Top 10 Concert Tragedies and Mishaps
Concerts are supposed to be about the music. They remain popular around the world because people want to enjoy what they love in a safe and peaceful environment. Unfortunately, history has seen its share of concert tragedies and mishaps, which have included death, danger and/or destruction. In this video, WatchMojo.com counts down our picks for the top 10 most infamous concert tragedies and mishaps.
#10 – Guns N’ Roses/Metallica Stadium Tour – Olympic Stadium: Montreal, Quebec, Canada – August 8, 1992
After Metallica singer James Hetfield was accidentally burned by an elaborate stage effect involving pyrotechnics, the heavy metal group canceled the rest of their Montreal show. Things deteriorated further when co-headliners Guns N’ Roses were late and Axl Rose cut the set short citing sound and vocal problems. Angered fans expressed their displeasure with such violent street rioting that the police had to resort to tear gas.
#9 – Woodstock 1999 – Rome, New York, U.S.A. – July 22-25, 1999
Unlike the more peaceful 1969 original, Woodstock ’99 was ruined by violence, rapes and vandalism. Limp Bizkit frontman Fred Durst made things worse by telling the crowd not to mellow out, as fans broke stuff all around them. The next night, after concertgoers started bonfires, the Red Hot Chili Peppers unwisely chose to cover Jimi Hendrix’s “Fire.” No deaths were recorded, but there were plenty of injuries and even some arrests.
#8 – Pukkelpop – Kiewit, Beligum – August 18-20, 2011
Only a few days after the Indiana State Fair stage collapse in the U.S., Mother Nature struck again at Belgium’s Pukkelpop. While the Smith Westerns were playing, the high winds and heavy rain of an unexpected thunderstorm brought down the stage. The incident took the lives of five people, harmed over a hundred more, and brought a quick end to that year’s festival.
#7 – Altamont Speedway Free Festival – Alameda, California, U.S.A. – December 6, 1969
Due to the festival’s high profile acts, an unusually low stage and over three hundred thousand concertgoers, the Rolling Stones hired the Hells Angels to keep them safe. Unfortunately, the intoxicated and drugged up crowd proved too much: after Meredith Hunter pulled out a gun, the teenager was stabbed and slain by the motorcycle gang during the band’s set. The festival was also the site of three accidental deaths and hundreds of injuries.
#6 – Roskilde Festival – Roskilde, Denmark – June 25-July 2, 2000
In an effort to get closer to the band, thousands made their way to the front of the stage while Pearl Jam was performing at Roskilde. The group’s attempts to calm the crowd came too little too late: as a result, many people, including crowd surfers, were trampled under the human stampede and the world lost nine friends we’ll never know.
#5 – Damageplan Tour – Alrosa Villa: Columbus, Ohio, U.S.A. – December 8, 2004
Due to the actions of paranoid schizophrenic ex-U.S. Marine Nathan Gale, this heavy metal band’s career was short-lived: Gale shot former Pantera guitarist Dimebag Darrell while he was on stage with his new band Damageplan. He then fired into the crowd and killed three other people before police officer James Niggemeyer ended Gale’s life. At least seven more people were wounded.
#4 – The Who Tour 1979 – Riverfront Coliseum: Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S.A. – December 3, 1979
A year after Keith Moon’s death, The Who experienced more grief when eleven fans were crushed while trying to attend one of their shows. Mistaking sound check for the real thing, thousands of ticketholders rushed the unopened doors of the Riverfront Coliseum. The venue’s inadequate crowd control methods and the first-come, first-served festival seating also caused at least twenty-six other people to get hurt.
#3 – Love Parade – Duisburg, Germany – July 24, 2010
The tragic occurrences of 2010 ensured that this annual electronic dance music festival and parade would be no more. That year, the festival’s popularity drew over a million people despite a capacity of only two hundred and fifty thousand. Unfortunately, five hundred concert goers were injured and twenty-one people died from being squashed or suffocated while using the overcrowded tunnel underpasses to get to the Love Parade.
#2 – John Davidson – Beverly Hills Supper Club: Southgate, Kentucky, U.S.A. – May 28, 1977
One of the deadliest nightclub fires in American history prevented singer John Davidson from playing at the Beverly Hills Supper Club in 1977. That night, over a thousand people were crammed into the main room where two comics were performing, and hundreds more were enjoying other events in the club’s various halls and restaurants. As the patrons scrambled to escape the fire, they ended up blocking the exits with their bodies; sadly, over 160 perished.
#1 – Great White – The Station Nightclub: West Warwick, Rhode Island, U.S.A. – February 20, 2003
This hard rock band’s headlining set was cut short after foam insulation inside The Station caught fire because of pyrotechnics gone wrong. Within seconds, the 250-person capacity nightclub was engulfed in flames and over four hundred people were trapped inside. In the mad dash to the main entrance, over two hundred were injured and a hundred were killed, including Great White’s guitarist, Ty Longley.
Despite these mishaps and other tragedies like the República Cromañón nightclub fire in Argentina and the Santika Club fire in Thailand, concerts continue to be popular around the world. As long as we try to be mindful of others and improve safety conditions, we can ensure that concerts remain about the music. Check out more top 10s by subscribing to WatchMojo.com.