The Who, the band that defined British rock in the 1970s, said this week that it would return to the Cincinnati area in April for its first concert there since 11 fans were crushed to death in a stampede at one of the group’s shows in 1979.
The new concert was announced on Tuesday by the Cincinnati television station WCPO, which interviewed two band members, Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey, for a documentary commemorating the tragedy’s 40th anniversary on Dec. 3.
As part of the group’s “Moving On! Tour,” the Who will perform on April 23 at BB&T Arena at Northern Kentucky University in Highland Heights, Ky., which is in the Cincinnati metropolitan area. The band will donate some proceeds from the concert to the P.E.M. Memorial Scholarship Fund, a Cincinnati group founded in 2010 in honor of three high school students who died at the 1979 concert.
[From The New York Times Magazine: Pete Townshend grapples with rock’s legacy and his own dark past.]
That 1979 performance by the Who was at Riverfront Coliseum, now called the Heritage Bank Center, as part of the band’s world tour, which had begun that September. It was a sold-out show, with the majority of the more than 18,000 tickets sold as unassigned or general-assignment seating. According to news reports at the time, the doors were expected to open at 7 p.m., and thousands of people outside grew restless when they heard members of The Who performing their sound check.
People at the back of the crowd pushed forward after a few doors were opened to let in the surging mass of concertgoers. Those in front were trapped, unable to escape the crush of bodies behind them. Along with the 11 who died, more than two dozen people reported injuries.
The band was not told about the deaths until after its performance. The next day, critics denounced general-assignment seating, saying it was to blame for the deaths. Soon after, Cincinnati imposed a ban on concerts with general-assignment seating. But the City Council lifted the restrictions in 2004 over concerns that performers were refusing to hold concerts there. (It made an exception for Bruce Springsteen in 2002.)
About 11,000 tickets will be sold at the concert in April; buyers will be assigned seating.
“You know, I’m still traumatized by it,” Mr. Townshend said in the WCPO documentary, “The Who: The Night That Changed Rock.” “It’s a weird thing to have in your autobiography that, you know, 11 kids died at one of your concerts. It’s a strange, disturbing, heavy load to carry.”
Mr. Daltrey said, “That dreadful night of the third of December became one of the worst dreams I’ve had in my life.”