A quarter of a century after they released their 13-times platinum debut, Ten, Pearl Jam remain one of rock’s biggest bands. They had sprung into the world’s consciousness with a mix of aggressive and emotional songs and have since refined their palate in order to write expansive, transformative rockers. Their last two albums have reached Number One on the Billboard charts, and they’ve never put out a studio album that has charted lower than Number Five. Moreover, they still tour regularly – having once taken on the concert industry by challenging Ticketmaster – and they still play two-hour sets to packed arenas.
On Friday night, the band appeared at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center to accept their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, following a speech by retired talk-show host David Letterman. The band’s current lineup – Eddie Vedder, Mike McCready, Stone Gossard, Jeff Ament and Matt Cameron – all appeared onstage to make speeches marking the achievement, as did founding drummer Dave Krusen. Read the band’s full speech below.
Stone Gossard: Maybe the most important reason we came tonight is not to receivethis honor, but to honor those who have worked so hard for this band, to help it function. All of us can fill sheets of paper with themany names, of our loving family members, our oldest and dearest friends, our influences,our idols, our collaborators, our counselors, our contributors, the people who mediated forus and assisted us in countless ways. They disagreed with us, respected us, encouraged us, gave us shoulders to lean onand cry on. They [dealt with] boring paperwork, endless organizing, agonizing phonecalls, computer work, torturous floods, drives, terrible conditions. They’ve hung lightingramps around countless tables. Purchased thousands of tambourines. Changed tens ofthousands of batteries. And even vacuumed our rooms, all to keep this band living on.
To all these people we give our most sincere and dearestthanks. Your hard work and love and dedication means that this award is as much for youas it is for us. We give our sincerest thanks toGeorge, Kerry, Liz, Simon, our manager Josh, Liam, Donny, Nicole,Kevin, Brett, Jimmy, Jimmy V, Andy, Sarah, Dave, Pete,Sonny, Larry, Jesse, Key, Dan, Tom, Peter, Mellie, Gary,Pharrell, Anna, Ellie, Mark, thankyou so much. Tim P, Rob, Ryan, Avery, Will, Barron, Jess, Christian, Ziggy,Janie, Betsy, Scully, Jacquelyn, Margo, Rod,Diana, Ryan. Thank you to all the incredible artists who have created all of our incredibletour posters. But even more importantly than all of those folks, we want to thank our fans. Whose belief inus has carried us through the times where we didn’t believe or we lost hope or we lost each other. Thank you so much to the greater Pearl Jamcommunity. Keep doing what you’re doing. We’re having so much funwatching you.And lastly, I would like to thank our amazing wives, my amazing wife, Vivian, her beautifulfamily, our beautiful children, my mom and dad, my sisters and theirfamilies. Thank you all for giving us this opportunity.
Dave Krusen: I’d like to thank the Hall of Fame. Pearl Jamsaved my life. And to my family, my kids, I love you guys. Thank you.
Matt Cameron: I would just like to thank my, my muse, my girl,my one special lady, April Cameron. My beautiful children, Ray and Josie. I would like to thankmy parents for letting me practice drums in theirhouse for probably a decade or so. I really appreciate that. My brother and sister for takingme to my first concert, David Bowie, Station to Station, 1977. I would like to thank my brothers in Pearl Jam for inviting me into theirincredible [band]. We so appreciate the fans and the life’s blood thatyou give to our art form of rock and roll. Thank you.
Mike McCready: Woo! That feels good. We’re in pivoting moments of the changingforever. I’ve had nine of these. But the first was in 1976. I was a boy scout. One day, ateleven years old, when my friends Danny and Rick told me about the rock band, Kiss. Iasked my parents for a guitar that night. I want to thank my mom, Louise McCready, for herlove and support for teaching me about Warhol, the Rolling Stones and dying my hair. Mydad, Roy McCready, thank you for giving me love and guidance and teaching me to trainmy mind, body and spirit. Thank you to my first band Shadow and for letting me practice five days a week for six years in their house. Thank you somuch.To my second band, Pearl Jam, you’re my brothers. I love you. I love you guys. I love yourfamily. You guys did it right, but we’reonly as good as the people that are around us. Our manager, Kelly Curtis, MichelleAnthony, Michael Goldstone, Nicole Vandenberg, George Well, Johnny, ChrisAdams, Brennan O’Brien and everyone at our offices. Our fan club, our road crew, andevery person that holds us up.
I want to thank the Red Hot ChiliPeppers for taking us out with the band and to the manybands that inspired me. Many that inspired me. Cheap Trick, Queen, Bowie, Hendrix, theStones, Beatles, UFO, Kraftwork, Ramones, Brandi Carlile, the Kills, SocialDistortion, Muddy Waters, Sex Pistols, the Clash, and my new favorite band, ThunderPussy. My friends and family, a lot ofyou are here tonight. You bring me laughter and teach me how to live. I loveall of you. All my friends and family are here tonight. All of our fans, thank you for hangingout with us before we go. Thank you to my amazing wife, Ashley, for keeping it all together, keeps my work together. Ilove you. 143. And our kids, Kaya, Jackson, and Henry, you inspire me to be a better parent. Alright. Thank you.
Jeff Ament: When I was 13, my uncle Pat gave me some singles, which was, the key to a well-respected man. This coincided with reading Death of a Salesman, in 7th grade class. After that I was put in a course never to be Willy Loman, which somehow correlated to a lifetime of playing bands, so if I seem a little bit nervous, blame Arthur Miller as I’ve never been very comfortable in a roomfull of seats. In 1983, I moved to Seattle, looking for my tribe. Other artists, musicians, individuals, hardworkers, skateboarders. I found a lot of these folks – many are still my friends. Imet Stone a month after moving to Seattle. At those first Seattle punk rock shows, I metStone almost thirty-five years ago, which ultimately led me to our band community.
Beinghere with the band, who have become some of my best friends in the process, makingmusic and art, traveling the world, supporting causes and programs together, making smalldifferences, meeting great artists and creative minds all over the world. That’s a pretty greatfucking life. It’s an honor in to be part of a club that includes so many of our heroes – Neil,the Clash, Zeppelin, the Stooges, Cheap Trick – but the fact is that we were affected by bands that aren’t here. So many important bands that made us want topick up our guitars and right songs. But the very best part about tonight is that mymom, who gave me the keys to the piano and my dad, who taught me abouthard work and community, they’re here with my family. So this is for everysmall town kid who has a dream. Thanks to everybody who supports us and inspires us.You’re great fans. Everybody who works with us with the band.Kelly, George have been with us for 27 years, 26 years. Thank you. Love you.
Eddie Vedder: You’re kind. Thank you so much. I guess I’d like to start by thankingall those who came before us. The tetrapods, the primates, thehomo erectus. [Laughter.] Without them, we would be so much less evolved. And here weare on our modern technology, advanced technology age and we’ve got a lot of evolving todo. It’s evolution, baby. Climate change is real. That is not fake news. And we cannot,cannot be the generation the history of the world will look back on and wonder why theydidn’t do anything humanly possible to solve the biggest crisis in our time. Anythingcan be obtainable. The Chicago Cubs winning the World Series. This is proof. And I usethat analogy because, in regards to climate change, because it can be done, but here’sthe thing, we don’t have 108 years to wait.
I’m lucky and grateful – two things I am every day. And I’m just grateful to be alive. And Ialso … I want to publicly apologize, you know, all of the, making our bandmates, making mybandmates suffer. For the singer who was flapping down the rafters and hanging off ofbikes and jumping off of balconies. They really didn’t deserve that. But, you know, they didn’t know that the person that they gave the job to, that their singer was reallyan Evil Knievel. But it was also about music. I swear, I used to be able to hold my wholebody up with one finger. But if the music wasn’t playing, I couldn’t do it with both hands.
When I think about high altitudes, I think about my wife, Jill. Honey, I thought youwere sitting down in front. But, it’s so important, you know, especially if that kitegets way higher in the air, you really have to trust the person holding the line. And thatperson has to be loyal and believe in you and have to have the strength to reel you back, somy wife, Jill, I thank you. And … I’m looking forward to all our beautiful days on groundtogether. And I’m glad I get to hold the chord for you and you get to soar as you do.My two daughters, I’m trying to teach them everything I know, andthey teach me the rest. Which is more of than what I do know. And ifsomehow, some way, Chance the Rapper ever sees or hears this, I just want to tell him, mydaughter really loves you. And I also, Chance, want to thank you for all the great workyou’re doing in Chicago. That gives us all hope.
I just love them more than anything, and that’s a lot, itsays a lot because I really love the Who! And the Ramones and the Band and Guided By Voices, and the list goes on because I listen to music every day of my life.And … a lot of that was in small apartments, when I grew up, we lived in some tight spaceswith my family, my mom and my brothers. My mom, she did really good parenting. Shewouldn’t tell us to turn it down, she would just kind of end up being fans of the bands thatwe were playing really loudly. And my brothers who I grew up listening to music withtogether, I always will try to play our songs and our new songs to them first. They’re suchgood brothers. They’ve known me long enough. They know when I’m pulling some kind ofbullshit. So they keep me honest and keep the records true.
You know, how lucky I was to meet Jack Irons. I’mworking as a crew guy in San Diego before my night shift,and I get to meet Jack, and it was the original drummer in the Chili Peppers. He also was amember of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame already. He’s here tonight. Without meeting him,none of this would’ve happened. I’m not in this building. I’m probably not evenon the planet. Jack, thanks so much. Thanks foryour friendship. Somehow when you’re so fortunate, you know, when you have a few drinks,and you’re taking that seat in the jump school or at the throne, is they’re all kings. We’reso fortunate. Every one of them is great. Matt Cameron’s really been the one. At a time when we didn’t know if – we weren’t sure what wasgoing to happen – he had been able not just to survive, but to thrive.
I mean, he’s been one of my brothers. And he was going to end up receiving this happily with us orhis other group. So he’ll be back. He’s a great drummer.You are a great drummer! And Matt Chamberlain, Jack, who we got to play with this week for the first time in 25 years. It was great tosee him. He’s a great person. I really want to thank Dave Letterman for being partof our honor tonight. He doesn’t know, but when I used to work the midnight shift, fouryears of midnight shift – I used to get there 11 to 7 and there’s a small red TV on the securitycard, a small red TV and Dave was my copilot. Every weekday, every night at work for fouryears. And also, he’d have so many great bands on his show thatthey – I saw so many bands that Letterman influences.
The first time on the Letterman show,and I’m just going to tell you my side of that quick story when I came into his studio and tookthe mic and sang, “Black.” He was doing it, “do-do-do do-do do.” He was doing that everynight for about three months. And I was always watching the show and it was starting tomake me fucking crazy. And then it started getting weird. I remember I smoked a little something. I’m sitting there,end of the night, kind of relaxing, and he kept asking, “Paul, when is this band going to beon the show?” “I don’t know. I haven–” “Did you call?” “I haven’t.” And he starts looking inthe TV. And I’m stoned. And Dave Letterman who was my copilotwith the security thing, he just looks into the camera like he’s looking into my bedroom …”Eddie? Eddie? Come here, Eddie.” It was fucked up. I thought the TV was talking to me. Ilost my mind. Serious thought, you know, you might have to go to rehab. You’retripping balls right now.
So last thing, we’ve been through a lot, this group, and if it weren’t for everybody outhearing about our music, if it weren’t for everybody out here who came to the shows … Those are the things that really kept us together when we felt theresponsibility to the music was bigger than ourselves or our own personal needs. We knew we were better together than apart. It was you. I love these people so much. I feel like maybe we’re about halfway there to deserving something,immaculate of this statue, maybe halfway there. But this is very encouraging. And we’revery grateful. Thank you.
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