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June 27, 2023

Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam Hanging From the Rafters at the Drop in the Park Concert in Seattle, 1992

When Mötley Crüe’s Nikki Sixx tweeted that Pearl Jam are “one of the most boring bands in history,” he clearly had forgotten all about the grunge giants’ death-defying early days. Back then, the group’s frontman Eddie Vedder was notorious for climbing anything he could during Pearl Jam shows — the higher, the better — and throwing himself into the audience in some of the most epic stage-dives ever, enthralling fans and terrifying his bandmates.

In September of 1992, Pearl Jam, in order to celebrate their seeming overnight success, staged a free show in Seattle’s Magnusson park for over 70,000 people. At one point in the show, Eddie proceeded to climb the stage scaffolding in a death defying move, trailing 100 feet of microphone cable behind him in order to loop it over the top, rappel down and then swing out over the audience.

“I was channeling something different,” he once said of his onstage escapades. “I got to that place you hear about where the mom lifts the car off the two-year-old kid. It was that kind of adventure. At that point in life and having at long last the opportunity to play for bigger crowds, I really and truly felt like I had nothing to lose. No thoughts of what may be waiting in my future. It was all about the now. And that was part and parcel with whatever message the group and I had to impart on the audience at that instance. Risking your hide to evoke that emotion became part of the program.”

These photographs capture all the pent up rage and fury that was Eddie and the band at that time. In retrospect it was a really dumb thing to do - his career and life could have been over in a splat - the anxiety of 70,00 fans was palpable in the air - but thankfully it was a glorious rock and roll moment in what would become a long and storied career.


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