King’s X Reveal How Pearl Jam Changed Their View Of Music

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Written by Greg Prato

By the time Pearl Jam was touring in support of their blockbuster Vs. album, the group was a headliner who could assemble bills exactly to their liking.

And since PJ bassist Jeff Ament was a long-time King’s X fan (if you look closely at PJ’s first-ever performance on Saturday Night Live, you will spot him wearing a King’s X shirt), the Texas trio got the nod – opening U.S. shows from March 24 through April 3, 1994.

In this excerpt from my latest book, King’s X: The Oral History, the group’s guitarist, Ty Tabor, explains how eye-opening the tour was for him and his band.

TY TABOR That was absolutely phenomenal. I felt kind of weird, going out and opening for Pearl Jam—only because of what a strange kind of mismatch, vibe-wise, it was. But they wanted us to do it, and we weren’t about to say no. So we did. It’s hard for me to overemphasize what that tour did for me. I remember feeling a bit disillusioned at this point. I was really hating the industry, thinking all of it is crap, all of it is just a game, none of it is real anymore, none of it really matters anymore. All these terrible things I was feeling.

And then we went on the road with Pearl Jam. The first night, we go out and play, and the crowd response is great. Really great. I’m thinking, Well … that’s cool. These people don’t know us at all, and they’re pretty open to it. I wasn’t really expecting that. And this crowd was like no crowd I’d ever seen before. Pretty much everybody was the same age, everybody looked very similar, they all had the same look in their eyes. It was a very strange experience. It was like seeing the 60s again. It was like seeing young hippies. Young free spirits.

And then Pearl Jam comes out—with no mega light show, no pyrotechnics, no BS of any kind. Just playing music from the heart, and not trying to do acrobatics and show off or anything. Sometimes just standing there with their eyes closed, playing the music. And the crowd was engulfed in it, and singing every word. The vibe of it was like the 60s—which I lived through and saw with my own eyes, when I went to park concerts and saw it when it happened for real. I honestly had not seen this since then.

That changed me. It really affected me, in a way that—to this day—I’ve never let go of. Because I had given up on music mattering—music really being able to have an effect anymore. It was all a game of money to me. And I saw—first-hand—Pearl Jam connecting on a different level the way it’s supposed to, the way I believed in and thought was dead. And that let me know, No. You can hold that torch and be real still—and screw the industry. That’s how I felt from that moment forward, and I didn’t give a flying crap about what they wanted or what the industry was doing.

To order a copy of King’s X: The Oral History, click here.

And check out what King’s X drummer Jerry Gaskill had to say to Alternative Nation a while back, concerning his memories of the Pearl Jam tour.