That Time Eddie Vedder Crowd Surfed a Bottle of Wine to His Mom – Video
It's easy to just to watch Eddie Vedder asking Pearl Jam fans to crowd surf a bottle of wine to his mom, so she could have a swig, and say, "Hey, that's a cool moment between a rock star his mother. They must be pretty tight." And you'd be right. But you'd need to know the backstory to fully appreciate the scene.
Throughout Eddie's childhood, his mother, Karen Lee Vedder, was keeping a big secret from her son. Eddie's parents divorced when he was just an infant. His mom remarried another man soon after, and Eddie was raised to believe that this man, Peter Mueller, was his biological father.
When Vedder was in his late teens and his mother divorced Mueller, he learned the truth: That his real father was someone else, someone who he was introduced to briefly as an old family friend many years prior. And by that time, his real father had passed away from multiple sclerosis.
Vedder says he quickly forgave his mother after understanding his real family dynamic. He explained on the Howard Stern Show in 2020, "I had to come to terms with it... I had three brothers and we were extremely close. And this was 1969, and my (parents) logic was we want them to feel like brothers and we don't want them to feel... separated, like stepbrothers. Nowadays it's much different, you have single mothers and you don't feel like a social pariah if [your parents aren't together.]"
Eddie Vedder Discusses His Childhood on the Howard Stern Show
Eddie's stepfather, who he continued to live with after he and his mother divorced, wasn't particularly kind to Eddie growing up. "When my mom told me that this guy wasn't my father... it was a shock. But I was so grateful in a way. I was like 'Oh, fuck. Thank god.'"
The setting of the concert, San Diego, is important to understanding what might have been running through Eddie's head as he was engineering the wine pass. The family had moved to San Diego County in the mid-'70s. It was where Eddie spent his teenage years and also where he found out about his real dad. And it's where Eddie found music after his mom gave him a guitar when he was 12-years-old.
It was music, and surfing, in California, that gave him comfort. Eddie would eventually write Pearl Jam's "Alive," about a man finding out the man he thought was his dad was his stepdad. And "Better Man" is about his mom's marriage to Mueller, with the haunting lyrics, "she lies and says she's in love with him, can't find a better man..."
Eddie and His Mom
Fast forward to Nov. 14, 2013 at Vieja Arena in San Diego. Pearl Jam are most of the way through an epic three-and-a-half-hour show, having returned for a second encore. After chatting a bit to the crowd, Vedder points stage-left to show where his mom's seat is, and produces a bottle of wine.
From a review of the show: "To introduce their cover of Edward Holland Jr.'s 'Leaving Here,' Vedder acknowledged his mom, 'My mum, my dear mum, who's here tonight, hopefully sitting down in a La-Z Boy chair, sitting comfortable. Now, here's an exercise in trust. I'm going to hand you this bottle and you are going to pass it up to my mom, right there. Because, you know, we have easy years and we have hard years and this has not been the easiest of years and my mom is still cooking, looking good and here's to you mom."
Vedder took a swig of wine before passing on the bottle. "Give my mom a drink, will ya? Pass it on, you'll get a turn yet. There you go mom, it is all yours.' His mom took a swig of wine. Vedder laughed, saying, 'it's genetic.'"
Eddie also had a memorable tribute to mom when he gave her a birthday serenade onstage back in 2016.
Here's to you, Mom.