Judging by Stone Gossard's credentials -- guitarist in Pearl Jam, participator in numerous side projects, guesting on other artists' records, producer, owner of a Seattle recording studio, record label chairman, and a one-time speaker at a House of Subcommittee hearing in Washington -- he is a true rock & roll renaissance man. Born July 20, 1966, in Seattle, WA, Stone attended Northwestern School of the Arts along with future Mudhoney guitarist Steve Turner. It was as a teenager that Gossard began playing with such Seattle garage bands as the Ducky Boys, March of Crimes, and, eventually, Green River (which also included Turner). Along with such up-and-coming local acts as Soundgarden and the Melvins, Green River helped shape what would eventually be called the "grunge" sound -- heavy metal riffs played with punk's aggression (Black Sabbath meets the Stooges). The band would only issue three independently released EP's before splitting up in 1988, but they left their mark on the burgeoning Seattle movement. Gossard stuck with former Green River bassist Jeff Ament after the splitup, and the pair decided to form a new band that would be more aligned to the glam and classic rock that they admired during their formative years.
The group, Mother Love Bone, featured the flamboyant and striking frontman Andrew Wood (aka "Landrew"). The band immediately drew attention from record companies and was the subject of a bidding war, eventually going with Mercury. The Shine EP was issued in 1989, as many assumed that their forthcoming full-length debut album would rocket them to stardom, but it wasn't meant to be. On the eve of the album's release (titled Apple) in 1990, Wood succumbed to a heroin overdose. Devastated, the band went their separate ways, but ultimately, Gossard and Ament decided to stick together once again and form another band. Soundgarden frontman and former roommate of Wood, Chris Cornell, penned several songs about the late Mother Love Bone vocalist, and asked Gossard and Ament to join in on the recording of the tracks. Prior to the sessions, Gossard received word from a friend in California about a vocalist that would be perfect for their project -- a surfer known as Eddie Vedder. Vedder arrived in Seattle shortly thereafter and was welcomed into their new band, which also included guitarist Mike McCready and a revolving door of drummers. Initially going by the name Mookie Blaylock (named after an NBA player), all four members of the new group played on Cornell's tribute to Wood, titled Temple of the Dog, released in April of 1991 to little fanfare (though it would eventually turn into a big seller a little over a year later).
Gossard's new band ultimately decided to go with another name -- Pearl Jam, issuing their debut album Ten on August 27, 1991. They couldn't have picked a better time to issue it, as the world was just about to be swept up in the whole "Seattle Explosion" (Nirvana, Soundgarden, etc.) By spring of 1992, Ten was rocketing up the charts and making Pearl Jam one of the biggest rock bands in the world. The band's success would continue with such further releases as 1993's Vs., 1994's Vitalogy, 1996's No Code, 1998's Yield, and 2000's Binaural, as well as numerous sold-out world tours (Pearl Jam would also back Neil Young on his 1995 release, Mirror Ball). The band also is one of rock's most politically aware groups, often playing benefit shows, and in 1994, Gossard and Ament spoke out against Ticketmaster in Washington.
In addition to his Pearl Jam duties, Gossard had a cameo appearance with a few of his bandmates in the 1992 Cameron Crowe-directed movie Singles, and formed a side project, Brad, issuing two woefully underrated releases -- 1993's Shame and 1997's Interiors. In addition, he's found time to launch his own record label, Loose Groove, as well as owning the Seattle recording studio, Studio Litho, producing others (Satchel, Weapon of Choice, Critters Buggin, Green Apple Quick Step), and guesting on other artists' recordings (Thermadore, Josh Freese). ~ Greg Prato