In March 1992, Pearl Jam played a show in Tivoli, Utrecht that would end in an experience frontman Eddie Vedder would never forget. Backstage he met a Dutch girl who was friends with the opening act, City Pig Unit, and after talking into the wee hours of the morning, she gave him a ride to his hotel on the back of her brother's bicycle. They never saw each other again, but that memory stayed with the rock star all these years later. A few nights ago, the two reunited.
Last weekend, Vedder played two solo shows in Amsterdam and asked the crowd if the woman happened to be in attendance. “Is the woman who gave me a lift to my hotel in 1992 maybe here tonight?… I am almost certain that I would still recognize her face,” he said. Though no one came forward at the concert, Dutch newspaper Het Parool posed the question to its readers, and Valeska Custers said it was she who gave Vedder that bike ride 27 years ago.
“He was extremely shy, but I really felt a connection with him,” she said of her first interaction with the frontman. After helping her friends in City Pig Unit load up their gear, she met Vedder at a local cafe and they chatted until 3am. At the night's end, he asked if she would take him to his hotel — he wanted to ride on the back of a bike. She obliged. He held onto her brother's backpack during the trip, which held his flannel shirt. When they said their goodbyes, Vedder forgot to give it back.
“I still remember thinking: I’m not going to give myself to him. He’ll be somewhere else tomorrow and I’ll be one of the thousands of girls… He feels a bit like my soulmate,” Custers recalled. She tried to meet him again at a few Pearl Jam shows, but it never panned out.
Fate, however, had other plans. Someone in Vedder's backing band showed him the Het Parool article, and his manager invited Custers and her husband to a show in Brussels. Het Parool covered their reunion. "You still have the same smile," Vedder noticed as they looked back through old photos.
They talked about their spouses and children, and then the topic of the flannel shirt came up. Vedder claimed he meant to return it. “I made you write down your address in order to do so," he said. "I’m not sure if I still have it now, but I kept it for years at least.”
But Custers' brother is fine with his shirt's new owner. “He says you can keep it,” she said.
Check out a photo from the heartwarming reunion below.
Photo: Getty Images