Updated: Radiohead disaster in Toronto as drum technician Scott Johnson dies in stage collapse

June 17, 2012

Radiohead Toronto cancelled - picture of Toronto subway station television monitor


Radiohead’s concert at Downsview Park, Toronto tonight was cancelled after a stage collapse pre-show left one man dead and three other people injured.

Update: 17/06/2012, 11.33 am – The man killed has now been named as Scott Johnson, a drum technician from South Yorkshire. Sources including the BBC have confirmed that Radiohead’s crew member Scott Johnson is the man who died. A relative confirmed the death of the 33-year-old, from Doncaster, who also worked for the band Keane.

Scott Johnson died after being crushed by the collapsed roof while working on the stage.

Toronto Police Constable Tony Vella said the force will work closely with the Ontario Ministry of Labour to determine the cause of the collapse. Downsview Park is federal land.

The outpouring of shock, bewilderment and grief from Radiohead fans I spoke to in downtown Toronto was massive. I heard one girl on the subway remark; “any other concert, I wouldn’t have cared if it got cancelled… this just numbs me.”

I can understand the emotion and frustration of fans. At the time when news of what happened reached me, I was in Kensington Market in downtown Toronto with a few friends, about to head up to Downsview. I was ready to photograph a band that I consider to be the biggest and most important of my generation. It doesn’t get any bigger than Radiohead. This show was Toronto’s biggest of the summer: the anticipation and excitement among Radiohead fans for the past few months since the ticket presale announcement three months ago on 5 March has been incredible. It’s the exact opposite emotions tonight as we are now left in shock to reflect on this tragedy.

I Tweeted about the collapse at 4.58pm after calling Live Nation’s press office to confirm the facts, as the story broke and everyone in Kensington Market seemed to begin talking about it.

Emotions were high tonight at Yonge-Dundas Square for the Flaming Lips free headline concert at NXNE. Wayne Coyne made a fitting tribute as his band played their free 9pm open air show which, were it not for this disaster, would have been happening at the same time as the Radiohead show: many Radiohead fans were now at this show instead. The Flaming Lips played two Radiohead covers, with Wayne Coyne declaring; “We love Radiohead and we hope that they can continue on… This song goes out to Radiohead…,” before playing “Knives Out”. The Flaming Lips also dedicated “Do You Realize” to the Radiohead family.

The Flaming Lips at Osheaga music festival 2011, Montreal - photo by Liz Keith, Music Vice

The Flaming Lips dedicated their free NXNE headline show at Dundas Square to the "Radiohead family"

Caribou, who were set to open for Radiohead at Downsview Park, also paid their respects for the worker who died. They posted this message via their Twitter account: “We are profoundly saddened by what happened today. All our sympathy is with the band and crew and the families of those affected.”

My thoughts are with the stage crew at Downsview.

Obviously many fans will be disappointed and many have travelled far and wide to be in Toronto today, but in the end nothing is more important than life. Be safe.

© Brian Banks, Editor, Music Vice

n.b. Regarding refunds: Ticketmaster will refund all tickets and many fans have already received emails with details about the refund process as a result of this concert being cancelled.

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Brian Banks

Editor and Founder, Music Vice Magazine. Writer. Photographer. Poet. From Scotland. Not Ireland. Proudly based in Toronto, Canada. Rock N' Roll Don't Pay The Rent... 

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2 Responses to Updated: Radiohead disaster in Toronto as drum technician Scott Johnson dies in stage collapse

  1. Tillie2 on June 17, 2012 at 1:24 pm

    RIP Scott – you will be greatly missed in the music scene

  2. Allana D on June 17, 2012 at 7:51 pm

    Such a tragedy. 🙁 RIP Scott Johnson and love to his family. Radiohead fans grieve as one.

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