Pearl Jam Speaks Out on Fans' Deaths

ByDean Goodman

L O S  A N G E L E S, July 26, 2000 -- The members of rock bandPearl Jam, in self-imposed seclusion since nine fans were killedduring their June 30 performance in Denmark, have broken theirsilence to defend their actions at the show and demand thatauthorities investigate the tragedy more closely.

“When something this disastrous occurs, when this manylives are lost, it is essential that every aspect be examinedthoroughly and from all angles. To date, we don’t feel this hasbeen done,” the band said in a statement issued today.

The tragedy occurred during the annual Roskilde Festivalnear Copenhagen, where Pearl Jam were one of a number of bandson the bill. Amid muddy conditions, the crowd surged toward thestage during the band’s set, resulting in the deaths.

No Freak AccidentIn response to reports that a preliminary Danish policeinvestigation had found Pearl Jam “morally responsible” forthe tragedy, Pearl Jam said: “We feel that we are ‘morallyresponsible’ to bring out the truth with regard to what happenedthat night.”

Pearl Jam added that the incident “cannot be written offentirely as a ‘freak accident’ or ‘bad luck,’ as some havecalled it.”

Specifically, the band demanded that authorities probefestival security, the emergency response, the staging setup andalcohol arrangements.

Band Questions Slow ResponseDenmark’s Politiken newspaper reported Tuesday that a newround of official hearings will indeed focus on the efficacy ofsecurity and safety arrangements and will include questioning ofPearl Jam members.

In their statement, Pearl Jam said they understood thatsecurity officials took 15 minutes to inform them of a potentialproblem, whereupon the band stopped the show.

“It is our belief that if we had been informed of apotential problem at the moment that it was first identified bythe festival security, we could have stopped the show earlierand lives could have been saved.”

They also had “many questions” about the medical response,including the number of ambulances and trained medics on site,the adequacy of their equipment and their ability to get to thefront of the crowd. In addition, they complained that it was difficult to seethe audience from the stage, and said the sale and use ofalcohol also warranted investigation.

Advice From Who’s Townshend

Pearl Jam said they would try to ensure that “everypossible factor that might have contributed to the deaths andinjuries at the festival is uncovered and scrutinized.”

The Roskilde tragedy was the worst rock “n” roll disastersince 1979 when 11 people were killed before a Who concert inCincinnati. Who guitarist Pete Townshend has been in contactwith Pearl Jam singer Eddie Vedder to offer advice on dealingwith the tragedy, according to Townshend’s Web site.

The Seattle-based band, which also comprises guitaristsStone Gossard and Mike McCready, bass player Jeff Ament anddrummer Matt Cameron, canceled the remaining few dates of theirEuropean tour. They are scheduled to begin their North Americantour Aug. 3 in Virginia Beach, Va.

Formed almost 10 years ago, when Seattle was at the centerof the “grunge” revolution, Pearl Jam has outlasted many oftheir contemporaries, thanks to hit songs such as “Alive,”“Daughter” and the Grammy-winning “Spin the Black Circle.”