In a recent Heritage Auctions’ two-day auction in April, people had the chance to own a handful of extremely rare posters tied to what eventually became Pearl Jam. The band’s success with their 1991 debut, Ten, was swift, but getting there was hardly overnight. More like a decade in the works.
The core members of Pearl Jam that were based in Seattle in the 1980s were guitarists Stone Gossard and Mike McCready, and bassist Jeff Ament. Ament was born and raised in a small town in Montana, but he quit college and moved to Seattle in 1983 with his band, Deranged Diction.
Deranged Diction’s recorded output was minimal, aside from a compilation appearance and a demo tape. But we’re excited to share this poster from a show in 1983 where the band opened for the sonic and visual assault force, the Butthole Surfers.
The Austin-based Butthole Surfers were pretty new at the time but big enough to headline a show in Seattle. The other opening band, Ten Minute Warning, featured future Guns N’ Roses bassist, Duff McKagan.
In early 1984, Ament formed a new band with Mark Arm and Steve Turner called Green River. They were not named after the Creedence Clearwater Revival song. It was a reference to the Green River Killer, a serial killer in the area that was not caught until many years later and identified as Gary Ridgway. Eventually, Stone Gossard joined the band. Their Dry As A Bone EP was the debut release for Sub Pop Records in 1987.
For this auction, we have two Green River posters. One is a handbill from the opening night at Gorilla Gardens, which would become a major venue in the local scene. Like the aforementioned Deranged Diction poster, the headliner that night was the Butthole Surfers.
Gorilla Gardens was a part of what was called Rock Theater. (The building also housed the Omni Room.) Gorilla Gardens is frequently cited as the birth of grunge on the venue side, hosting many legendary shows, including Guns N’ Roses, Hüsker Dü, Violent Femmes, and Soundgarden.
The other poster was for a benefit for local radio station KCMU. The band was paired with Slow and Girl Trouble.
Completely unrelated to Green River was Shadow, which guitarist Mike McCready formed when he was in eighth grade. Originally a cover band and named Warrior, Shadow tried to make it in the music business. They even relocated to Los Angeles in hopes of getting a record deal. Dealing with the sham that is pay-to-play (where bands have to sell their own tickets in order to be on the bill), the band did not find success or a record deal, so they broke up in 1988.
In this auction, we had a poster from a Shadow performance in 1984. The band was scheduled to play at 1 in the afternoon on an early September day at the Seattle Center. You can clearly see a young McCready in this.
After Green River broke up in 1987, Gossard and Ament formed a new band with Malfunkshun singer, Andy Wood. With guitarist Bruce Fairweather (a fellow ex-member of Green River) and drummer Greg Gilmore, their band had a name: Mother Love Bone.
By the end of 1988, the band signed a deal with PolyGram subsidiary, Polydor. Their debut EP, Shine, would be released the following year.
A poster in this auction was for two shows in the Pacific Northwest in August of 1988: one at the Central Tavern (with a young Alice in Chains opening up) and another at Natasha’s in Bremerton.
Mother Love Bone’s story had a tragic end when Andy Wood died of a drug overdose in early 1990. His friend/roommate/Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell later wrote a number of songs about Wood and assembled musicians for the project (including Ament, McCready, Gossard, and drummer Matt Cameron). That was known as Temple of the Dog, who would have a major hit with the single, “Hunger Strike.”
Gossard and Ament decided to form a new band with some new musical ideas as well as some leftover ideas from Mother Love Bone. They teamed up with Mike McCready and had Soundgarden drummer Matt Cameron play on some instrumentals on a demo tape. They passed their tape around to various people, hoping to find a singer for the band.
The tape landed in the hands of a San Diego resident who frequently visited a record store owned by Heritage Auctions’ own, Garry Shrum. His name was Eddie Vedder.
Vedder’s voice was nothing like Andy Wood’s, but Gossard, McCready, Ament, and drummer Dave Krusen worked with Vedder and called the band Mookie Blaylock, named after the NBA player of the same name.
Mookie Blaylock did not play a lot of shows, but we have a poster from a show where they opened for Alice in Chains at the Off Ramp in 1991.
The five-piece signed with Epic Records and recorded their debut album. But they decided to change their name to Pearl Jam and named their debut album, Ten, after Mookie Blaylock’s jersey number.
As contemporary bands like Alice In Chains and Soundgarden had decent-selling records on major labels – along with a lot of praise for Sub Pop artists – filmmaker Cameron Crowe decided to make his follow-up to Say Anything in Seattle, where he lived. He knew many local musicians and cast them in his movie, which was called Singles.
For that movie, actor Matt Dillon fronted a made-up band called Citizen Dick which featured Eddie Vedder, Jeff Ament, and Stone Gossard. We have a movie prop/flyer made in this auction. Notice how another band on the bill is Pearl Jam.
The film and its soundtrack were a major success, as was Pearl Jam’s career throughout the 1990s and 2000s. The band continues to this day, having released their eleventh album, Gigaton, in 2020. We have a poster from a few hometown shows at Safeco Field in 2018 in our auction as well.
Learn more about concert posters
Check out GoCollect’s Concert Poster Collecting Guide. Your #1 source for learning about this incredible collectible.