Pearl Jam‘s Eddie Vedder is one of the last of the great grunge frontmen left on this planet. We lost Kurt Cobain and Layne Staley years ago, then it was Scott Weiland, and now, shockingly, we’ve had to say goodbye to Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell at the age of 52.
Vedder and Cornell were more than just peers, they were collaborators, one-time bandmates and also very close friends, and until now, the Pearl Jam singer has been only quietly paying public tribute to the memory of his grunge brother-in-arms through subtle live lyrical alterations.
But that changed at his solo performance at London’s Hammersmith Apollo last night, where the Pearl Jam leader made a heartbreaking public speech about his reaction to losing his “friend” and “older brother” Cornell.
Likely because of Vedder’s strict “performance etiquette policy”, which prohibits recording at his concerts, a video of his impassioned message to “everyone who was affected by” the Soundgarden and Audioslave legend’s passing has yet to surface, but a transcript has emerged online, which reads:
“Sometimes it’s hard to concentrate these days. I was thinking about the history of this building and the Bowie history. So I started to think about that and my mind began to wander. It’s not a good…
So I haven’t really been talking about some things and I kind of… now it feels like it’s conspicuous because I lost a really close friend of mine, somebody who…(applause).
I’ll say this too, I grew up as 4 boys, 4 brothers and I lost my brother 2 years ago tragically like that in an accident and after that and losing a few other people, I’m not good at it, meaning I’m not…I have not been willing to accept the reality and that’s just how I’m dealing with it (applause starts).
No, no, no, no
So I want to be there for the family, be there for the community, be there for my brothers in my band, certainly the brothers in his band. But these things will take time but my friend is going to be gone forever and I will just have to…
These things take time and I just want to send this out to everyone who was affected by it and they all back home and here appreciate it so deeply the support and the good thoughts of a man who was a … you know he wasn’t just a friend he was someone I looked up to like my older brother.
About two days after the news, I think it was the second night we were sleeping in this little cabin near the water, a place he would’ve loved. And all these memories started coming in about 1:30am like woke me up. Like big memories, memories I would think about all the time. Like the memories were big muscles.
And then I couldn’t stop the memories. And trying to sleep it was like if the neighbors had the music playing and you couldn’t stop it. But then it was fine because then it got into little memories. It just kept going and going and going. And I realized how lucky I was to have hours worth of…you know if each of these memories was quick and I had hours of them. How fortunate was I?! And I didn’t want to be sad, wanted to be grateful not sad. I’m still thinking about those memories and I will live with those memories in my heart and I will…love him forever.
The crowd gave Vedder a standing ovation following the speech, which you can see in the short clip below, alongside his performance of the Pearl Jam classic ‘Better Man’.