Eddie Vedder details Pearl Jam’s struggle to return to live music after 2000 Roskilde festival tragedy: "At least one person in the band thought we should never play again"

Singer Eddie Vedder performs onstage with Pearl Jam during day 1 of the 2021 Ohana Festival Encore Weekend on October 01, 2021 in Dana Point, California.
(Image credit: Scott Dudelson/Getty Images)

Given recent events at Astroworld, the tragedy that occurred at Denmark’s 2000 Roskilde Festival resonates with fresh pathos. For that year’s headliners, Pearl Jam, June 30 was a day that changed the band forever, after a crowd surge during their set resulted in the death of nine fans. The events took their toll on the group, who found themselves questioning their approach to playing live – and if they’d ever take to the stage again.

Now, in an exclusive new clip from new Audible Original, I Am Mine, Eddie Vedder details how the band grappled with their future, and how he himself coped with the loss.

“There was at least one person in the band, I remember, that thought maybe we should never play again,” Vedder reflects.

“We all had to process something that we all went through as individuals, but also with the help of each other. Although I kind of disappeared into Europe – [I] had my own way of getting through it, which was taking Spanish guitar lessons from people who didn’t speak English.

“That was just a way to focus and be around people that I couldn’t understand for the most part. And that way I was able to be around people, but since I didn’t really know what they were saying, it felt very peaceful and calm.”

Vedder goes on to detail the band’s first soundcheck since the tragedy, ahead of their performance at Virginia Beach on August 3, 2000.

“Our nerves were pretty heightened the night before,” the frontman recalls. “I think we had a brief soundcheck, and it felt a little strange, looking out at empty seats… it had a different meaning.

“And then it started storming. And I’m in this normal room, looking out, and hearing thunder crack, lightning, windows were shaking, hail started coming down – this is in the summer – and then you’re gonna play outdoors the next day. It started feeling very tenuous.

“There was so much emotion going on, I thought, ‘I can harness this, I gotta do something.’ I had a small tape recorder, and that’s when I recorded and figured out the song I Am Mine. It was all about getting ready for that first show, and hoping we’d all be safe the next night.”

New Audible Original I Am Mine finds Vedder reflecting on his life and achievements with one of the biggest American rock bands of all time, and how those experiences intersect with art, sensitivity, and masculinity.

Part of Audible’s Words + Music series, I Am Mine also features new renditions of classic Vedder and Pearl Jam tracks, alongside Vedder’s thoughts and recollections.

I Am Mine is available now via Audible.

In September, Vedder revealed The Long Way, the first single to be taken from forthcoming solo album, Earthling, produced by Andrew Watt, and featuring members of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and the Heartbreakers.

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Michael Astley-Brown

Mike is Editor-in-Chief of GuitarWorld.com, in addition to being an offset fiend and recovering pedal addict. He has a master's degree in journalism from Cardiff University, and over a decade's experience writing and editing for guitar publications including MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitarist, as well as 20 years of recording and live experience in original and function bands. During his career, he has interviewed the likes of John Frusciante, Chris Cornell, Tom Morello, Matt Bellamy, Kirk Hammett, Jerry Cantrell, Joe Satriani, Tom DeLonge, Ed O'Brien, Polyphia, Tosin Abasi, Yvette Young and many more. In his free time, you'll find him making progressive instrumental rock under the nom de plume Maebe.