Jack Irons

Jack Irons

Jack Steven Irons (born July 18, 1962 in Los Angeles, California) is an American drummer. He is best known as a former member of the American rock bands Red Hot Chili Peppers, Eleven, and Pearl Jam. He has also worked with Redd Kross, Raging Slab, Joe Strummer and The Latino Rockabilly War, and The Les Claypool Frog Brigade.

Musical career

What Is This? and Red Hot Chili Peppers

Jack Irons was a founding member of, and the original drummer for, the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Irons attended Fairfax High School in Los Angeles, California alongside Anthony Kiedis, Michael "Flea" Balzary, Hillel Slovak, and Alain Johannes. As teenagers, Irons, Johannes, Slovak, and schoolmate Todd Strassman formed the band Chain Reaction in 1976. After its first gig, the band was soon renamed to Anthym. Slovak became dissatisfied with Strassman's bass playing and eventually taught Michael Balzary (Flea) to play bass. Flea quickly surpassed Strassman in bass skills and took over bass duties in Anthym. After graduating from high school, the band changed its name to What Is This? (which was a question often asked by people who heard the band play). Flea left the band around this time because he was offered a job playing bass in the prominent Los Angeles punk band Fear. What Is This? continued on and performed many shows along the California coast.

Soon thereafter, Flea formed a "one-off" band with Kiedis, Slovak and Irons in 1983. The band, which was dubbed "Tony Flow and the Miraculously Majestic Masters of Mayhem" for it first gig, was a hit with the club audience. The band's name changed to the Red Hot Chili Peppers and the band quickly gained popularity around Los Angeles. Over the course of the next six months, the Red Hot Chili Peppers played many shows in Los Angeles clubs and became something of an underground hit. The band scored a record deal with EMI after just that short period of time and was set to record its first album. Unfortunately, What Is This? had also signed a record deal two weeks earlier. Since Slovak and Irons considered the Red Hot Chili Peppers to merely be a side project and not a serious commitment, they left the band to concentrate on What Is This?. With What Is This?, Irons recorded two EPs (Squeezed, 3 Out of 5 Live) and one full length album (What Is This?). The band broke up following the recording of the self-titled What Is This? album as Slovak became frustrated with the band and rejoined the Red Hot Chili Peppers. In the meantime, Irons played on several tracks on an album by the duo Walk the Moon, made up of Johannes and Natasha Shneider. After hearing that drummer Cliff Martinez had resigned, Irons, who was out of work and finally separated from other commitments, returned to the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Irons can be heard playing drums on the Red Hot Chili Peppers' third album, The Uplift Mofo Party Plan (1987), as well as on the band's cover of "Fire" (originally penned by Jimi Hendrix and first released on the Red Hot Chili Peppers' The Abbey Road E.P.). When childhood friend and bandmate Hillel Slovak died of a heroin overdose on June 25, 1988, Irons left the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Irons stated that he did not want to be part of a group where his friends were dying. Slovak's death was such a huge shock to Irons that he has been clinically depressed ever since.


After Irons left the Red Hot Chili Peppers, he went to a hospital to receive treatment. After a brief stint with Joe Strummer's backing band, Irons teamed up with Johannes and Shneider in 1990 to form Eleven. With Eleven, Irons recorded the albums Awake In A Dream (1991) and Eleven (1993). Midway through the recording of Eleven's third album, Thunk (1995), Irons departed to drum with Pearl Jam, and Matt Cameron of Soundgarden played drums on the album's remaining four tracks. Irons returned to the band once again in 2002 prior to the recording of the band's fifth album, Howling Book (2003). Irons' Eleven bandmate Natasha Shneider passed away on July 2, 2008 following a battle with cancer. Prior to Shneider's death, the band was working on a sixth album due for release in the fall.

Pearl Jam

Irons was asked by bassist Jeff Ament and guitarist Stone Gossard to join Mookie Blaylock, the band that would become Pearl Jam, in 1990, when the band was first forming and still looking for a singer and a drummer. Although he didn't join the band at that time because he was committed to his own band, Eleven, he did pass on a cassette of the band's work to a singer named Eddie Vedder, a local musician in San Diego, California at the time, with whom Irons had formed a friendship. Vedder joined the band and Irons had no more to do with the project for the time being.

Irons became the official drummer for the band in late 1994 following the departure of drummer Dave Abbruzzese. His first recording with the band was "Hey Foxymophandlemama, That's Me" for Vitalogy. He drummed on the Pearl Jam/Neil Young collaboration Mirror Ball (1995) and on the subsequent Pearl Jam records No Code (1996) and Yield (1998). As a member of Pearl Jam, Irons brought a unique drumming style to the band, particularly in the way he played his fills and with his use of a trash can lid as a cymbal. Irons co-wrote the music for the No Code songs "Who You Are", "In My Tree", "Red Mosquito", and "I'm Open". He also wrote and sang on the Pearl Jam songs "" (from Yield) and "Whale Song" (which was included on the band's collection of rarities and B-sides entitled Lost Dogs). In 1998, prior to Pearl Jam's U.S. Yield Tour, Irons left the band due to dissatisfaction with touring. Coincidentally, Matt Cameron, from the now-disbanded Soundgarden, replaced him again as he did four years prior on Eleven's record.

Other musical projects

Aside from the aforementioned bands, Irons recorded and toured as a member of Joe Strummer's backing band The Latino Rockabilly War for the Earthquake Weather album, and also toured with Redd Kross in support of the band's Third Eye album. In 1992, Raging Slab (a band notorious for having over 25 different drummers over the course of the band's 18 year career), complete with Irons on drums, began recording the follow-up to its 1989 RCA Records self-titled debut, with producer Michael Beinhorn at the helm. The entire album was recorded, mixed, and mastered; however when RCA Records executives heard the album, it was rejected. The album, titled Freeburden, remains unreleased. Irons performed with other members of Pearl Jam on Neil Young's 1995 album Mirror Ball, and subsequently toured Europe as part of Young's backing band.

Aside from popular music, Irons has worked as a drumming advisor and teacher for numerous U.S. television projects. In 2004, Irons released a solo album called Attention Dimension. The album features appearances by former bandmates such as Alain Johannes, Flea, Eddie Vedder, Stone Gossard, Jeff Ament, and Les Claypool. Vedder contributed vocals to a cover of Pink Floyd's "Shine On You Crazy Diamond".

Irons is featured on the track "Milky Ave" on the album Ultra Payloaded by Perry Farrell's band Satellite Party. Joining him on the album is former bandmate Flea. Irons is currently recording for Spinnerette, which features Eleven bandmate Alain Johannes.

Personal life

Irons is married with two children. At the age of 25, Irons was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.


What Is This?

Year Title Label
1984 Squeezed MCA
1985 What Is This? MCA
3 Out of 5 Live MCA

Red Hot Chili Peppers

Year Title Label Track(s)
1987 The Uplift Mofo Party Plan EMI/Capitol All
1988 The Abbey Road E.P. EMI/Capitol "Fire" and "Backwoods"
1989 Mother's Milk EMI/Capitol "Fire"
1992 What Hits!? EMI "Fight Like a Brave", "Behind the Sun", "Me and My Friends", "Backwoods", and "Fire"
1994 Out in L.A. EMI "Behind the Sun" (Ben Grosse remix), "Get Up and Jump" (demo version), "Out in L.A." (demo version), "Green Heaven" (demo version), "Police Helicopter" (demo version), "Nevermind" (demo version), "Sex Rap" (demo version), "You Always Sing the Same", "Stranded", "Flea Fly", and "What It Is"
1997 The Best of Red Hot Chili Peppers EMI/Capitol "Behind the Sun", "Me and My Friends", "Fire", and "Fight Like a Brave"
1998 Under the Covers: Essential Red Hot Chili Peppers EMI/Capitol "Fire" and "Subterranean Homesick Blues"


Year Title Label Track(s)
1991 Awake In A Dream Morgan Creek All
1993 Eleven Hollywood/Third Rail All
1995 Thunk Hollywood All except "Why", "Seasick of You", "Big Sleep", and "No Ground"
2003 Howling Book Pollen All
2005 Killer Queen: A Tribute to Queen Hollywood "Stone Cold Crazy" (with Josh Homme)

Pearl Jam

Year Title Label Track(s)
1994 Vitalogy Epic "Hey Foxymophandlemama, That's Me"
1995 Merkin Ball Epic All
1996 Home Alive: The Art of Self Defense Epic "Leaving Here"
M.O.M., Vol. 1: Music for Our Mother Ocean Interscope "Gremmie Out of Control"
No Code Epic All
Hype!: The Motion Picture Soundtrack Sub Pop "Not for You" (live from Self-Pollution Radio)
1997 The Bridge School Concerts, Vol. 1 Reprise "Nothingman" (live)
1998 Yield Epic All
Chicago Cab: Soundtrack Loosegroove "Who You Are"
1999 M.O.M., Vol. 3: Music for Our Mother Ocean Hollywood "Whale Song"
2003 Lost Dogs Epic "All Night", "Don't Gimme No Lip", "Black, Red, Yellow", "Leaving Here", "Gremmie Out of Control", "Whale Song", and "Dead Man"
2004 rearviewmirror: Greatest Hits 1991–2003 Epic "I Got Id", "Hail, Hail", "Do the Evolution", "Who You Are", "Off He Goes", "Given to Fly", and "Wishlist"

Solo releases

Year Title Label
2004 Attention Dimension Breaching Whale

Contributions and collaborations

Year Group Title Label Track(s)
1987 Walk the Moon Walk the Moon MCA Some
1988 Joe Strummer Permanent Record: Original Soundtrack Epic/CBS "Trash City", "Baby the Trans", "Nefertiti Rock", "Nothin' 'bout Nothin'", and "Theme from Permanent Record"
1989 Keith Levene Keith Levene's Violent Opposition Rykodisc Some
Joe Strummer Earthquake Weather Epic "Gangsterville", "Slant Six", "Shouting Street", "Sikorsky Parts", "Jewellers and Bums", and "Ride Your Donkey"
1990 The Buck Pets Mercurotones Island All
1991 Michelle Shocked Arkansas Traveler Mercury Some
1993 Sun-60 Only Epic "Mary X-Mess" and "Tell Me Like You Know"
The Buck Pets To The Quick Restless All
1994 Ethan Hawke Reality Bites: Original Soundtrack RCA "I'm Nuthin'"
1995 Neil Young Mirror Ball Reprise All
2007 Satellite Party Ultra Payloaded Columbia "Milky Ave"

See also


External links

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