The annals of popular music include moments of triumph, such as the historic significance and long-lived social impact of Woodstock '69. Another example, the 1985 Live Aid concert, drew as many as 1.4 billion viewers of the planet's 5 billion total. The showcase of marquis performers successfully raised an incredible amount of money to aid victims of the Ethiopian famine. Although, as with so many charity events, many questions were raised about where the money actually went after being forwarded to the region.
Unfortunately, live music has seen it's share of real tragedy and human suffering. This list focuses on the most unfortunate tragedies of all.
Illustrious hard-rock “glam” act Great White rose to mainstream success in the 1980s when their fourth career album Once Bitten achieved platinum status in the latter half of the decade. But years after their fame had arguably dwindled with time, tragedy struck, leading to the death of Ty Longley, who had taken over lead duties for long-time guitarist Mark Kendall years prior.
During a 2003 show at the Station nightclub at The Station nightclub in Rhode Island, an ill-advised pyrotechnics act during the band’s performance quickly turned the club from a rocking venue to a gigantic fireball. The flames engulfed the club in just 5.5 minutes, leaving Longley and 100 fans dead and 230 injured in its wake.
As a result, the band, who maintained their innocence in the event’s aftermath, claiming the cause of the fire was not a consequence of their own wrongdoing, paid $1 million to the victims’ relatives and survivor of the fire, which injured upwards of 200 others as it spread across the venue. The tragedy went down in history as the fourth worst nightclub disaster. The worst tragedy was in November 1942 in Boston at the Coconut Grove, where 492 died after decorations caught fire. But the Great White fire represents the highest death toll during a live performance of popular music.
To this day, the cause of the fire has been chalked up to a mere accident. On the bright side, hairspray has been ruled out as a contender.
Warning: This video is no joke. Prepare to not laugh...
Don’t let the name fool you, The Love Parade has proven to be anything but amorous. Beginning in West Germany over twenty years ago, the outdoor concert gained notoriety as one of Europe’s largest festivals for electronic music, showcasing popular acts like Paul Van Dyke, DJ Tiesto and the self-proclaimed “Godfather of Techno,” Carl Craig. But leading into the 21 century, the annual day-long event suffered countless mishaps, including several drug and theft-related incidents in 2008, ultimately resulting in 177 citizen arrests, not to mention a slew of other concert-goers complaining of hyperthermia.
Still, no amount of previous problems could have possibly topped what happened in 2010 when attendee numbers reached an all-time high at 1.4 million, nearly double the expected audience.
Held that year in Duisberg, Germany, the festival, which boosted the motto “Friede, Freude, Eierkuchen” (or “Peace, Joy, Pancakes” in English), turned tragic when an overcrowded tunnel transformed into a rave of massive proportions; and while this may seem on par with many a techno event, the scene left 21 dead and over 500 injured due to crowd pressure and suffocation.
In other words, maybe techno-fiends heed the urge to “crave the rave,” especially since the events of 2010 cancelled the festival indefinitely. Or as the Houston Press so eloquently put it, “Let this be a lesson, kids: Techno kills.”
Don't worry about the German broadcaster...
In the late 1970s, the Riverfront Coliseum in Cincinnati had built a reputation for itself as being one of the most unruly concert venues in all of the United States, particularly for its enforcement of a dangerous first-come, first-sit policy, which resulted in riots and a 60-person arrest when Led Zeppelin grazed its stage in 1977. But even with forewarning, The Who refused to take heed and the inevitable eventually became a reality in 1979.
Hours before the English rock band’s scheduled performance at the Ohio-based venue, a riot erupted outside the west gate when nearly 18,000 fans fought tooth and nail, first to get inside, then for the best seats in the house. 11 were fatally crushed and dozens were injured.
And while The Who went on play their set, completely unaware of the chaos surrounding them, guitarist Pete Townsend later said, “If it had happened inside, I would never have played again.” Or at the very least in Ohio, I should think.
Warning: The video starts with raw news footage and continues with interviews with the band...
On May 23rd, 2009, the last day of the weeklong Mawazine Festival in Rabat, Morocco, which featured global music acts like Stevie Wonder, Alicia Keys, and Aussie popstress Kylie Minogue, fans seemed to be enjoying themselves. That is, until the concert came to a tragic end.
Upon exiting the Hay Nahda concert stadium, all 70,000 attendee tried to get out at once, causing a massive human stampede, which collapsed a fence, ultimately causing nearly 40 injuries and 11 confirmed fatalities, two of which were children.
Following the festival, which ordinarily goes off without a hitch, concertgoers blamed the city’s police force for blocking many of the routine exit areas. But Governor Hassan Lamrani was quick to reverse the blame. “At the end of the concert and despite the existence of seven gates, a group of citizens decided to go over the metal barriers to have a quick exit,” he said.
Thankfully, monarch King Mohammed VI was quick to express his sympathies to the victims’ families, sending notes of condolence days later. His response seems to have been sufficient for hard-hitting acts like Elton John and Sting to agree to participate in the festival’s 2010 lineup.
Many near suffocations
Scratches and bruises are no big deal, but even the rowdiest of genres has to draw the line somewhere and for a punk rock concert in Indonesia, fatalities did not make the cut.
During a February 2008 concert in Bandung, Indonesia’s West Java province, a stampede formed at the tail end of the show when the entire audience tried to leave at once. In its wake, 10 people lost their lives in a deadly crush while countless others complained of difficulty breathing at momentary suffocation.
“People were screaming in panic when others fell down and were trampled,” a witness told the Associated Press following the event, which sources say was held in a concert hall that was packed 30% over-capacity at the time. “I saw many people unconscious lying on the ground,” she continued. “I fell down, but fortunately I was pulled out by someone in the crowd.”
Sadly, the problem of stampedes at concert venues and sporting events is quite common in Indonesia, but many more fatalities may have even The Misfits shaking in their boots.
Since its inception in 1971, the annual Rosklide Festival in Denmark, which claims to have been originally conceived for hippies, was a well-known European showcase for hundreds of bands whose eclectic musical stylings annually drew upwards of 80,000 fans worldwide. But in June 2000, the good vibes turned sour when 9 concertgoers were crushed to death during a set by legendary grunge-rockers Pearl Jam, leaving band members to question their own fate.
“I think the thought [to quit] crossed all of our minds,” guitarist Mike McCready told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer website following the tragic event. “But it wouldn't have been a good way to end it all…We realized we're making viable music. We can't stop. We can't end on a down note.”
Pearl Jam, of course, continued on it way, finishing up that year’s world tour despite the accident in Rosklide. But in the festival wake, the band wrote a song titled “Love Boat Captain” inspired by the concert’s calamity. Perhaps more importantly, the entire continent of Europe put a ban on crowd-surfing at concerts, prompting fans across the sea to find safer ways to enjoy their favorite bands.
Eddie Reflects On Roskilde...
Phot Courtesy: ap-rearviewmirror.blogspot.com
When popular Arlington, Texas hard rock act Pantera split in 2003, fans across the globe were saddened with the news, even with the formation of Damageplan, a band created by former Pantera members Dimebag Darrell and Vinnie Paul to wet their appetites the following year. But no one seemed as angered with the breakup as crazed fan Nathan Gale.
Gale, who took the stage at a Damageplan show in Columbus, Ohio shot guitarist Darrell in the back, killing him and later turning his gun on everyone who tried to intervene.
Minutes later, five police came to the rescue and engaged Gale in a tragic shootout. In the end, Gale, who allegedly used one as a human-bullet shield, was killed. In the aftermath, Darrell and 3 others were left dead and another 3 were wounded. Gale’s mother’s claim that the gunman suffered from paranoid schizophrenia did not provide any solace to the victims’ families or Dimebag’s fans.
Warning: This is a hard video to watch...
As detailed in the popular rock-doc “Gimme Shelter,” the Hells Angels may not have been the best security choice at the now-iconic 1969 Altamont Speedway Free Concert, which featured performances by The Rolling Stones, Jefferson Airplane, Santana, and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. More importantly, $500 in beer may not have been the best currency with which to pay the Angels for their services.
The event, which attendees claim was bordering on violent to begin with, received virtually no policing by the Angels, who were more concerned with getting hammered than protecting the audience. In the wake of the event, property was damaged, cars were both stolen and abandoned, and countless fights had erupted throughout the motorsports racetrack.
4 deaths were reported, one of which was a homicide, 2 others were hit-and-runs and the last was the result of drowning in a nearby canal.
Leadup, mayhem, and aftermath...
Unknown number of sexual assaults
As any of the half-million concertgoers at Woodstock ’99, the festival was a far cry from the peace, love and music motto of the 1960s. But aside from fans griping over the price of food and water, its death toll ranks relatively low in the grand scheme of things.
Still, it makes the list for two reasons: the investigation into a number of sexual assaults; and of the 2 deaths that occurred at the iconic festival’s 25h anniversary, the man who was ran over by a tractor has got to be one of the most bizarre.
Photo Courtesy: idolater.com
Yet another example of festival seating bad. Still on the top of their game in 1991, the Australian heavy-metal outfit was scheduled to play Salt Lake City’s downtown venue Salt Palace to a crowd of over 13,000. But once the concert started, the 4,000 fans housed in festival seating began to push forward, packing together and crushing 3 teens to death.
“Nothing anyone can say or do will diminish the tragic loss or sense of grief,” the band said in a statement shortly after the incident. Still, with festival seating banned in states across the U.S. after a tragic concert by The Who hit Ohio in 1979, it seems Salt Lake City was the last to get the memo.
Phot Courtesy: nationofmillions.ca
Country music and wicked storm weather may have a permanent home in the southern portion of the United States, but in 2009, Camrose, Canada took the proverbial crown, when their annual Big Valley Jamboree outdoor festival was hit by devastating winds and heavy rain, leading upwards of 15,000 attendees to seek cover.
“We were all racing for the exit,” said concertgoer Lori Trelenberg of Sherwood Park, Alberta, when speaking with Fox News following the event. The storm tor through musical instruments and speakers, leaving debris flying everywhere.
To make matters worse, it seems the storm was only the beginning of the problems, as moments later the stage holding Nashville’s Billy Currington band collapsed, killing 1 person and injuring 75, including one band member who was later pulled from the rumble.
In this video the storm hits at about 1:30. They're laughing, but not for long...
Photo Courtesy: John Ulan
In 2006, rockers Korn brought a new meaning to “family values” while on tour, when an altercation at their show in Atlanta went from bad to worse.
While touring with the Deftones, Stone Sour and others, a fight erupted when fan Andy Richarson, 30, asked two men in the mosh pit to beware his pregnant girlfriend who was near the perimeter. In response, the men knocked Richardson to the floor, hitting him in the skull and knocking his head to the concrete.
But unlike most tragedies, justice in this case was finally served when one of the men, Michael Scott Axley, pled guilty to involuntary manslaughter and aggravated assault, resulting in 10 years incarceration and 10 years probation.
1 hairdo set on fire
While Americans were observing their Thanksgiving holiday, tragedy stuck at a Motorhead show in Leeds, England in which 1 man died and another had his hair set on fire following an altercation at the O2 Academy concert venue.
Following an immediate investigation, police were still unclear of the exact details of the incident. Sources say that 44-year old Andrew Crawford, a local builders merchant, was hit multiple times in the head with a blunt object and later died at the Leeds General Infirmary, all while his friend’s hair was set on fire by an unidentified member of the audience.
Recently, two men were arrested in conjunction with the murder, but were later released pending further investigation.
Photo Courtesy: zimbio.com
8 injured in shootout
Last March, at a Gary, Indiana roller skating rink, 8 teens aged 14-18 were shot while attending a concert by Atlanta-based rapper Waka Flocka Flame. Unfortunately, police were unclear as to what caused the shooting beyond determining that an altercation had erupted. Nor could they attest to the reason why the popular “O Let’s Do It” rapper was playing a skating rink in the first place.
Fortunately, even after receiving wounds in the legs, stomach and back, none of the teens’ injuries proved fatal. As for Waka Flocka, while he remained mum in the aftermath, he has yet to play another skating rink again. Progress!
Photo Courtesy: gossiphat.com
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