Music festivals are amazing events where diverse artists come together to put on an exhilarating show.  Sometimes reaching 180,000 attendees, music festivals have become an entirely new wave of entertainment featuring thousand-person yoga classes, carnival rides, entrancing visuals, and fire effects aside from the incredible performances. As awesome as music festivals are, there have been many that haven’t ran as smoothly as planned. Check out some funny accidents and awful catastrophes throughout the history of music festivals.   

The Good

Alice Cooper Makes the Crowd Go Wild

At the Toronto Rock and Roll Revival concert in 1969, a fan threw a live chicken on stage at hard rock artist Alice Cooper.  Cooper, believing the chicken would fly, threw it back into the crowd where fans ferociously tore it apart. Among the feathers flying and torn off head, some blood was reportedly ingested. That must have been a badass concert. No wonder Cooper is credited as the first artist to introduce horror imagery to rock n roll.

Ozzy Osbourne Crowns Himself Prince of Darkness

We got a glimpse of just how crazy Ozzy Osbourne is during his MTV show “The Osbournes,” but throwing a rotten ham at neighbors and scratching your ass has nothing on what Ozzy did during his Black Sabbath concert in 1982. Ozzy Osbourne threw pig intestines and cow livers into the audience.  He also bit the head off a live bat and had to be rushed to the hospital after the show for rabies shots. It’s safe to say he’s batshit crazy,

All Around Madness


You can’t forget the infamous Milli Vanilli show of 1989 when lip syncing became a scandal or the 1999 concert when Axl Rose beat up a fan.  In 1992 at the Guns N Roses/ Metallica tour, James Hetfield of Metallica caught on fire when a pyrotechnic exploded.  David Bowie was almost blinded by a lollipop at a 2004 concert in Norway.   And Fergie Ferg had a wet accident at a 2005 concert in San Diego.

Unexpected Raunch

We all saw the Superbowl XXXVIII Halftime Show with Janet Jackson’s “accidental” boob flash with Justin Timberlake.  And if you didn’t watch the 2003 VMAs, you certainly saw the video on Youtube of Britney Spears, Madonna, and Christina Aguilera’s equally hot and disgusting lesbian kiss.


The Bad

Hells Angels Bring a Hellish Mess


In 1969, The Rolling Stones hired Hells Angels for security at the Altamont Music Festival in northern California.  The crowd of 400,000 festival attendees became intoxicated and unpredictable as by the second day of the festival. Members of the crowded started fighting and throwing things. Eventually someone assaulted a Hells Angels member and things went downhill from there. The Hells Angels, who were paid in beer throughout the concert, armed themselves with sawn off pool cues and motorcycle chains, and retaliated (or maybe “protected” themselves) against the crowd. In the end four people died, a few were killed in car accidents, one person drowned in a drainage ditch, and 18-year-old Meredith Hunter was stabbed multiple times and kicked to death on film during the Rolling Stones set right in front of the Hells Angels.  Never in music festival history has there been so much negligence by security.


Mud Madness

At the Glastonbury Festival in 2005 at Worth Farm, there were flash floods and the entire festival became submerged in mud. Some areas were under four feet of muddy water. It sucked for campers, but people didn’t let the mud affect their good time. Interestingly enough, it was named one of the safest festivals ever by the Mendip District Council. Glastonbury 2005 would have been a good time to have girls bikinis for mud wrestling fights.

Quiet Before the Storm

The 2009 Big Valley Jamboree in Canada left one dead and many injured after a huge wind storm hit and collapsed the main stage. Strong winds and heavy rain pelted the four-day festival.  Jessie Farrell, a Vancouver-based country singer reported that “it felt like bombs were going off around us in this concrete and steel building. Huge hits of power hitting the building, and then the lights were off.”


The Ugly

Highly Publicized Suicide Near Stage

At Pukkelpop Festival in Belgium in 2010, 22-year-old Charles Haddon, lead singer of Ou Est Le Swimming Pool, climbed up a telecommunications satellite mast and jumped to his death after playing in front of a sold-out crowd of nearly 180,000.


What No One Could Expect

The Who

Now the worst of the worst; in 1979 at The Who concert in Ohio, sound check started before doors had opened, so the audience rushed the closed doors and 11 fans were killed by compressive asphyxia.  They were essentially crushed.  First-come, first-serve seating was to blame, when 18,000 people pushed in line for over six hours before the show started.  For an hour, people were jammed up against glass doors, unable to move or breathe.  When more doors were opened, and only nine ticket takers were hired, more were pushed through the gates and injured.  The Who began their concert and were unaware of the ambulances arriving to attend to the 11 fans who died in the stampede or suffocated in the crowd.


Nothing Of Peace and Love

The 1999 remake of Woodstock had nothing to do with peace or love.  The Rome, NY concert had riots, unprecedented levels of rape, toxic amounts of bonfires,violence, overpriced food matched with three days of low water supply, 90 degree heat, and overflowing toilets. Proof that the 1969 Woodstock should never be replicated.


Breaking a Band

Roskilde Music Festival in Denmark in 2000, is the reason why crowd surfing is banned at concerts. Nine people were crushed to death and 43 were injured during Pearl Jam’s set. The band got on stage and the crowd became so forceful that some crowd surfers fell and were either trampled or suffocated.  This concert is responsible for the break up of Pearl Jam.


The Tunnel of Death

Love Parade In Duisburg

Perhaps the worst ever catastrophe occured in Duisburg, Germany at The Love Parade in 2010.  In what became known as the “Tunnel of Death” and later described as “a death dance,” the massive street celebration turned horribly wrong.  The festival’s move from Berlin to Duisburg led to tragedy where the new venue had a 250,000-person capacity, but more than one million expected parade-goers.  Entrance was granted at noon, and a  240-meter tunnel was intended to be the only entrance and exit point of the festival.

Due to overcrowding, late comers were told to leave and the side of the tunnel (the entry area) was closed, but people pushed forward to enter. A stampede erupted and over 500 people were injured and 21 died. Autopsies proved all fatalities were from crushed rib cages.  Fifteen people died on site, and the other six at the hospital. Police were blamed for crowd control, and many blamed Duisburg mayor, Adolf Sauerland.  The festival has been forever canceled.  It was a tremendous loss of a free access festival and parade that had nearly 20 successful years until its move to Duisburg.


Deadly Designer Drugs

In June 2011 at the Electric Daisy Carnival in Dallas, 30 people were rushed to the emergency room for drug, alcohol, and heat related illnesses.  Ten different rescue units were on scene and a 19 year old was pronounced dead.  The year before, at EDC in LA, a 15-year-old girl died of a suspected drug overdose at the festival, which was only open to adults 18 and older.  At the LA Coliseum, over 185,000 people attended, and 120 were transported to local hospitals.  After this event, raves were outlawed in California, and this year’s EDC was moved from LA to Vegas.

Even with all these terrible catastrophes, many of the accidents were preventable.  Better security, open venues, secure stages, drug screens, and more entrances/exits can ensure a safe and successful festival.  Nature may make things a bit difficult, and drugs might be uncontrollable at every festival, but good times can be had by all if crowd control was the major concern for safety. Festivals are more fun than not, so I say rock on.


Tags : DrinkingDrugsFestivalsMarijuanaMusic

The author Kathrina

Kathrina is an enthusiast of all-things college lifestyle. She's the expert!

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