Personalities | Mike McCready | Pearl Jammer | Guitar Heroes

Alternative-rock guitarist Mike McCready (b. 1966) was born in Pensacola, Florida. His family moved to Seattle soon afterwards. He was 11 when he bought his first guitar and began to take lessons.

In high school, McCready formed a band that disintegrated after they were unsuccessful in obtaining a record contract in Los Angeles. Disillusioned, he did not pick up a guitar again for several months until inspired to resume playing by Stevie Ray Vaughan.

McCready was working with old friend and rhythm guitarist Stone Gossard when the pair were invited to participate in recording Temple Of The Dog (1991), a one-off project founded by Soundgarden singer Chris Cornell. McCready’s four-minute-plus solo on ‘Reach Down’ remains one of his proudest achievements. Shortly after recording Temple Of The Dog, McCready and Gossard formed Pearl Jam with Eddie Vedder (lead vocals, guitar) and Jeff Ament (bass). Their debut, Ten (1991), was lyrically dark, combining classic rock with an anthemic feel, informed by McCready’s love of the blues in his prominent solos. Ten sold in excess of 15 million copies, establishing Pearl Jam as one of America’s biggest rock acts.

Pearl Jam were associated with the Seattle grunge scene, which the band comfortably outlived, but were accused by their contemporaries of cashing in on the alternative rock boom. The band seemed uneasy with their own success and rebelled against music industry practices, refusing to appear in music videos and boycotting the booking agency Ticketmaster. McCready fought his own battles against drug and alcohol addiction. He has participated in various side projects, including Mad Season, The Rockfords, Walking Papers and UFO-tribute act Flight To Mars. Pearl Jam’s eponymous eighth studio album was released in 2006, followed by Backspacer in 2009 and Lightning Bolt in 2013.

Influenced by Neil Young, Jeff Beck, George Harrison, Jimmy Page, Joe Perry and Jimi Hendrix, Mike McCready has a reputation as a forceful blues guitarist. In live work, he hates to repeat himself, refusing to play the same solo twice and relishing improv. He is an energetic performer, sometimes soloing behind his head, Hendrix-style. He has used the Fender Stratocaster extensively, along with the Gibson SG, Les Paul, Hummingbird acoustic and Flying V.

Essential Recordings

Temple Of The Dog: Temple Of The Dog

Pearl Jam: Ten

Pearl Jam: Vs.

The Rockfords: The Rockfords

Personalities | Roger McGuinn | Signature Sounds | Guitar Heroes


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