They’re still alive: Pearl Jam’s ‘Ten’ turns 30

Epic Records

Pearl Jam‘s Ten is now officially three times as old as its title.

The grunge band’s iconic debut album was released August 27, 1991 — 30 years ago today. The RIAA Diamond-certified record is now considered one of the defining records of the ’90s alternative rock scene.

Pearl Jam released Ten just one year after they were founded in 1990. After playing together in the band Mother Love Bone, which dissolved after the death of frontman Andrew Wood, guitarist Stone Gossard and bassist Jeff Ament formed a new band with fellow Seattle musician Mike McCready. They then eventually recruited lead vocalist Eddie Vedder from San Diego, and drummer Dave Krusen.

Originally named Mookie Blaylock after the NBA point guard, Pearl Jam adopted a new moniker after they signed a record deal. The album title Ten is a reference to Blaylock’s jersey number.

Despite its now legendary status, Ten wasn’t an out-of-the-gate hit. That September, though, Nirvana released “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and Nevermind, and by the end of 1991 and into 1992, the grunge sensation was officially in full swing. Ten would eventually hit number two on the Billboard 200, and Pearl Jam joined Nirvana as the faces of the suddenly popular Seattle sound.

Ten‘s success was buoyed by singles including “Even Flow,” “Alive” and the Grammy-nominated “Jeremy.” “Jeremy” was also accompanied by a shocking video, which showed a young student killing himself in front of his classmates, though the scene of the student putting the gun into his mouth was infamously censored. Despite its controversy, “Jeremy” won the 1993 MTV VMA Video of the Year.

Interestingly, Ten isn’t the only PJ album celebrating a milestone anniversary today. The band’s polarizing fourth album, No Code, was released 25 years ago on August 27, 1996.

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