Remembering The 1979 Cincinnati Who Concert

From our Small (Media) World desk:

In the wake of the hardworking staff’s Classic Cincinnati Concerts walk down Memory Lane comes this Wall Street Journal feature:

The Taming of the Fans

Tired of taking hits to their reputations and bottom lines, rockers with rowdy fan bases are making new moves to control their crowds.

Among the examples of Bad Trips the Journal chronicled is the 1979 Who concert in Cincinnati, at which “11 fans are crushed to death when a crowd rushes the entrance.”

Helpful image:

Paging Steve Stein. Paging Mr. Steve Stein.

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4 Responses to Remembering The 1979 Cincinnati Who Concert

  1. Steve Stein says:

    The show was “General Admission” – no assigned seats – so if you wanted a good spot, you needed to show up early. I was part of a group of 10 or so (including my friend’s 8-year-old son), and a couple of us left our jobs in Dayton early and arrived in mid-afternoon to claim a spot “in line” for the group.

    As it turned out, there was no real “line”. There was an area between the Coliseum and Riverfront Stadium – a concrete concourse about the size of a football field, raised up about 20 feet above the street, rimmed by 3-foot concrete walls. When we arrived, there was already a crowd waiting in front of the doors. We joined the crowd, about 20-30 yards back.

    It was an early December afternoon, not bitterly cold, but cool and cloudy. Many in the crowd had brought liquid refreshment to steel themselves against the elements. Other intoxicants were also in evidence, it being the fashion among some youth to see how many uppers and downers and alcohol they could consume and still remain upright. It was a rowdy crowd, too – lots of whooping and hollering.

    By a little after 6, the rest of our party had arrived and joined in the crowd, which had by then gotten quite large. As it got later, the space on the concourse got increasingly tight and people towards the back were pushing in closer. It got to the point where everyone was jammed in, and the crowd would ripple back and forth and you just had to go with it. We formed a ring around the boy to insulate him from the crush, but that soon became futile. So we decided to give up our “spot” and our chance for good seats, and made our way back out of the crowd.

    We finally got in and got seats in the back – first row balcony. There was no indication at the time that any tragedy had occurred – apparently if you weren’t close to the one set of doors where the people were trampled, you didn’t see anything untoward. And all the people who did see the incidents were all up front, so word of mouth didn’t filter back.

    The show? It was a Who show – wonderful music, a little tamer and less spontaneous than 10 years earlier owing to the absence of Moon, but great music nonetheless. We thought it odd that they didn’t play a second encore. It was only after we got out, walking back to our cars, when we saw people sobbing on the streets, that we learned what had transpired.

  2. Linda Hurwood says:

    I was there that night and can still remember the crush of the crow. I was separated from my group and several times my feet left the ground and came down on what felt like an upside down hair brush. I don’t really want to know if it was some poor soul’s body that I stood upon. It was one of the worst nights of my life that I can remember.

    It wasn’t until we got home that we knew what had happened that night. I remember feeling so sickened by the whole thing and still have trouble being in large crowds of people for fear of something bad happening.

    My husband is going to a concert on Tuesday the 29th of November 2011 and somewhere deep inside I am feeling a bit anxious about it, though I am sure he will be fine.

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