The Who Cincinnati Concert Tragedy

On December 3rd, 1979, 18,500 fans had gathered outside the Coliseum in Cincinnati for a much anticipated concert by The Who. The show was general admission, which meant the best seats were up for grabs. The festive and energetic pre-show gathering outside the venue soon turned to tragedy.

A few hours before the show, a large crowd had already gathered at the front of the arena. Entry to the arena was limited to a few doors, which weren’t opened at the scheduled time, causing agitation and hostility amongst the crowd. A pair of doors were finally opened at the far right of the main entrance. As the crowd entered through those two doors, those waiting at the other doors began pushing forward, but soon realized that the only way in would be through the doors on the right. Everyone surged and pushed toward those only two open doors, resulting in the deaths of eleven people who were unable to escape the wave of people pushing toward them. Twenty-six other people suffered injuries.

Unwilling to risk a riot, authorities allowed the show to continue and the band was not told of the deaths until they finished the concert.

A First Hand Remembrance

Rolling Stone report – Rock & Roll Tragedy: Why 11 Died at The Who’s Cincinnati Concert