Imagine heading off to see your favourite music artist, feeling on top of the world, only for things to go horribly wrong. Enormous effort is put into keeping musicians, and their fans safe, but tragedy can be unavoidable. No one likes to think about it, but large crowds are hotspots for potential disaster, and it can happen in the blink of an eye. In most cases it is the audience itself that gets out of control, resulting in terrible consequences.
These are times that great concerts were ruined by unexpected tragedies.
In one of the most infamous disasters of all time, legendary band The Rolling Stones hired the Hells Angels biker gang as security in 1969. It was probably meant as a publicity stunt, but turned into total chaos. There were more than 300,000 audience members, so security was going to be difficult, even with trained professionals. Needless to say the situation got out of control, resulting in the death of an audience member by stabbing. The occurrence received such bad publicity that it tarnished the reputation of The Rolling Stones for years afterwards, with many questioning how such a poor decision had been made.
A truly horrifying disaster occurred in 2003, Rhode Island. The Station Nightclub hosted the band Great White, which involved a climax topped off with impressive pyrotechnics. A fire started, and rapidly grew out of control. The venue did not have adequate fire safety measures, leaving officials to try and extinguish the flames with cups of water. Escape attempts were also severely hampered, given that 2 out of 4 exits had been bared shut. 100 died, and 230 were injured, in one of the worst concert tragedies in history. In this case, you’re probably thinking you would have rather stayed home and played your favourite Aristocrat slots games instead.
Another well-known concert tragedy occurred in 1992. Two of the hottest bands of the era, Guns N Roses and Metallica, played in Montreal. A crowd of 53,000 eager fans were in attendance, but things went wrong from the very beginning. Major delays were made worse by Metallica’s performance being a disaster, with a stage prop malfunctioning and injuring the lead singer. This was followed by Guns N Roses leaving the stage for nearly an hour, due to Axl Rose reportedly not feeling well. The audience eventually went on a riot, destroying the venue, looting stores, and setting fire to structures.
Yet another disastrous concert of the 70s, this one occurred at the Riverfront Coliseum in 1979. During a performance by The Who, 11 were killed and 8 injured as the crowd of 7,000 stampeded. Most incredible of all is that the concert was allowed to continue, even as paramedics and officials were called on to the scene. It was reported that the audience was so worked up that it was feared a riot would break out if the musicians were not allowed to finish their planned performance.