The Who co-founder Pete Townshend recently joined MOJO for an interview. He had spoken about Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder and also the band itself. During the interview, the topic of concert tragedies popped up. It was noted that Pearl Jam and The Who have a thing in common and that is the concert tragedy.
Pete Townshend opens up on concert tragedies
Pearl Jam saw a concert tragedy at Roskilde on June 30, 2000, where nine people died during their set, and The Who saw tragedy in Cincinnati on December 3, 1979, when 11 people died in a crush at Riverfront Coliseum. It was quite devastating for the fans and their families. On this note Townshend said:
“For us, it came close on the heels of the death of Keith Moon. So it was a double blow. I was still really pretty fucked up from that. When Roskilde happened, I just sent Eddie a two-word message: “Don’t leave.” And they did stay. And I think it was very important that they did.”
Townshend was asked whether it was his advice to stay in Roskilde and to talk to people and deal with it. Here is what he said:
“Yeah. Because what we did [after Cincinnati] is we left, we left the next day, we went to Buffalo. And I remember going on the stage, and Roger saying – and I should make it clear I was perfectly behind what Roger said at the time – “Let’s play this gig for rock’n’roll and the kids of Cincinnati!” It was just entirely inappropriate. I mean, just wrong. You know, we shouldn’t have gone on, we shouldn’t have performed.”
Vedder has a personal relationship with Townshend but during the same conversation with Mojo, The Who great recalled his first meeting with the Pearl Jam frontman.
Townshend proclaimed: “He walked in and sat down and we started to make small talk. And he said, ‘I f***ing hate this. I just hate it. I don’t want to be famous. I don’t want to be in a band. I’m feeling like I just want to run away. I grew up on the beach in La Jolla surfing. And that’s really what I want to do for the rest of my life.’ And he said, ‘I’ve heard that you’ve been through similar stuff’ — because, 10 years before, I had left the Who.”
Townshend would then give him the following advice, stating that this industry is not like some others and he might as well enjoy it: “I remember saying to him, ‘I’m afraid it’s too late.’ And he said, ‘What do you mean?’ And I said, ‘This isn’t like politics, y’know, you don’t put yourself up for election, get your seat, f*** up the country, and then retire. What you actually do is get railroaded. You just get grabbed and put on the stage and told to keep doing what you’re doing until you’re allowed to stop. And you have absolutely no choice. You’ve been elected without standing. And you just might as well enjoy it, because it’s not going to go away.'”