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A Brief History of
Pearl Jam & David Letterman
[for lack of any other creative title]

The Late Show with David Letterman is unique in that it (or rather Dave) seems to have developed a special relationship with Pearl Jam that works to everyone's advantage. We as fans, who get to see a very very rare television appearance by our favorite band; and the show, which manages to get the band to appear both as musical guests and also in other, smaller, humorous ways. In honor of PJ's third appearance on the show, we offer you a Brief History of Pearl Jam & Dave:

February 1996

For weeks, Dave and Paul had been off on this PJ kick, where Dave would bust out singing the chorus (the "doo doo doo doo doo doo doo" part) to "Black" and Paul would start following along. The shtick was always something like, Dave would start singing, Paul would try to follow, the band would pretend to not be able to do it, Dave would say something like "Can't you make a call," and Paul would say he was working on it. For PJ fans, it was kinda funny, kinda cool.

Imagine our surprise when, one night during this whole thing, the email and posts start flying from people in the eastern time zone: Ed showed up on Letterman and sang! Dave and Paul go into the shtick; Paul says something about, oh, we have a surprise for you, and Ed strolls into the Ed Sullivan Theatre, pulls a cordless mike out of his inside jacket pocket, and sings the chorus, appearing for a grand total of 60 seconds. Not even stopping to talk to Dave, he finishes and walks offstage (but did come back out to let Dave shake his hand).

doo doo doo doo doo doo doo evil grin

This was one night before PJ's last appearance at the Grammy Awards (they were nominated, and won, "Best Hard Rock Performance" for "Spin The Black Circle"); the word later was that Ed was in New York to see the first of many "final" performances by the Ramones (at the former Coney Island High).

September 1996

Shortly after the release of No Code, and the start of the 1996 tour, Pearl Jam broke a lengthy media blackout by appearing on a special edition of The Late Show; an extended edition which is also commercial free. (If this is the reason they agreed to appear, we don't know, but at the time this was widely believed to be the reason for their assent.) We all anticipated that, due to the extended length of the broadcast, and the rarity of the appearance, that Dave would grant PJ leave to play two songs instead of just one. At the end of the show, the band appears and performs a wonderful, rousing version of "Hail Hail." Dave comes over, thanks the guys, and then as the credits start to roll, PJ launches into "Leaving Here," which is promptly cut off, causing thousands of Pearl Jam fans to scream about it for weeks later. Hopes that later reruns of this show would give us the whole song were in vain. The show was also notable for Stone's, erm, attractive head-to-toe orange outfit.

who's that guy in the orange hat? fetching in orange Ed sings

May 1998

the band on letterman ed closeup

5/1/98: Less of a surprise (given the large amount of publicity PJ agreed to do for the release of Yield), but nevertheless welcome as always, PJ appear to promote the second single off the album, "Wishlist." This is Matt Cameron's public debut with the band and they seem highly serious yet ready to rock. :) Mike is wearing a Goodness shirt; Jeff managed to spark far more discussion than we bet he ever imagined possible by appearing to wear two different shoes. More than a few fans were in attendance inside the theatre, while others gathered outside the stage entrance to observe as PJ came and went, resulting in many photographs and fun tales.

5/21/98: A mysterious clue on Synergy about needing to watch Letterman over the next few days sent everyone into hysterics trying to figure out what was going on. Luckily, a fan managed to be at the Letterman taping in question and sent 5h email:

I went to tonight's taping of tomorrow (appearing on Fri) Letterman show. Eddie was in a skit about a VH1 look back at Paul Shaffer. Eddie has a line or two saying how Paul was the inspiration for Jeremy.
Ed just says a few words, totally deadpan; it was briefly amusing. :)

behind the music EV speaks about Shaffer


While not a Pearl Jam performance per se, we'll just make mention that that Ed once again appeared on The Late Show in 1999, accompanying Pete Townshend.

EV and PT Heart to Hang Onto

April 2000

Another year, another record, brand new music! What will they look like? What will they sound like? How many songs will they get to play? And of course, the ever important: What color will Eddie's hair be (lighten up -- if you haven't thought that, you're just not human ;))? For whatever reason, there's this love-fest with PJ and Dave, and we don't care why, or how, we're just glad (as everyone is) that there is at least one TV program the band like enough to give us a rare glimpse of them.

Set your VCRs now!!

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