In the early 1990’s, a powerful rock ’n’ roll movement emerged from the gloom and rain of the Pacific Northwest. Bands like Alice In Chains, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Soundgarden brought voice to the passions and fears of Generation X.
In 1991, Nirvana exploded the scene when their song, “Smells Like Teen Spirit” exterminated the glam metal of the 1980’s. In 1993, Pearl Jam sold almost 1million copies (in the first week!) of their second album, Versus, and were the first band since Paul McCartney to play three songs on Saturday Night Live. During a 15 month stretch from September of 1993 to November of 1994, all four of the huge Seattle grunge bands had albums debut at #1 on the Billboard 200. All eyes of the music world were on Seattle.
The cultural revolution happening in Seattle during the 1990’s didn’t only center around music. One of televisions’s most successful shows, Frasier, was based in Seattle and was an Emmy-winning phenomenon. Microsoft’s Windows 95 put personal computers in every house in America as the masses sipped on Starbucks and surfed the internet.
The members of Pearl Jam were always a part of the sports scene in Seattle. Bassist Jeff Ament was a season ticket holder for the NBA’s SuperSonics. Ament was seated at the court with his bandmates as Shawn Kemp and his teammates pushed the Chicago Bulls to six games in the 1996 NBA Finals. Ament was to Seattle and the Sonics as Spike Lee was to New York and the Knicks.
If Eddie Vedder was Seattle’s biggest rock star of the 1990’s then Ken Griffey Jr. was a close second. Griffey dazzled Seattle during the 90’s hitting more home runs than anyone in the American League (382 of them). Vedder, a Chicago native and diehard Cubs fan, adopted Griffey and the Mariners during the 90’s and was often spotted at games hanging with rock stars like Paul Simon, Tom Petty, and Neil Young.
The 1990’s was a mecca of success and prosperity for so many bands, baseball players, television shows, and coffee in Seattle. Not so much for football. The Seahawks missed the playoffs every year of the 90’s (except the last one) and failed to share in the success of so many of their neighbors as the Kingdome crumbled around them.
By the turn of the century, Kurt Cobain had passed away and Layne Stayley (Alice in Chains frontman) would in 2002. Soundgaren had broken up and only Pearl Jam was left to carry the torch of a once dominate music scene.
Ken Griffey Jr. left Seattle for Cincinnati and Alex Rodriguez emerged as the cities new star before he bolted for Texas. The SuperSonics would move to Oklahoma City and take Kevin Durant with them.
Seattle was evolving. It wasn’t just the music. It wasn’t just the players and the teams. The skyline was also doing the evolution. In March of 2000, the Kingdome was demolished. The Mariners moved into a beautiful new stadium on First Avenue called, Safeco Field. The Seahawks played a few seasons at the University of Washington while their new home was being finished.
Seahawks Stadium opened in 2002. It was built as a promise to billionaire Paul Allen who pledged to buy the team if a new stadium was constructed. The 1,500,000 sq ft project was a stadium that could only have been built in Seattle. The architecture was unique and featured an open end that would torture visiting teams for years to come. It was a virtual sound-garden that rocked as loud and as hard as the bands that helped the city rise to prominence in the previous decade. The stadium was built to house rock stars and as the new millennium progressed the Seahawks players were the cities new rock stars.
Seahawks Stadium became Quest Field and would be changed again to Century Link Field only a year after Pete Carroll took over as the team’s coach. Under Carroll, the Seahawks have lost only six times at Century Link and their fans (often called the 12’s) have provided one of the loudest home-field advantages in the history of the National Football League.
Often, those cheering the loudest at Century Link are Seattle’s original rock stars. The biggest most prominent members of the 12’s are the members of Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, Heart, Dave Matthews, and Macklemore.
Seattle’s football team and Seattle’s musicians have become a powerful team. See these examples:
- The musicians use their twitter accounts to support the Seahawks.
- Several of them have been 12 Flag Raisers (including Dave Matthews who raised the flag this week in anticipation of the Super Bowl).
- Soundgarden and Macklemore played a concert as part of the NFL Kickoff festivities this past September.
- Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready and Macklemore were filmed walking through Seattle in Seahawks jerseys for a piece produced by Fox that aired just before kickoff of this year’s NFC Championship Game. During the production, Pearl Jam’s “Given to Fly” provided the soundtrack and foreshadowed the Seahawks rise from the depths later in the day.
- Eddie Vedder was roaming the field before the NFC Championship game in a Seahawks hat shaking hands with the Seahawks players and even shooting a glare or two at his friend Aaron Rodgers.
- The ladies of Heart have been wearing Seahawks t-shirts on their tour of New Zealand this week.
- Alice In Chains played a special concert at halftime of the NFC Championship game. They were quick to point out on twitter that the Seahawks didn’t score a point before they plugged in their guitars but rallied to win the game with 28 after they rocked the place.
On Sunday, 12s across the country will gather to cheer the Seahawks as they attempt to win a second straight Super Bowl. Former Guns ‘N Roses bass player and Seattle native Duff McKagan attended last year’s Super Bowl with Alice in Chains guitarist Jerry Cantrell. Before the game Duff was quoted as saying that he believed in the Seahawks and correctly predicted that they would become the champions. Ironically, McKagan even compared the Seahawks defense to punk rock.
McKagan said. “And (this) team does things a little differently, but they find a way to win. They kind of rise at the exact moment to rise, and that defense hits hard and they have fun doing it. They’re not malicious or dirty. They just play well together.”
For the people of Seattle, it must be a treat to see their biggest rock stars and their football heroes also playing so well together.
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