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La VEDDER: That time Pearl Jam’s singer worked La Valencia Hotel security (Local Lore: The Most Bizarre La Jolla Stories Ever Told)

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In this photo illustration, we place singer Eddie Vedder back in the entranceway at La Valencia Hotel, where he worked as a security guard before joining the band Pearl Jam.
(PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY COREY LEVITAN AND JOHN McCUTCHEN)

If you live or work in La Jolla and have a truly bizarre story you would like considered for “Local Lore,” e-mail clevitan@lajollalight.com.

From 1988 to 1990, guests of the La Valencia Hotel, 1132 Prospect St., had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet one of the biggest rock stars in history. Only they didn’t know it. Nor did Eddie Mueller, who worked night-time security at La Jolla’s historic Pink Lady before changing his name and his full-time job to become Pearl Jam singer Eddie Vedder.

In addition to a La V security guard, Vedder (his mother’s maiden name) was a surfer, a part-time gas-station attendant, and the singer for a San Diego band called Bad Radio when his friend, former Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Jack Irons, passed him a demo tape. It was from a band in Seattle that Irons knew, whose members were searching for a singer.

While surfing one afternoon, possibly in La Jolla, Vedder was inspired to write melodies and lyrics for three of the instrumentals on the tape — one of which would become Pearl Jam’s first hit, “Alive.”

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Two weeks later, guitarists Stone Gossard and Mike McCready and bassist Jeff Ament flew the singer up to Seattle for an audition that, obviously, went well.

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Internet sites of varying reliability report that Vedder didn’t quit the La V but was fired — either for playing his guitar or sleeping on the job. A rumor circulating among La V staff has Vedder, years later, sending the supervisor who fired him a gold record with a thank-you note.

Unfortunately, none of this could be verified, since no current hotel employees can recall Vedder’s tenure firsthand. La V marketing manager Annalise Dewhurst said “all we could confirm was that he did work here as security and was a return guest for many years after he hit it big.” (Pearl Jam’s management didn’t respond to the Light’s interview requests.)

Fortunately, Vedder discussed his La V job during an interview on SiriusXM’s Pearl Jam Radio channel last year. It came up when he was asked about “Rearviewmirror,” from Pearl Jam’s 1993 sophomore album, “Vs.” Vedder said he came up with its riff one day after driving home to La Mesa from the workplace in question.

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“I remember working late shift security and getting home, kind of torched at nine in the morning after traffic, and playing because I wanted to play something, but I was too brain-dead to do anything complicated,” Vedder said.

Vedder placed the riff on his mind’s back-burner, returning to it after the success of Pearl Jam’s 1991 debut album, “Ten.” He decided then that the song’s lyrics would be about his past.

“At that point, after the first record, I went from being the security guard to being in a band that was recording a record in a really nice place,” Vedder said.


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