Marilyn Manson’s Band Once Lost a Big Record Deal to Pearl Jam

Marilyn Manson’s band tried to get signed to a major music label back in the day. However, Sony decided to sign Pearl Jam instead. Much of this came down to the reaction Sony’s Richard Griffin had to Marilyn Manson himself.

Eddie Vedder | Paul Bergen/Redferns

Former Marilyn Manson member opens up about the violent meaning of one of the band’s songs

Firstly, a little background. Before Mason’s band was simply known as Marilyn Manson, it went by the name Marilyn Manson & The Spooky Kids. In a piece he wrote for the Sun-Sentinel, band member Daisy Berkowitz recalled some of the band’s early struggles. “Marilyn Manson & The Spooky Kids, won a local music award for Lunchbox, a cassette of four songs that we sold at shows and record stores around South Florida. Oddly enough, the title track wasn’t on the tape. But ‘Lunchbox,’ the song, was a part of our live set, and a fan favorite.”

Berkowitz revealed “Lunchbox” was inspired by an actual incident where a bullied child stood up to his tormentors by using a lunchbox as a weapon in self-defense. In addition, Berkowitz said Manson saw a bit of himself in the song’s central figure. After all, Berkowitz opined, Manson saw himself as a righteous rebel who faced persecution from the authorities.

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Why Marilyn Manson’s band lost out to Pearl Jam

Berkowitz added “But back to ‘Lunchbox.’ We put it out on a later release, After School Special, funded by a demo deal with Sony. We had privately auditioned with the song for the Sony A&R; (artists and repertoire) team. Richard Griffin, Sony president of A&R;, personally rejected us within minutes, saying he liked the show and the idea but ‘didn’t like the singer.’” 

This incident had a major impact on a different band. “The label went with a new band from Seattle called Pearl Jam. So the lyrics to ‘Lunchbox’ had become ironic by the time we finished playing it at the audition.” It’s not clear how the lyrics to “Lunchbox” were ironic given the circumstances.

In addition, that was not the end of the connection between Marilyn Manson and Pearl Jam. According to Alternative Nation, Marilyn Manson band member Madonna Wayne Gacy linked Pearl Jam’s track on Twitter. In addition, he referred to Pearl Jam as a group of “c*cksuckers.” It’s not clear if his comment was made in jest or if he was actually calling the band out. After all, Marilyn Manson is a band known for incorporating vulgar humor into their work.

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Which band was more successful?

This raises an interesting question: Was Pearl Jam more or less successful than Marilyn Manson? 14 of Pearl Jam’s song reached the Billboard Hot 100. Of those tracks, two reached the top 40: “Last Kiss” and the double single composed of “I God Id” and “Long Road.” On the other hand, Marilyn Manson never released a single that charted on the Billboard Hot 100. Sony decided to sign Pear Jam instead of Marilyn Manson and, from a commercial standpoint, they made a wise decision.