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This Week in Rock History: Eminem's Mom Sues, Eno Quits

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June 29, 2000: Nine men were trampled to death during Pearl Jam's set at the Roskilde Festival

Denmark's Roskilde Festival, one of the largest annual music events in Europe, took a deadly turn in 2000 during a set by Pearl Jam.

On the second day of the festival, as Eddie Vedder and his bandmates performed in front of an estimated 75,000 fans, a sudden crowd surge toward the stage resulted in the deaths of nine men in the audience. Twenty-six more people were seriously injured. Though the crowd dispersed in panic afterward, police concluded later that several of the men fell and died of suffocation under the rushing mob. Crowd-surfing was also cited as a reason why many people stumbled and fell inside the pit.

The tragedy alarmed the European music community, as Roskilde was renowned for its peaceful nature – the festival had operated without major incident since forming in 1971. England's Glastonbury Festival was cancelled in 2001, and organizers of Roskilde and other festivals dramatically ratcheted up their security efforts.

Pearl Jam penned the single "Love Boat Captain" (on 2002's Riot Act) as a tribute to the victims. The Roskilde Festival held a memorial to the nine men at the opening of its 2010 season.

June 29, 2000: Eminem's mother sues him
When Eminem cracked, "My mom smokes more dope than I do" on his breakthrough single "My Name Is" (from 1999 debut The Slim Shady LP), it made him a rap phenom. Then his mother tried to ground him – to the tune of $10 million.

Upon the gargantuan success of The Slim Shady LP, which sold over 4 million copies seemingly overnight, Eminem's mother, Debbie Mathers-Nelson, filed a $10 million lawsuit against her son, claiming slander and defamation of character for comments he made about her on the album and in interviews.

Mathers-Nelson's legal progression was a confusing one. After filing the suit, she claimed that she never intended to do so and that her attorney had orchestrated the suit without her knowledge. Then she expanded her defamation suit into two related lawsuits, the second for another $1 million, before agreeing to a settlement of $25,000. Then she insisted that she had been pressured into settling. Finally, in 2001, Macomb County, Michigan, Circuit Court Judge Mark Switalski ruled that Mathers-Nelson's former attorney, Fred Gibson, was entitled to almost all of that settlement amount. In the end, Eminem's mother received approximately $1,600 from him.

Eminem was largely absent from the legal back-and-forth, but maintained that his lyrics and press statements about his mother were completely true. He joked about the lawsuit as it was unfolding in the song "Marshall Mathers" (off 2000's The Marshall Mathers LP): "My fucking bitch mom's suing for 10 million/ She must want a dollar for every pill I've been stealin.'"

LAST WEEK: When Jimmy Page Debuted With the Yardbirds and Steely Dan Broke Up

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Song Stories

“Try a Little Tenderness”

Otis Redding | 1966

This pop standard had been previously recorded by dozens of artists, including by Bing Crosby 33 years before Otis Redding, who usually wrote his own songs, cut it. It was actually Sam Cooke’s 1964 take, which Redding’s manager played for Otis, that inspired the initially reluctant singer to take on the song. Isaac Hayes, then working as Stax Records’ in-house producer, handled the arrangement, and Booker T. and the MG’s were the backing band. Redding’s soulful version begins quite slowly and tenderly itself before mounting into a rousing, almost religious “You’ve gotta hold her, squeeze her …” climax. “I did that damn song you told me to do,” Redding told his manager. “It’s a brand new song now.”

More Song Stories entries »
 
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