‘An insult’ – Radiohead and drum tech’s family speak out on decision to stop trial of lethal stage collapse

Scott Johnson's family have also spoken out

Radiohead have spoken out in disgust at the decision to stay the trial over the stage collapse that killed their drum technician, Scott Johnson. His family have also described it as ‘heartbreaking’.

Back in 2012, the band’s drum technician Scott Johnson died after the roof of the stage collapsed on him ahead of a concert in Toronto. The 33-year-old from Doncaster also worked with the likes of Keane and many other touring artists. Three other people were also injured.

Earlier this week and after years of delays, a judge decided to stop proceedings. While support act from the show Caribou slammed the decision as ‘complete bullshit‘, Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke said that ‘words utterly failed him‘. Now, the band as a whole have had their say.

“We are appalled by the decision to stay the charges against Live Nation, Optex Staging and Domenic Cugliari,” said the band in a statement.

“This is an insult to the memory of Scott Johnson, his parents and our crew.”


Speaking to CBS, Scott Johnson’s father Ken said the ruling was “heartbreaking and not fair”.

“It is appalling that they can sit there and come out with that sort of comment, which is flippant,” I don’t find it caring. It’s very easy to sit in that chair and pass that comment, and I hope they sleep well at night because, as far as we’re concerned, they’ve let him down.”

Recent law changes in the Supreme Court of Canada have shifted to the 18-month time limit for provincial courts, meaning that this case looked likely to take three times longer than the newly imposed limit. It is possible to revive the charges within one year.

Johnson added: “I accept that the courts are very busy and I think that the law to speed up the justice is a very sensible thing, but I don’t see how you can apply it retroactively. Whatever we do, whatever happens, is never going to bring Scott back, but I just don’t see that this is justice, and I find it highly offensive that someone might.”

Emergency personnel work near the scene of a collapsed stage at Downsview Park in Toronto on Saturday, June 16, 2012. The top of a stage being set up for a concert by the band Radiohead collapsed, killing one of the stage workers preparing for the event. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Nathan Denette)

“It is important to emphasize that timely justice is not just important to persons facing charges,” said Ontario judge Ann Nelson, reports The Globe. “It is also important to our society at large. No doubt, this decision will be incomprehensible to Mr. Johnson’s family, who can justifiably complain that justice has not been done.”

Denying all wrongdoing at the time the charges first came to light, Live Nation said: “We absolutely maintain that Live Nation and our employees did everything possible to ensure the safety of anyone who was on or near the stage involved in the tragic incident that led to the unfortunate death of Mr. Scott Johnson.”