Roadie killed, three injured in stage collapse
Radiohead’s drum tech Scott Johnson was killed and three others injured when a stage collapsed hours before the band played in Canada.
Witnesses say the structure “caved in on itself” leaving Johnson, 33, crushed underneath. A 45-year-old suffered a head wound and two others sustained minor injuries.
The tragedy took place a week after ZZ Top refused to play a show saying there was a risk of a stage collapse – although that statement has been questioned by event organisers.
Radiohead crew were setting the stage at Downsview Park, Toronto, when the structure fell in. Around 1000 people were in the 35,000-capacity open-air arena.
Toronto Police spokesman Tonny Vella reported: “They were setting up when the top portion collapsed on top of them. Four people were hurt. The remainder, when they heard the stage coming down, ran from the area.”
Witness Dusty Lalas said: “There was a loud crash. It sounded like sheet metal and lightning, and we just saw the stage collapse.”
Downsview Park was evacuated immediately after the incident and Radiohead’s concert, the last in their current North American tour, was cancelled. Officials are continuing their investigation.
Johnson’s drum teacher, Ian West, told the BBC: “He was a great student and a great drummer. The list of bands he worked with was endless.”
The tragedy follows a series of similar incidents during last year’s summer festival season.
Cheap Trick barely escaped with their lives when a structure was blown down by a sudden violent storm at Ottawa’s Bluesfest. The band’s driver sustained a broken pelvis.
The following month, seven people died at the Indiana State Fair, with dozens seriously injured. Just a week later five were killed and hundreds wounded in a storm at Belgium’s Pukkelpop festival.
Last weekend ZZ Top refused to play a show in Atmore, Alabama. The band said: “We’re definitely from the ‘show must go on’ school but we had to draw the line this time when we found numerous hazards present at the venue. There was significant risk of a potential stage collapse.”
But organisers have since accused them of pulling the gig because their own crew had failed to protect their stage gear from potential rainfall.
A spokesman tells the Brewton Standard: “The band brought up safety concerns only after they saw their equipment would be exposed to the elements. Preparing for all kinds of weather is something other bands have dealt with professionally and with no negative effect on the audience.”