Avery played in Jane's Addiction initially from the beginning in 1985 to its first end 1991, and rejoined the group in 2008 before departing again in 2010.
Eric Avery was born in Los Angeles, California. His father is the actor Brian Avery perhaps best known for his work in The Graduate, playing Carl Smith.
Eric and Dave Navarro first met as students at St. Paul the Apostle Grammar School in West Los Angeles, a Catholic Parochial School founded by the Paulist Fathers. Eric and Dave were classmates together. Eric went on to St. Monica High School of Santa Monica, California, and Dave went on to Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks, California. Dave was classmates at Notre Dame with Stephen Perkins. Stephen met Eric's sister, Rebecca Avery, and they dated. It was Rebecca who suggested that Eric and Perry Farrell audition Stephen as the drummer for Jane's Addiction after Perry and Eric co-founded the band.
Avery kept a fairly low profile after the first demise of Jane's Addiction, participating in the Deconstruction project with Dave Navarro immediately after Jane's Addiction's breakup, but declining all invitations for Jane's reunions, until 2008. He has also recorded tracks for, toured with and briefly dated Alanis Morissette, as well as creating another side project, Polar Bear, in 1994. Avery was once suggested as the replacement bassist for Tool by former Jane's Addiction and then-current Tool manager Ted Gardner. Eric declined the invitation, saying he wanted to concentrate on his band Polar Bear. As seen in the film Some Kind of Monster, Avery also auditioned to become the bassist for Metallica, after the departure of former bassist Jason Newsted. The job didn't quite fit right for Avery; instead the band went with Ozzy Osbourne and Suicidal Tendencies bassist Robert Trujillo. Avery toured with the band Garbage during the promotion of their 2005 Bleed Like Me album. Avery has also performed with Peter Murphy, both on tour and on Murphy's 2004 release, Unshattered.
Avery worked briefly with the revived Smashing Pumpkins, but ultimately did not join the band. Avery was not paid for his work with the newly revived band, but did say the sessions were a lot of fun: "I went into [the Pumpkins] with the same mentality I took with me when I auditioned for Metallica – I expected to have a good story to tell my wife. I had no expectations. I had heard nothing but bad things about working with Billy, but I went, and I found it to be a really inspiring time." Billy Corgan ended up playing bass parts on what would become their 2007 album Zeitgeist and hired Ginger Reyes for live performances.
In 2007, he contributed original music to the feature film documentary The 11th Hour. He also released his debut solo album Help Wanted in April 2008 through Dangerbird Records.
After refusing to perform with a reformed Jane's Addiction several times, Avery performed alongside his former bandmates for the first time since 1991 at the NME Awards in 2008. Jane's Addiction played secret clubs shows in October and November 2008. On March 19, 2009 at South by Southwest Music festival in Austin, the original Jane's Addiction lineup performed a 45-minute set at an abandoned Safeway grocery store.
Jane's Addiction's official website was updated in February 2009 stating that there was to be another club show soon. Photos of Eric Avery, Stephen Perkins, and Dave Navarro, taken by Trent Reznor, appeared on Nine Inch Nails' official web site, which has led to speculation that Reznor was helping Jane's Addiction record new material. This relationship led to the booking of the "NIN/JA" (Nine Inch Nails/Jane's Addiction) Amphitheater tour, in which Eric Avery played, and also recalled the first Lollapalooza tour of 1991 in which Jane's Addiction and Nine Inch Nails were the top two billed acts.
On March 1, 2010, after a brief 10-date rescheduled tour in Australia, Eric Avery officially stated on his Twitter page that "[...]the janes addiction experiment is at an end." Rumors were already spreading around a few weeks before, as Duff McKagan was said to be the new bass player for Jane's Addiction, but Eric Avery kept his position within the band for the remaining few dates of the 2009/2010 tour.
In February 2012, Justin Meldal-Johnsen commented on the talkbass.com forum that Avery would be joining Garbage on their upcoming tour. In early May 2012 Garbage uploaded a video from their rehearsal, performing the song "Battle in Me", with Avery playing bass.
Avery released his second solo album, entitled LIFE.TIME., on February 15, 2013.
On February 25, 2013, Trent Reznor named Avery as the new touring bassist of Nine Inch Nails. Avery was slated to perform in the Twenty Thirteen Tour from Summer 2013 into 2014, but announced his withdrawal from the band on May 15, 2013, mentioning that after one year travelling with Garbage he did not feel like going on another extended tour.
Avery has singled Peter Hook of Joy Division and New Order as his major influence on bass playing, considering that British bassists were deeper with the instrument as "American rock bass is kick drum, it's just kick drum and then the root note of what the guitar player is doing." In Jane's Addiction, Avery stated that in the early phases the basslines would end up as a replacement rhythm guitar, "sort of built on that so Dave can riff on it and Stephen also can riff on it". On his solo career, Avery only played the bass at the final stages of Help Wanted, instead "focused on gadgets and keyboards and guitars and vocals and lyrics and other things like that". While playing with Garbage, Avery was for the first time "playing a more traditional bass role in a rock band" as his bass would only try to match Butch Vig's drumming.
John Frusciante of the Red Hot Chili Peppers stated on the Stadium Arcadium commentary that his guitar playing style is majorly influenced by Avery's spacious and heavily melodic playing.1987 Jane's Addiction
1988 Nothing's Shocking
1990 Ritual de lo Habitual
1991 Live and Rare (Compilation of B-Sides and the Remix of "Been Caught Stealing")
1997 Kettle Whistle (Compilation of live tracks, demos and unreleased material)
2006 Up from the Catacombs (Greatest hits album)
2009 A Cabinet of Curiosities (Box set)
2009 NINJA 2009 Tour Sampler
1996 Self-titled 12" ice blue vinyl
1997 Chewing Gum EP
1999 Why Something Instead of Nothing?
2008 Help Wanted