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Radiohead performs in Toronto for the first time since a stage collapse killed a member of their road crew

At around 4 in the afternoon on Saturday, June 16, 2012, something terrible happened at Downsview Park in Toronto. A part of the stage constructed for that night’s Radiohead show gave way, plummetting to the ground and killing drum tech Scott Johnson.

He was killed by a video monitor that weighed 2,270 kg. He was 33. Three other members of the crew were hurt.

What followed was a farcical train of investigations, lawsuits, countersuits, charges, trials and, in the end, a mistrial that left everything unresolved.  An inquest is being planned, but no date has been set. (Here’s my story on the fiasco.)

Radiohead hasn’t been back to Toronto since. Until now.

The band has two shows for the Scotiabank Arena (né The ACC) tonight and tomorrow. Imagine how they’ll feel setting foot in the city and the province that has so far denied them and, more importantly, the family of Scott Johnson any kind of justice.

The Toronto Star has this story.

“I’ve had a message from some of the crew and I don’t think that they’re looking forward to being there, you know?” Scott Johnson’s father, Ken, sighed from the home he shares with his wife, Sue, in the English village of Hickleton, South Yorkshire, this week. “The band has got to go through the motions this week. They’re going to be in Toronto, they’re going to be performing, and the crew and the band, I think, they witnessed things that we’ve not witnessed, so it’s not going to be pleasant for them. They did invite us out, but I have to come out for the inquest and I can’t really be going backwards and forwards across to Toronto. As much as I might enjoy to see the band, I also sort of try to take a bit more of a back seat.”

He had nothing but praise for the band’s support over the years since his son’s death.

“They were Scott’s friends, really, and not ours. But, to be quite honest, they’ve been like family,” Johnson says.

“Radiohead have been excellent. They really have been incredibly supportive. It’s above and beyond the call. They’ve been there if I needed it and I know that they’re there and, for me, I’ve probably found some new friends in them. … But they’ve been smashing, really. So I’m hoping, for them, that the Toronto shows will, perhaps, draw a line.”

Keep reading.

Drummer Phil Selway appeared on the BBC from Toronto.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 37434 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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