How Pete Townshend Helped Eddie Vedder Deal With Roskilde Horror
Eddie Vedder recalled how Pete Townshend helped him deal with the horror of the Roskilde festival in Denmark in 2000, where nine fans died in a crush and 26 others were injured.
In a conversation with Chris Cornell’s daughter Lily, the Pearl Jam singer explained that their show started on a high because they’d just been told about her birth.
Speaking in the latest episode of Lily’s Mind Wide Open series on mental health, Vedder talked about getting through hard times. “Sometimes it’s that simple thing of ‘Don’t react, respond,’" he said. "Sometimes you get caught up in just the reaction. … You spend the night drinking, you complain, you complain – but are you really coming up with solutions? I think at some point you get tired of complaining, and it’s like, ‘Well, what are we gonna do about it?’”
He went on to recount the moments leading up to Pearl Jam’s Roskilde appearance. “We got the news that our great friends Chris and Susan had just had a child, and her name was Lily," Vedder recalled. "We kinda cried some tears of joy, we all gave each other a hug. This was less than 15 minutes before we were gonna go on. And you were the first baby of all the bands, so that was a huge, huge, moment.”
You can watch the episode below.
The singer said the band was feeling “empowered and emotional” about the news, until about 40 minutes into their performance, when “these terrible events happened.” Since then, Vedder added, they’d “gone through a lot of healing with the parents of those individuals ... [and] got to know and respect not just them, but the pain that their families had to go through.”
Vedder’s conversation with Townshend helped him through the early stages of dealing with the tragedy, he remembered, partly because the Who guitarist was forced to deal with similar emotions when 11 fans died in a crush in 1979.
“There I was in a fetal position, basically, and Pete said, ‘You can handle this,'" Vedder recalled. "And I said, ‘I can’t.’ I was like, ‘I don’t know, Pete, I don’t think I can. I’m losing it.’ And he said, ‘No, you can handle this.”
He noted that Pearl Jam had always practiced a “safety first” approach to concerts and became good at “lifeguarding the same time as we’re playing." “I was doing a bit of ‘woe is me, how did it happen to us?’" Vedder said. "And Pete said, ‘Because you can handle it. … That’s probably why it happened, because you can handle it.’ He empowered me to get my shit together: Don’t feel sorry, and don’t react. Respond.”