Pearl Jam vs Q101
The station’s co-opted “not for you” campaign and a contest spot featuring Eddie Vedder’s mom raised the singer’s ire.
PART I: SOLDIER FIELD
By the mid-’90s, grunge bands had blanketed Q101’s playlist in flannel and Pearl Jam songs were spinning every 60–75 minutes. To drive its alternative-music position home, Q101 launched a citywide billboard campaign that lifted one of Pearl Jam’s more adversarial song titles and lyrics: “Not for You.”
Bill Gamble [The topic of] billboards came up, and it was like, “Oh, let’s use ‘Not For You.’ ” I think [the climate] was a lot less litigious then than it is now.
Brian the Whipping Boy, on-air 1994–2001 We ripped off one of [Eddie Vedder’s] lines and put it all over Chicago. When Pearl Jam headlined Soldier Field in 1995, Q101 flew a plane over the stadium with the billboard image trailing behind it.
Mary Shuminas We strategically placed [the plane] so the band would see it.
BWB It was almost like we were goading Eddie Vedder to do something to us.
Eddie Vedder, on stage at Soldier Field, July 11, 1995 Today we were all watching Otis Rush [who, along with Bad Religion, opened the show]…. I was just into it, and then there was all these flying bugs with banners with radio stations’ lame-ass messages on the back, fuckin’ up the view. I’m against guns and military spending, but a big, big piece of [artillery] would’ve been great, right about then.… I guess there’s a big billboard that’s every-fucking-where that says, “Somethin’, somethin’, this is not for you.” The joke’s on them, because it’s not for them.
BG Eddie basically says “F the radio station.”
BWB … then you get these sheep cheering every bit of that: “Yeah! No military spending! Yeah! We hate Q101, too!”
PART II: EDDIE’S MOM
Vedder’s mom, who was still living in Evanston, took to calling the station. After getting friendly with staffers, she recorded a promo spot for Q101. Vedder wasn’t having it.
Carla Leonardo One night, I had been watching Eddie on an awards show, and he was obviously shitfaced. I said something [on the air] about his obvious impairment, and this woman calls up and says, “Eddie does not do drugs.” And I said, “And you would know this how?” She said, “Well, I’m his mother.” I was mortified. So we talked for a little bit, talked about Eddie, and established a rapport.
MS [Karen Vedder] was always calling, and eventually I think Bill had the idea of bringing her in [to record a station promo].
Brooke Hunter She was really cute and really into it, like, “Hi, this is Karen Vedder, Eddie’s mom…if you want to win, be caller 101 right now.”
BG The record-label person calls and goes, “Eddie’s heard that you guys are running a promo with his mom, and he wants you to take it off the air…. He thinks you guys are taking advantage of his mom.” We didn’t hunt her down or search her out; she called us. I said, “We’ll be glad to take it off the air, but when Pearl Jam comes to town, we’d like to have a meet and greet with some listeners.” Eventually they said we could have a meet and greet. The “mom thing” had run its course anyway.