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Pearl Jam tribute act change name following legal threats

By | Published on Friday 22 January 2021

Pearl Jam

A Pearl Jam tribute band in the UK have changed their name following legal threats from Pearl Jam themselves. Previously known as Pearl Jamm, they will now be called Legal Jam.

The tribute act revealed earlier this week that they received a cease-and-desist letter from Pearl Jam’s lawyers back in September, ordering them to stop infringing the band’s trademarks with their very similar moniker, particularly on merch. This despite them having been performing as Pearl Jamm for five years and even having direct contact from Pearl Jam in the past.

“We know how [Pearl Jam drummer] Matt Cameron felt about his heroes, Kiss, when they took umbrage to his own tribute band ‘kiss’ (lower case)”, said Pearl Jamm in a post on Facebook addressing the band earlier this week. “No one has ever confused us or our merchandise with you or your merchandise, and so to say that is ‘likely’ is clearly nonsense. We have not caused you or your brand any damage whatsoever. In fact, we have done quite the opposite”.

“Such was the pressure exerted by the aggressive wording of the legal letters we received, we have questioned whether we even want to continue”, they went on. “We know of at least one other tribute band that decided to call it a day over this. It may have been easier, cheaper and more effective for one of you to reach out to us personally. We would have done that for you. But not like this”.

Still, after news of their plight went viral online this week, the band opted for a name change that would placate the lawyers, while also acknowledging what has happened. Of course, without context, ‘Legal Jam’ might just be confusing. But at least it won’t be confused with Pearl Jam.

Now, in a new statement, the band say: “We appear to have set the internet on fire this week and it’s time to extinguish the flames. A name doesn’t define us. We do what we do out of love and respect for Pearl Jam. We have always been clear that we will ‘Yield’ to Pearl Jam’s demands and equally clear that our disappointment was only ever of the timing and manner in which those demands were made”.

“We are proud to announce our new name – Legal Jam – which we thought would be fitting and under which we will continue to perform the music of Pearl Jam in the most heartfelt and authentic way. We look forward to reconnecting with our own fans (and other tributes) who have been so supportive through this as well welcoming the new fans who have joined us over the last week, as soon as we are back on the road”.

All’s well that ends well, then. Although it’s still not clear why Pearl Jam took action now, at a time when the tribute act, like most bands, are on live hiatus due to COVID-19.

It’s not unheard of for tribute acts to be hit with legal letters like this, though the issue doesn’t always lie with the original band themselves. In 2016, Metallica tribute act Sandman were sent legal threats for using Metallica’s name and logo to promote themselves. Metallica themselves later put this down to an “overzealous attorney” and did a deal to license their logo to the tribute act for $1 (although they waived the fee).

Pearl Jam themselves have not commented on the threats received by Pearl Jamm. Although it could be that, with less going on in music thanks to lockdown, their lawyers have been trying to find things to do.

Pearl Jamm – or Legal Jamm – are not the only Pearl Jam tribute act to have such a run in recently. In December, Irish tribute act Pearl Jem announced that they would be changing their name to Light Years. In a statement, they said that they had “worked with Pearl Jam on choosing our new name”.