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Meet the ‘Double Pete Best’ of ’90s Rock

Jason Everman Pete Best
YouTube / Evening Standard, Getty Images

For just about any band that eventually made it big, there’s at least one guy who was in the lineup before they were famous — their ‘Pete Best,’ if you will. But Jason Everman, who played guitar for Nirvana and bass for Soundgarden in the late ’80s, narrowly missed his shot at the charts twice.

If that was where Everman’s story ended, he’d still be a pretty good subject for a profile piece, which is exactly what he is in this week’s issue of the New York Times Magazine. As it turns out, however, Everman’s brief tenure as a journeyman grunge bassist was just one early chapter in a truly fascinating life: After growing disillusioned with the music business in the early ’90s, he gave it all up and did a complete 180, joining the military.

Everman was 26 when he entered basic training for the Army, which already put him at something of a physical disadvantage against the younger recruits — and then when his former bandmate Kurt Cobain died in 1994, dredging up Everman’s rock past, it cost him a number of drill sergeant challenges (as he put it in the Times piece, “O.K., rock star, give me 50.”) But he went on to not only succeed in the Army, but flourish, eventually becoming a Ranger and joining Special Forces.

But Everman’s story doesn’t end there — in fact, after leaving the service, he used the G.I. Bill to go back to school, enrolling at Columbia University (and receiving a letter of recommendation from Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal) to pursue a degree in philosophy, which he’s since earned. Now, he jokes, “I’ll probably just be a bartender somewhere.”

Those are just the outlines of the piece, which is long (six pages) but adds up to a truly fascinating, inspiring read. Check out the complete article here.

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