American rock group, Pearl Jam, helped form what became known as the grunge music sound in the 1990’s, with their numerous hits from their debut album ‘Ten’, with songs such as “Alive”, “Even Flow” and “Jeremy.”
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the story behind the song “Jeremy”, it was actually inspired by a tragic event that took place on January 8th, 1991, at Richardson High School, in Richardson, Texas.
Jeremy Wade Delle was a 15-year-old student, and after missing his second-period English class, his teacher told him to get an attendance slip from the school office. However, instead he returned with a gun and walked directly to the front of the classroom.
“Miss, I got what I really went for” he reportedly said, then put the barrel into his mouth and fired before his teacher or classmates could even react. This tragic incident happened 27 years ago, but Delle’s mother Wanda Crane has finally spoken out about his tragic death.
“That day that he died, did not define his life.” she told WFAA. “He was a son, a brother, a nephew, a cousin, a grandson. He was a friend. He was talented.”
Pearl Jam have been criticised in the past for writing the song about the young boy that took his own life. However, the hit song “Jeremy” has gone on to bring awareness to bullying and suicide.
His mother reflected on the day in a special report on WFAA, about when she first heard the news of her son’s suicide, stating, “I was in my office at work. I didn’t believe it. I was in shock. Not my son. I was going to pick him up that afternoon at school.”
Just as the song’s lyrics describe, Jeremy Delle was a promising artist during his short life. “He won first prize at the Texas State Fair” she continued, “He won best of shows, and this was all before he was 12 years old.”
Also talking about the horrible suicide incident was Jeremy’s former classmate, Brittany King, who was in the classroom at the time of his death.
“Shock and fear went into my mind” she said. “All the students kinda ran into the back of the room and huddled. This was a big wake up call. Like, you know what? Life is not all hunky-dory all the time. Real things, tragedies happen. It made me grow up pretty quick, literally overnight.”
When asked about Pearl Jam’s song, King said that she felt angry at them for writing it. “I thought, you don’t know” she continued. “You weren’t there. That story isn’t accurate”
Pearl Jam’s frontman, Eddie Vedder, spoke to Billboard about the song last year, claiming he considered going deeper into the real-life story, but shied away from doing so. Vedder said, “That was a newspaper article. 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.”
“And I totally related because I had a very similar experience with a kid who I grew with. I didn’t really grow with; I just had a couple of instances with him and he ended up to be a, you know, kind of a… I mean, he freaked out. His world blew up. He kind of freaked out and brought a gun into class one day. It was geography class and shot up a 1000 gallon fish tank or something. I was in the hallway and I remember hearing it.”
The full interview with Jeremy’s mother is available to watch below. It’s still a devastating story, even after all these years, and sadly it’s not the last incident involving weapons at school, and with young lives being cut short.
The reasons for Jeremy Delle taking his own life are still yet unknown, but school bullying is the suspected reason, however, it will always remain a mystery. If there’s anyone that you know that’s going through a tough time, please remind them of the National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK.
Story by Emily Clark
Featured Photo Credit: Fox News