The History And Enduring Controversy Behind Pearl Jam's 'Jeremy' Music Video

Grunge was still in its relative infancy when Pearl Jam’s music video for “Jeremy,” the band’s third single, debuted in 1992. While the song hit No. 5 on the Mainstream and Modern Rock Billboard charts and remained in heavy rotation on MTV for months, the music video tells a story that is deeper than one might have guessed.

“Jeremy” is based on a tragic true incident of an emotionally anguished teenager, Jeremy Wade Delle, who ended his own life in front of his classmates in 1991. Combined with lead singer Eddie Vedder’s intense vocals, the song's lyrics captured the alienation and loneliness of Generation X while the music video brought visuals and drama to the narrative. 

The video that aired on MTV was not the full cut, however, and the pivotal scene that was eliminated changed the video's message entirely, causing confusion and controversy for years.