Pearl Jam shared a heartfelt statement in honor of the nine people who died during a show at a Denmark music festival in 2000.
June 30 marked the 20-year anniversary of the band’s performance at the Roskilde Festival, an annual music festival that takes place roughly 25 miles outside of Copenhagen. Tragedy struck that day when the crowd’s size became unmanageable, resulting in the death of nine young men, ages 17 to 26, who either suffocated or were trampled in the mosh pit.
“An unexpected moment intervened that forever changed all involved,” Pearl Jam guitarist Stone Gossard wrote on behalf of the band Tuesday. “The 9 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. Every person at the festival who witnessed what was happening and tried to do something, maybe pulling someone up, or not being able to…”
He added: “And those, like our band, who never realized anything was going on at all until it was too late… All of us Forever waiting for the news to be different.”
Pearl Jam’s hit song “Jeremy” was inspired by a Texas teenager who shot himself in front of his classmates in 1991.
Billboard reported in 2002 that an investigation into the incident determined that no charges would be filed.
“There is no reason to presume that something punishable has been done,” state prosecutor Erik Merlung said in a statement to the outlet at the time.
However, the band’s statement noted that they still feel the burden of responsibility for what happened that day, especially now that they have kids.
“20 years later our band has 11 more kids, all of them precious, and another 20 years between us,” Gossard wrote. “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. 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.”
The statement adds: “Our deepest condolences and apologies to the families who lost their boys that day. To the brothers and sisters, grandmas and grandpas and friends, all who lost their precious being… Everyone failed to live up to what was needed in those hours before and in those days following the tragedy. The festival, the media, us included.”
The band notes that they retreated from the public eye for a while in light of the situation and became angry at reports that implied they were responsible for the tragedy.
“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,” the statement continues.
Pearl Jam guitarist Stone Gossard penned a lengthy statement on the 20th anniversary of the band’s Roskilde Festival performance
The heartfelt post concludes by stating that the band is touched by the fact that the victims died trying to get closer to the band they loved.
“Young men who loved PJ and wanted to get up close. That was the through-line of all those who passed that day. We hope we will never know what that loss feels like. We hope,” Gossard concludes. “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. The space created by the absence of those 9 young men…”
Rolling Stone reported at the time of the tragedy that eyewitnesses from stage attested that it was close to impossible for anyone performing to be able to see or hear what was going on until it was too late.