Even at a time when his own bandmates were still getting to know this quietly charismatic young man from San Diego, Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder proved he could duet with the best of them. The soon-to-be Seattle superstars were still in their formative stages when Vedder wowed his new group by holding his own in a poignant back and forth vocal duet with Chris Cornell on Temple Of The Dog’s Hunger Strike and he didn’t let becoming one of rock’s most famous frontman dampen his enthusiasm at sharing the mic now and then. There have been duets you’d expect – Neil Young, The Rolling Stones, Springsteen – but also loads you wouldn’t too. Yes, it’s a shame that he didn’t bring Idina Menzel onto the stage when Pearl Jam went through a period of tagging the Frozen megahit Let It Go onto the end of Daughter in 2014, but there’s still plenty of other jaw-dropping vocal pairings to get stuck into instead. Here’s ten of Ed as a guest’s best...
Eddie Vedder and... The Doors
It didn’t take long for the generation of 60s and 70s trailblazers that Vedder held up as his influential pillars to recognise a kindred spirit in the young singer. Pearl Jam were still a relatively new band, albeit already a massively successful one, at the beginning of 1993 with their second record Vs not arriving until towards the end of that year. But that didn’t stop The Doors from choosing Vedder to induct them into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame and be their anointed Jim Morrison supersub for three songs, Vedder delivering impassioned vocals for stirring renditions of Light My Fire, Break On Through and Roadhouse Blues, respectfully stepping to the back of the stage when the old-timers embarked on their trademark psychedelic wig-outs.
Eddie Vedder and… R.E.M.
Eddie was no longer a newbie when he inducted the Athens, Georgia alternative-rock giants to the Hall Of Fame in 2007, joining Michael Stipe & co. on their Automatic For The People anthem Man On The Moon for a battle of who-can-do-the-deepest-voice. We’ll call it a draw – the pair-up is a winner though.
Eddie Vedder and… Cat Power
One of the standout moments on You Are Free, the sixth album by US singer-songwriter Cat Power, AKA Chan Marshall, is the haunting, minimalist ballad Good Woman. The recorded version features sparing, restrained backing vocals from Vedder but they swapped places for this knockout version at the Broward Centre For The Performing Arts in Fort Lauderdale when Vedder made a stop there as part of a solo tour in 2014. It retains the warm melancholy of the original but with an added folksy charm.
Eddie Vedder and… Queens Of The Stone Age
Sometimes, though, Ed just wants to let rip on the cowbell and that’s exactly what he did when he joined Josh Homme & co. for a rampaging run-through Queens Of The Stone Age’s Little Sister. The cowbell probably seems like an easy thing to play along with but keeping pace with Little Sister’s ferocious rock groove is probably quite taxing on the forearms by the time you get to the first chorus, which is when Vedder adds his vocals into the mix too. So well done Eddie, you win our inaugural Cowbell Playing Of The Week Award.
Eddie Vedder and… The Rolling Stones
It’s one thing bashing a cowbell in the middle of the sound storm, it’s quite another having to stroll onstage when a band of living legends are halfway through a classic and seamlessly slot yourself in. But – who’d have thought? – Eddie Vedder is very good at what he does and his low-register harmonising helps to make for a rousing version of the Stones’ swaying ballad Wild Horses at this show in Pittsburgh in 2005. The biggest surprise is that Pearl Jam were supporting. Certainly, by the end of that decade, they could fill stadiums off their own back.
Eddie Vedder and… Bruce Springsteen (…and Tom Morello)
It was Rage Against The Machine's Tom Morello, standing in as guitarist with the Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band whilst Stevie Van Zandt was away on filming duties, who had the notion that they should pay homage to AC/DC in Melbourne by opening the show with Highway To Hell. It was an idea that became even more exciting when Morello realised Vedder was also in town on a solo tour and they roped him in too, Aussie punters treated to the sight and sound of three rock greats playing a homespun belter.
Eddie Vedder and… Beyoncé
The Global Citizen festival, an annual bash in New York’s Central Park run in conjunction with the Global Poverty Project, has been the site of some of Eddie’s most curious and brilliant team-ups. This from 2015 is just straight-up covering a classic as it should be heard - albeit with a superstar - no tinkering, no doing your own interpretation of it, just bish bash bosh, or should that be bish bash Beyoncé? Even Ed seems taken aback by the power of Beyonce’s pipes, at one point looking over and getting lost in a thought that looks a lot like, ‘Jesus, she can sing pretty bloody good’.
Eddie Vedder and… Chris Martin
The next year at Global Citizen, Eddie joined Coldplay frontman Chris Martin for a captivating three-song set that included a lovely stripped-down version of Pearl Jam’s Nothingman. With Martin on keyboards and acoustic, Vedder on guitar and both sharing vocal duties, they also ran through covers of Crowded House’s Don’t Dream It’s Over and Patti Smith’s People Have The Power. They make for a highly decent covers band but unfortunately they don’t take bookings.
Eddie Vedder and… Kings Of Leon
Eddie has long been a fan of the Southern indie-rock crew, first joining them onstage at Lollapalooza in 2007 to bash the living daylights out of two tambourines during the Followill clan’s raucous number Slow Night, So Long and also covering their early single Molly’s Chambers at his solo shows in 2021. Vedder hopped around like an excitable kid when he joined them for a run-through their song The Bucket in 2012, helping to beef it up with that rich croon of his.
Eddie Vedder and… Neil Young
This one had to be last given that Pearl Jam often end their set with Rockin’ In The Free World, as its creator Young sometimes does himself. There have been many comings together for Young and Vedder’s band over the years, not least on their 1995 joint album Mirror Ball, but we’ve gone for this early days cut from the MTV Awards in 1993. Pearl Jam’s version would become harder and faster as they turned it into one of their own, but here they stay true to the powerful chug of the original.