Saturday, April 8, 2017

Pearl Jam's Rock Hall Induction Speeches & Performances

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This was a picture that I personally took from the anniversary show in Philadelphia - October 22, 2013. Incredible memories from that show, and many others that I was fortunate enough to attend!

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Alright, it's official! 

Pearl Jam have been inducted into the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame!

The induction ceremonies took place last night at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. David Letterman provided a humorous speech to introduce the band, replacing Neil Young, who could not intend due to an undisclosed illness. But Letterman was on the ball in a speech filled with rich humor. He expressed how honored and grateful he was just to be out of the house! And he even poked fun at the band, suggested that the balcony was filled with former Pearl Jam drummers. That will be very funny to anyone familiar with this band's struggles to find a drummer who worked for them, and all of the different drummers, bad luck, and controversies regarding the drummers.

Letterman himself has been a big fan of the band for a long, long time, and he had a strange obsession with singing part of the song "Black" for several months at a time, before Eddie Vedder finally came to his studio in New York during the show and sang it properly, showed him how it was done. Since then, Pearl Jam have played regularly for David Letterman while he had his show, and so he seemed a fitting replacement for Neil Young, who obviously himself was hugely influential for the band, and who also had some intimate musical moments with them that live on in the memories of both Pearl Jam and Neil Young fans. 

Pearl Jam themselves took the stage, and gave some pretty cool speeches, which were generally modest and thankful for everyone - especially the fans - behind the band's remarkable success. Of course, as could be predicted, Eddie Vedder's speech had some political tones, as he started off right away talking about climate change, and making it clear that this was not fake news, and that we as a generation needed to do more - much, much more - to address it. Frankly, it was fitting that he did this, since the band has always been closely linked to political issues that mattered to them. Letterman himself addressed this in his induction speech.

Here were some snippets from Vedder's speech, where he talks about the early days, when he was almost known as much for his crazy antics and dangerous stunts on stage, as he was for his singing and lyrics:

"I'm lucky and grateful – two things I am every day. And I'm just grateful to be alive. And I also ... I want to publicly apologize, you know, all of the, making our bandmates, making my bandmates suffer. For the singer who was flapping down the rafters and hanging off of bikes 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 really an Evil Knievel. But it was also about music. I swear, I used to be able to hold my whole body up with one finger. But if the music wasn't playing, I couldn't do it with both hands."

And here below, he sums up the evening by reminding everyone that ultimately, it is all about the music, and how the people who were a part of it - everyone - made all of it possible:

"we've been through a lot, this group, and if it weren't for everybody out hearing 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 the responsibility 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're very grateful. Thank you."

Of course, Pearl Jam also did what they do best, and played music. They performed three songs from the 1990's, when the band reached their peak popularity. They played "Alive," " Given to Fly," and "Betterman."

Pearl Jam Deliver Searing Rock Hall of Fame Induction Performance by Elias Light, April 8, 2017:

Read David Letterman's Eloquent Rock Hall Induction Speech for Pearl Jam by Rolling Stone, April 8, 2017:

Read Pearl Jam's Humble Rock Hall Induction Speech by Rolling Stone, April 8, 2017:


  1. To see them and the other inductees, I would have loved to watch the ceremony. As much as I'm perennially baffled by the almost laughable cluelessness of the people overseeing the nomination process (Madonna and a number of hip-hop acts have been inducted, but it took you this long to induct Journey – seriously???), there are always at least one or two artists I'm happy to see inducted, and this year was no different. Unfortunately, it's no longer broadcast on VH1, which I get, but on HBO, which I don't. I guess VH1 wasn't satisfied with a line-up merely consisting of 98 or 99% godawful, brain cell-eroding "reality television", so they rounded it off to 100% – might as well make it a clean sweep. I read online that Steve Perry showed up for Journey's induction, but declined to perform with the band, which is a shame. Their detractors can dismiss them as "arena rock" or "corporate rock" all they want, they must really have been something to see back in their late seventies/early to mid-eighties heyday. I'll have to check all of this out on YouTube, including Letterman's induction of Pearl Jam.

  2. Yeah, I would have liked to have watched it live, as well. That said, it seems these days that most of these things are available within hours of the event right on Youtube, if you look for it. I posted a blog entry on Pearl Jam's entry, and added some video from Youtube that was available a few hours, really, after it had taken place. As for Journey, I agree that they should have been in a long, long time ago, and the same holds true for Yes.

  3. As per your suggestion I'm watching parts of the ceremony on YouTube, and some of the narcissistically self-indulgent "Hey check it out everyone I'm not going to shut up this entire evening because it's all about me!" imbeciles in the audience make it hard to focus on the speeches. Drunken blowhards. But it's nonetheless gratifying to see band members – particularly those who aren't usually front and center like Eddie Vedder or Steve Perry – have a chance to get some recognition, and to thank the fans.