Pearl Jam singer Eddie Vedder turns 50 years old today (Tuesday, December 23rd). Born on December 23rd, 1964 in Evanston, Illinois under the name Edward Severson, Vedder was plucked from relative obscurity to front a new band formed out of the ashes of rising Seattle stars Mother Love Bone in 1990. The band, eventually called Pearl Jam, became perhaps the biggest group to emerge out of the so-called Seattle “grunge” scene, and Vedder became an instant — and often reluctant — hero to millions of fans.
Vedder was born to Karen Lee Vedder and Edward Louis Severson, Jr. His parents divorced in 1965, when Vedder was an infant. His mother soon remarried, to a man named Peter Mueller. Vedder was raised believing that Mueller was his biological father, and he went by the name Edward Mueller for a while
Vedder’s family moved to the San Diego area n the mid-1970s, and Vedder, who had received a guitar from his mother on his 12th birthday, began turning to music and surfing for comfort. His mother and Mueller divorced when Vedder was in his late teens, and Vedder remained in San Diego with Mueller while his mother and brothers moved back to the Chicago area. Vedder later found out that Mueller was not his real father, an event chronicled in the song “Alive.”
Eddie eventually dropped out of high school in his senior year and joined the rest of his family in Chicago, taking his mother’s maiden name of Vedder. By 1984, he got his GED and returned to San Diego with girlfriend — and later, first wife — Beth Liebling. There he began playing with various bands and making demo tapes, becoming the lead singer of Bad Radio in 1988.
After leaving Bad Radio, Vedder met former Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Jack Irons, who gave him a demo tape in 1990 from a band in Seattle, Washington that was looking for a singer. He listened to the tape shortly before going surfing, wrote lyrics for three of the songs, recorded vocals for them and mailed the demo tape back to Seattle. The band invited Vedder to come to Seattle to audition, and he soon became the singer for what would become known as Pearl Jam, while also contributing to the Temple Of The Dog album.
Pearl Jam signed with Epic Records in 1991 and released their debut album, Ten, later that year. It became an instant classic, fueled by monster hits like “Jeremy,” “Alive” and “Black,” and the shy Vedder was turned almost overnight into a rock sensation. Ten sold more than 13 million copies and was the first of several multi-platinum releases for the group, including 1993’s Vs. and 1994’s Vitalogy.
Vedder said in an interview at the time that his issue with fame came from what he stated as “what happens when a lot of these people start thinking you can change their lives or save their lives or whatever and create these impossible f**kin’ expectations that in the end just start tearing you apart.” Vedder was also the target of stalkers during Pearl Jam’s initial period of fame.
Eddie Vedder has sang on a total of 10 albums with Pearl Jam, while recording two solo records — Into The Wild and Ukulele Songs — in 2007 and 2011. He has also contributed songs to a number of other film soundtracks and engaged in various musical collaborations.
Vedder and Beth Liebling were married in 1994, but divorced in 2000. He later married longtime girlfriend, model Jill McCormick, on September 18th, 2010. They have two daughters, 10-year-old Olivia and six-year-old Harper.