Everyone enjoys rocking out, but sometimes you can rock so hard that you rock right into the grave. These 10 concert accidents are exactly the kind of thing our parents warned us about (along with sniffing glue). Nobody ever suffocated or got trampled to death listening to an iTunes playlist, so let these stories serve as cautionary tales. Here are our picks for the worst concert accidents of all time.
The Who – Riverfront Coliseum
In the 1970s, rock concerts became big business, with bands moving from intimate clubs to giant stadiums. Unfortunately, promoters didn’t really know how to handle it, and there were a number of tragedies. Probably the worst came in 1979 when the Who played Cincinnati’s Riverfront Coliseum. 18,500 people showed up, but seating was first-come, first-served, resulting in a tremendous rush of people toward the front of the entrance. The amassed crowd, waiting outside in the cold, heard the band tuning up and thought that the show had started. They stampeded through the doors and 11 young fans were crushed to death.
Callejeros – Cromanon, Argentina
The largest body count of any concert disaster in history happened in Argentina in 2004, at a show for popular rock band Callejeros. The group was booked to play the Republica Cromagnon club, which massively oversold the event. To prevent people from sneaking in, the fire exits were locked. Unfortunately, a stray flare set the building’s roof on fire, bringing the whole club down in a hideous inferno that claimed 194 lives. The members of the band were put on trial and sentenced to 11 years in prison each.
Love Parade (music festival) - Duisburg, Germany
We learned from Woodstock 1999 that music festivals are ripe opportunities for carnage, but the 2010 Love Parade took things to a whole new level. The annual electronic music blissfest became a chamber of horrors when the organizers decided to make just one entrance and exit point for the whole thing, despite expecting over a million people. And to make matters worse, they put it in a tunnel. Naturally, this created a disastrous bottleneck when people couldn’t be admitted fast enough, and despite announcements telling people to turn around and leave, more and more frenzied ravers crammed in, resulting in the crushing deaths of 21 people and more than 500 others being injured.
David Cassidy - White City
It’s not just dangerous adult rock music that gets people killed; even the most washed-out teen idol can drive a crowd into a murderous frenzy if the situation is right. Take David Cassidy for example. The heartthrob of "The Partridge Family" was playing in London in 1974 at the White City nightclub. It was his last show on his final world tour, and the response was so overwhelming that hundreds of teenage girls rushed the stage, showing no concern for 14-year-old Bernadette Whelan, who had fallen down. She was trampled by the crowd, taken to the hospital comatose, and died a few days later.
Great White - Rhode Island
One of the most famous concert fires in American history happened at the Station nightclub in West Warwick, R.I. When a hair-metal band is past their prime, they either hang it up or go on the small-club circuit, and for Great White, it was the second option. Unfortunately, the band didn’t scale their show down for the smaller venue, and when pyrotechnics were used on the stage, they lit the club’s insulation on fire, killing 100 people and injuring 230 more. The entire place burned to the ground in minutes, horrifying onlookers.
Sugarland – Indiana State Fair
Mother Nature often makes her opinion felt at outdoor music festivals, so you can safely assume that she really hates country duo Sugarland. When the group took the stage at the Indiana State Fair in 2011, the fair had asked them to delay their show several times due to inclement weather. Sugarland’s management reportedly responded “It’s only rain,” and the show went on. Unfortunately, high winds caused the stage framework to collapse into the audience, nearly killing both band members and leading to the deaths of seven fans. There is video footage of the tragedy, and it’s horrifying.
A1 - Jakarta, Indonesia
Let’s get back to the teen-pop tip with a more recent accident that occurred courtesy of British boy band A1, who you probably haven't heard of. Bands like this get a lot of their fan exposure from doing in-store appearances at malls, and while A1 were on their Asian tour, they did a spot in Jakarta’s Taman Anggrek shopping center. About 1,500 fans showed up, and the mood of the crowd quickly turned sour as they were packed into a much-too-small space. The crowd's attempt to leave en masse quickly devolved into a stampede. Four girls tripped and were crushed to death underfoot.
Burn – Bangkok, Thailand
New Year’s Eve is almost always a recipe for disaster, and when unfortunately-named band Burn took the stage at Bangkok’s Santika nightclub, it kicked off a conflagration that would claim 100 lives. When the club caught fire, the assembled crowd headed to the emergency exits, only to find out that they’d been welded shut to keep people from skipping out on their bills. Throw in the fact that they only had one tiny fire extinguisher and you have a recipe for horrific carnage.
AC/DC – Brisbane
This one doesn’t have a body count, but we put it on the list because it features an injury so grisly that it makes our balls shrivel just thinking about it. At a show by legendary hard rockers AC/DC in Brisbane, Australia, an audience member in a wheelchair was banging his head as hard as he possibly could when his friend accidentally moshed into the chair controls. This sent him rocketing forward through the security barrier and drove the metal rod he used to control it with through his eye socket. Gnarly.
Next: 10 Strangest Unsolved American Mysteries
Rolling Stones - Altamont
In December 1969, the Altamont Speedway Free Festival was held, intended to be a West Coast answer to Woodstock, but instead it basically marked the end of the Summer of Love. The biggest mistake? Hiring the Hells Angels to run security. Sure, the legendary biker gang's members struck imposing figures, but they also inflamed an atmosphere of violence. Within minutes of Mick Jagger arriving by helicopter, he was punched in the face by a fan, and things just got worse from there. When the band was playing, a man named Meredith Hunter pulled a gun and was charged by an Angel who stabbed him in the back. Other carnage included a pregnant woman having her skull fractured with a beer bottle, two deaths in a hit-and-run car accident, and someone drowning in an irrigation canal.