Pearl Jam Share Emotional Tribute on 20th Anniversary of Roskilde Concert Deaths
June 30, 2000 was a day that Pearl Jam will always remember, as nine concertgoers lost their lives during a crowd crush at the Roskilde Festival near Copenhagen in Denmark.
At that show, eight men between the ages of 17 and 26 were suffocated to death when the crowd began to push toward the stage. A ninth man died five days later at a hospital. In addition another 43 people were injured in the incident. Now, as the 20 year anniversary of that concert tragedy arrives, Pearl Jam have offered an emotional tribute via their website and socials.
On their Instagram, the band offers up a brief snippet of a larger message shared below, along with a visual of lit candles in the dark and a passage from their song "Love Boat Captain." The track, which appeared on the 2002 album Riot Act, references the tragedy, with Eddie Vedder singing, "Lost nine friends we'll never know / two years ago today / And if our lives became too long / would it add to our regret?"
Pearl Jam's full commentary, as penned for the group by Stone Gossard, reads as follows:
It's been 20 years since that day.
A normal festival show day...show up 5 hours ahead. Wait for your slot.
I barely remember it...
Sunny, I think.
Lou Reed played, I think.
Then rain and wind.
But nothing has been the same since.
An unexpected moment intervened that forever changed all involved.
The 9 young men who were trampled. The lives of their families and loved ones who had to endure imagining their deaths over and over and the reality of never seeing them again. Every person at the festival who witnessed what was happening and tried to do something, maybe pulling someone up, or not being able to...
And those, like our band, who never realized anything was going on at all until it was too late...
All of us Forever waiting for the news to be different.
20 years later our band has 11 more kids, all of them precious, and another 20 years between us...
Our understanding of gravity and the loss felt by the parents of those boys has grown exponentially magnified as we imagine our own children dying in circumstances like Roskilde 2000.
It is unthinkable, yet there it is. Our worst nightmare.
Every day our hearts continue to ache and our stomachs turn at the thoughts of those young men dying and of what might have been different, if only...but nothing changes.
And our pain is a thousandth of that of the families.... the moms and dads, sisters and brothers, best friends...
Our deepest condolences and apologies to the families who lost their boys that day.
To the brothers and sisters, grandmas and grandpas and friends, all who lost their precious being...
Everyone failed to live up to what was needed in those hours before and in those days following the tragedy. The festival, the media, us included. We retreated and became angry after many reports implied PJ was responsible. Our words were nothing to help at that point. We hid and hoped that it wasn't our fault. We have been trying our best to unhide ever since.
We've met some of the families over the years. With some, we have forged strong friendships...sharing and supporting each other. Some we do not know.
Young men who loved PJ and wanted to get up close. That was the through-line of all those who passed that day. We hope we will never know what that loss feels like. We hope.
We are forever in the shadow of your pain and loss and we accept that shade and are forever grateful to share that sacred space. The space created by the absence of those 9 young men...
Eddie Vedder recalled to the Seattle Weekly in 2006, "The days following, we were all pretty inconsolable. I'm sure that the families and friends have had to live with it in much rougher ways that us. But our own personal experience was that we were practically in the fetal position over the reality of what had happened."
Band manager Kelly Curtis added, "When we still weren't sure what had happened or how it went down, I think we all thought at the time, 'This could be it.'" But Pearl Jam would take some rare time off to process the tragedy between albums before eventually deciding to resume their career.
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