Christmas gives plenty of people a number of reasons to celebrate, but Eddie Vedder has one extra thing to raise a glass to today, as it is his birthday. The Pearl Jam frontman is now 46 years old, and though he has been an integral component of the rock world for most of two decades, in many respects it seems like he’s just getting warmed up.
Of course, Vedder is best known as the singer for Pearl Jam, the band he joined following the end of about-to-break Seattle band Mother Love Bone. Vedder was something of an outsider in the beginning, as he was living in San Diego and not really considering a music career (he was content to surf). But a friend sent him a tape of some demos put together by guitarist Stone Gossard and bassist Jeff Ament, and Vedder paired the with his deeply personal lyrics and signature baritone croon. The rest is rock history.
And while Vedder could have easily cashed checks on Pearl Jam for the rest of his life, his anxious artistic spirit has kept him in an experimental mood for most of his career. He has become as well-known as a collaborator and a solo artist as he has for his Pearl Jam duties. Not long after he joined Pearl Jam, he dropped in on a short-lived supergroup called Temple of the Dog that also featured members of Soundgarden and acted as a tribute to late Mother Love Bone singer Andrew Wood. Along the way, he has also shared stage or studio space with the Who, R.E.M., Neil Young, the Rolling Stones, the Strokes, Bruce Springsteen, Dave Matthews and countless others.
Vedder has also proved himself a valuable asset in the film world, providing soundtrack work for classic films like “Dead Man Walking” and “I’m Not There.” For the 2007 film “Into the Wild,” Vedder performed an entire album’s worth of songs for the movie (including original compositions and a cover of Indio’s “Hard Sun,” which became something of a hit), which lent it another level of gritty majesty.
Of course, Vedder has always prided himself on his social activism as well, and that passion collided with the film world for the 2007 documentary “Body of War,” which featured a Vedder solo song called “No More,” which is one of the finest protest tunes against the war in Iraq.