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The Loop

Published: 2010/07/27
by Gregg Morris

When A Love Parade Is Anything But (Rock Concert Tragedies in Review)

Considering the recent stampede at the Love Parade Techno Festival in Duisburg, Germany, here is a quick look at other such tragedies, with the hope that history won’t repeat itself…

Nov 28, 1942 Cocoanut Grove Nightclub, Boston, Massachusetts

The deadliest nightclub fire in US history claimed 492 lives and injured more than a hundred more. This tragedy lead to sweeping reforms of fire and building safety codes adopted at venues across the country.

Dec 6, 1969 The Rolling Stones at Altamont Speedway, Northern California

The Stones’ “Woodstock of the West” turned deadly when a teenager pulled a gun on a member of the Hell’s Angels motorcycle club. The victim was stabbed and beaten to death by the Hell’s Angels, ironically hired to provide security. Classically depicted in the documentary, Gimme Shelter(1970).

May 26, 1974 David Cassidy at London’s White City Stadium

Thousands of screaming fans waiting to enter the stadium stormed the gates injuring 650 people and killing a 14 year old girl. David Cassidy was so distraught over the incident he ended up quitting his role of Keith Partridge, effectively ending the show altogether.

Dec 3, 1979 The Who at the Riverfront Coliseum in Cincinnati, Ohio

Eleven people were trampled at the 1st come, 1st serve festival seating show. The show went on while the band was kept in the dark until after the lights went down. This tragedy lead to the ban of festival seating in Cincinnati for over 25 years.

June 13, 1998 Tibetan Freedom Festival at RFK Stadium in Washington, DC

Lightning strikes injured eleven people, including one girl who sustained a direct hit. The lightning came as Herbie Hancock was performing his set with Gang Starr’s Guru. The rest of the performances were cancelled, with most of the performers playing the following day.

June 30, 2000 Pearl Jam in Roskilde, Denmark

Nine people were crushed to death and three were injured as aggressive fans rushed the stage. Pearl Jam cancelled the rest of their European tour and considered breaking up as a result. The band has gone on to take great lengths to prevent future injuries at their shows, including customizing padded barriers to provide a buffer between the stage and the mosh pit.

Feb 20, 2003 Great White at the Station Nightclub in West Warwick, RI

A pyrotechnics mishap ignited a fire to create the fourth deadliest nightclub fire in US history. 100 people were killed, including Great White guitarist Ty Longley. 230 people were injured in the fire that engulfed the venue in five and a half minutes.

Dec 8, 2004 Damageplan at the Alrosa Villa in Columbus, Ohio

A deranged assassin shot and killed Dimebag Darrell, of Pantera fame, as he was performing with his new band, Damageplan. The paranoid schizophrenic gunman, killed three others and wounded an additional seven.

Dec 30, 2004 Callejeros at the Republica Cromanon in Buenos Aires

An illegal pyrotechnic flare ignited the ceiling killing 194 and injuring 714 others. Four of the six doors were chained shut to prevent non-paying patrons. Most of the victims died from inhaling poisonous gases, smoke and carbon dioxide, as opposed to the usual crushing or burning. This tragedy lead to an overhaul of Argentina’s fire inspection system.

July 26, 2010 Love Parade Festival in Duisburg, Germany

Twenty people were killed and 511 injured at the German techno festival. The tragedy apparently happen as the only exit at the end of a tunnel was closed due to overcrowding. Police are concentrating their investigations on the allegation of negligent manslaughter and negligent bodily harm.

*****

Gregg Morris is an Oregon-based writer, who works for www.roll35.com, a local (Bend and Portland) website that “highlights charities, bands and other organizations that work toward the ‘Greater Good.’”

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