Pearl Jam: The Dave Abbruzzese Years

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All four of the founding, permanent members of Pearl Jam will be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in April 2017, but of the four drummers who played on the band’s albums over the course of their 25-year run, only two will be inducted with them: Dave Krusen and Matt Cameron. A third, Jack Irons, is already in the Hall of Fame for his work with Red Hot Chili Peppers, so that leaves just one odd man out: Dave Abbruzzese.

The exclusion of Abbruzzese from the Hall of Fame induction is notable because, while he only played with the band from 1991 to 1994, that era represents the peak of Pearl Jam’s fame. He played on two of the band’s three top-selling albums, Vs. and Vitalogy, and toured heavily in support of the other, Ten. Fourteen tracks with Abbruzzese, nearly half of his studio work with the band, got enough radio airplay to appear on Billboard’s rock charts.

Abbruzzese played on some of Pearl Jam’s most recognizable songs, including “Better Man” and “Daughter,” and songs that remain setlist staples to this day like “Rearviewmirror” and “Corduroy.” He also played on the band’s memorable contributions to the multi-platinum soundtrack for Cameron Crowe’s Singles, the hit cover of Victoria Williams’ “Crazy Mary,” and several B-sides.

A steady and versatile drummer, Dave Abbruzzese handled expansive midtempo grooves like “Immortality” as well as the scorching punk of “Spin the Black Circle.” Though he only received a handful of songwriting credits, his drum fills and splashy flourishes left a distinctive signature on many songs. Still, Abbruzzese reportedly never clicked with the rest of the band on a personal or political level; rumor has it that the lyrics of “Glorified G” were Eddie Vedder taking a potshot at the drummer, a proud gun owner. And while Pearl Jam’s black sheep drummer won’t be inducted into the Rock Hall with the band next month, it’s hard to imagine they won’t be playing any songs he helped originate. — Al Shipley

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