Eddie Vedder’s full speech at Pearl Jam’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony:
You’re kind. Thank you so much. I guess I’d like to start by thanking all those who came before us. The tetrapods, the primates, the homo erectus. [Laughter.] Without them, we would be so much less evolved. And here we are on our modern technology, advanced technology age and we’ve got a lot of evolving to do. It’s evolution, baby. Climate change is real. That is not fake news. And we cannot, cannot be the generation the history of the world will look back on and wonder why they didn’t do anything humanly possible to solve the biggest crisis in our time. Anything can be obtainable. The Chicago Cubs winning the World Series. This is proof. And I use that analogy because, in regards to climate change, because it can be done, but here’s the thing, we don’t have 108 years to wait.
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.
When I think about high altitudes, I think about my wife, Jill. Honey, I thought you were sitting down in front. But, it’s so important, you know, especially if that kite gets way higher in the air, you really have to trust the person holding the line. And that person has to be loyal and believe in you and have to have the strength to reel you back, so my wife, Jill, I thank you. And … I’m looking forward to all our beautiful days on ground together. And I’m glad I get to hold the chord for you and you get to soar as you do. My two daughters, I’m trying to teach them everything I know, and they teach me the rest. Which is more of than what I do know. And if somehow, some way, Chance the Rapper ever sees or hears this, I just want to tell him, my daughter really loves you. And I also, Chance, want to thank you for all the great work you’re doing in Chicago. That gives us all hope.
I just love them more than anything, and that’s a lot, it says a lot because I really love the Who! And the Ramones and the Band and Guided By Voices, and the list goes on because I listen to music every day of my life. And … a lot of that was in small apartments, when I grew up, we lived in some tight spaces with my family, my mom and my brothers. My mom, she did really good parenting. She wouldn’t tell us to turn it down, she would just kind of end up being fans of the bands that we were playing really loudly. And my brothers who I grew up listening to music with together, I always will try to play our songs and our new songs to them first. They’re such good brothers. They’ve known me long enough. They know when I’m pulling some kind of bullshit. So they keep me honest and keep the records true.
You know, how lucky I was to meet Jack Irons. I’m working as a crew guy in San Diego before my night shift, and I get to meet Jack, and it was the original drummer in the Chili Peppers. He also was a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame already. He’s here tonight. Without meeting him, none of this would’ve happened. I’m not in this building. I’m probably not even on the planet. Jack, thanks so much. Thanks for your friendship. Somehow when you’re so fortunate, you know, when you have a few drinks, and you’re taking that seat in the jump school or at the throne, is they’re all kings. We’re so fortunate. Every one of them is great. Matt Cameron’s really been the one. At a time when we didn’t know if – we weren’t sure what was going to happen – he had been able not just to survive, but to thrive.
I mean, he’s been one of my brothers. And he was going to end up receiving this happily with us or his other group. So he’ll be back. He’s a great drummer. You are a great drummer! And Matt Chamberlain, Jack, who we got to play with this week for the first time in 25 years. It was great to see him. He’s a great person. I really want to thank Dave Letterman for being part of our honor tonight. He doesn’t know, but when I used to work the midnight shift, four years of midnight shift – I used to get there 11 to 7 and there’s a small red TV on the security card, a small red TV and Dave was my copilot. Every weekday, every night at work for four years. And also, he’d have so many great bands on his show that they – I saw so many bands that Letterman influences.
The first time on the Letterman show, and I’m just going to tell you my side of that quick story when I came into his studio and took the mic and sang, “Black.” He was doing it, “do-do-do do-do do.” He was doing that every night for about three months. And I was always watching the show and it was starting to make me fucking crazy. And then it started getting weird. I remember I smoked a little something. I’m sitting there, end of the night, kind of relaxing, and he kept asking, “Paul, when is this band going to be on the show?” “I don’t know. I haven–” “Did you call?” “I haven’t.” And he starts looking in the TV. And I’m stoned. And Dave Letterman who was my copilot with the security thing, he just looks into the camera like he’s looking into my bedroom … “Eddie? Eddie? Come here, Eddie.” It was fucked up. I thought the TV was talking to me. I lost my mind. Serious thought, you know, you might have to go to rehab. You’re tripping balls right now.
So last thing, 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.