I don’t know if I’ve said this enough, but as I’ve been doing this project, the people I’ve met and the stories they’ve shared with me has been truly amazing. I met Brian Williamson at the Cincinnati show last October where I took his and his wife and friends’ fan portraits.
Recently he contacted me about putting together a collage of his wife and friends’ fan portraits, so he could give this as a gift to them. He doesn’t live too far from me, so we met up recently so I could hand him the 11×14 prints in person.
As we were talking, he told me his story of how he got into Pearl Jam. To keep it brief, he became friends with Wilton Dedge who was featured in the After Innocence documentary (Wilton Dedge was exonerated through DNA testing). The film did a screening in Seattle in which Wilton Dedge attended, in 2006. Eddie Vedder was in attendance at the screening and he introduced himself to Wilton. Wilton had no idea who Eddie was. They quickly became friends and the next time Pearl Jam was in town, he said he would give tickets to Wilton and his family and friends. At the summer 2006 shows in Camden, NJ, Eddie gave tickets and backstage passes to Wilton and his friends. Wilton invited Brian to attend.
This is when Brian got into Pearl Jam. He hadn’t been into Pearl Jam prior to this, or even been listening to music. When Brian mentioned the show to his daughter, she said that Pearl Jam was her favorite band. Brian was going to give up his ticket to the show so his daughter could go, but luckily they were all able to attend. After the show they got to meet and talk with Eddie and it was an amazing night for everyone. As they were leaving, Brian’s daughter told him that it was the best night of her life. Just hearing that made Brian’s world. He told Eddie that he hopes he can one day provide that feeling for his daughter.
After seeing Pearl Jam in concert, Brian said he became a fan right away, and has been going to shows and traveling as often as he can ever since. This is yet another instance in which Pearl Jam has had an enormous impact on the lives of others. Creating new fans all the time and making connections that last lifetimes for friends and families. I found this story so heartwarming and asked Brian’s permission to re-share the story here.
In the collage below is him (bottom right), his wife (top right) and close friends.