the Rock Hall may have gotten the order of induction wrong.
"I would imagine if you had to think of all the bands that came out of Seattle, out of our scene, the first band I would think of would be Pearl Jam, and the next one I would've said should be Nirvana," Soundgarden guitarist Kim Thayil tells Billboard. "Now, of course, rock 'n' roll journalists have a different perspective; they put Nirvana in first because of the cultural impact. But I'd put Pearl Jam on top of that list. They're certainly one of the hugest bands in the world, most successful bands, very influential. And obviously Pearl Jam has the greater body of work and greater longevity."
A similar view is voiced by Alter Bridge and Slash & the Conspirators frontman Myles Kennedy, a Pacific Northwest resident of some three decades. "[Pearl Jam] was such a phenomenon," Kennedy says. "They were so massive there for awhile, and it had such a profound effect, in a different way than Nirvana did. Nevermind was a total game-changer, but the public really embraced Ten. It was such a big thing, so I think they definitely deserve to make it into the Hall of Fame."
Kennedy added that the circumstances surrounding Pearl Jam's very existence make for a Hall of Fame-caliber story. "I remember when Mother Love Bone was a big thing over here, and a lot of people thought that they were going to be a massive band, and then unfortunately Andrew [Wood] passed away," Kennedy recalls. "That was really sad for the music community in general, and especially in Seattle, 'cause there was so much potential there. But the way it all played out, when they found Eddie [Vedder] and had the sort of success they did -- it's nothing short of miraculous."
Nirvana and Pearl Jam are likely just the cusp of at least a small charge that will come into the Rock Hall from the same scene. Soundgarden, whose first album came out in 1988, would seem a likely future candidate as well, but Thayil contends that it's not something the group focuses on.
"I almost never think about the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame," Thayil says. "It wasn't part of my experience growing up. There wasn't one, so I didn't think of the bands that I loved in terms of a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. And it's an odd thing, because it doesn't measure some quantifiable attribute of, say, a baseball hall of fame or a basketball hall of fame."
"I don't think of creative pursuits as something that's quantifiable," the guitarist continues. "Record companies do, of course, but I don't think fans and certainly musicians think that way. So that makes it an odd kind of thing to wrap your head around, which is why it's probably best left alone, you know?"