Musical performances are where people go to have a good time, but sometimes these venues can be dangerous because of a hostile or a panic stricken crowd. Here we list such instances when music concerts turned deadly.

1. Altamont Free Concert (1969) - 4 deaths

Attendance - 300,000

Date - December 6, 1969

Altamont Speedway Free Festival was held on December 6, 1969, at the Altamont Speedway, Northern California. Attended by approximately 300,000 people it was anticipated to be the Woodstock of the West. But it went all wrong, and now the concert is known for violence perpetrated by Hell’s Angels, who were there to provide security. 

Four people died, two by hit-and-run car accident, and one by LSD-induced drowning in an irrigation canal and a spectator Meredith Hunter was stabbed to death. The footage of Meredith getting stabbed was seen in the 1970 documentary Gimme Shelter. Many were injured, several cars were stolen and there was a lot of property damage. It all happened when The Rolling Stones were performing onstage, who were the main act.

2. The Who concert disaster - 11 deaths

Attendance - 18,348 tickets sold

Date - December 3, 1979

The concert took place at Riverfront Coliseum in Cincinnati, Ohio, United States, when the band was in United States leg of its 1979 world tour. The tragedy occurred because of a stampede at Coliseum’s entry doors. The organizers had not taken care of the seating and admission tickets were assigned as first-come, first-served. It resulted in 11 deaths and 26 people injured. The band completed their performance uninterrupted and was told of the incident after the concert. The next concert in Buffalo was dedicated to the victims.

3. Riverport Riot

Date - July 2, 1991

The riot occurred at a concert by rock band Guns N’ Roses which took place at the Riverport Amphitheater in Maryland Heights, Missouri. The concert was cut short after Axl Rose jumped into the crowd to tackle a fan who was taking still pictures of the show. After being pulled out of the crowd by crew members, Axl grabbed his microphone and said “Well, thanks to the lame-ass security, I’m going home!” and walked off the stage. This infuriated the audience, which set off a three-hour riot in which dozens were injured. The band did not play in the city again until July 27, 2017, because they were banned.

4. Woodstock '99

Attendance - 400,000 over four days

Date - July 22–25, 1999

The festival took place at Rome, upstate New York. It was held in a place which could hold 50,000 people and the hired security was under trained to handle such crowd. There was shortage of water and temperature was running high. The musical acts included Limp Bizkit, Rage Against the Machine and Kid Rock who egged on the crowd. Several sexual assaults were reported and 10,000 people required medical examination after it was all over. People broke into trailers of food, water and merchandise and started looting it. Five hundred troopers were brought in to get the things under control. Many blame this incident for the death of rock music.

5. Station nightclub fire - 100 deaths

Attendance - 462

Date - February 20, 2003

This is the worst incident when music concerts turned deadly. It occurred during a concert by the band Great White at Station nightclub in West Warwick, Rhode Island, United States. The fire was caused by pyrotechnics set off by the tour manager Daniel Michael Biechele. The smoke, heat, and the resulting human rush toward the main exit resulted in the death of 100 people including guitarist Ty Longley and 230 injured. The tour manager was sentenced to four years in prison which was thought to be lenient by the families of the dead.

Leave a Reply