Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder vs. Mötley Crüe Nikki Sixx

What happens when two rock & roll giants collide? Hint - it’s certainly not musical magic. It is, however, printable cash for music outlets like Rolling Stone.

Such was the case when Pearl Jam’s singer, Eddie Vedder, ran his mouth while exclaiming that he was no fan of Mötley Crüe, both their music, and their antics. Absolutely never one to back down from a challenge, Crüe bassist and spiritual band leader, Nikki Sixx chimed in with his own riposte, basically telling Vedder to go screw.

Let’s see how this grunge icon vs cock rock hero battle played out.

How did the Vedder/Sixx feud start?

Pearl Jam singer, Eddie Jerome Vedder was releasing his third solo album, Earthling, when The New York Times ran an interview with him prior to the tour, as is customary for anyone with Vedder’s stature and popularity in the music industry. The Seattle via San Diego via Chicago frontman had this to say,

“You know, I used to work in San Diego loading gear at a club. I'd end up being at shows that I wouldn't have chosen to go to — bands that monopolized late-'80s MTV. The metal bands that — I'm trying to be nice — I despised. Girls, Girls, Girls and Motley Crue: [expletive] you. I hated it. I hated how it made the fellas look. I hated how it made the women look. It felt so vacuous."

In a different year, and even in a different decade (00s, 10s), those words might have floated by faster than girls taking off their tops for Tommy Lee in an arena. But here we are in 2022, where The Stadium Tour, featuring Classless Act, Joan Jett, Poison, Def Leppard, and of course, Mötley Crüe, is power chugging through the United States on a nightly basis, putting Sixx & Crüe on somewhat even footing.

It’s somewhat of a fair fight between two titans of their respective genres, hair metal and grunge.

Vedder/Sixx Round 2: Sixx Strikes Back

It wouldn’t be a war of words if Mötley Crüe bassist Nikki Sixx didn’t respond. But if you know The Crüe, and you know Sixx, and you’ve read The Dirt, and you’ve seen the movie, and you’ve just generally followed their career, or, well, listened to any Crüe song, you’d know that that taking the high road was 100% never going to happen.

And the truth is, Sixx wouldn’t be a successful guy if he didn’t play things his way. Here is the responding jab that Nikki throws.

“Made me laugh today reading how much the singer in Pearl Jam hated @MotleyCrue. Now considering that they’re one of the most boring bands in history it’s kind of a compliment isn’t it?”

It’s an interesting retort. Doesn’t acknowledge Vedder by name, which is always slick. Redirects the force of the band as a whole to prop up Mötley like a judo master. All in all, a worthy comeback, if lacking some upper level superiority. 1985 Sixx would have hit back a lot harder after Vedder’s comments, and the glam-loving public would have back him 99 times out of 100.

Sixx also compared Vedder’s vocals to "marbles in your mouth". Which of course Weird Al did for Kurt Cobain in Smells Like Nirvana.

Vedder/Sixx Intermission: Stone Gossard

Stone Gossard, Pearl Jam’s rhythm guitar player and one of its main songwriters, wisely inserts himself into the fray in a baseball-brawl hold-them-back kind of way, asserting that he thinks Mötley Crüe is great and there’s not much to really see here anyway. That’s Gossard the guitarist.

Gossard the industry pro is the slickest dude for how everything has played out with PJ’s place in grunge, in rock & roll, the Hall of Fame, the Ticketmaster drama, and their continued elevation in the hearts of their fans everywhere. Industry Pro Gossard simultaneously elevates Mötley Crüe while also suggesting that follow up efforts aren’t much to be proud of. Look how Gossard doesn’t compliment their entire career with his words in a recent interview.

“Jeff [Ament, Pearl Jam bassist] and Mike [McCready, guitarist] and I loved hard rock, like, went through it all. I bought the first Mötley Crüe on Leathür Records,” Gossard told the Fan First podcast. “I thought it was, at the time, it was punk-like. It had that same [energy]. It’s like Motörhead.”

Pearl Jam Frontman Vedder Jabs Again

As if The New York Times interview wasn’t enough, Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder extols Chad Smith’s drum kit - Chad was touring with Vedder - for it’s simplicity and non-theatrical leanings.

““That drum kit – that silver, beautiful machine that he is the engine of – does not need to elevate or rotate to do its job. Let me just point that out,”

The Tommy Lee drum kit rotation can be seen in (old) live shows and in videos like 1989’s Same Ol’ Situation.

Mötley Crüe’s Nikki Sixx responds (again)

"Listen, let's face it: the guy flies around in private jets; he lives in a mansion in a gated community; he sells out stadiums; and then he dresses at the thrift store and tries to pretend [to be] some guy in the '90s. Don't take a swipe at my band, dude. I mean, I'm at least being honest."

Sixx makes valid points about Vedder’s over-the-top attempts to separate himself from the lifestyle he lives. That has been Vedder’s shtick since 1991. It’s not music news. It’s nothing that’s trending.

As for his previous “bored fans” comment, that’s a bit much. We know plenty of people who are legit fans of both bands. In fact, if you were born mid decade, between 1975-1985, that’s probably you. Your older siblings were all wearing eyeliner and screaming Shout at the Devil and your younger siblings clad in flannel headbanging to Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit (Nevermind) at the local school dance.

And in the latest news ...

Interview with music critic Regis Tadeu and Paulo Baron

Sixx has said a lot more than Vedder on the matter, and that’s because he was attacked. And, attacked by a guy who is excellent at seeming unassailable. Sixx has zero reason to be disingenuous, and it shows. Just look at what he said in an interview with music critic, Regis Tadeu.

“I remember going to MTV with Nevermind before going out with Nirvana, and me and Tommy were there, and we were told to see that band and there were bands coming up. I remember having the cassette tape, I think they were demos, or early Rage Against The Machine recordings, and I remember telling everyone about that. We were never afraid to embrace the changes in the song because that’s the idea behind the song. If you listen to Too Fast For Love and then listen to The Dirt, you feel like it’s the same band that grew up so we never had a problem with that.”

Honestly surprised Nikki didn't go for the jugular and refer to Pearl Jam as Butt Rock. That would be the ultimate insult to any self-respecting 90s band.

Guns N’ Roses, the band in the middle

One thing everyone can agree on seems to be the quality of Guns N’ Roses. Both Sixx and Pearl Jam lead guitarist, Mike McCready have been interviewed in support of G’N’R bass player, Duff McKagan’s autobiography, “It’s So Easy”.

Vedder had this to say about the band, "Guns N' Roses came out and, thank God, at least had some teeth".

Wrapping Up

To be honest, it feels like a couple of beer league softball teams chirping at each other during a tense playoff game. You know the type. Both teams want to slap each other around because they don’t exactly like how the other team plays, but then has beers after the game and the two hot heads who started the fight cool off.

Sixx and Vedder should buy thirty-packs for the next game for starting the fight.

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