By the time grunge hit the mainstream in the early 1990s, The Rolling Stones were already rock ‘n’ roll veterans. As one of the most renowned ‘British Invasion’ bands of the 1960s, they’d seen musical empires rise and fall and had absorbed much of the music that came out of America in that time into their own sonic palette.
Indeed, their entire career had been founded on reinventing the music of early American bluesmen such as Robert Johnson and B.B. King. Over the years, they embraced R&B, soul, funk, disco, and everything in between. However, they were a little more opposed to the nihilistic punk infusions of grunge. And who could blame them? In their own country, the punk bands that so many of these American grungesters looked up to had made The Rolling Stones a laughing stock. I mean, even Johnny Rotten once announced that he’d like to kill Mick Jagger and release the video footage.
It’s not all that surprising, then, that when Jagger was asked to give his opinion on grunge in 1995, The Rolling Stones frontman confessed that he wasn’t much of a Nirvana fan but that he did like Pearl Jam. “I’m not in love with things at the moment. I was never crazy about Nirvana – too angst-ridden for me,” he said. “But I like Pearl Jam. I prefer them to a lot of other bands. There’s a lot of angst in a lot of it. Which is one of the great things to tap into. But I’m not a fan of moroseness.”
However, Jagger was quick to note that, despite the differences in the two genre’s sound and lyrical content, grunge still owed a lot to ’60s rock. During that same interview with Rolling Stone, Jagger said that if “there’s four people playing guitars and so on, there’s a lot of ’60s influence. It may appear that they’re playing the same thing or look the same on MTV. Or there’s certain haircuts you’ve seen on the Byrds.”
“But the grooves are different,” Jagger continued, “It’s all influenced by dance music. In 30 years you don’t keep playing the same beat. Which is good. I don’t think any of these bands would claim to be daringly different. But it’s heartening to return to live music. Heartening for people like me in a band. It’s a very traditional thing to return to. It re-validates the original form that we fell in love with.”
Jagger’s admiration of Pearl Jam convinced the frontman to Invite Eddie Vedder onstage to perform ‘Wild Horses’ back in 2005. Whatsmore, Keith Richards asked Pearl Jam to perform as the opening act for his group X-pensive Winos in New York in 1992, between the release of their 1991 debut Ten and 1993’s Vs.