In recognition of National Gun Violence Awareness Day yesterday (June 5), Pearl Jam have released, for the first time, the version of the “Jeremy” that MTV refused to show.
The track, from the band’s 1991 debut Ten, was inspired by the death of 16-year-old Jeremy Wade Delle, who shot himself in front of his English class and teacher in Richardson, Texas earlier that year. Eddie Vedder had read about the tragedy and remembered an incident from seventh grade where a fellow student, with whom he had previously fought, came into class with a gun and shot a fish tank. He took elements of both and wrote the lyrics to “Jeremy.”
According to Ranker, a video was made on the cheap by photographer Chris Cuffaro, but by the time it had finished, Ten was becoming popular, and a more expensive clip, directed by Mark Pellington, was commissioned. It ended with a shirtless Jeremy, played by Trevor Wilson, having been bullied by his classmates, walks into the room, throws an apple to the teacher, pulls out a gun and sticks it into his mouth. The words from the opening — “3:30 in the afternoon. An affluent suburb. 64 degrees and cloudy” — appear on the screen, as the other students are frozen and covered in blood.
MTV balked at the sight of Jeremy putting the gun in his mouth, and it was removed, although the final images of the kids remained. However, the edit led to debate as to what happened in the climactic scene — whether Jeremy shot himself, his classmates, or both. The unedited version removes all doubt.
The video took home four trophies, including Video of the Year, at the 1993 MTV Video Music Awards. Pearl Jam didn’t make another video for six years.
Pearl Jam’s commitment to trying to end gun violence continues with a new t-shirt to raise funds for their Vitalogy Foundation. The shirt, available in black or orange — the designated color for the anti-gun-violence cause — features a child sitting in front of a gun and set of crayons on the front, with the phrase, “10 out of 10 kids prefer crayons to guns” on the back. You can purchase it t their online shop.