During a five-day interview session with Rolling Stone, Pearl Jam vocalist Eddie Vedder reveals during a late-night chat that the band’s recently released, self-titled album was half-inspired by the late Johnny Ramone:
“The truth is — I’m a little sensitive and this is a close, personal relationship. I’ll just say it. Fuck it. Right up front. Half the record is based on the loss of the guy who turned out to be the best friend I ever had on the planet. And that was Johnny Ramone.” Suddenly, the fast tempos and chunky power-chords that dominate Pearl Jam make a lot more sense.
It was an odd friendship: The Ramones guitarist, who died on September 15th, 2004 — a month or so before Pearl Jam began recording sessions for the new album — was a hard-core Republican and, by most accounts, not the warmest guy in the world. “We used to laugh that I made him a nicer human being and that he made me more of an asshole,” Vedder says. Vedder, along with Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist John Frusciante, Vincent Gallo and Rob Zombie, spent hours at Ramone’s house, where he would play them music (on a jukebox, not a guitar) and show film clips of acts from Gene Vincent to the Dead Boys. “We were the students of Johnny Ramone, and forever bonded,” Vedder says. “Never have I experienced a loss of someone I talked to with such frequency, in such depth, with such intimacy.”