Jason Everman was kicked out of not one, but two, of the biggest bands of the 1990s, decided that he needed a change of life and enrolled in the US
Army, to become a highly decorated Ranger.
He grew up in the Seattle area, and was, for a time, the second guitarist in Nirvana -- he toured with them, but never played on an album, although he
personally helped to finance Bleach
. Halfway through the first tour, Kurt Cobain and Krist Novoselic decided that things weren't working out,
cancelled the tour, and booted Everman from the band.
By the time they made it to New York, “the fun stopped,” Novoselic remembered. “The fun stopped fast.” Channing was confused by it, too,
and he was one of Everman’s oldest friends. “He doesn’t talk freely when things are bothering him,” Channing said. It just seemed as if he
didn’t want to be there. Cobain and Novoselic wanted Everman out but didn’t know how to do it. That’s the inherent contradiction of punk-rock
rules: you were supposed to hate careerism yet still have a career. And 20-year-old kids aren’t particularly good at sorting that out.
Everman rebounded by being selected as the bassist for Soundgarden, after theirs left when they "hit it big" and signed a record deal. Once again,
he went out on tour, and once again, when the tour was over, Everman was shown the door.
When Soundgarden returned home, they called a band meeting. Jason showed up on Cameron’s porch thinking it was about the next record. Thayil
told me, “I thought I would be diplomatic . . . and wasn’t getting to the point.” He said Chris Cornell, Soundgarden’s singer, finally cut to
the chase: It wasn’t working out, Cornell said. Thayil remembers thinking: We’re not behaving like a band. I’m not happy. No one here is happy.
No one’s talking to each other. Just like that, Everman was fired again.
I don’t know how he got through the next year. Everman’s friend from home, Ben Shepherd, replaced him in Soundgarden. Their next album went
double platinum. Of course, Nirvana — after replacing Jason’s friend Chad Channing on drums with Dave Grohl — became the biggest band in the
world. That record he never got paid back for, “Bleach,” eventually sold 2.1 million copies. “Nevermind” sold nearly 30 million copies
worldwide and changed the course of rock. Everman, meanwhile, was left behind with no idea what to do next.
He moved to New York, tried to get into music again, but on an impulse, visited an Army recruiter, decided that he needed to meet that challenge,
despite his failures, enlisted, made it through the grueling special forces training and numerous tours of duty in Latin America, Iraq and
In Everman’s cabin, I saw medal after medal, including the coveted Combat Infantryman Badge. “Sounds kind of Boy Scouty,” he said. “But
it’s actually something cool.” I saw photos of Everman in fatigues on a warship (“an antipiracy operation in Asia”). A shot of Everman with
Donald Rumsfeld. Another with Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal. And that’s when it hit me. Jason Everman had finally become a rock star.
A very interesting and compelling read as we approach Independence Day. Much thanks to that "rock star" Ranger Jason Everman, as well as all
veterans and active duty service personnel.
The Rock ’n’ Roll Casualty Who Became a War Hero