Mother of the Teen Who Inspired Pearl Jam’s ‘Jeremy’ Speaks Out
For the first time since her son Jeremy's death in 1991, Wanda Crane is speaking about her loss. Until now, the public has known him only as the protagonist of the Pearl Jam song that bears his name.
Frontman Eddie Vedder had picked up the story from a newspaper article that detailed how the nearly 16-year-old Jeremy Delle committed suicide by gunshot in front of his English class in Richardson, Texas. It became the inspiration for the song, the third single off the band's debut album, Ten. "Jeremy" reached No. 5 on both the Mainstream and Modern Rock Billboard charts.
But now Crane is publicly reflecting on her son and his death. “That day that he died did not define his life,” she tells WFAA in the video above. "He was a son, a brother, a nephew, a cousin, a grandson. He was a friend. He was talented.” You can watch the full interview above.
As Vedder depicted in the opening lines of the song, "At home drawing pictures / Of mountaintops," Wade was already an accomplished artist. "He won first prize at the Texas State Fair,” said Crane, who now runs a grief support group at her church, and whose walls are covered in her son's art. “He won best of shows, and this was all before he was 12 years old.”
Crane was at work when she first got the news. In shock from his unexpected death, she was able to think little about the classmates who witnessed it. All these years later, when Crane hears about school shootings, she thinks about how their families, and how the student will be portrayed. "I think of what will be said or what opinions will be thought about the student. But it's the mothers and sisters that I want to wrap my arms around and tell them someday it'll be better."
Wade's former classmate, Britanny King, who was in that English class, also spoke out — about the song. “I was angry at them for writing that song," she said. "I thought, 'You don’t know. You weren’t there. That story isn’t accurate.'”
In an interview weeks after the release of Ten, Vedder said he had considered delving deeper into the real-life story but ultimately shied away. "That was a newspaper article," he said of the song's inspiration, "and then when I went to write about it, I thought of actually getting a hold of what the actual person it was written about, but then I thought that would be intruding."