Why Pearl Jam Fired Dave Abbruzzese

Pearl Jam Soundgarden Members

Why Pearl Jam Fired Drummer Dave Abbruzzese

Today on Rock N’ Roll True Stories they take a look at the time Pearl Jam fired drummer Dave Abbruzzese in 1994. He was by far one of the band’s more popular drummers having played on the albums Vs. and Vitalogy. Check out the full story below!

What’s going on my fellow rock n rollers. Don’t forget to hit the bell notification icon to be notified everytime i upload a new video on my channel. Pearl Jam was a band who seemed to have trouble holding onto a drummer during the 90’s. During the decade the band had 5 different drummers including Dave kruzzen, Matt Chamberlin Dave Abruzzesse,,Jack Irons and their current drummer Matt Cameron. Today we’re going to talk about fan favourite Dave Abruzzese (AhBrewZeeSee).

In 1991 Pearl Jam would release their monumental debut record Ten that saw drummer Dave Krusen behind the kit. Krusen left Pearl Jam in May 1991 just as the band was going to england to mix Ten and he checked himself into rehab.. According to Krusen, he was suffering from personal problems at the time including alcohol addiction and dealing with his first child on the way. It would take two more tries, but by 1994 he was sober.

Matt Chamberlin was brought in to play a string of dates for the band who were out on the road promoting ten and was offered the drumming spot but declined since he wanted to slow down his life a bit and he would tell author Mark Yarm in the book Everybody loves our town that he felt no emotional connection to the band since he was a replacement player. Chamberlain also had his eyes set on joining GE Smith’s house band on the show saturday night live,. Chamberlain was friends with a drummer named Dave Abruzzesse who he knew back in Texas. He would recommend the drummer to Pearl Jam During this time Abbruzzese was working in a plant shop and he would tell author mark yarm: “I was working at a head shop. My expertise was in the grow dept. So if people would come in saying they wanted to grow lettuce hydroponically in their closet wink wink i would help them get setup.’ The drummer was also playing in a funk  band at the time in Dallas called Dr. Tongue, while also hosting his own radio show on community radio called Music We Like Show. It was that show where he first heard of an up and coming band named Pearl Jam, but his initial reaction to the band may surprise you.. 

Abruzzese initially had a negative response to Pearl Jam’s sampler CD he played on the show and claimed he only made it through 25 seconds of the first couple songs. 

Krisha Aurgerot who was Pearl Jam’s manager Kelly Kurtis assistant would tell Mark Yarm: I was shocked to see Dave Abbruzzese in the lobby of Curtis management when they were trying out drummers. Because he was such a rocker. Super long hair wearing a track suit. He’s from texas so it’s a totally different vibe. I could see him in alice in chains, not in pearl jam. 

Abruzzesse would end up arriving in seattle just as the band was filming the video for their single Alive. Abruzzesse wouldn’t perform in the video as Matt Chamberlain was still in the band. 

But Soon enough Abruzzese would start performing with the band just before the release of Ten and following his second show with the band as act of solidarity he would get a tattoo of the Pearl Jam stick figure logo tattooed on his left shoulder. Abruzzese would tour extensively with the band over the next 3 years performing on their MTV unplugged set, Saturday Night Live, the band’s follow up record Versus, and on their 1994 follow up Vitalogy. It was during the making of vitalogy where tensions seem to flare up in the band leading to his dismissal

According to guitarist Stone Gossard Vitalogy was the first pearl jam record where Eddie Vedder was the one making all the final decisions on the album and according to producer/engineer adam kasper he claimed Vedder wasn’t happy musically with Abbruzese with Kasper claiming “Dave was an extremely busy player and eddie like a more raw sound We even started out with drum machines and that’s sort of a slap in the face to the drummer. “

It’s also been claimed that there were personality conflicts between the members and abruzzese more specifically frontman eddie vedder and bassist Jeff Ament, There was one story in particular which apparently rubbed Eddie Vedder the wrong waye. It was claimed by producer Brendan O Brien at one of the recording sessions abbruzzese accidentally knocked over Vedder’s guitar that was a gift from The Who’s Pete Townsend, The guitar broke and Abruzzese apparently left a little note for Eddie and left the studio to go do a drum clinic or some sort of self promotional gig. Abbruzzese denied that this ever happened. Another source of tension was that Abbruzzese was more comfortable with the rockstar life and attitude, which rubbed vedder and others in the band the wrong way 

Colleen Combs, who worked for Pearl Jam would tell Mark Yarm that the band was a democracy, but Abbruzzese always wanted something different from the other people in the band citing an instance where he would order a limo and not a town car.

Also happening around this time was that pearl jam got involved in a highly publicized dispute with ticketmaster over their exorbitant fees on concert tickets.Abbruzzese thought the band should be focusing on music instead of fighting with the ticket giant. The fight got so big that several members of Pearl Jam would testify in front of congress with Abbruzzese telling author mark yarm When those guys were testifying in front of congress i was in indonesia just enjoying being alive. The more i read about the ticketmaster situation, it’s like it all sounds good and nice but there are way more important flagrant injustices we could have latched onto. 

Bassist Jeff Ament would tell Mark Yarm “Dave was a different egg for sure. There were a lot of things personality-wise where i didn’t see eye to eye with him. He was more comfortable being a rockstar than the rest of us. Partying, girls, cars I don’t know if anyone is in the same space. Also with Dave musically when you’d say “I Want this to sound more like the buzzcocks I didn’t think he related to that at all. He was a technical guy and we all played by feeling or seeing other bands.”


Abbruzzese would fire back claiming he was the only member of the band who had the same girlfriend for eight years and that he was driving a used car during his time in the band and that the band was hypocritical for showing up on the cover of magazines and then complaining in the interview how they don’t want to be rockstars. He would alos fire back at the band claiming there was never a discussion of what bands they should try to imitate the sound of.  

Gossard would play the middle man claiming Abbruzzese ability to communicate with Ed and Jeff was stifled and that it wasnt necessarily the drummers fault. 

So how did the band break the news to Abbruzzese. Well on aug 1, 1994 the band announced the drummer left the band on amicable terms, but abbruzzese would later come out and claim he was fired telling a story of how he met guitarist Stone gossard for breakfast and was told the band was looking for another drummer. He would soon receive calls from the other members of the band except Vedder. He wouldn’t see Vedder until a few years later after he and a friend attended at a chris cornell show in seattle the pair were waiting outside on the curb with Abruzzesse remembering “Eddie came up to us he said Dave Abbruzzese and kinda put his arms out in greeting because he couldn’t hide from me. And I stood up and realized how much shorter he was than i remembered  He started rambling and tried to join in our conversation and he ended up toddling off. There was a little art of me that would’ve loved to clobber him and another part of me that felt like i already have just by the fact that i could still sleep at night and  i was proud of everything we accomplished.””

Following his dismissal from Pearl Jam, Abbruzzese would pursue other musical projects even auditioning for Guns N’ Roses in 1997 following the departure of longtime drummer Matt Sorum. 

Fast forward to 2016 and his history with pearl Jam would be in the news again when the RRHOF announced the band would be part of th 2017 inductee class. In the run up to the ceremony there was a lot of controversy over who would be inducted and who wouldn’t be and Abbruzzese was not being inducted, despite the fact that drummer Dave Krusen would be inducted. Abbruzzese took it as a snub and was vocal in the press stating “The members of Pearl Jam have got to know what’s the right thing to do. They can’t justify ignoring my contributions. Like me or not. If there is still a part of that band that remembers how hard we worked, how much blood and how much sweat … They will do the right thing.”[13]“It’s just a fine opportunity to see what Pearl Jam has to say in response. Let’s see if they do the right thing. It’ll be interesting to see the spin that is put on it. That band and its management have never been ones to shy away when an injustice is done. Let’s see if they still have the courage to fight the good fight!”[14]

Pearl Jam made an attempt to include everyone in the ceremony, but Abbruzzese didn’t see it that way releasing a statement a week after the ceremony in April lashing out at the band 

“The band tweeted that they welcomed the idea of the event granting the possibility of all the drummers to be in the same room. That isn’t an invite.”

Abbruzzese also claimed that he had a greater impact on the band than some of his peers stating: “For the band to put me in the same light as Matt Chamberlain & Dave K really was a slap in the face. Nothing to do with those guys as people or players. Respect… but as a contributor? A band member? A definitive contributor to the energy and power of where the band went? …the sacrifices, the work, the physical and emotional contributions…not to mention the personal weight of carrying onthrough and after unceremonious and disrespectful way I was fired. I gave this band all I had to give every single moment I was in it. I never played for a paycheck. I never let the band down. I never let the music down. I never let the fans down… not once.”

Following the whole fiasco guitarist Mike McCready’s  would come out and say, Abbruzzese should’ve been inducted. He would then go on to explain how the former drummer was an essential band member, helping the band navigate the massive success they experienced from playing Lollapalooza and opening for the likes of Red Hot Chili Peppers and Soundgarden.  

Abbruzzese would state his biggest regret was not getting fired, but the fact that the band didn’t put out more music during his time in the band. Regarding that tattoo he got on his arm he would tell author mark yarm he has no regrets.