Michael "Mike" McCready (born April 5, 1966) is the lead guitarist of the American rock band Pearl Jam.
McCready was born in Pensacola, Florida, USA, but his family moved to Seattle shortly after his birth. As a child, his parents played Hendrix and Santana, while his friends listened to KISS and Aerosmith; McCready would frequently play bongo drums. At the age of 11, McCready purchased his first guitar and began taking lessons—aiming to imitate Gene Simmons of KISS, by sticking his tongue out.
In eighth grade, McCready formed his first band, Warrior, whose name soon changed to Shadow. Originally a cover band playing during free periods in high school, the band eventually began writing original material. After high school, Shadow attempted to cut a record deal in Los Angeles, but, according to McCready:
"We played to a couple bartenders down there, but even though it was a bad scene, it was a good experience. Basically, we weren't that good of a band, and we didn't realize it until we got down there. I guess we lost our focus, got really bummed out and came back to Seattle."'
Shadow split up soon afterwards, and McCready lost interest in guitar for some time, before finally joining another band called Love Chile. A high school friend, Stone Gossard, heard the band, appreciated McCready's work, and asked if he wanted to join a band he was forming. The two worked together and recruited bassist Jeff Ament. Together with drummer Dave Krusen (who would later be replaced by Matt Chamberlain, then Dave Abbruzzese, then Jack Irons, and currently Matt Cameron) and Eddie Vedder, the group formed the band Pearl Jam (originally known as Mookie Blaylock).
It was during this time that McCready took a central role in the Temple of the Dog project, combining members of Soundgarden and Pearl Jam. Mikes first recording studio experience was recording the Temple of the Dog album, including an epic 8-minute-plus solo for Reach Down. According to drummer Matt Cameron, Mike's headphone monitors flew off halfway through the recording of the solo, and he played the rest without being able to hear the backing track. Mike still considers this track to be his greatest achievement.
At this point in time, Pearl Jam became one of the most famous modern bands with the release of Ten. McCready frequently soloed, and added a blues touch to the music (influenced by Stevie Ray Vaughan). McCready's guitar style is usually an aggressive bluesy nature, and he never plays the same solo twice. His live renditions of songs have slightly different solos due to his fondness of improvization, and sometimes he treats the crowd to a full-on improv. He is extremely energetic live, and is commonly found dashing around the stage, playing to the crowd, throwing plecturms and soloing with the guitar behind his head.
McCready had difficulty coping with the fame, however, and was fighting drug and alcohol addiction:
"When everything blew up everybody kind of lost their minds...I'd clean up for a while then I'd fall off the wagon, like addicts do. I fell off the wagon after the Kurt Cobain thing. That fucked with everybody really hard. I mean how do you get to the point of depression where suicide's the only way out? We had a lot of meetings where they would say, 'Hey Mike, you're getting way too fucked up.' But we're all really good friends and we love each other and I think they actually thought I was going to die, but they never took steps to kick me out of the band, which I can't believe because I fucked up so many times. I was drunk and making an ass out of myself and they were concerned about it."
The Pearl Jam songs "Habit" and "Save You" are believed to be about McCready's struggle with addiction.
During the production of Vitalogy, McCready eventually went to rehab in Minneapolis, where he formed a side band, The Gacy Bunch, with Alice in Chains singer Layne Staley. After several live shows, they changed their name to Mad Season. Mike has also played with another side band called The Rockfords, named after one of McCready's favourite TV shows The Rockford Files. The band features McCready's former high school friends from Shadow, plus vocalist Carrie Akre from Goodness. Their self titled debut was released in 2000.
In May 2005 Mike married Ashley O'Connor in a private ceremony in Maui. McCready suffers from Crohn's disease and is very active in fund raising events for Crohn's research with his wife. The couple currently reside in Seattle, Washington.
Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 3 Jul 2006, 09:44 UTC.