Eddie Vedder Reveals Why He's Still In Denial Over Chris Cornell's Death

The music world lost Chris Cornell in 2017 when the singer/songwriter died by suicide. His death still hits fellow musician Eddie Vedder hard. Vedder, the lead singer of Pearl Jam, still struggled to discuss his late friend. 

Vedder was a guest on The Howard Stern Show on Nov. 2. When Stern brought up Cornell, Vedder went silent for a moment, but did discuss his struggle to cope with the loss. 

Eddie Vedder and Chris Cornell were friends 

It wasn’t just the music scene that made Cornell and Vedder friends. They were close outside of music too.

“We were neighbors,” Vedder told Stern. “We would do stuff. I would hang out with him outside of the band even more than the other band guys and I didn’t know that many people in Seattle. We would go on crazy hiking adventures or we’d go mountain biking or we would chase the dog in the rain drinking sh*tty bear. Usually me, him and another guy called Eric Garcia.”

Vedder regrets that towards the end of Cornell’s life, their busy lives kept them apart. 

“I didn’t see him that often in the last 10 years,” Vedder said. “Probably only four or five times and usually at a gig. I still haven’t quite dealt with it. I’ll get stronger as time goes but we were close.”

Eddie Vedder hasn’t fully dealt with losing Chris Cornell

Vedder explained to Stern why his approach to losing Cornell amounts to what he considers to be denial.

“I’ve had to be somewhat in denial,” Vedder said. “One way I was even able to do it and I don’t feel like I even had a choice, I was just terrified where I would go if I allowed myself to feel what I needed to feel or what I was instinctively wanted to feel or how dark I felt like I was going to go. I just kind of was in denial with it.”

Chris Cornell wasn’t the first death in the family 

When Vedder got the news about Cornell, it brought back memories of a death in his own family. That made it even harder to cope. 

I grew up with three bothers and about a year before what happened with Chris, about a year before that we got a call at four in the morning and it was my other brother. Our third youngest brother named Chris had been spending a lot of time in Africa, going back and forth, but almost nine months a year in Africa. He was doing some good work, environmental stuff, a decent job, was part of a cool community. He was doing something a bit risky, a bit of a climbing accident and he was no longer with us.

Vedder suggested that his struggle to deal with his own brother’s death led him to avoid dealing with Cornell’s.

“That one took me down so hard and my brothers and my mom and I seriously didn’t know if I was going to get out of that one,” Vedder said. “It really hurt me to think of what my daughters were witnessing who were probably, what, 12 and six at the time. There was no hiding it and it was a dark place. I just couldn’t deal with the reality.”

How to get help: In the U.S., call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Or text HOME to 741-741 to connect with a trained crisis counselor at the free Crisis Text Line.

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