Back when Pearl Jam was a new band, they had to follow the rules set out by their record label. That included making music videos, something that the band grew to hate. Yet the band had one of the most popular videos of the grunge era with “Jeremy.”
To recap: The song and the video tells the story of Jeremy Delle, a troubled kid from Richardson, Texas, who brought a gun to school and killed himself in front of his class. Two videos were shot, the official video, directed by Mark Pellington. But before was a clip directed by a photographer named Chris Cuffaro.
Epic, Pearl Jam’s label, didn’t think “Jeremy” had any potential as a single, so they refused to pony up any money for the project. Cuffaro went ahead anyway, raising money through a bank loan and selling both some furniture and his guitar collection. A video was shot.
But then Epic decided that “Jeremy” would make a good single after all. At the time, the Cuffaro clip was shelved due to concerns that it was too graphic and thus subject to censorship. Pellington was brought to re-shoot everything. That version would win multiple awards and become one of the most popular of the decade.
The Cuffaro clip has circulated unofficially for years, but this past week, Pearl Jam made it officially available.