Wednesday, April 16, 2014

TMFW 32 - The Special Forces Soldier Who Played in the Biggest Band(s) in Grunge

Last week, Nirvana was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in their first year of eligibility, to great fanfare.  In their acceptance speech, Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic were charming and gracious.  Dave made a point of thanking three guys who were drummers in the band before he was, and noted that they had helped pave the way and contributed to Nirvana's success.  Though he was apparently in the audience, the band did not specifically name one other former member: Jason Everman, who played guitar for the band and was the only non-drummer other than Cobain and Novoselic to ever be a full-time band member.
Everman was a part of the band for much of 1989, after the recording but before the release of Bleach.  In fact, when the band got the invoice for recording Bleach from the studio - for the amazing sum of $606.17 - it was Everman who found the cash to pay it (even though he had not played on the record).  Everman is listed in the liner notes of the record as a guitarist, and he  is featured on the cover of the record with Kurt Cobain.  He hit the road with the band in support of Bleach, and as the story goes Everman struggled with the tough life of a touring band.  His withdrawal and moodiness caused the band to abruptly cancel the end of its tour, and they were forced to drive 50 hours from New York back to Seattle.  Everman was fired shortly thereafter.  
But Everman's story does not stop there.  Very shortly after leaving Nirvana, Everman hooked up with another Seattle band that had just released their first major label record - Soundgarden.  He joined the band as their bassist and toured North America and Europe as Soundgarden was in the early days of its fame.  But after the tour concluded, the band called a meeting in Seattle.  Chris Cornell, Soundgarden's lead singer, expressed frustration with the band dynamic and Everman was surprised to learn that he was being kicked out.
So by mid-1990, Jason Everman had the remarkable accomplishment of having been a member of, and having been fired from, both Nirvana and Soundgarden.  Nirvana released Nevermind in September 1991 and Soundgarden released Badmotorfinger one month later.  The rest is history.
But Everman's story does not stop there.  As this long New York Times Magazine article explains, in 1993 Everman flew to New York City, visited an Army recruiting center in Manhattan, and enlisted.  He eventually became an Army Ranger, then later became a member of the elite Special Forces. Everman spent time in Latin America, in Asia, in Afghanistan and in Iraq as part of that team.  As the article notes, at each stop along the way his fame found a way to catch up to him.  One can imagine the fun of being at boot camp when your drill sergeant learns you were in two of the most famous bands in the world.
After over a decade in the Army, Everman returned to the US.  In his early 40s, and with help from the GI Bill and a recommendation letter from General Stanley McChrystal, he enrolled at Columbia University.  He graduated at 45 with a philosophy degree.
Even after they made it big, Nirvana never paid Everman back his $606.17 for the Bleach session.  Kurt Cobain facetiously characterized the money as payment for "mental damages."
BONUS FACT:  Along with Nirvana, the Rock Hall inducted a good lineup of artists on Thursday, including Cat Stevens, Linda Ronstadt, and Kiss.  It also inducted the first home-grown Philadelphia group and a TMFW favorite - the great Hall & Oates.  If you are ever facing a Hall & Oates emergency, dial up "Callin' Oates" at 719-26-OATES.  The service feeds you Hall & Oates songs by touch-tone demand, and is essential.  It's genius, even. 
If you are feeling even more adventurous, try The Bird and the Bee's all-Hall & Oates cover album Interpreting the Masters, Vol. 1.  (Rdio, Spotify)  "I Can't Go For That," "She's Gone," and "One on One" are all good examples.

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