The Who concert disaster
The Who concert disaster

The Who live performance catastrophe was a crowd catastrophe that occurred on December 3, 1979, when British rock band The Who carried out at Riverfront Coliseum (now often known as Heritage Financial institution Heart) in Cincinnati, Ohio, United States; and a rush of concert-goers outdoors the Coliseum’s entry doorways resulted within the deaths of 11 individuals.[1][2]


The Who had been within the midst of the USA leg of their 1979 world tour, which started in September with a complete of seven dates cut up between the Capitol Theatre in Passaic, New Jersey and Madison Sq. Backyard in New York Metropolis. The tour was their first following the 1978 loss of life of drummer Keith Moon and their first to characteristic former Small Faces drummer Kenney Jones as Moon’s official substitute.[3] The band then took a while off and would resume the tour on November 30 on the auditorium of the Detroit Masonic Temple. The Cincinnati live performance was the third present performed on this portion of the tour, after a live performance the evening earlier than on the Pittsburgh Civic Enviornment.

The live performance was a sellout, with 18,348 tickets offered.[4]

Abstract of occasions

A physique is carried out of a Riverfront Coliseum foyer.

Younger concertgoers weep within the aftermath.

Individuals had been initially instructed by a radio station that Basic Admission ticket holders could be admitted at 3:00 p.m. and subsequently a large crowd fashioned by 5:00 p.m. Though all of the doorways had been anticipated to be opened concurrently, solely a pair of doorways on the far proper of the principle entrance had been lastly opened. As live performance goers entered the stadium by these two open doorways, these ready in entrance of the entire different doorways started pushing ahead once more.[5]

After a brief interval of ready after which knocking on the doorways and the glass subsequent to the doorways, the gang assumed that not one of the remaining doorways could be opened. At about 7:15 p.m., the state of affairs started to escalate. Conflicting stories prompt that concertgoers might hear both a really late soundcheck or The Who’s Quadrophenia film, in lieu of a gap act. Both manner, the gang assumed that The Who had been on sooner than scheduled.[5]

At that time, all the crowd surged and pushed towards the 2 doorways which had been opened. This brought on many individuals to get trampled whereas some suffered extra severe accidents. Eleven individuals had been unable to flee the dense crowd pushing towards them and died by asphyxiation. Twenty-six different individuals reported accidents.[5]

Fireplace officers suggested Who supervisor Invoice Curbishley to cancel the live performance, however he satisfied him to permit the present to proceed to keep away from additional panic.[6] The live performance went on as deliberate, with the band members not instructed of the tragedy till after their efficiency.[6] Years later, Who guitarist Pete Townshend recalled his emotions after the present; “I went by two phases. One was, in fact, large upset and concern. However the different was unbelievable anger that we had been performing whereas this was happening.”[6]

The next evening, a prolonged section on the tragedy aired on the CBS Night Information with Walter Cronkite inspecting violence at rock concert events. On the Who’s subsequent live performance in Buffalo on December 4, lead singer Roger Daltrey instructed the gang: “We misplaced plenty of household final evening. This present’s for them.”[7] Years later, Townshend mentioned he regretted leaving Cincinnati and persevering with to tour, remarking on the Buffalo live performance “We’re within the improper metropolis. We’re in Buffalo.”[6]

The eleven individuals who died within the crush had been:[8]

  • Walter Adams, Jr., aged 22, Trotwood
  • Peter Bowes, aged 18, Wyoming, Ohio
  • Connie Sue Burns, aged 21, Miamisburg
  • Jacqueline Eckerle, aged 15, Finneytown
  • David Heck, aged 19, Highland Heights, Kentucky
  • Teva Rae Ladd, aged 27, Newtown
  • Karen Morrison, aged 15, Finneytown
  • Stephan Preston, aged 19, Finneytown
  • Philip Snyder, aged 20, Franklin
  • Bryan Wagner, aged 17, Fort Thomas, Kentucky
  • James Warmoth, aged 21, Franklin


Protesters carried candles from the coliseum to Fountain Sq. the day after the live performance.

In Windfall, Rhode Island, Mayor Vincent A. Cianci cancelled a scheduled efficiency of The Who on the metropolis’s Civic Heart that very same month.[9] This was even though the Windfall venue had assigned seating.[9] In 2012, the band returned to Windfall and honored tickets from the 1979 present.[9]

The households of the victims sued the band, live performance promoter Electrical Manufacturing unit Live shows, and the town of Cincinnati. The category motion swimsuit filed on behalf of ten of the households was settled in 1983, awarding every of the households of the deceased roughly $150,000 ($389,800 immediately). The household of Peter Bowes opted out of the category motion and settled later for an undisclosed quantity. Roughly $750,000 ($1,948,800 immediately) was to be divided among the many 26 injured.[10] The town of Cincinnati additionally imposed a ban on unassigned competition seating on December 27, 1979, with minor exceptions, for the following 25 years.[11][12]

The incident was the topic of a ebook, Are the Children All Proper? The Rock Era and Its Hidden Demise Want,[13] in addition to a second-season episode of WKRP in Cincinnati referred to as “In Live performance”. It additionally impressed scenes within the movie Pink Floyd—The Wall, whose 1982 premiere was attended by the Who’s Pete Townshend.[14]

In 2004, the town of Cincinnati completely repealed its long-standing ban on unassigned seating, two years after quickly making an exception for a Bruce Springsteen live performance.[15] The objective of lifting the ban was to draw extra big-name acts. Nevertheless, the town now mandates there should be 9 sq. toes per particular person at a venue, and the variety of tickets offered for every occasion is adjusted accordingly.

Paul Wertheimer, the town’s first Public Data Officer on the time of the tragedy, went on to serve on a process pressure on crowd management, and later based Crowd Administration Methods in 1992, a consulting agency based mostly in Los Angeles.[16][17]

In 2009, thirty years after the tragedy, rock station WEBN/102.7 aired a retrospective on the occasion, together with clips from information protection in 1979.[18]

The P.E.M. Memorial[19][20] was created in August 2010 to commemorate the lives of those that had been tragically misplaced whereas awaiting entry to the live performance. Each first Saturday in December, native musicians carry out on the P.E.M. Memorial.[21] The free live performance options previous and new tunes to lift consciousness of the P.E.M. Scholarship Fund. Out of the 11 individuals dying that day, three had been from Finneytown Excessive College – Stephan Preston, Jackie Eckerle and Karen Morrison. Three scholarships are awarded yearly[22] to eligible Finneytown Excessive College seniors who’re pursuing increased schooling within the arts or music at an accredited college or faculty. In 2018, Roger Daltrey visited the Finneytown Excessive College and met with a gaggle of relations of victims and survivors. Daltrey and the households later mentioned the assembly introduced a substantial amount of peace and therapeutic.[23]

In 2014, Pearl Jam performed within the metropolis and acknowledged the tragedy. They devoted a canopy of the Who’s “The Actual Me” to those that died.[24] Pearl Jam had skilled an identical tragedy in 2000, when 9 individuals died in a crush throughout their live performance at Roskilde Competition.[25]

On the eve of the thirty fifth anniversary of the tragedy, Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley promised to have a historic marker on the location of the tragedy in 2015. A committee consisting of three live performance survivors (Mike Babb, Thomas Brown, Rick Schwitzer) and one member of the family of sufferer Teva Ladd (Kasey Ladd) had been pivotal in getting the memorial positioned.[26] The marker was devoted at U. S. Financial institution Enviornment (because it was then recognized) on December 3, 2015.[27]

The Showtime sequence Roadies devoted a whole episode to the 1979 occasion. The episode, “The Metropolis Whose Title Should Not Be Spoken”, showcases the “roadies” of a fictional band finishing many rituals after somebody on the tour bus mentions Cincinnati.

The occasion was coated on the podcast My Favourite Homicide by Karen Kilgariff in episode 166, launched on Could 28, 2019.

On the fortieth anniversary of the tragedy in December 2019, Cincinnati tv station WCPO aired the documentary The Who: The Night time That Modified Rock in regards to the incident and its aftermath, which featured interviews from survivors, relations, Daltrey, and Townshend.[28] The documentary and a separate WCPO information broadcast marked the primary time that Daltrey and Townshend had ever carried out interviews solely in regards to the Cincinnati catastrophe.[6]

In 2019, The Who introduced plans for a Cincinnati-area efficiency in April 2020, to be held on the BB&T Enviornment at Northern Kentucky College, though the live performance was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[29] Pete Townshend mentioned in a documentary which aired on the anniversary of the tragedy, “We have to return to Cincinnati, you already know, we do. As quickly as we will. It could be such a joyous event for us, and such a therapeutic factor.” Townshend additionally mentioned that he regretted that the band didn’t keep round to mourn with others on the venue on the evening of the tragedy, saying “I am not forgiving us. We must always have stayed.”[30] In February 2022, The Who introduced that they are going to be returning to Cincinnati in Could 2022 as part of their North American “The Who Hits Again” tour, with the occasion moved from BB&T Enviornment to TQL Stadium.[31] It is going to be the primary time the band has performed in Cincinnati because the incident in 1979.[31]

See additionally

  • Listing of human stampedes and crushes

  • WEBN’s 2009 retrospective of the occasion
  • Uncooked footage of the occasion

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