The Who are still “traumatised” after crush killed fans at Cincinnati show in 1979

“It’s a strange, disturbing, heavy load to carry.”

The Who have said they are still “traumatised” on the 40th anniversary of a tragic concert where 11 fans were crushed to death.

The rock icons were playing at Cincinnati’s Riverfront Coliseum on December 3 1979, when 11 fans aged between 15-27 were crushed to death by a surging crowd who entered the building.

In a new extended interview with Cincinnati’s WCPO which aired last night (December 3), singer Roger Daltrey and guitarist Pete Townshend explained how they are still living with the mental scars of the tragic incident.


“I’m still traumatised by it,” said Townshend.

“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.”

Daltrey added: “That dreadful night of the third of December became one of the worst dreams I’ve had in my life.”

The documentary also contains the testimonies of the band’s long-term manager Bill Curbishley, who made the call to not tell the band about the incident until after the gig, having reasoned with local fire officials that cancelling the show could have led to further  potential injuries or deaths.

“Despite everything, I still feel inadequate”, Curbishley says. “I don’t know about the guys, but for me I left a little of my soul in Cincinnati.”


Elsewhere, Townshend admits he felt guilty that The Who left town and played a show in Buffalo, New York the following night – explaining it was the decision of Daltrey to leave.

Thirty years later, he says he rang Pearl Jam singer Eddie Vedder after nine fans were crushed to death during the band’s performance at Roskilde Festival in Denmark and urged them to stay behind.

But the interview ends on a positive note, with Townshend confirming that the band will return to the Cincinnati Tri-State area next year for the first time since that fateful night in 1979. They will play BB&T Arena at Northern Kentucky University on Thursday April 23 2020.

The Who release new album ‘WHO’ on Friday (December 6).