Pete Townshend’s Advice To Eddie Vedder
One of the best ways musicians can connect with their audience is through live performances, and the experience is usually exciting and fulfilling for both sides. However, it can also turn into a nightmare. For instance, when Jefferson Airship couldn’t perform due to Grace Slick’s health issues at Lorelei Festival in 1978, the German audience was enraged. The fans ultimately set the stage on fire and damaged the musicians’ equipment, which led to Slick’s eventual departure from the band.
Unfortunately, Jefferson Starship wasn’t the only band that experienced such a terrible incident. The Who’s 1979 concert in Cincinnati resulted in eleven people’s tragic deaths. The eager audience members had pushed one another to make it to the prime unreserved seats, and eleven fans were trampled to death. So, when Pearl Jam experienced a similar tragedy, frontman Eddie Vedder knew who to confide to.
How Did Pete Townshend Help Eddie Vedder?
It was a rainy day at Denmark’s Roskilde Festival in 2000, and Pearl Jam was scheduled to take the stage on the Orange Stage, the festival’s largest platform. It was packed with approximately 50,000 people waiting to hear the American band. The crowd was really eager, and their enthusiasm started to show when the concert started around 10:30 PM.
It would take mere minutes for the audience to display distress, and it became evident that something was off. Yet, Pearl Jam couldn’t see the ensuing chaos from the stage, and the band continued performing. As the panic spread among the fans, people started stepping on one another. A Pearl Jam fan, Tomas Miller, recalled how the incident quickly escalated into a life or death situation.
The fan expressed his distress while speaking to Rolling Stone in 2000:
“It was tight even before the music started – people were stumbling left and right. Half an hour in, I knew it was life and death. I couldn’t lift my arms. It was difficult to breathe. I lifted my head to feel clean air. I was scared for my life.”
Unfortunately, the incident resulted in nine people tragically losing their lives at the performance. Fans were trampled, and the survivors suffered from trauma. It was also quite an unfortunate incident for Pearl Jam. The frontman Eddie Vedder was shocked, and the tragedy affected him deeply.
During an interview with Chris Cornell’s daughter Lily Cornell Silver in 2020, Vedder revealed that he had hit rock bottom because of the incident. The singer was suffering from the painful memories of that day, and the harsh reality made Eddie feel bad for himself and Pearl Jam.
When Vedder questioned why it happened to them, the Who frontman Pete Townshend knew the answer. For Townshend, it was because the band had the strength to handle it. The frontman disclosed that Pete Townshend’s help made him realize that he didn’t need to pity himself and react because he had the power to respond and overcome.
The Pearl Jam frontman on Pete Townshend’s advice:
“There I was in a fetal position, basically. I was doing a little bit of ‘woe is me’ and ‘why did this happen to us?’ And Pete said, ‘Because you can handle it.’ It empowered me to get my sh*t together. Don’t feel sorry, and don’t react. Respond.”
Townshend had experienced a similar painful incident many years ago. The Who frontman was able to help and guide Eddie Vedder through the unfortunate times as he understood Pearl Jam members’ trauma. The advice seems to have helped the band members immensely, as they managed to move on and continue their careers as live performers.