Jeff Ament: 50 Years By The Numbers

by Jessica Letkemann on March 10, 2013

It’s not every day that a founding member of Pearl Jam turns 50 years old. In fact, today (March 10), which is Jeff Ament’s birthday, is the first day that a founding member of Pearl Jam has hit the big 5-0. In the last year alone, the prolific bassist has toured with Pearl Jam, toured with RNDM, and released two albums. Every interview he does gives the sense he’s constantly creating. What this big birthday calls for is a celebration of Jeff’s musical creativity, in the usual stat-heavy, graph-laden TwoFeetThick style. How many bands has he been in? How many songs has he written? How many shows has he played? Let’s dive in.

Jeff Ament, born March 10, 1963 in Havre, Montana, has been in bands for the last 32 years. Over those 32 years, he’s been in a total of 10 bands (alphabetical order): Deranged Diction, Green River, Luv Co, Mother Love Bone, Pearl Jam, RNDM, Temple of the Dog, Three Fish, Tres Mts., War Babies.

Needless to say, he’s been in music for most of his life.
64: % of Jeff Ament’s Life He’s Been In Bands
57: % of Jeff’s Life He’s Been in a Band with Stone Gossard
45: % of Jeff’s Life He’s Been in Pearl Jam

Jeff Ament-RepeatBandmatesStone (Green River, Temple of the Dog, Mother Love Bone, Pearl Jam) isn’t the only reoccurring bandmate Jeff’s had, however. Richard Stuverud (War Babies Three Fish, Tres. Mts, RNDM) and Bruce Fairweather (Deranged Diction, Green River, Mother Love Bone) also repeated.

Jeff Ament in Concert: Pie Chart
Over the course of those 32 years, Jeff has played a total of 1073 known public concerts (not including the 5-10% of pre-Pearl Jam shows probably still undocumented). For the purposes of this tally, a show had to be played for the public, and consist of at least 5 songs, to be counted. Therefore, many Pearl Jam instore and TV appearances were not included. A look at the pie chart here (with Pearl Jam in bright pink), shows that it’s no mystery that Pearl Jam represents by far the largest share of shows Jeff has played in his life (almost 82%).

But live performance is only part of the picture. Songwriting has been a cornerstone of Jeff’s musical life as well throughout the 10 bands he’s been in. Jeff has written the music for 77.57 publicly released songs, from his earliest days in Deranged Diction to the present moment with Pearl Jam and RNDM. How was that figured? Co-written songs were split by fraction (eg. if Jeff and Stone and Mike are credited for a certain song’s music, that was included as .33 by Jeff). Looking at songs’ music Jeff wrote by band, it’s clear that most of his songwriting has been for Pearl Jam (nearly 30 songs), with his solo work a fairly close second at 21 songs.

Jeff Ament #SongsByBand Bar Graph

Jeff Ament: % of Pearl Jam Album Music Line GraphNarrowing the songwriting focus to Pearl Jam, Jeff’s contribution to the band’s catalog (without which we wouldn’t have “Jeremy,” “Nothing As It Seems” or “Lowlight” to name just three) have meant he’s written between 9 and 33.56% of each Pearl Jam album’s music (and 15.67% of non-album studio originals).

Jeff Ament: Pearl Jam Songwriting Pie Charts 1991-2013

Jeff Ament’s songwriting for Pearl Jam isn’t limited to just the music, he has also delved into writing Pearl Jam lyrics…

18.33: % of Pearl Jam Studio Music Written by Jeff Ament
4.3: % of Pearl Jam Studio Lyrics Written by Jeff Ament
22.4: % of Pearl Jam Studio Lyrics NOT Written by Eddie Vedder That Were Written by Jeff Ament
Pearl Jam Songs with Lyrics By Jeff Ament: Pilate, Lowlight, Gods’ Dice, Nothing As It Seems, Help Help, Other Side, Sweet Lew

Non-music jobs Jeff’s Had: altar boy, zine editor, farm hand, weed killer, barista.

Jeff’s gigs acting and doing graphic design have been related to bands, so they aren’t listed separately. But for the record…

5: Number of Lines Jeff Had in the 1992 movie “Singles”
“While we’re young, Cliff”
“We can’t start off with that”
“Hey check this out, man, a review of our record”
“‘Once again, when the shirtless Cliff Poncier starts to sing…’”
“‘Other than that, he was ably backed by Stone and Jeff and drummer Eddie Vedder.’ I mean, that’s good. That’s a good review.”
(and fun fact, the Citizen Dick flyer shown being stapled up in the movie is for a March 10 show)

And while we’re being sort of silly, a word about the hats. After a brief time when he was in Green River, just about every single official band publicity photo Jeff was in from 1988-2002 found him wearing some kind of headcovering. Little wonder, in the ’90s, the Jeff hat thing was noted enough it even made it into some band’s song (a novelty song called “Pearl Jam Bought My Hair” by a little known group called Bongo Fury). Since 2002, it’s been a toss up for Jeff — hat-wearing or hatless. Feel a graphic coming on? Here it is…

Jeff Ament: Publicity Photo % In A Hat

Hats, hatless, goofing in “Singles,” and making coffee in Seatle aside, what it all comes down to for Jeff all these years is music…

10: Total Bands
77.57: Total Songs Written (Music), All Bands
29.52: Total Pearl Jam Songs Written (Music)
7: Total Pearl Jam Song Lyrics Written
1: Total Pearl Jam Songs Sung (“Sweet Lew”)

And if Jeff Ament was able to accomplish all of this in the past 50 years, here’s a toast to what is sure to be lots of music of the decades to come. Happy birthday, Jeff.

Jessica Letkemann ( Twitter: @Letkemann )
TFT co-editor Jessica Letkemann is a New York based digital music journalist & editor. She's currently VP & Editor-In-Chief of Digital at Fuse Media (Fuse.tv) and was previously managing editor of Billboard.com. She has also been on staff at Spin and Premiere magazines. Her first Pearl Jam show was at Lollapalooza on August 2, 1992.

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