The Story of Pearl Jam’s Only Mookie Blaylock Tour
Mookie Blaylock, the band that would eventually rechristen themselves Pearl Jam, embarked on their first tour on Feb. 7, 1991.
The brief jaunt of the West Coast included 12 shows spanning 15 days and touched down in cities in California, Oregon and the band's home state of Washington. It arrived approximately four months after Mookie Blaylock had made its live debut in their hometown of Seattle. By the time the trek kicked off in Los Angeles, the group had just six shows under its belt.
The bulk of the tour saw the band performing as the support act for Alice in Chains, who had released their debut effort, Facelift, in August 1990 and was starting to pick up some serious momentum thanks to their single, "Man in the Box."
In their 2011 oral history Pearl Jam Twenty, bassist Jeff Ament recalled the tour was a means of escape for the group, which felt an ever-increasing scrutiny in their hometown due to their recent addition of new lead singer Eddie Vedder.
"It was good for us to get out of town and out where nobody knew anything about us," he said. "The first three or four shows were in Seattle and all eyes were on the new guy. That was the best thing we could have done."
In a 2009 interview with Uncut, Ament offered a more succinct take on the importance of that tour, and how it helped mold the band at a critical point in its artistic and songwriting development.
"We were then in the mode of 'Well, we’ve got to write a bunch of songs.' It wasn’t long after that we got a tour with Alice in Chains. It was kind of how we wanted it to be, we didn’t want to fuck around. I think Stone [Gossard] and I both knew the potential that he and I had together—but we needed to get out and play, and get better."
Despite his long friendship with Ament and Gossard, Alice In Chains' guitarist Jerry Cantrell admitted he initially had trouble musically connecting with the band in the group's earliest days.
"Being a fan of Green River and [Mother] Love Bone, and also being friends with those guys, I thought Mookie Blaylock was kind of unfocused at first," Cantrell said in Twenty. "Maybe not from Stone and Jeff's situation, but just the band jelling. It was certainly a different sound, which, of course, they were trying to create."
"What I remember was, I like the band, and I like the music," Cantrell continued. "Like with anything different, especially with people you know, it takes a minute to grab on to it. Things had happened for us and we were on our way. These guys were starting again. We just wanted to give them as much support as they'd given us in the early days of our band."
It was on this tour, the only trek that drummer Dave Krusen would undertake with the band, Mookie Blaylock debuted a number of tracks including "Garden" and "Brother," the latter of which wouldn't see an official album release until an instrumental take popped up on 2003's outtake collection Lost Dogs. A complete version appeared on the 2009 reissue of Pearl Jam's seminal debut Ten.
The tour kicked off with a show at Los Angeles' Florentine Gardens. The next day, Mookie Blaylock enjoyed a day off as Alice In Chains had been asked to perform at the fifth anniversary celebration of then-influential Los Angeles radio station KNAC. And on Feb. 9, 1991, while Alice In Chains performed at the famed Marquee club in Los Angeles, Mookie Blaylock played a smaller show at another L.A. venue, God Save the Queen, opening up for Green Jelly.
Alice in Chains and Mookie Blaylock then joined forces again for a three-show run starting Feb. 10 at San Diego's Bacchanal. Footage of Vedder joining the headliners on stage at this specific show is included on Alice In Chains' 1999 Music Bank: The Videos collection.
That show was followed up by two Los Angeles-area shows, one of which, the Feb. 11 performance at Hollywood's Club With No Name, is embedded below. That night, Vedder told the audience that the group "is expecting a call [from basketball player Blaylock's lawyer] the next day," and that the next time people see them, the band will more than likely be performing "under a different name like Nuclear Love Frogs."
The two groups then descended upon Riki Rachtman's Cathouse for a show on Feb. 12, 1991 before again parting ways. In Oakland on Valentine's Day, the bands began the final run of shows that would eventually wind their way back to their hometown of Seattle, touching down in San Francisco -- a show that also featured Screaming Trees -- Sacramento, Calif., Eugene, Ore. and Portland, Ore.
Following the tour's conclusion, the band would play its final four shows under the name Mookie Blaylock in their hometown. On March 10, members of Mookie Blaylock took to the airvwaves of Seattle radio station KISW to formally announce the band would now be known as Pearl Jam.