Mother Of Pearl Jam's "Jeremy" Speaks Out For First Time

Song based on true story about classroom tragedy

November 5, 2018
 Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam performs onstage at the 32nd Annual Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony

Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images

It’s one of Pearl Jam’s most dramatic songs, especially when you include the video. The teen suicide lament, “Jeremy,” was based on the death of Jeremy Delle. Now for the first time, we’re hearing from his mother.

"I was in my office at work," Wanda Delle told WFAA about January 8, 1991. "I didn't believe it. I was in shock. Not my son. I was going to pick him up that afternoon at school."

Jeremy Delle was 15 when he killed himself in front of a room full of students at Richardson High School in North Texas.

Wanda Delle says she was angry at Pearl Jam for writing and recording the song. But frontman Eddie Vedder has said he had good intentions. He told Seattle Sound Magazine in 2009 that the story of Delle’s death didn’t take up much space in the newspaper in which he read about the tragedy, and he felt like he needed to give Delle’s death more importance.

“Sixty-three degrees and cloudy in a suburban neighborhood,” Vedder has said about writing the song. “That’s the beginning of the video and that’s the same thing is that in the end, it does nothing … nothing changes. The world goes on and you’re gone.”

Related: Listen to the Entire 2018 Broadcast of 'I'm Listening'

“Jeremy” also drew from another real-life story. Vedder told KOLA in 2006 that someone he knew from junior high school did something similar to Jeremy Delle but survived.

Mental health, alcohol and drug abuse, addiction, and relapses are very real. You are not alone, and we understand. 

Give a call to 1-800-662-HELP (4357), the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's national helpline, at any time, any day of the year, and free of charge.

All Radio.com stations are committed to ending the stigma of talking about mental health. For more information and resources, visit ImListening.org