Flashback: Eddie Vedder and Pete Townshend Unplug 'Better Man'

Rockers teamed up for acoustic spin in 1999

By |

Pete Townshend's 1999 show at the Chicago House of Blues was devoted almost entirely to tunes from his solo career and his deep catalog of Who classics but, midway through the night, he let special guest Eddie Vedder take the spotlight for an acoustic rendition of Pearl Jam's "Better Man." Pete largely stuck to guitar, but he joined in on vocals towards the end. The duo also sang the Rough Mix gem "Heart to Hang Onto" (with Vedder taking the late Ronnie Lane's parts) as well as "Magic Bus," "I'm One," "Let's See Action" and a cover of "'Till the Rivers All Run Dry" by Don Williams. 

Find Out Where Pete Townshend Lands on David Fricke's List of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time

It was a largely unplugged evening, and the audience chatter between songs grated on Vedder's nerves. "The last couple of days, spending time with Pete has taught me new things about music and new things as a human," he said. "One of those things is to say what you feel – and I feel like you people talking between songs are driving me nuts."  

The show was part of a super-short Townshend solo tour to promote his album Pete Townshend Live: A Benefit for Maryville Academy. A few months later, he reunited with the Who for a world tour. The band has remained his focus for the past 14 years and, with the exception of a handful of recordings and In the Attic concerts with girlfriend Rachel Fuller, Townshend has essentially walked away from his solo career. 

x