Pearl Jam paid tribute on Tuesday (June 30th) to the nine people killed 20 years ago on the same date during the band's performance at the Roskilde Festival in Denmark.
Guitarist Stone Gossard wrote an extended reflection on the incident, which began, “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.”
Pearl Jam took the stage at the Danish music festival on June 30th, 2000 and so many fans surged toward the stage that singer Eddie Vedder implored the crowd to step back and give space to the people up front. In the end, eight men aged 17 to 26 were suffocated or crushed and died at the scene. A ninth passed away days later in the hospital, while 43 more concertgoers were injured.
Gossard wrote, “An unexpected moment intervened that forever changed all involved. The nine 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.”
Pearl Jam took an extended break after the tragedy and for a while it wasn't clear if the band would ever get back together. In rare remarks about the incident in a 2001 Spin feature, Vedder said, “It’s the most brutal experience we ever had. I’m still trying to come to grips with it.”
Pearl Jam paid tribute to the victims in its 2002 song, “Love Boat Captain,” with Vedder singing, “Lost nine friends we’ll never know, two years ago today.”
Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl said at the time that he hoped the tragedy was a wake-up call for fans and festival organizers: “The Roskilde Festival tragedy, I think, woke a lot of people up to the dangers of festival freak-outs. I think it was important for a lot of people to realize that, you know, when you get so many people in one place, you have to take care of each other.”
AUDIO: FOO FIGHTERS’ DAVE GROHL ON THE ROSKILDE FESTIVAL TRAGEDY