The Truth About Eddie Vedder's Brush With Death

There is a handful of super-famous grunge bands out there, and as Rolling Stone has said, it seems like the best of them came out of Seattle, Washington. Near the top of the list, somewhere between Nirvana and Alice in Chains, is Pearl Jam. The band has been rocking since 1990, as Biography reports. They've released 11 studio albums to date, with the newest having only just come out in March of 2020 (excited squeal!). Each of those albums has contained at least one (or more) hit single. Why? Because Pearl Jam is good at what they do. Their talent has led to a fair amount of success over the years, and no small part of that was due, also per Biography, to frontman Eddie Vedder.

Had fate had its way, Pearl Jam wouldn't have persisted this long. Not with Vedder anyway. The sometimes-mumbling grunge singer almost met his end in the early 2000s. Being a rockstar, it would make sense to most of us if Eddie Vedder's brush with death was the result of a drug overdose or something, but Vedder has never had a known drug problem. Of course, you couldn't tell that if you've ever listened to the song "Yellow Ledbetter." No, Vedder's near-death incident was a terrifying close call that had nothing to do with the rock and roll lifestyle.

Boats should keep you out of the water

The fateful incident that almost cost Eddie Vedder his life could've happened to any of us who are wealthy enough to float a boat off the coast of Hawaii. Vedder was in a sailing canoe with five companions between the islands of Maui and Molokai. There in the Pailolo Channel, according to Rolling Stone, the boat overturned, leaving Vedder and friends wading in the blue.

The group did their best to stay near the boat, and, after hours of pruning up in the salty drink, the boat's mast broke, redistributing the small ship's center of gravity and allowing it flip back over. Half of the stranded sailors were able to climb back aboard, but there was a problem: the oars had been swept away by the rolling sea. A gust of wind caught the boat, pushing it far enough out of reach that Vedder and two other members of the group had no hope of getting back aboard.

In a stroke of luck, a ship helmed by Keith Baxter and his daughter were on the channel that day. Baxter's daughter, Ashley, thought she could hear voices coming from the sea, and those voices led their ship straight to the stranded sailors. Vedder and crew were saved. Maybe if the grunge musician hadn't written a song titled "Ocean," they wouldn't have been in that mess in the first place. (Just sayin'.)

A Vedder always pays his debts

Anyone caught in a brush with death like the one in which Eddie Vedder found himself there on the Pailolo Channel would certainly be grateful to their rescuers, but Vedder made sure he paid back the Baxter family properly. It started with a simple thank you that took place during a 2013 Pearl Jam concert (posted on YouTube). Vedder pulled Ashley on stage, told the story of the incident, and dedicated the song "Future Days" to her. That's only where the "thank-yous" began.

Keith Baxter found himself in a bit of trouble himself. A boating accident almost cost him his leg. A rusty anchor came close to severing Baxter's limb in 2015, according to The Inertia. The leg remained attached, but the wound had caused a nasty bone infection. The medical bills were high, so the family put up a GoFundMe to cover expenses. Vedder wasn't about to leave his saviors metaphorically drowning in their sea of unexpected health issues and financial demands. In total, the Baxters have raised over $146,000, and $70,000 of that came from Pearl Jam. We can all agree that gratitude is good.