Roadies disrespects those who died at The Who concert in Cincinnati

On December 3, 1979,  The Who Played a concert at  Cincinnati with unassigned seating. Only 2 doors were opened and  18,348 people tried to rush inside to get good seats. Eleven people were trampled to death. In one episode, Roadies used the deaths of these 11 people as a cheap plot device.  In the show, someone utters the word “Cincinnati” and the roadies are worried about a curse.

To remove the “Cincinnati curse” the tour bus has to drive 100 miles and find 11 eggs and 11 balloons. The curse would be removed once the eggs were smashed and the balloons released.  The focus of the show was on the antics of the roadies as they searched for the eggs and balloons. This is extremely disrespectful to the families of the 11 people who died just trying to watch a concert.  Smashing 11 eggs and releasing balloons does not remove the hurt from these tragic and completely avoidable deaths.

Police remove bodies of the 11 people crushed in Cincinnati on Dec. 3, 1079

EMT workers remove bodies of the 11 people crushed in Cincinnati on Dec. 3, 1979

We at East Coast Stories would like to remind the writers of Roadies of the names of the people who died at The Who concert in Cincinnati on December 3, 1979.  They were crushed people, not eggs. Here is the list of names:

    • Teva Ladd
    • Walter Adams
    • James Warmoth
    • Phillip Snyder
    • David Heck
    • Stephen Preston
    • Peter Bowes
    • Connie Burns
    • Bryan Wagner
    • Karen Morrison
  • Jacqueline Eckerle
Police cover dead body at The Who Cincinnati concert

Police cover dead body at The Who Cincinnati concert

After this tragedy the Cincinnati town council outlawed open seating concerts to prevent another stampede from ever happening. However, after a few decades had passed and people began to forget, the law in Cincinnati was changed. Open seating at major concerts and events is once again legal in Cincinnati.

The Who Cincinnati concert pictures of the dead

The Who Cincinnati concert pictures of the dead

The city was afraid the law would reduce the number of concerts and therefore lower tax revenue.  Stadium owners say that “things have changed” and a deadly stampede at an open seating event could never happen again. Don’t believe it. It is just a matter of time until the tragedy is repeated.

Newspaper headline the day after The Who Cincinnati concert

Newspaper headline the day after The Who Cincinnati concert

Roadies on Showtime was  directed by Cameron Crowe, who made the wonderful film Almost Famous. Unfortunately,  Roadies just did not have the magic that made Almost Famous great.  The plots seemed forced and the characters came across as caricatures rather than  than real people.

Roadies smash eggs to get rid of the Cincinnati Curse

Roadies smash eggs to get rid of the Cincinnati Curse

Roadies, of course, is the nickname for all the laborers and technicians that work behind the scenes to make a rock tour happen. A good show about them could be very interesting, and we were looking forward to Roadies. However, it has so many problems we actually need to list them:

  • The band is not interesting – It even has a boring name. (The “Staton-House Band”). The term “house band” is usually a derogatory term used for the third rate  bands that play background music  in bars. Sort of like the “house wine” that you should avoid drinking.  We know that Roadies is supposed to be about the back-up people, but for the audience to care about them they have to also care about the band they are working for.  We can’t imagine anyone wanting to go see a show by the Station House Band. (Note to  to the hyper-“Roadies” fans who continue to to berserk about our post; yes we do know that the band name is supposed to be a combination of the last names of the key members of the band. That does not make the band any less dull.)
The WKRP In Cincinnati show tastefully discussed The Who Concert tragedy

The WKRP In Cincinnati show tastefully discussed The Who Concert tragedy

  • The Roadies are all pretentious jerks acting like they are cooler than anyone else. In Almost Famous the plot line was that  the the boy following the band was not cool and he knew it . He felt intoxicated just by being in the presence of the performers who were totally cool without even trying. The Roadies have the opposite problem. They think they are cool but are not even close to being so. Being someone who makes coffee for a musician does not make you cool. You are still just a high school drop-out who makes coffee.
  • The show can’t decide on a character to follow – In going for multiple plot lines, Roadies has not given us enough backstory on any one of the characters for the audience to care about them.  Imogen Poots plays Kelly Ann, who has the opportunity to move on to better educational and job opportunities but decides instead to remain as a low level back stage worker. What the show never answers satisfactorily is “why”?
  • Very little music is played. We hear a few snippets of famous songs and nothing of what the Staton-House Band plays. Characters talk a lot about how much they love the music. And talk and talk and talk. It would be much better if Roadies actually let us hear the music and watch their expressions.
The Who

The Who

At least after this one episode,  Roadies  did not resort to any more offensive tricks like trying to get ratings by bringing up the memory of the 11 people crushed at The Who concert. We were afraid they might stoop even lower by , having the tour bus cursed since someone mentions 9/11 or the World Trade Center.

Eyewitness account of the stampede at the Who Concert in Cincinnati

Eyewitness account of the stampede at the Who Concert in Cincinnati

The Roadies writers were never able to step up their game.  When the show was on the air, we wrote a number of posts with suggestions of plots that might have made Roadies a success. However, the show continued on its long dull trip and finally just fizzled out.

Luis Guzman as Gooch on Roadies, explains the Cincinnati Curse

Luis Guzman as Gooch on Roadies, explains the Cincinnati Curse

  • Editor’s Note –  Roadies was cancelled at the end of Season 1 after lackluster ratings. However, people continue to be interested in reading about The Who concert tragedy in Cincinnati.  This continues to be one of our most read most read posts. We get messages from people from  all over the world who  never knew about the tragedy and who feel for those killed and injured in the event. Thank you for your good wishes. Unfortunately, we also continue to get hate emails from fans who liked the show Roadies, and blame our series of posts in East Coast Stories for having gotten it cancelled. To those people we can only say, remember that Roadies was after all just a T.V. show, while the people who died at The Who concert in Cincinnati were real.
A security guard and an unidentified man look at an area where several people were killed

A security guard and an unidentified man look at an area where several people were killed as they were caught in a surging crowd entering Cincinnati’s Riverfront Coliseum for a Who concert on Monday. Shoes and clothes were strewn around the area where the people were killed and injured, shown Dec. 4, 1979. (AP Photo/Brian Horton)

Unlike Roadies, WKRP treated The Who Concert tragedy with respect

Unlike Roadies, WKRP treated The Who Concert tragedy with respect

20 thoughts on “Roadies disrespects those who died at The Who concert in Cincinnati

  1. Dear Readers – We admit that the speech by veteran character actor Luis Guzman (the bus driver “Gooch”) was good. In fact Luis Guzman gives a great performance whatever role he appears in. The problem with the episode, however, is that except for Gooch, the rest of the characters don’t really seem to care about the people who died in Cincinnati. They only care about how mentioning the “C Word” might bring on a curse on themselves.

  2. I didn’t know what tragic event they were even referring to so I looked it up. Now I know about what happened in 1979 at The Who concert, when I did not before. I think it broadens awareness…like you did by posting the names of the victims. Also, in each episode, it seems there’s at least one amazing performance/snippet by a real musician. That new song Reignwolf played gave me chills! I absolutely love how they incorporate real music and bands. Maybe the show seems pedestrian to music experts, but for the average person, it’s pretty great.

  3. I didn’t feel like the show disrespected those that lost their lives at The Who concert but rather that they paused to pay tribute to the situation. Although I do agree that the younger roadies seemed way more concerned about breaking the curse but then maybe that was done on purpose too to show the difference between a guy like Gooch who had been in the industry for longer and had probably been around when it happened vs a guy like Wes who was born in the 90s and has a superficial understanding of an incident like that. I thought the balloons drifting away was a beautiful scene and could also be interpreted as remembering those that died. As for the show not featuring enough music, I mean…it’s everywhere. The choice of songs in each episode is incredible.

  4. WKRP in Cinncinati did an episode on the tragedy. I guess you would have trashed them too. It’s a show for crying out loud. I wonder how many people leRned about the tragedy because of this episode.

  5. TM- The WKRP in Cincinnati episode was handled differently. The people at WKRP were shocked and deeply felt for the people who were killed. In Roadies, on the other hand (except for Gooch) the bus riders were more concerned about themselves. Their concern was how to get balloons and eggs to remove the imaginary “curse”.

  6. I agree that the show was disrespectful. I can’t believe that some people feel everyone should “just get over” the fact that people died just because it was a long time ago.

  7. I remember this in the news when I was 15. There was a woman who stated how she had bought her little girl white stockings and white shoes for the concert. When they got to their seats she noticed the stockings and shoes were covered in what she thought was mud. When she went to wipe it off she realized her daughter’s feet were soaked in blood. That news report has stuck with me all these years. Love the WKRP episode they did indeed honour those unfortunate people well.

  8. If you don’t understand why Kelly Ann stayed then you’ve either never worked backstage or it just wasn’t for you.

  9. First of all this not ment as an attack, just a free statement of my own humble opinion.
    Off course, as a critic, You have to view things critically, that’s already in the name 😉
    But it is one thing to see an episode open minded and a completely different thing to stamp a good idea (maybe gone a bit stray, I´ll admit) to the ground. The complete situation is a mirror of society itself : the younger ones are clearly not as concerned about the historical background, just take a step into ANY school and learn about it. This is definitely NOT ment disrespectful but more a quite realistic display of people.

    To the other points :

    -The band doesn’t matter at all in the series and could be ANY band, so it is more like an archetype and nothing more.

    – Quite true, but as the focus is on the roadcrew and their work should be worshipped by the series it is quite obvious they are portrayed a bit more glorious than reality.

    -This is only logical, because a crew of Roadies consists of so many people. And concerning Kelly Ann, it is so clearly hinted why she is staying that even I ,as an german not native english-speaker, understand it. And anyone who loves music and/or his job will be able to relate to this.

    -The small bits of music are all top-notch and absolutely sufficient. I dare to say more music would be too much, these small chunks are more like appetizers and work just fine.

    So, as the show is cancelled, there were clearly a lot of problems, but it seems to me that too many very good shows are cancelled to early when some odd or even stupid series are continued eternaly. Is that a sign of bad quality or of bad viewers?

    Best regards,

  10. Roadies totally disrespected the memories of the people who died. Roadies did it just so that the show could get some much needed ratings. (By the way it did not help since this dull dull series got cancelled anyway). Also, the previous person who commented is an idiot if he thinks there really is a “Cincinnati Curse”. I hate to break it to him, but there is no Sana Claus either.

  11. As a correction on the poor ouook this blog has upon the show, the band is called the “Staton-house Band” not because they’re a house band, but because the Lead singer, Toms last name is Staton and the backupsinger/lead guitarist, Christopher’s last name is house. And since they were the founders of the band, they named the band after themselves. As for “The Who” based episode, if the crew was disrespecting the victims of the tragedy, they would of flight against it. As gooch said, they turn it over into a blessing. Rather than venturing to the graves of the victims or bringing the Burden back up to the victim’s families, they had their own memorial for the victims. Not only to break a cursed tour, but to remember the music lovers that tragically lost their lives. It was a great plot and a beautiful tho g and a big positive about out to the families to let them know that Rock&Roll has not forgotten about their fallen lived one’s.

  12. I don’t think it was disrespectful. I did not know about the tragedy and I googled it to see if true. For me It memorialize them it made me aware of them they should be remembered. Those people now have a special place in my heart they are alive alive in my heart. Even though the show isn’t that great I’d like to watch it and I thought they handled the Cincinnati tragedy well.

  13. My brother, Peter Bowes, was one of the eleven. I didn’t watch this show religiously, but saw the episode and didn’t find it disrespectful at all. I always said I was jealous of him because he made the cover of Rolling Stone. It always helps to find a little humor in the worst of situations and doesn’t equate to disrespect. WKRP in Cincinnati still did it the best tho.

  14. I’m thinking that the point was missed. They created a curse to tell the story about the loss of people who LOVED the music. The entire theme of the series is that you find “YOUR “band and love their music. And although there are plenty of people who work in the industry and may not like the music of their employer, I assure you that if they love the music of the tour they’re on they will take the job more seriously and feel a part of it. Feeling partly responsible for the quality of the performance. The characters are amalgams of many people. I believe the eggs were symbolic of those lost ,something fragile is used to convey it and the balloons represent the spirits of those lost. The whole thing is an homage to those lost with a slightly derogatory poke at Cincinnati for not making the venue safer before the incident. I was at the concert of The Who that immediately followed several were cancelled and the next was the Philadelphia Spectrum with general admission and it was very similar I was about 10 feet in front of Entwistle and the crowd surge was crushing people I weighed 215 pounds at 6’1” and the crowd was so tight that it lifted me off my feet. I left the floor and watched the rest of the show from the upper stairs. Bottom line the show attempts to capture the sentiment and reverence of those who work in the industry. I think that you may have missed the point of the whole show.

  15. I was at the concert the night of the tragedy. The crowd outside was densely packed, and while my friend and I were waiting to get in, there was a girl in front of me who was actually being carried by the crowd so much so that her feet were not even touching the ground. The other tragedy about that night was that I did not even know about it. The first I found out about it was when I got home, and my girlfriend came rushing out yelling “Thank God you’re alive!!”

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