I Can’t Explain

By: sonofabeach96

Dec 03 2015

Category: Uncategorized


On this date, in 1979, 11 people were killed while trying to enter a concert by The Who at Riverfront Coliseum in Cincinnati, OH.  The concert was sold out with 18,348 tickets sold, 14,770 of which were general admission (unassigned).  It was the 5th show of the US leg of The Who’s world tour.

The arena had one main entrance area at the front with a bank of individual doors and glass panels.  Hours before the show was to begin, a large crowd had already gathered at the front, with people crowding each door, jockeying for position to be first in.  As the scheduled time for the doors to be opened approached, the fans became more and more aggressive with people shoving and pushing forward.  When the doors didn’t open as scheduled, the crowd grew increasingly agitated, banging on the doors and glass panels between them.  Eventually, two doors near each other we’re opened, but as people realized no others were going to be unlocked, the crowd converged.  Many fans were knocked to the floor and trampled, with numerous injured, and 11 fans were trapped, killed by asphyxiation.  23 others were treated for serious injuries.

Unbelievably, the concert went off as scheduled.  The members of The Who were not even made aware of the tragedy until after the concert was complete.  Those killed were a 26 year-old, a 22 year-old, a 21 year-old, a 20 year-old, two 19 year-olds, two 18 year-olds, a 17 year-old, and two 15 year-olds.  Families of the victims sued the band, the concert promoter (ElectricFactory Concerts), and the city of Cincinnati.  Those suits were settled in 1983, with the families of those who died receiving $150,000 each and the 23 injured parties splitting $750,000 among them.  As a result of the tragedy, the city of Cincinnati placed a ban on unassigned seating concerts on December 27, 1979, a ban which stood for 25 years.  The city rescinded that ban in 2004, primarily in an effort to attract more large-scale shows.  No memorial was ever erected at the site, even though it was, at the time, the deadliest concert disaster in American history.  However, there were plans to put one in this year, but I’m unsure whether that happened.

My songs of the day are:

“The Real Me”

“Behind Blue Eyes”

“Love, Reign O’er Me”

“Going Mobile”

“I’m Free”


11 comments on “I Can’t Explain”

  1. OH! I remember this! Horrible!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Rescind the ban to attract more large-scale shows…do we never learn from the past?? Thanks for the remembrance.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Evidently not, but as many concerts as I’ve been to, and it’s a bunch, I’ve rarely seen general admission, with the exception of outdoor festivals. Large arenas with doors that funnel crowds into tight quarters though? Not since the ’80’s have I been to one with general admission.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I remember a large outdoor festival in Belgium back in the nineties where at the end of the last night, after a weekend of heavy rain, we all slogged through ankle-deep mud in the dark, funneled by high chainlink fencing, back to the campsites. I was terrified that I’d slip and fall and be trampled and drown in the mud. Really surprised nobody got hurt at that event (that I know of). It was quite scary. I can’t imagine what those poor people at that The Who concert must have felt as they died.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Terrible scene I’m sure. Like I said in a previous response to a comment, I’ve never had it happen at any concert or festival I’ve been to but it did happen to us at Mardi Gras once and it was a bit hairy for a second there.

      Liked by 2 people

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