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Pearl Jam Influences: The legacy of Grunge’s only survivors

With the release of Pearl Jam’s new 2024 album, Dark Matter, Grunge fans will surely find a breath of fresh air. It’s really comforting that Eddie Vedder’s band is still around. But, how has PJ’s essence endured so many years? To get the whole picture, let’s delve into the influences of Pearl Jam, the sole survivors of the great 90’s Grunge era.

Pearl Jam's influences: they evolved from their hard rock roots to revolutionary grunge

Pearl Jam’s legacy remains undeniable even in the new millennium, drawing direct inspiration from classic rock bands from the seventies. Alongside Nirvana, Soundgarden, and Alice in Chains, they solidified their position as one of Grunge’s most significant bands.

As the only active band today from Seattle’s iconic music scene, Pearl Jam’s latest offering, Dark Matter, serves as a testament to their enduring influence, inspiring many rock artists well into the 2000s.

Ready to explore Pearl Jam’s music style and influence? Let’s dive in.

Which artists influenced Pearl Jam?

Neil Young

Neil Young’s influence on Pearl Jam’s music is one of the most notable. In fact, Neil is known as the “Godfather of Grunge” for his powerful and rocky style, with echoes of country and folk. Pearl Jam really admire Neil Young’s style, and they even have recorded an album with him: 1995’s Mirror Ball. Both acts have also shared the stage several times, and Pearl Jam often plays Neil Young’s classic Rockin’ in the Free World at their concerts.

The Who

Pearl Jam are also big fans of British mod rockers The Who, having covered Love Reign o’er me and The Real Me for the VH1 Rock Honors in 2008. The wild live performances of Pete Townshend and his band have been a major influence on Eddie Vedder and his mate’s rock attitude, delivering some of the best live shows one can witness today. It is no wonder that Pearl Jam’s powerful sound, as well as insightful lyrics, are in fact inspired by this great classic band from London.

Led Zeppelin

Truly inspiring, Led Zeppelin is almost like a must for every rock guitarist. Certainly, both PJ’s guitar players, Mike McCready, and Stone Gossard, have drawn inspiration from Jimmy Page’s signature guitar sound, which practically shaped all hard rock bands that came after them.

On this side, drummer Matt Cameron’s powerful style is very reminiscent of John Bonham’s unique approach to this instrument. Where can we hear this Zeppelin influence on Pearl Jam? Gigaton’s third single, Quick Escape, is a good example, as it showcases an impeccable and powerful rhythm section, worthy of both Bonzo and bassist John Paul Jones.

Note aside: as we have already seen, Matt Cameron brought the sound of Led Zeppelin to the influences of Soundgarden as well.

The Ramones

Another band that Pearl Jam often covers live is The Ramones. The influence of the New York punk quartet becomes more noticeable starting from Pearl Jam’s album No Code with direct and rough tracks like Mankind or Hail, Hail. This influence is accentuated in PJ’s 2009 album Backspacer. Also, Pearl Jam often perform live I Believe in Miracles, originally by The Ramones, from their 1989 album Brain Drain.

If you are curious to learn more about this fundamental punk rock band, check out our chart about The Ramones’ musical influences.

The Doors

How could we not talk about one of singer Eddie Vedder’s most notable inspirations, Jim Morrison? Definitely, Pearl Jam’s signature vocals are wild, powerful, and emotional. Evidently, Vedder owes this to one of its clearest references, the legendary frontman of The Doors. In addition to his singing style, the passages and atmospheres recreated by Morrison and his bandmates were also an inspiration for many of Pearl Jam’s songs, on their most experimental side.

In 1993, when The Doors were inducted into the Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame, the surviving members of The Doors called on the singer of Pearl Jam to perform classics like Light My Fire, Roadhouse Blues, and Break On Through. If you want to know more about the influences of the iconic Lizard King, you can find the post about Jim Morrison and The Doors’ influences here, including his literary references.


Kiss is a fundamental reference for Pearl Jam’s guitar style and hard rocking sound. The iconic band of the seventies, famous for wearing masks and their spectacular pyrotechnic shows, is a favorite of several Pearl Jam members, such as bassist Jeff Ament and drummer Matt Cameron. Guitarist Mike McCready is a big Kiss fan, and he admires Ace Frehley’s guitar sound.

Curious about this other famous hard rock masked band? Check out our post about the complete history of Kiss, and learn all the details.

Pink Floyd

Pink Floyd is another influence on Pearl Jam, especially in their 2000 era. In addition to this, the grunge pioneers have covered live songs like Interstellar Overdrive, Mother, and Comfortably Numb on several occasions.

But the bands and artists that have influenced Pearl Jam don’t stop at what we’ve summarized here. To expand this list, we could obviously include Patti Smith, Guns N’ Roses, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and The Clash.

Now, let’s move to the other side of the graph, to talk about why Pearl Jam is so important today.

Which bands and artists has Pearl Jam influenced?

The Strokes

When indie rock heroes The Strokes started playing, they were inspired by the classic Yellow Ledbetter, a b-side from the album Ten (1991). In fact, this might be one of my favorite references in terms of musical inspirations. Pearl Jam really did provide a role model for these New York indie rock titans, with smart lyrics and powerful crunchy sound. Also, Julian Casablancas’ raw vocal style is inspired by Eddie Vedder’s vocal inflections.

If you would like to learn more about this, in this other post we cover The Strokes musical influences, which of course references Pearl Jam.

St. Vincent

St. Vincent has declared her love for Pearl Jam on several occasions. Perhaps the most notable signs of appreciation have been her live performances of songs like Black (a Ten’s classic) or Tremor Christ (from the 1994 album, Vitalogy).


Evanescence’s frontwoman, Amy Lee, explained that Pearl Jam’s debut album was a major influence on her musical beginnings, and almost became an obsession for her. According to the singer, she was inspired as a songwriter by songs like Black, Jeremy, and Alive. Indeed, in Evanescence’s lyrics, you can perceive the dramatic tone specifically inspired by Pearl Jam’s realistic and sometimes autobiographical lyrics.


“What is the song you wish you had written?”, a fan asked Halestorm’s frontwoman, Lzzy Hale, on Twitter (now X). “Don’t Call Me Daughter” by Pearl Jam,” the singer responded. She was referring to Daughter, the classic track from Vs., Pearl Jam’s second album, and one of the band’s most popular songs. Being notably inspired by heavy metal, Halestorm was also greatly influenced by hard rock and grunge bands in their guitar style. Not only in this aspect is Pearl Jam’s influence notable, but also in several of the ballads by the rock group led by Lzzy.


Incubus’ complex and powerful sound has been impacted by Pearl Jam. It is known that many of the band’s members are Pearl Jam fans. As a side note to this, it is worth remembering that guitarist Mike Eizinger had to refute his alleged involvement in PJ’s album Lightning Bolt.


This is an obvious something musical influence. Creed’s friendly metal classics were always compared to Pearl Jam. It is almost impossible not to notice the similarity between Scott Stapp’s vocal style and that of Vedder. On the other hand, some of the songs written by Creed’s guitarist, Mark Tremonti, bear some similarities to the ones included in Pearl Jam’s debut album, Ten.

Linkin Park

Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington drew inspiration from Pearl Jam’s debut album, Ten, citing it as a significant influence on his musical journey. As part of the new metal movement from the early 2000s, Linkin Park was influenced by their grunge predecessors, like Nirvana, Soundgarden, and of course, Pearl Jam. Chester even sang PJ’s classic, Alive, during rehearsals.

For how long can we keep talking about PJ’s legacy? Well, we certainly could keep expanding this list for quite a while, with bands like Matchbox Twenty, Collective Soul, and The Pretty Reckless also citing Pearl Jam as a key influence. Will Dark Matter stand the test of time and continue to expand Pearl Jam’s influence? Only time will tell. As Pearl Jam’s legacy continues to evolve with each new release, their status as the sole survivors of Grunge remains unchallenged.

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