David Letterman had Pearl Jam on his show many times over the years, and last night, the former Late Show host inducted Eddie Vedder and co. into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. Originally, Neil Young was supposed to do the honors, but he had to drop out of the ceremony due to an unexpected illness. Or, as Letterman joked in his speech, “The truth of it is the poor guy just can’t stay up this late. That’s what it is. Either that or he swallowed a harmonica.” Letterman also cracked jokes about all of the former Pearl Jam drummers in attendance and referenced PJ’s feud with the “beady-eyed, bloodthirsty weasels” at Ticketmaster before concluding by reading a letter that Eddie Vedder wrote to his son.
After Letterman, the band’s current lineup of Eddie Vedder, Mike McCready, Stone Gossard, Jeff Ament, and Matt Cameron, plus founding drummer Dave Krusen, all took the stage to deliver acceptance speeches. “Climate change is real. That is not fake news,” Eddie Vedder said during his speech. “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.” He also shouted out Chance The Rapper: “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’s the kind of music activism that gives us all hope.”
Bassist Jeff Ament, who said, “It’s an honor in to be part of a club that includes so many of our heroes — Neil, the Clash, Zeppelin, the Stooges, Cheap Trick — but the fact is that we were affected by bands that aren’t here,” wore a t-shirt listing names of influential bands that have not been inducted.
Pearl Jam then reunited with Dave Krusen to perform “Alive,” while Matt Cameron returned to the kit for “Given To Fly” and “Better Man.” Watch clips from the various speeches and performances below.
To close out the ceremony, Pearl Jam led an all-star rendition of Neil Young’s “Rockin’ In The Free World” featuring members of Rush, Yes, and Journey.