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Music History Events: Tragedies

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November 5, 2021 Ten fans are killed and hundreds injured during Travis Scott's performance at his Astroworld Festival in Houston, Texas, when the crowd of 50,000 surges toward the stage, crushing the victims.More

October 1, 2017 During Jason Aldean's headlining set at the Route 91 Harvest festival on the Las Vegas strip, a gunman opens fire from his suite at the nearby Mandalay Bay hotel, killing 58 and injuring over 500 in the deadliest mass shooting in US history.More

May 22, 2017 Minutes after an Ariana Grande concert ends at the Manchester Arena in England, a suicide bomber detonates a device, killing 22 and injuring at least 60 others in an act of terrorism.More

June 11, 2016 22-year-old Christina Grimmie, known for placing third on Season 6 of The Voice, is killed when gunman Kevin James Loibl opens fire at a meet-and-greet at The Plaza Live theater in Orlando, Florida. The singer's brother, Marcus Grimmie, tackles Loibl, who fatally shoots himself during the scuffle.

November 13, 2015 The blues-rock band Eagles of Death Metal are in the midst of performing their song "Kiss the Devil" at a sold-out show at Le Bataclan in Paris, France, when the venue is attacked by terrorists armed with automatic rifles, grenades and explosive suicide vests - one of many attacks throughout the city.More

April 20, 2013 Five days after three people were killed in bombings at the Boston Marathon, Neil Diamond makes a surprise appearance at Fenway Park, where he performs "Sweet Caroline" at the Red Sox game against the Kansas City Royals.

August 29, 2005 Hurricane Katrina pounds New Orleans. One of the victims is Barry Cowsill of The Cowsills, who dies by drowning at age 50. Fats Domino, 77, survives after he is rescued from his home in the Ninth Ward.

December 8, 2004 Dimebag Darrell is shot dead on stage while performing with his band Damageplan at Alrosa Villa in Columbus, Ohio. The murderer, Nathan Gale, kills three others before being shot dead by a police officer.More

February 20, 2003 A fire breaks out at a Great White concert in Rhode Island, killing 100 people, including the band's guitarist, Ty Longley.More

September 11, 2001 Most radio stations simulcast news after terrorists attacks in America bring down the World Trade Center. Music proves vital when the healing begins.More

June 30, 2000 During a Pearl Jam concert at Denmark's Roskilde Festival, nine people are crushed to death as the crowd rushes the stage. Several people fall and can't get up, and in addition, crowdsurfers are falling into the open area. Pearl Jam stops the show and asks people to back up, but it is too late. Investigations conclude that the events were an accident, and many European venues ban crowdsurfing. The Pearl Jam song "Love Boat Captain" refers to the events with the line "Lost nine friends we'll never know... two years ago today."

March 20, 1991 Eric Clapton's 4-year-old son, Conor, dies after falling out of a window at his mother's apartment. Clapton later writes "Tears In Heaven" about Conor.

August 20, 1988 At the Monsters Of Rock festival at Castle Donington, England, two fans are killed during a set by Guns N' Roses, whose frontman Axl Rose had implored the crowd, "Don't f--kin' kill each other." With the ground wet and a record crowd of 107,000 at the festival, the surge of bodies during the set causes the two fans to be trampled or crushed to death.More

January 28, 1986 The Space Shuttle Challenger explodes shortly after liftoff, killing the seven crew members on board. The disaster inspires a lyric in the Prince song "Sign O' the Times": Silly, no? When a rocket ship explodes and everybody still wants to fly.

April 17, 1982 Denison University freshman Laura Carter is killed when a bullet from a gunfight a block away strikes her in the chest while she is riding in a car with her parents. Christopher Cross, who is dating her best friend, writes "Think Of Laura" in her honor.

December 3, 1979 Before The Who concert at Riverfront Coliseum in Cincinnati, 11 people are trampled to death and dozens are injured in a rush to enter the arena. Like many concerts of the day, there are no reserved seats, a practice known as "festival seating." The resulting controversy (and lawsuits) force promoters to rethink the practice.More

January 29, 1979 16-year-old Brenda Spencer opens fire on Cleveland Elementary School in San Diego, California, from her home across the street, killing two adults and injuring nine kids. When asked why she did it, she replies, "I don't like Mondays," which the Boomtown Rats use as the title for a song about the incident.

October 20, 1977 Lynyrd Skynyrd members Ronnie Van Zant and Steve Gaines die in a plane crash in Mississippi. Gaines' sister Cassie, a backup singer with the group, is also killed along with two pilots and the band's manager. Other members of the group are badly injured.More

January 30, 1972 British soldiers open fire on 26 unarmed civilians during a peaceful protest march in Derry, Northern Ireland, resulting in 14 deaths. The incident inspires Paul McCartney to write "Give Ireland Back To The Irish" (Wings' debut single) and gives rise to the U2 song "Sunday Bloody Sunday."

May 4, 1970 Later memorialized in the Neil Young song "Ohio," the United States National Guard fires on protesters at Kent State University in Ohio, killing four students, two of whom weren't even protesting. This shameful event in American history leads to the formation of Devo, as Mark Mothersbaugh and Jerry Casale are both on campus and horrified by the events.More

December 6, 1969 The Rolling Stones headline the Altamont concert at a speedway in California. It's a free event with Jefferson Airplane and Santana also on the bill, but it turns violent when the Hells Angels motorcycle gang, who are hired as security, kill a crowd member. The concert is documented in The Stones movie Gimme Shelter.More

June 5, 1968 Senator Robert Kennedy is shot three times while exiting through a kitchen at a hotel where he delivered a speech after winning the Democratic nomination for president of the United States. This event prompts David Crosby to write "Long Time Gone" and The Rolling Stones to insert the lyrics, "Who killed the Kennedys?" to their new song "Sympathy For The Devil."

April 4, 1968 US civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. is killed after being shot on a Memphis motel balcony. King's life inspires a number of songs, including U2's "Pride (In The Name Of Love)."More

November 22, 1963 US president John F. Kennedy is assassinated in Dallas, Texas. The incident inspires several songs, including Connie Francis' "In The Summer Of His Years" and The Beach Boys' "Warmth Of The Sun."

August 13, 2011 At the Indiana State Fair, tragedy strikes before a Sugarland performance when a gust of high wind blows off rigging, causing the stage to collapse on the crowd, killing five attendees and injuring dozens more. Janet Jackson and Lady Antebellum, both of whom were scheduled to perform, cancel their appearances.

May 24, 2010 At a Lamb of God concert in Prague, lead singer Randy Blythe pushes an encroaching fan off the stage. The man falls backward, hits his head, and dies two weeks later from the injury. Blythe doesn't know that the fan is seriously injured, and isn't aware of it when Czech authorities issue a warrant for his arrest. When the band returns to play a show in 2012, police detain Blythe and hold him in prison for five weeks. He later stands trail and is cleared of the charges.

July 8, 1997 Weezer fan club founders Mykel Allan, 31, and her sister Carli, 29, are killed along with their younger sister, Trysta, in a car accident in Colorado on the way back from one of the band's shows. The girls, who had befriended many up-and-coming Los Angeles-based bands, are honored through many tribute songs, including Weezer's "Mykel and Carli" and Jimmy Eat World's "Hear You Me."

December 21, 1988 Paul Avron Jeffreys (bassist for Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel) is killed en-route to his honeymoon when he and his wife, Rachel, become victims of the Lockerbie terrorist bombing (of Pan Am Flight 103). He was 36. The Four Tops were also slated to be onboard the plane but overslept after a late-night recording session.

November 10, 1975 The SS Edmund Fitzgerald sinks suddenly in Lake Superior during a storm, killing all 29 men aboard and inspiring Canadian folkie Gordon Lightfoot to write a song about the tragedy, "Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald."

April 22, 1962 Jerry Lee Lewis loses his first son, Steve Allen (named after the TV host and good friend), in a tragic drowning accident at the age of three.

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