Turns out that Bruce Springsteen really had to twist the arm of Eddie Vedder to get him to duet on AC/DC’s ‘Highway To Hell’.
Eddie Vedder was appearing on The Howard Stern Show on November 2nd, 2020, according to Variety. Stern, a massive Pearl Jam and Vedder fan, asked his guest about individual songs and performances, including his classic duet with The Boss during a Melbourne concert in 2014.
“I was playing nice theatres and he was playing giant cricket stadiums or Aussie Rules Football, these giant ovals,” Vedder told Stern. “But we just ended up being in the same cities at the same time, so we might have shows the same night and then we’d meet up after maybe and have dinner with Little Steven. It was just a great rock n’ roll field trip. I was with Glen Hansard the Irish singer.”
On the night in question, Vedder had stopped by Springsteen’s show. His manager called the grunge legend backstage. “That was one night where we had a night off so we get into town and run over to the show,” Vedder said. “The show’s supposed to start at eight. It’s 10 after and Jon Landau says, ‘Hey, Bruce wants to see you.’ I was like, ‘Oh no, I’m good.’
He says, ‘No, he wants to see you.’ I say, ‘No, I’d rather not bother him before the show.’ He says, ‘No, I think he has something to tell you.’ I know that I wouldn’t want to be around me before, so I put that on other people. They’re fine. Me, I wouldn’t want to.”
Two music icons collided and Springsteen sprung his idea on an unsuspecting Vedder.
“He’s like, ‘Ed, I got an idea. Here’s the deal. All right, first song, AC/DC “Highway to Hell” and you take a verse, I take a verse, and then you’re done. You can drink beer, you can do whatever you want, none of this encore sh*t. You don’t have to wait around. First song, hit it with me and you’re good to go.’” So that’s how it went. He called for his assistant, get us the lyrics.”
There’s certain artists that can persuade you to leave your comfort zone and Springsteen’s certainly one. Vedder also recalled his previous performance with Springsteen for Vote for Change during the 2004 election. For that show, they sang Pearl Jam and Springsteen songs.
“He invited me to Jersey, Vedder said. “We do ‘Darkness [On the Edge of Town]’. We do ‘No Surrender’ and then ‘Betterman.’ That’s when Clarence [Clemons] and Danny [Federici] were still [alive]. Instead of the guitar solo it’s Clarence playing.”