Pearl Jam Speaks Out on Fans' Deaths

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

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

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

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

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

Specifically, the band demanded that authorities probe festival security, the emergency response, the staging setup and alcohol arrangements.

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

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

“It is our belief that if we had been informed of a potential problem at the moment that it was first identified by the festival security, we could have stopped the show earlier and 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 the front of the crowd. In addition, they complained that it was difficult to see the audience from the stage, and said the sale and use of alcohol also warranted investigation.

Advice From Who’s Townshend

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

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

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

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