Music Industry

The Worst Disasters in Concert History

The horrible attack on defenseless concertgoers in Manchester Monday night will go down in history as one of the worst music event disasters. Sadly, there have been plenty of them already.

1. Boston Cocoanut Grove Fire, November 28, 1942 (492 deaths)

Some decor–possibly some fake palm trees–were accidentally set alight by a busboy as he attempted to replace a missing lightbulb. People were trapped inside because the only entrance/exit was a single revolving door.


2. Cromañón Rock Club Fire, December 30, 2004 (194)

More than 3,000 people were crammed into a spaced designed for a third of that. Several doors (including emergency exits) were blocked off to keep people from sneaking in and skipping out.


3. Great White Fire, February 20, 2003 (100 deaths, 230 injuries)

A pyro-gone-wrong incident at The Station nightclub in Warwick, Rhode Island, led to acoustic foam catching on fire, which led to the destruction of the building.


4. Santika Nightclub Fire, January 1, 2009 (100 deaths)

A New Year’s party ended in an inferno, probably caused by fireworks. Incredibly, a band called Burn was onstage at the time. Exits were welded shut to keep people from skipping out on their bills.


5. Bataclan Attack, November 13, 2015 (89 deaths)

Around 9:30 that night, just as the Eagles of Death Metal were getting into their set, three jihadists opened fire on the crowd in a killing spree that lasted 20 minutes.


6, Nyamiha Stampede, May 30, 1999 (53 deaths)

A sudden thunderstorm forced thousands of young people to see shelter in the underpass leading to the metro station. Many slipped on the wet floor and fell while others toppled on top of them.


7. Love Parade, July 25, 2010 (19 dead)

The annual parade in Duisberg, Germany, was beset by a panic in a tunnel leading to the festival. It became clogged with bodies as people tried to make their way in.


8. Tushino Suicide Bombing, July 5, 2003 (15 dead, 60 injured)

Two Chechen women blew themselves up within 15 minutes of each other outside the Krylya Festival.


9. Cincinnati Stampede, December 3, 1979 (11 deaths, 26 injuries)

A stampede towards the still-locked doors of Riverfront Coliseum saw people crushed and suffocated.


10. Mawazine Festival, May 23, 2009 (11 deaths)

The festival in Rabat was supposed to show that Morocco was a modern nation capable of holding large pop culture events. On the final night, eleven people were crushed to death.


11. Roskilde Accident, June 30, 2000 (9 deaths, 26 injuries)

As Pearl Jam played their set, a crush developed at the front of the stage. Because of recent rain, the grounds were muddy, contributing to more people sliding into the crush down the incline towards the stage.


12. Sugarland Stage Collapse, August 13, 2011 (7 deaths, 58 injured)

A sudden thunderstorm swept through the Indiana State Fair, causing the stage to collapse between opening act Sara Bareilles and headliner Sugarland.



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.

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2 thoughts on “The Worst Disasters in Concert History

  • Curious how most of these are in the last 20 years.

  • “On 18 January 1991, three fans were crushed at a show in Salt Lake City when they fell to the floor during the concert and were stepped on by other concertgoers; however, the show two days later was played as planned. The incident is a sore spot for AC/DC guitarist Malcolm Young, according to their VH1 Behind The Music special in which they say he refuses to talk about it to this day.[citation needed]”
    – Wikipedia

    I thought those fans died but maybe I was wrong. Just like The Who in Cincinnati, ’79 this show was festival seating and resulted in indoor venues worldwide rethinking that policy (correct me if I am wrong).


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