Concerts are a wonderful place for fans to come together and enjoy some of their favorite bands. Setting up a concert doesn’t come easy. On top of the sound and props, optimal security needs to be set up. With so many people in one place, security needs to keep the fans and performers safe. Without top-notch event security, disaster can strike. Here are 3 concerts that ended in tragedy.
Altamont | 1969
Altamont was a free concert that didn’t have much planning involved. In fact, there wasn’t even a concrete venue until 4 days prior. The poor planning led to poor security as well. In a rush to secure a security detail, the biker group Hell’s Angels was asked to provide security in exchange for $500 worth the beer.
When an 18-year-old woman named Meredith Hunter was seen with a gun, Hell’s Angel Alan Passaro stabbed her to death. Mick Jagger was on stage during the murder, but he had no idea it happened until he watched the footage months later. Unfortunately, Meredith wasn’t the only casualty of Altamont. During the concert 3 other people died accidental deaths.
Roskilde Festival | 2000
A mob of Pearl Jam fans ended the lives on nine people in June of 2000. The festival included seven stages and 50,000 fans. The largest stage, the Orange Stage, is where Pearl Jam was set to play. As the band played, fans rushed to the front of the stage to form a mosh pit.
Mosh pits are large groups of people that basically mash their bodies together during rock and heavy metal music. Festivals tend to send 100 to 200 people to the hospital with mosh pit related injuries. About 10,000 people were hospitalized after being in a mosh pit in the span of a decade. While only nine mosh deaths were reported between 1994 and 2006, the Roskilde Festival doubled that number.
During Pearl Jam’s set, the moshing became dangerously aggressive. Too many people crowded the space making it impossible for people on the inside of the crowd to push their way out. Some fell during the set and were unable to get back up. As the crowd pushed in, the fallen were trampled to their death.
Pearl Jam had no way of knowing what was going on. They kept playing oblivious to what was going on in the crowd. It took security a while to gauge the severity of the situation. Once they did, Pearl Jam’s manager was alerted. He ran on stage, stopped Eddie Vedder mid-song, and told him what had happened. He managed to talk the crowd into stepping back several feet. Once they cleared the area, a pile of bodies was found not far from the stage. Eight people were presumed dead on the scene, and another died later on in the hospital.
The Who | 1979
The Who performed at the Cincinnati Riverfront Stadium in front of 18,000 concertgoers in 1979. Unfortunately, the number of officers needed for crowd control was drastically underestimated with only 25 on staff.
Before the show even started, the danger began. A stampede of anxious fans rushed into the stadium as the doors opened. While some people say it was a side effect of general seating, others believe it was because the fans thought the concert was starting when they heard The Who warming up. General seating is all sold at the same price, and the first people in get better seating. During the stampede, 11 people were knocked down, trampled, and died on the scene. The band members had no knowledge of the tragic events taking place right outside the doors as they warmed up for the show. The show went on as planned, and they were alerted afterwards.
Without proper security, a concert can be an extremely dangerous place. In all the excitement, people make poor decisions that can end the life of others. Standards suggest one security guard per 100 people for an indoor event. More should be added for outdoor events and concerts projected to be more rowdy. Having as many as possible will decrease the likelihood of injury or fatality. These three concerts should have been a fun event, but instead, innocent concertgoers lost their lives.