The Wild True Story of How Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder Taught David Crowder How to Surf

Next week, worship music legend CROWDER will release his excellent new album Milk & Honey. Fans of David Crowder and worship music at large will absolutely love the project, which mixes CROWDER’s usual blend of whip smart instrumentation and earnest prayers to God. You can hear our Senior Editor Tyler Huckabee’s conversation with Crowder about the album on last week’s podcast, along with some previews of our favorite songs.

But there’s another part of Tyler’s conversation with Crowder that didn’t make the podcast, but that you’ve absolutely got to hear. The easiest way to explain what you’re about to read is that Tyler had heard a rumor that Crowder received a surfboard from Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder.

He asked Crowder to confirm the story and as it turns out, that story is not quite accurate. The actual story is much better and must be heard to be believed. What follows is a transcript of their conversation, which has been edited very lightly so that you can savor as much of the experience of hearing the whole story as possible.

TYLER: I should probably get back to work myself. But one last thing, and this is completely off topic. I just want to hear you confirm a rumor I’ve heard. Did Eddie Vedder give you a surfboard?

CROWDER: Oh my word! No, I basically stole…

What?!

OK, Eddie Vedder taught me how to surf and I demanded the surfboard that he taught me on at the end.

OK. We need to go to the beginning.

Right. So I am, first of all, a huge Pearl Jam fan, I’m a 90s kid. Grunge music is my deal. I’m sorry. And so Pearl Jam, huge fan.

We’re going to play at a conference in Hawaii, and me and my wife go a little early. And while we’re there, it comes to my awareness. I said, “Hey, I just heard that Eddie Vedder might be staying here, that’s crazy.”

And she goes, “Oh, you mean right there?” And she points and he’s 16 feet away from me. And totally, I just fumble. I can’t form sentences.


So you’re star struck.

Absolutely. I’m blushing. I can’t get up the nerve to say a word. We’re out by the ocean and she’s like, “What are you going to say and what good will it do anyone?” And I’m like, “I don’t know. I want to say hi and point out that he’s Eddie Vedder and I like him.” That’s what I want to do and I really want to do it badly.

But I can’t get up the nerve. I walk right by him. I walk straight to my hotel room. I’m pacing inside my hotel room going, “This is ridiculous. I can’t do it. I’m not going to do it. It’s stupid anyway, why would I want to do that? It’s stupid.”

So I’m going back to the beach to lay down and I look over at him and our eyes meet. And I’m like, “I’m doing it.”

I almost fall on him. I’m kneeling down by his lounge chair and I’m in the sand. I don’t know if I’m on all fours or what, but I’m really too close to him and I don’t say anything for 30 seconds. I’m just staring at him. It’s so painful to think about.

And then I remember: “Oh yeah, our bus driver right now is Long Hair John.

Long Hair John happens to be Pearl Jam’s bus driver too. He just had a one-off deal with us.

So you’re not just a crazy stranger. 

Not just a crazy stranger. So I say, “Long Hair John.”

And he changes immediately! He’s not like [grunting Eddie Vedder impersonation]. He’s talking normal. And then I’m like, “This is great. I was going to ask for a photo, I don’t need a photo, you’re cool laying here, I’m sorry to interrupt. And I just wanted to say, I think you’re amazing. I do church music, and bizarrely, what you do has helped me with what I do.” He goes, “We’ll grab a photo later.”

I had to leave and I didn’t see him when I came back. I go back, I’m like, “That was amazing.” My wife’s like, “What’d you say?” I’m like, “I don’t know. But I stared at him for a long time before anything happened and he made it less awkward than it could have been, and it was great.”

And then we’re we go to dinner. I tell all the band guys, “You won’t believe this. I met Eddie Vedder today and told him about Long Hair John and we bonded, I think.” And they’re like, “Ah, that’s amazing.”

Later, I go back to the hotel and Eddie is at the pool. He sees me from a long way off and he throws his hands up. He looks angry at me! And I’m like, “Oh crap. Eddie is mad at me.”

He’s like, “Where were you?” I’m like, “I was there the whole time.” And he’s like, “No, you weren’t. I looked for you. We got to get the photo.” He looks troubled that he didn’t get the photo!

So we get a photo, and then we talked for like 45 minutes, just hanging out at the pool. And at some point I say, “Man, I saw that surfboard by your lounge chair that I almost fell on.” And he goes, “That’s not a surfboard, it’s a paddleboard.”

I’m like, “I don’t know. I don’t surf, I don’t paddle. But anyway, I saw the guests of the hotel learning how to surf, I’m going to do that tomorrow in honor having met you. I know you’re a huge surfer, I’m going to do it tomorrow.” And he goes, “Meet me at 7:30.”

I go, “Don’t joke like this, man. First of all, I’m not going to sleep, I’m going to call everybody I know. I’m going to have so many questions for you. You’re not going to like any of this. This is a bad idea.”

Eddie goes, “No, I love teaching people how to surf, meet me at 7:30.” I’m like, “OK.”

I don’t sleep, I call everybody I know. I have a lot of questions. I get up and I’m going down there. And I’m not kidding you, man. Tyler, this is the truth, I have the photos. He is already there, he’s got two surfboards in hand, he’s got this pose, it’s like an Endless Summer pose. And there are not one, but two rainbows. It’s Hawaii, they get rainbows a lot, part of the deal, they make them.

There are two rainbows coming down and they’re in the ocean behind him. Under my breath, I tell my wife “This is probably my last day on earth. This is probably it. It probably peaking right here and then I’m out. I’m pretty sure.”

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Like God decided to send you out on a high note. 

Tyler, I spent two and a half hours in the ocean with Eddie Vedder pushing me into waves. I got up the first time!

You got up the first time?

First time. He’s a good teacher. He’s like my sensei of surfing.

So we’re wrapping up. He’s leaving that day, they’re going to do Saturday Night Live. This is a Friday. So he spent the last morning of his family vacation with a rando fan who was… [Brief pause]

Actually, I was there and I was avoiding anybody that would possibly be at the conference. And then this dude…  I walked away with a lesson. Now, anytime I have any obligations, my wife will say, “Teach them how to surf.” And I remember the kindness of Eddie Vedder to a random fan who just about fell and broke his paddle board that day and stared at him awkwardly after.

So, wait. Where does you getting a surfboard factor in? 

Well, afterwards, I demanded from the surf shop that he had rented the boards from that I was going to keep that board that Eddie rented. And they were like, “You can’t have it.”

I’m like, “See, I’m going to have it, and there’s a couple ways we can do this, legally or illegally. I’m going to keep this board and you’re either as fast as me or I can give you some money for it. It’s up to you if I run or just give you money.”

And so I have the board. It’s in my garage right now.

I’m sure you know that meeting your heroes doesn’t always go like this.

He’s a good dude.

 That’s very heartwarming.

I agree.


CROWDER’s Milk & Honey is available next week 6/11. 

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