By Jon Wiederhorn
Pearl Jam vocalist Eddie Vedder has spoken openly for the first time about the death of his “really good friend,” Soundgarden vocalist Chris Cornell. During a concert in London at the Hammersmith Apollo last night (June 6), Vedder described his relationship with the late singer and someone he “looked up to” like an “older brother.”
Vedder’s words were emotional and heartfelt and he described how he has felt and what has thought about since Cornell took his life.
“Sometimes it’s hard to concentrate these days,” Vedder began. “I was thinking about the history of this building and the Bowie history. So I started to think about that and my mind began to wander. It’s not a good.”
During the speech, Vedder was visually distraught and his expressions were not exactly linear, and Vedder admitted to the crowd that for the past week he has avoided addressing Cornell’s death.
“I haven’t really been talking about some things and I kind of… now it feels like it’s conspicuous because I lost a really close friend of mine.”
I’ll say this too,” he continued. “I grew up as four boys, four brothers, and I lost my brother two years ago tragically like that in an accident. After that and losing a few other people, I’m not good at it, meaning I’m not…I have not been willing to accept the reality and that’s just how I’m dealing with it.”
While admitting he has been somewhat in denial, he said that he’s starting to accept the reality of the situation and he’ll be there to support Cornell’s wife, kids, friends, and bandmates, all of whom are suffering from the loss of Cornell.
“I want to be there for the family, be there for the community, be there for my brothers in my band, certainly the brothers in his band,” Vedder said. “But these things will take time, but my friend is going to be gone forever and I will just have to…”
Vedder paused to recollect his thoughts then continued. “These things take time and I just want to send this out to everyone who was affected by it, and they all back home and here appreciate it so deeply, the support and the good thoughts of a man who was a … he wasn’t just a friend, he was someone I looked up to like my older brother.”
Pearl Jam’s vocalist told the crowd that shortly after he learned of Cornell’s death his mind was flooded with vivid memories.
“About two days after the news, I think it was the second night, we were sleeping in this little cabin near the water, a place he would’ve loved. And all these memories started coming in about 1:30 a.m. — like woke me up,” he said. “Like big memories, memories I would think about all the time. Like the memories were big muscles. And then I couldn’t stop the memories. And trying to sleep, it was like if the neighbors had the music playing and you couldn’t stop it. But then it was fine because then it got into little memories. It just kept going and going and going.”
At the same time as he was saddened by such thoughts, Vedder said he feels fortunate that he shared so many experiences with Cornell and wants to remember him with fondness, not grief.
“I realized how lucky I was to have hours worth of — you know, if each of these memories was quick, and I had hours of them — how fortunate was I? And I didn’t want to be sad, I wanted to be grateful, not sad. I’m still thinking about those memories, and I will live with those memories in my heart and I will love him forever.”
After the touching speech, the crowd gave him a standing ovation.
Watch Vedder’s speech below: