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Pearl Jam Remembers 9 Fans Killed During Band's Performance at the Roskilde Festival 20 Years Ago

People logo People 7/1/2020 Ashley Boucher
Eddie Vedder standing on a stage holding a microphone: Eddie Vedder, Pearl Jam © Jason Kempin/FilmMagic Eddie Vedder, Pearl Jam

It's been 20 years since nine Pearl Jam fans were tragically killed at a Denmark music festival — and the band on Tuesday took a moment to remember them.

The band expressed their grief for the loss of the victims, who were aged between 17 and 26, in a statement written by guitarist Stone Gossard.

Although that fateful day began "a normal festival show day," Gossard wrote that "nothing has been the same since."

"An unexpected moment intervened that forever changed all involved," the statement said.

In 2000, nine people died in a crowd crush at the Roskilde Festival, which takes place every year about 25 miles outside of Copenhagen, when Pearl Jam's set turned into "rock & roll hell," as Rolling Stone called the tragedy that year.

Eight young men were killed in the mosh pit during the concert, another died five days afterward in the hospital and 43 other concert-goers were left injured.

An investigation into the fatal incident ultimately found that there was "no reason to presume that something punishable has been done," and no charges were filed against festival organizers, Billboard reported in 2002.

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Gossard wrote Tuesday about how the band's understanding of the loss and families' grief has only deepened over the past two decades.

"20 years later our band has 11 more kids, all of them precious, and another 20 years between us..." the statement said. "Our understanding of gravity and the loss felt by the parents of those boys has grown exponentially magnified as we imagine our own children dying in circumstances like Roskilde 2000."

"It is unthinkable, yet there it is," Gossard wrote. "Our worst nightmare."

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"Every day our hearts continue to ache and our stomachs turn at the thoughts of those young men dying and of what might have been different, if only...but nothing changes," the statement continued.

The band recognized that their pain following the accident is only "a thousandth of that of the families," and offered their "deepest condolences and apologies to the families who lost their boys that day."

"To the brothers and sisters, grandmas and grandpas and friends, all who lost their precious being... Everyone failed to live up to what was needed in those hours before and in those days following the tragedy. The festival, the media, us included. We retreated and became angry after many reports implied PJ was responsible. Our words were nothing to help at that point. We hid and hoped that it wasn't our fault. We have been trying our best to unhide ever since."

a person standing in front of a large rock: MADS CLAUS RASMUSSEN/Getty Images Roskilde Festival memorial © Provided by People MADS CLAUS RASMUSSEN/Getty Images Roskilde Festival memorial

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"We've met some of the families over the years. With some, we have forged strong friendships...sharing and supporting each other. Some we do not know," the statement continued. "Young men who loved PJ and wanted to get up close. That was the through-line of all those who passed that day. We hope we will never know what that loss feels like. We hope."

"We are forever in the shadow of your pain and loss and we accept that shade and are forever grateful to share that sacred space," Gossard concluded the statement. "The space created by the absence of those 9 young men..."

In 2003, the band released the song "Love Boat Captain" in honor of the victims.


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