Pearl Jam’s Dave Abbruzzese Calls Story About Why Eddie Vedder Wanted Him Fired ‘Bullshit’

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Former Pearl Jam drummer Dave Abbruzzese wrote the following on Facebook:

Just saw something that made my stomach hurt. I don’t know if this is actually true and was part of the PJ20 book, but what I just read is a complete and total crock of shit. Never happened and never could’ve or would’ve happened. I am blown away at this story. How the hell did Brendan Obrien or Nick DiDia allow this to be credited to them? My mind is blown. I would never be so careless or so thoughtless. Here is the bullshit:

Brendan O’Brien: I remember the very last day I saw Dave. He was at the studio in Atlanta, and we were taking a break from Vitalogy. Eddie was having a hard time figuring out how to get his guitar sound going. I knew he was a big Pete Townshend fan, so I went and found him a beautiful gold-top ’69 Les Paul. He came to the studio on one of the last nights we were there, and I said, “Hey, I got you something.” He didn’t know what to say. He really was about to cry. He and I at that time did not have a great relationship, but this was a really nice moment between us.

The next day, I see engineer Nick DiDia shaking his head. He goes, “Dude, you have to figure something out.” Dave was running around because he had to leave early to do something. He says to me, “I knocked this guitar over. I’ll pay to have it fixed.” He’d knocked the headstock off. It was a complete and total accident. I remember saying, “Maybe you should hang around and talk to Eddie about it.” But he’s like, “I gotta go.” Eddie came later, and I showed him the guitar. The look on his face was one of such contempt. I’ll never forget it. I felt so bad. Right after that, Kurt died. We were supposed to get back together and finish, but we took a long break. They didn’t tour. Everyone was thrown for a loop. During that time, Dave was fired. I don’t know that Eddie can ever really look at that guitar the same way. I had it repaired for him beautifully, but it was sort of a metaphor for their relationship. And that was not lost on Nick and I.

-Jonathan Cohen and Mark Wilkerson’s Pearl Jam Twenty.

I just don’t get where this shit comes from. It’s just ridiculous.

  • Corndog

    Has Dave ever given his reasons for why he thinks he was fired? One way or another i reckon it is Eddie’s fault. That is always the impression that i have gotten over the years. Seems Dave was happy with being rich and famous and Eddie didn’t like that at all because he was all about self deprecation and frowning at his shoes at the time. I mean how dare the guy enjoy his success, right? God he was so much better than any other drummer they have ever had. Cameron is crap. He’s so robotic, like a metronome. He plays everything much too fast live and loses any subtlety.

    I’d also be curious to know if Dave has ever encountered anyone from the band since then? Is anyone aware of such a situation?

    • Michael Dolce

      the irony to all this is now Eddie enjoys his celebrity lifestyle… or at least has finally come to terms with it and accepts/embraces it. Dave was also a gun owning Texan. I think philosophically there was resentment even with just that

      • Corndog

        It’s such a shame. His drumming suited their music better than any of the others and they have never sounded as good since they got rid of him.

        • Jason Kentros

          I disagree, each drummer has played well on their respective albums…Jack was ferocious on songs like Habit and Hail Hail, his style was perfect for No Code and Yield. Not saying Dave wouldn’t have been great but Jack deserves credit. Matt’s playing on Binaural matched the more mature and serious tone, I think Dave had an edge and an energy to his playing that was more suited for their aggressive songs.

    • Michael Dolce

      And yeah it’s too bad – Dave was really the driving force behind the intensity of vs and vitalogy. Matt has his moments but if you listne to something like Puzzles and Games then the finished product that became Light Years, you can tell Matt’s kind of being kept in a box a bit for whatever reason. The 12 or so tracks on King Animal sound like a totally different drummer. Jack had his moments too for things like Given To Fly and In My Tree, but rockers like Do THe Evolution always fell short because he has a simplified sound. Ah well, its been so long now, ive come to terms with it and am at peace with the drummer debate

      • Stone Gossardish

        I still like calling that song End of the Day, not Puzzles and Games. I liked the original version and hope they finish it.

        • Michael Dolce

          Yeah me too – i substituted it into my Binaural Playlist in place of Light Years. Has so much more energy to it. If they had played that album right and picked the best songs, the fans would change their mind on its place in PJ history

          • Stone Gossardish

            I like the little tickler riff at the start too. Light Years is a great song too but probably not the most inspired recording. Live, it’s still good. But the jangly rhythmic thing going on in the original is good.

            The key to Binural was killing off the lead single, Letter to the Dead, aka Sad. I get why they took that off the record, but it’s a great song and it would’ve made for a great opener for Binural, meaning it wouldn’t have gotten in the way of the record in that slot.

            PS. Best version of Sad to me is the AOL Sessions version bc whatever they did with Stone’s guitar tone, it worked and has teeth.

      • Trovoid

        King Animal proves our theory that Matt didn’t lose it; he was just in the wrong band. Excellent drumming on that album.

    • nomad

      Dave A was the best drummer PJ had. Matt Cameron is a fantastic and creative drummer in Soundgarden, but his playing in PJ seems completely dull and over-clocked. So many of their great songs have lost their groove when he plays them. It seems he has been musically throttled by EV just like the rest of the band have been. It’s a bummer.

      • Corndog

        I would agree with all of that except the part about his drumming in Soundgarden. I don’t listen to them so i don’t really have an opinion there:)

        If Eddie is the reason that his drumming is so dull and ‘metronomic’ (i think i just made up a word) in PJ, what reason do you think he would have for wanting him to play like that? What do you think his thought processes would be? “Maybe if the drummer sucks they wont notice how bad my voice has gotten”?

        • Trovoid

          Matt was a completely different drummer in Soundgarden because he had more creative control. Even on TOTD I think he sounds great and had some input. I think with Soundgarden he helped them structure the songs and could incorporate his chops and overall style much more. In Pearl Jam he is playing for the song and that’s why he sounds like a metronome. It’s almost like a session musician (where the musician’s part has no personality).

          I know you’re not a Soundgarden fan so you will have to take mine and Nomad’s word for it. He’s a great drummer in a band that doesn’t allow him to express that. On Soundgarden’s 2012 album I was blown away by his performances. That proved to me that he didn’t lose his touch drumming, he just plays it safe in PJ. He has this sort of jazzy touch that doesn’t work with most of PJ’s catalog. Just my two cents!

          • Corndog

            As you say, i’m not that familiar with Soundgarden so i am totally happy to bow to the superior knowledge of both you and Nomad and accept that he is much better in that band. When i hear ‘creative control’ and Cameron in the same sentence though, i think of Evacuation and i get a shiver. Not in a good way:)

          • Trovoid

            It’s very strange, I can’t think of many other drummers who I love in one band and despise in another.. The songs he wrote for Soundgarden worked. Pearl Jam.. not so much. Pearl Jam does better with funky drummers like Dave A and Jack Irons. Mike, Stone and Jeff write riffs that mesh with certain drummer types.

          • Jason Kentros

            Completely agree about Matt’s playing on King Animal. He’s not utilized in PJ to the same level, which is a shame and a mystery considering how much praise he gets from all of PJ.

        • nomad

          It seems that when EV took control of the band, the music and creativity of the others diminished. They went from being Pearl Jam with significant input from each member to Eddie Vedder and his backing band with limited input from the other four. Everyone in the band besides EV pulled back and played like workhorse session musicians. They have their moments, but a lot of the time it feels like they punch the clock while Eddie puts on his show. That may be why Matt Cameron plays like a metronome in PJ. He’s a very different drummer in Soundgarden.

          • Corndog

            I can understand how that could happen in the early days given the amount of attention that Eddie got. For a lot of folks, myself included, his voice was one of the main draws to Pearl Jam (if not the main draw) and i guess that they just didn’t want to risk losing him.

            That was a long time ago though, and it’s about time they asserted themselves again. I would love a new PJ album that was largely written by Stone as i have always considered him to be the best songwriter in the band. I think that Eddie should stick to lyrics and singing. That is where his strengths lie. He’s never really progressed much as a guitarist.

            I wonder if he is also responsible for that thin tinny guitar tone that they have employed live in recent years. Someone needs to buy those guys a pedal or two:)

          • Kacy Ortiz

            actually that’s where you’re wrong, my friend. According to the Pearl Jam Twenty book, when they started out it was Jeff and Stone writing the music. Vs. is when Ed started writing a lot and since he was becoming the most recognizable guy in the group, he started to dominate the songwriting starting with Vitalogy and through No Code. Once they started writing for Yield in mid to late 1997, Jeff said Eddie was becoming burnt out from being the guy almost always writing the music and suggested everyone start bringing in their own material so that he’d be under less pressure. Check it out. Its pretty insightful

  • Stone Gossardish

    If those stories are not true it would be rather upsetting relative to PJ20, and would make you wonder what other parts of it are total bs. That story is either 100% true or 100% false, which is unsettling at best.