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Mike McCready

He is one of the great guitar players of recent decades, who in our opinion is very underrated.

So today we came to tell you about him, but also to try and change you mind.


1. He was born in Pensacola, Florida, on April 5, 1966 as Michael David McCready.


2. When he was a baby his family moved to Seattle Washington.


3. When he was a kid he listened to music his parents played at home like Santana and Jimmy Hendrix.


4. By the time he got a little older he was already listening to bands like Aerosmith and KISS that his friends introduced him to.


5. The first instrument he played was bongo drums.


6. At the age of 11 he acquired his first guitar and began to study guitar lessons.


7. Already at the age of 14 he formed his first band - "Warrior", which later changed its name to "Shadow".



8. It started as a band that played cover versions but later the members also wrote original material when they were mainly effected by the band KISS. They even recorded demo tapes.


9. After graduating from high school Mike worked at a pizzeria.


10. At the age of 21, he was diagnosed with Crohn's disease. Mike is very active and raises awareness of the disease.


11. In 1986 he moved with the band to Los Angeles in an attempt to obtain a recording contract.


12. After two years of playing in local pubs but failing to get a recording contract, the band returned to Seattle and immediately disbanded.


13. At this point he lost interest in music, in his despair he even stopped playing the guitar, cut his hair and enrolled in college while working at night in a video rental store.


14. Then a miraculous thing happened. McCready was present at a performance by Stevie Ray Vaughan and was inspired to back playing. He claimed the show was a tremendous spiritual experience for him, which brought back his passion for the guitar.


15. He joined the band "Love Chile" and returned to perform in pubs and clubs.


16. One of the performances was attended by Stone Gossard who was a childhood friend of McCready. He saw him play the song "Could Not Stand the Weather" by Stevie Ray Vaughan and was very impressed with his performance.


17. The two began playing together and after the death of Andrew Wood and the dissolution of "Mother Love Bone" Gossard persuaded McCready to form together with his old friend from the days of "Green River", Jeff Ament a new band.


18. While the three were trying to complete the emerging lineup, they received an offer from Chris Cornell to join the project in memory of Andrew Wood. The band that was named "Temple Of The Dog" was completed with the addition of Chris Cornell's bandmate - drummer Matt Cameron.


19. Although this was McCready's first time in the studio together with the other members, he took a very significant part in the work.


20. One of McCready's great moments on the album was the more than 4 minute guitar solo in the song "Reach Down". According to Cornell, McCready's headphones fell off during the solo and he played the second half without hearing the rest of the instruments at all. Also for McCready it is one of the solos he is most proud of.



21. While working on the "Temple Of The Dog" album, came to Seattle for audiences for the band that was forming a guy named Eddie Vedder. The joint work together only intensified the connection between the members after which the band "Pearl Jam" was formed.



22. The band's debut album "Ten" was released in August 1991. Mike took the lead guitar role and greatly enriches the material and style of the album, with the bluesy touch he brought with him as someone influenced by Stevie Ray Vaughan.


23. Mike's first contribution to the band as a writer was in the song "Yellow Ledbetter" which did not enter the debut album but was released as a B-Side for the song "Jeremy".


24. One of Mike's immortal guitar solos on the album is that of the song "Alive". The band recorded a demo version of the song back in January 1991, when it was still called "Mookie Blaylock". During the recordings of the album, the band was unable to recreate the magic that happened while recording the demo and they decided to stick with this version and only give it to Mike's solo an end.



25. Mike based the solo for the song "Alive" on the solo of one of the heroes of his youth, the guitarist Ace Frehley from the band "Kiss". Anyone who listens to the solo starting at 2:47 in the song "She" from the album "Dressed To Kill" will hear the imagination.


26. Although the riff for the song "Even Flow" was written by Gossard, McCready was asked to play it and he admitted that he tried to "steal" everything he learned from "Stevie Ray Vaughan" and put it into the song.


27. During the recordings of the band's third album "Vitalogy" Mike entered the Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation Institute.


28. Because of this, most of Mike's contribution to the album focuses on the recordings he made during the tour of the previous album.


29. Regardless, it was a different album for him compared to the previous two albums because the album style did not fit into the long and heroic solos like on the band's first two albums.


30. In 1993, Mike participated in the tribute album "Stone Free: A Tribute to Jimi Hendrix" dedicated to one of his idols - Jimi Hendrix. It was under the "M.A.C.C." Which also included Jeff Ament, Matt Cameron, and Chris Cornell (the band's name is the acronym for its members) and they performed the song "Hey Baby (Land of the New Rising Sun)".


31. At the rehab facility, Mike met John Baker Sanders who also came from Seattle and was in the rehab process. The two decided to set up a side project. They added the drummer Barrett Martin from the band "Screaming Trees", and later Mike also added Layne Staley from the band "Alice In Chains". Mike thought it would help him to be in the company of people clean from drugs & alcohol, in order to recover from the drugs. Thus was born the marvelous project "Mad Season" which released an exemplary, unique and special album called "Above".



32. Beyond the album "Above", Mike and "Mad Season" participated in the 1995 John Lennon Tribute Album "Working Class Hero", when they performed the song "I Don't Wanna Be a Soldier".


33. In the same year, McCready also managed to participate with his friends in Pearl Jam on Neil Young's album "Mirror Ball". Later, the band members went on a tour with him and even performed in Israel.


34. On Pearl Jam's fourth album called "No Code" from 1996, Mike expanded his range of instruments and began playing the piano as well. It's also the first album where Mike was given credit for writing a song on his own, without the participation of another band member.


35. That same year Mike participated in the "Dust" album of "Screaming Trees", in the song "Dying Days".


36. On the fifth album "Yield" released in 1998, Mike contributed more to writing than on previous albums, including writing the hit "Given to Fly".



37. In 1999, Mike participated in another side project as part of "The Rockfords". The band released their only album in 2000.



38. While working on the sixth album "Binaural" which was also released in 2000, Mike re-entered a rehab facility. Due to this his contribution to the album in terms of writing was small compared to previous albums.


39. In 2002, the band released their seventh album, "Riot Act". This is the first album on which Kenneth "Boom" Gaspar joins and plays the keyboard. McCready was the one who pushed for Gaspar's introduction in order to enrich the band's sound.


40. Beyond McCready's contribution to the songs included on the album, McCready wrote the song "Down" which was released only as a B-Side, under the influence of a performance by the band "Social Distortion" which he admired.


41. That same year, Mike participated in The Wallflowers' "Red Letter Days" album.


42. In 2004, Mike was a guest on the "Jupiters Darling" album of the band "Heart". The album also featured Jerry Cantrell and Mike Inez.



43. In 2006 Mike also participated in Peter Frampton's instrumental album "Fingerprints".


44. In 2012, Mike was a guest on Soundgarden's comeback album "King Animal", during the song "Eyelid's Mouth".


45. In 2013, Mike participated in the album released by the band "Walking Papers" which was formed in Seattle and listed among others the drummer Barrett Martin who played with Mike in "Mad Season" and bassist Duff McKagan.


46. ​​In 2016 Mike was involved in another project that included Barrett Martin and Duff McKagan and was called Levee "Walkers".


47. Another Mike tribute project with Duff McKagan is "Raw Power." The band pays tribute to Iggy Pop who released in 2016 the album "Raw Power - A Tribute To Iggy & The Stooges Live From The Rooftop Of Pike Place Market".


48. It is interesting to note that all of the songs that Mike composed on his own for Pearl Jam, with the exception of the song "Force of Nature" from the album "Backspacer", included different tuning from the original guitar tune.


49. Mike's first contribution as a lyricist was in the song "Inside Job" from the album named after the band that came out in 2006 (The Avocado).



50. In 2007, two of Mike's guitar solos entered Guitar World magazine's 100 greatest solos of all time - these were the solos for the songs "Alive" and "Yellow Ledbetter".



51. That same year he and Gossard entered Rolling Stone magazine's Top 20 New Guitar Gods list, entitled "A 4-Handed Monster."


52. In 2011 he participated in the album "Alone in This Together" by "Star Anna And The Laughing Dogs".


53. In 2017, Mike published a book with the long name: "Of Potato Heads and Polaroids: My Life Inside and Out of Pearl Jam" which includes photos he took in history at Pearl Jam.



54. In 2018 he composed the soundtrack for the movie "Sadie". In addition, he co-wrote with Peter Frampton two of the songs of the imaginary band "Stillwater" from the movie "Almost Famous". The other three were written by Nancy Wilson of the band "Heart", which was then married to film director Cameron Crowe.


55. That same year he collaborated with KT Tunstall and Lea Julius on the performance of Tom Petty's song "I Won't Back Down".


56. He is ranked number one on Ultimate Guitar Magazine's most underrated guitar players list.


57. His favorite guitar of all his collection of guitars is the 1959 Fender Stratocaster, the same model played by his idol - Stevie Ray Vaughan (it has been from 1960).





58. In 2020 Pearl Jam released her 11th album “Gigaton” which we think brings back the rough, edgy and so addictive charm we loved on their first albums.


59. He has released to date along with Pearl Jam 11 studio albums, 15 live albums, and three compilation albums.


60. The legendary Chris Cornell said the following about his guitar genius:

“He’s got something in there; he’s infected, and that’s gonna come out again somewhere ”.


61. One of his side projects is a tribute band to the heavy metal band UFO called "Flight to Mars".


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