Watch Pearl Jam's Humble Rock Hall Induction Speech

"We knew we were better together than apart," says Eddie Vedder

A quarter of a century after they released their 13-times platinum debut, Ten, Pearl Jam remain one of rock's biggest bands. They had sprung into the world's consciousness with a mix of aggressive and emotional songs and have since refined their palate in order to write expansive, transformative rockers. Their last two albums have reached Number One on the Billboard charts, and they've never put out a studio album that has charted lower than Number Five. Moreover, they still tour regularly – having once taken on the concert industry by challenging Ticketmaster – and they still play two-hour sets to packed arenas.

On Friday night, the band appeared at Brooklyn's Barclays Center to accept their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, following a speech by retired talk-show host David Letterman. The band's current lineup – Eddie Vedder, Mike McCready, Stone Gossard, Jeff Ament (clad in a T-shirt featuring influential bands yet to be inducted in the Rock Hall) and Matt Cameron – all appeared onstage to make speeches marking the achievement, as did founding drummer Dave Krusen. Read the band's full speech below.

Stone Gossard: Maybe the most important reason we came tonight is not to receive this honor, but to honor those who have worked so hard for this band, to help it function, to help it grow, to help it flourish. All of us can fill sheets of paper with the many names, of our loving family members, our oldest and dearest friends, our influences, our idols, our collaborators, our counselors, our contributors, the people who mediated for us and lobbied for us and assisted us in countless ways. Those who fought for us, carried us, disagreed with us, gave us perspective, encouraged us, gave us shoulders to lean on and cry on. They've done boring paperwork, endless organizing, agonizing phone calls, computer work, torturous flights, drives, terrible conditions. They've hung lighting ramps and round countless tables. Purchased thousands of tambourines. Changed tens of thousands of batteries. And even vacuumed our brooms, all to keep this band living on. 

To all these people we give our most sincere and deepest thanks. Your hard work and love and dedication means that this award is as much for you as it is for us.

In no particular order, we give our sincerest thanks to: George, Karrie, Liz, Simon. Kelly Curtis - our manager, Josh, Neil, Donny, Nicole, Kevin, Brett, Jimmy Shoaf, Jimmy V, Andy, Sarah, Dicko, Dave Rat, Pete, Sonny, Larry, Jesse, Kille, Blue, Dan, Tommy, Peter, Nelly, Glen, Gary, Carol, Goldie/Michael Goldstone, Michele Anthony, Keith Wissmar, Eric, Anna, Elliot, Brendan O'Brien our long-time producer. Mark Smith, thank you so much. Tim B, Tim P, Rob, Ryan, Adrien, Gavin, Will, Karen, Jess, Christian, Siggy, Jamie, Betsy Lee, Dana, Raven, Scully, Jeff O, The Glews, Schnapp, Jacqueline, Harvey, Lance, Rod, Don, Diana, Dan, Sara B, Tom Conklin, Stranger. Brian, Doyle, Radar, Davy, Lampy Josh, Marty, Berry, Coby, Brad, and Regan. And further...And further, all the incredible artists who have created what might be one of our most enduring artifacts: all of our incredible tour posters.

But even more importantly than all of those folks, we want to thank our fans. Whose belief in us has carried us through the times where we didn't believe or we lost hope or we lost the plot or we lost each other. Thank you so much to the greater Pearl Jam community. Keep doing what you're doing. We're having so much fun watching you. And lastly, I would like to thank our amazing wives, my amazing wife, Vivien, her beautiful family, our beautiful children – Viv, Marlowe, Faye, my mom and dad, my sisters and their families. Thank you all for giving us this opportunity. 

Dave Krusen: I'd like to thank the Hall of Fame. Pearl Jam saved my life. And to my family, my kids, I love you guys. Thank you.

Matt Cameron: I would just like to thank my, my muse, my girl, my one special lady, April Cameron. Our beautiful children, Raymond and Josie. I would like to thank my parents for turning me on to Count Basie and for letting me practice drums in their house for probably a decade or so. I really appreciate that. My brother and sister for taking me to my first concert, David Bowie, Station to Station, 1977. I would like to thank my brothers in Pearl Jam for inviting me into their incredible family. My brothers in Soundgarden. We so appreciate the fans and the life's blood that you give to our art form of rock and roll. Thank you. 

Mike McCready: Woo! That feels good. The pivotal moments that change life forever. I've had many of these. But the first was in 1976. I was a boy scout. One day, at eleven years old, when my friends Danny and Rick told me about the rock band, Kiss. I asked my parents for a guitar that night. I want to thank my mom, Louise McCready, for her love and support for teaching me about Warhol, the Rolling Stones and dying my hair. My dad, Roy McCready, thank you for giving me love and guidance and teaching me to train my mind, body and spirit. Thank you to my first band Shadow – to the Friel Family - for letting me practice five days a week for six years in their house. Thank you so much. To my second band, Pearl Jam, you're my brothers. I love you. I love you guys. I love your family. My dear friend Duff McKagen told me one time, “you guys did it right.” But we're only as good as the people that are around us. Our manager, Kelly Curtis, Michele Anthony, Michael Goldstone, Nicole Vandenberg, George Webb, Donnie Spada, Chris Adams, Brendan O'Brien and everyone at our offices. Our fan club, our road crew, and every person that holds us up.

I want to thank the Red Hot Chili Peppers for taking us out with the band and to the many bands that inspired me. Many that inspired me. Cheap Trick, Queen, Bowie, Hendrix, the Stones, Beatles, UFO, Kraftwork, Ramones, Brandi Carlile, the Kills, Social Distortion, Muddy Waters, Sex Pistols, the Clash, and my new favorite band, Thunder Pussy and also the Stereo Embers. My friends and family, a lot of you are here tonight. You bring me laughter and teach me how to live. I love all of you. All my friends and family are here tonight. All of our fans, thank you for hanging out with us before we go. Thank you to my amazing wife, Ashley, for keeping it all together, keeps my world together. I love you. 143. And our kids, Kaia, Jaxon, and Henry, you inspire me to be a better parent. Alright. Thank you. 

Jeff Ament: When I was 12 or 13, my uncle Pat gave me some singles, of which one was the Kinks, "Well Respected Man." This coincided with reading Death of a Salesman in Mr. B's 7th grade class. After that, I was put on a course to never be Willie Loman or the unhappy suit Ray Davies wrote about, which somehow parlayed into a lifetime of playing in bands. So, if I seem a little bit nervous, blame Ray and Arthur Miller, as I've never been very comfortable in a room full of suits.

In 1983, I moved to Seattle looking for my tribe. Other artists, musicians, individuals, hard workers, skateboarders, kids that spoke about the politics of Joe Strummer, Jello Biafra and Dave Dictor, and artists like Francis Bacon and Basquiat and Pettibon. I found a lot of these folks, many are still my friends. I met Stone within a month of moving to Seattle at those first Seattle punk rock shows I went to almost 35 years ago, which ultimately led me to our band and our community.

Being here with the band, who have become some of my best friends in the process, making music and art, traveling the world, supporting causes and programs together, making small differences, meeting great artists and creative minds all over the world. That's a pretty great fucking life. [Applause] Thanks.

it's an honor and mind-boggling to be a 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, and infected, by bands that aren't here. So many important bands that made us want to pick up our guitars and write songs: Roxy Music, The Jam, Devo, X, Black Flag, Dead Kennedys, Jane's Addiction, so many others, all worthy.

But the very best part about tonight is that my mom, who gave me the keys to the piano and the arts, and my dad, who taught me about hard work and community, they're here with my family. And as Dave said earlier, only they know how far it is from Big Sandy Montana to the Barclays Center. So, this is for every small-town kid who has a dream. Thanks to everybody who supports us and inspires us: our great friends, everybody who works with us, with the band. Kelly and George have been with us for 26 years. But especially Pandora, who puts up with my consistent inconsistency every day. Thank You. I love - love you.

Eddie Vedder: You're kind. Thank you so much. I’d just like to start by thanking all those who came before us. The tetrapods, the primates, the homo erectus. [Laughter.] Without them, we would be so much less evolved. And here we are in our modern technology, advanced technology age and we've got a lot of evolving to do. It's evolution, baby. Climate change is real. That is not fake news. And we cannot, we cannot be the generation the history of the world will look back on and wonder why they didn't do everything 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.

Lucky and grateful are two things I am every day. And I'm just grateful to be alive. And I also ... I want to publicly apologize, you know, all of the, making our bandmates, making my bandmates suffer. For the singer who was climbing on the rafters and hanging off of pipes and jumping off of balconies. They really didn't deserve that. But, you know, they didn't know that the person that they gave the job to, that their singer was really into Evil Knievel. But it was also the power of music. I swear, I used to be able to hold my whole body up with one finger. But if the music wasn't playing, I couldn't do it with both hands. It’s the power of rock and roll.

When I think about high altitudes, I think about my wife, Jill. You know a kite does not rise into the air unless someone is holding the string. [Man in crowd screams, “I love you, Eddie!”] Shoot, Honey, I thought you were sitting down in front. But, it's so important, you know, especially if that kite gets way high in the air, you really have to trust the person holding the line. And that person has to be loyal and believe in you and then have to have the strength to reel you back, so my wife, Jill, I thank you. And ... I'm looking forward to all our future days on ground together. And I'm glad I get to hold the cord for you and you get to soar as you do. My two daughters, Olivia and Harper. I try to teach them everything I know, and they teach me the rest. Which there is more of that than what I do know. And if somehow, some way, Chance the Rapper ever sees or hears this, I just want to tell him, my daughter Olivia loves you. And I also, Chance, want to thank you for all the great work you're doing in Chicago. That gives us all hope.

So these three girls, I just love them more than anything, and that's a lot, it says a lot because I really love the Who! And the Ramones and the Band and Fugazi and Iggy Pop and Guided By Voices, and the list goes on because I listen to music every day of my life. And ... a lot of that was in small apartments, when I grew up, we lived in some tight spaces with my family, my mom and my brothers. My mom, she did really good parenting. She wouldn't tell us to turn it down, she would just kind of end up being fans of the bands that we were playing very loudly. And my brothers who I grew up listening to music with together, I always try to play our songs and our new songs to them first. They're such a good barometer. They've known me long enough. They know when I'm pulling some kind of bullshit. So they keep me honest and keep the records true. Jason, Mike, Chris – we miss you, Gina, I love you, too.

You know, how lucky I was to meet Jack Irons. I'm working as a crew guy at a Joe Strummer gig at a club in San Diego before my night shift, and I get to meet Jack, who was the original drummer in the Chili Peppers. He also is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame already. He's here tonight. Without meeting him, none of this would've happened. I'm not in this building. I'm probably not even on the planet. I’m certainly not this lucky. Jack, thanks so much. Thanks for your friendship. Somehow we were so fortunate, you know, we’ve had a few drummers. And you know, taking that seat in the drum school or the throne, because they're all kings. We're so fortunate. Every one of them is great. But Matt Cameron's really been the one that’s kept us alive for these last 15, 16 years. At a time when we didn't know if – we weren't sure what was going to happen – he enabled us not just to survive, but to thrive.

I mean, he's been one of my brothers. And he was going to end up receiving this happily with either us or his other group. So he'll be back. We have the great Dave Abbruzzese. He's a great drummer. You are a great drummer! And Matt Chamberlain, Jack, and now Dave Krusen who we got to play with this week for the first time in 25 years. It was great to see him. He's a great person. And speaking of Daves – Dave Abbruzzese, Dave Krusen - I really want to thank Dave Letterman for being part of our honor tonight. He doesn't know, but when I used to work a midnight shift, four years of midnight shifts – I’d be there 11 to 7 and there was a small red TV, I was a security guard with a small red TV and Dave was my copilot. Every weekday, every night at work for four years. And to have him up here, it’s an honor to be honored by him. 

And also, he'd have so many great bands on his show that they – I saw so many bands that became great influences the first time on the Letterman show. And I'm just going to tell you my side of that quick story when I came into his studio and took the mic and sang, "Black." He was doing it, "do-do-do do-do do." He was doing that every night for about three months. And I was always watching the show and it was starting to make me fucking crazy. And then it started getting weird. I remember I smoked a little something. I'm sitting there, end of the night, kind of relaxing, and he kept asking, "Paul, when is this band going to be on the show?" "I don't know. I haven–" "Have you called ‘em?" "I haven't." And he starts looking in the TV. Now I'm stoned as bejesus. And Dave Letterman who was my copilot with the security thing, he just looks into the camera like he's looking into my bedroom ... "Eddie? Eddie? Come here, Eddie." It was fucked up. I thought the TV was talking to me. I lost my mind. Seriously thought, you know, you might have to go to rehab. You're tripping balls right now.

So last thing, we've been through a lot, this group, and if it weren't for everybody out there who cared about our music, if it weren't for everybody out here who came to the shows and brought their energy ... Those are the things that really kept us together when we felt the responsibility to the music was bigger than ourselves or whatever our own personal needs of space. We knew that we were better together than apart. It was you that galvanized us and forged a brotherhood and a family. I love these people so much. I feel like maybe we're about halfway there to deserving something, an accolade of this stature, maybe halfway there. But this is very encouraging. And we're very grateful. Thank you. 

Find out five things you didn't know about Pearl Jam's 'Ten'.