Pearl Jam has honored the memories of the nine fans crushed to death during its June 30, 2000, Roskilde Festival performance with an emotional statement authored by guitarist Stone Gossard on behalf of the band. “It’s been 20 years since that day,” Gossard writes. “But nothing has been the same since.”
The band was in middle of performing “Daughter,” the 12th song of its set, when the general admission crowd surged forward and dozens of fans lost their footing in the mud-soaked field. Earlier in the show, frontman Eddie Vedder had pleaded with the 50,000-strong audience to stop pushing forward. But as Gossard writes today, “[we] never realized anything was going on at all until it was too late.”
“20 years later our band has 11 more kids, all of them precious, and another 20 years between us,” he continues. “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.”
Gossard admits that initially Pearl Jam “retreated and became angry after many reports implied [the band] was responsible,” a charge that was quickly proven to be false. “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.”
Indeed, beginning in 2003, Gossard has led an effort for band members to meet with families of the fans who died. Some of them attended Pearl Jam’s June 30, 2010, concert in Berlin, marking the 10th anniversary of the tragedy, and Vedder became particularly close with the family of late Australian fan Anthony Hurley.
“With some, we have forged strong friendships, sharing and supporting each other. Some we do not know,” he says. “Young men who loved PJ and wanted to get up close. That was the through-line of all those who passed that day.”
In the immediate aftermath of Roskilde, Pearl Jam wrestled with whether to continue on as a band but ultimately returned to the stage a little more than a month later in Virginia Beach, Va. The tragedy informed the band’s songwriting for many years to come, with tracks such as “I Am Mine” and “Love Boat Captain” reflecting on the emotions from multiple perspectives.
“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,” Gossard writes. “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.”
To read Pearl Jam’s full statement, click here (https://pearljam.com/news/roskilde).