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Pearl Jam Get Inducted Into Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Perform Three Classics During Ceremony

Mike Coppola, Getty Images
Mike Coppola, Getty Images

Congrats to Pearl Jam, who were officially inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame during a ceremony at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., on Friday night (April 7).

The veteran grunge act was inducted by the heavily bearded David Letterman, who was a last-minute replacement for the ailing Neil Young. After Letterman’s 15 minute speech, the band took the stage, each taking turns to speak.

Discussing a change in music culture with the arrival of Ten, Letterman, stated (transcription via Rolling Stone), “It was like a chinook coming out of the Pacific Northwest. It had an anger to it and it appealed to 20-something people who felt displaced and unemployed and left out. I was almost 50 and even I was pissed off and it was also easy to dance to but that’s another deal.”

Keeping the focus on culture, he continued, “Then, it turned out that these guys in Pearl Jam were something more than a band. They’re true living cultural organisms. They would recognize injustice and they would stand up for it. Whether it was human rights or the environment. Whether it was poverty. They didn’t let it wash over them. They would stand up and react.”

When it was Pearl Jam’s turn to speak (acceptance speeches seen in video below), Eddie Vedder was the most vocal, starting off light by thanking “all those who came before us,” naming the “tetrapods, the primates, the homo erectus” among them, following it up with a laugh. As Letterman noted, the band has a history of sticking up for issues they’re concerned about, which led Vedder use this platform as an opportunity to state (transcription via Rolling Stone), “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.”

At one point, Vedder took time to thank all of the band’s drummers throughout the years, including Dave Abbruzzese, who has been vocal about his exclusion from the induction. Earlier in the day, Abbruzzese had released a letter stating he would not be in attendance because he wasn’t invited, but still offered best wishes to the band.

The singer held special reverence for drummer Jack Irons, commenting, “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.”

After the speeches, the band performed three of their classic songs: “Alive,” “Given to Fly” and “Better Man.” An all-star jam took place immediately afterward, with Vedder leading the musicians onstage in a rendition of Neil Young’s “Rockin’ in the Free World.”

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