Picking a band name has got to be a pretty hard thing to do. Once set, it will label you and all your actions for the rest of your career. If you get tired of it you won't be able to simply toss it out the window on a dusty desert highway--at least not without repercussions. Music critics agree that this is one way in which a band name is a lot like a sack of kittens.
Today, in honor of our article's sponsor 311 (whose name came from a naked encounter with Omaha police) we examine how some of the most famous bands in the world got their names. We'd have opened it up to less famous bands, but it turns out most of those are named after semen (and after about five hours of wading through that, the research department got kind of prickly).
The boys in Pearl Jam have floated a couple suggestions for the origination of their band name. It was either based on the famous peyote jam made by Eddie Vedder's great grandmother, Pearl. Alternately, it may have derived from the nickname of NBA star Mookie Blaylock. Or they picked Pearl because it sounded cool, and added Jam on the end, like musicians do when they're playing around musically.
Another version, as explained by Vedder himself, stems from how pearls are created. "The name is in reference to the pearl itself ... and the natural process from which a pearl comes from. Basically, taking excrement or waste and turning it into something beautiful." Aside from probably being a retcon, this represents a pretty fundamental misunderstanding of how pearl's are made, in that they don't shit in their mouths. Still, nice try Eddie.
Notable by its absence in any of these official explanations is how Pearl Jam is a euphemism for man marmalade, which is itself a euphemism for something else. We tend to believe Vedder's repeated denials of this explanation for the name's origins, if only because we think it's hilarious to think he accidentally named his band after spunk.