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The Day the Music Died

The Day the Music Died

By: Max Gayler

The Terrorist attack at the Bataclan Theatre on Friday 13th November in Paris has created a response of political breadth. Physical retaliation by the government and global unity on social media has both consolidated and divided the world. 89 deaths and countless injuries have sparked a universal movement in music where while some acts, for everyones safety, have cancelled tours, many others continue their pilgrimage, using their music as a weapon to feed the citizens of Paris and starve the bloodlust of terrorism.

The Terrorist attack at the Bataclan Theatre on Friday 13th November in Paris has created a response of political breadth. Physical retaliation by the government and global unity on social media has both consolidated and divided the world. 89 deaths and countless injuries have sparked a universal movement in music where while some acts, for everyones safety, have cancelled tours, many others continue their pilgrimage, using their music as a weapon to feed the citizens of Paris and starve the bloodlust of terrorism. 

However, the recurring theme of violence and terror at concerts is a taste that has been in the mouths of music lovers for far longer than a week. This is the most recent in what is a countless string of atrocities thrown at innocent people. Queen and The Prodigy postponing shows after the 2005 London bombings and Jay Z cancelling a performance in New York due to “firework and terrorism” concerns in 2013, are examples of our reactionary attempt to cease anymore triggers being pulled and families being ruined, but there are many cases where people have fought against fear. Some have prevailed, and some have suffered at the hands of the twisted. 

 

Altamont Speedway Free Concert - 6th December 1969

The pinnacle of counterculture and often described as the ‘worst day in rock and roll’. In response to a media-frenzy claiming the price of tickets for The Rolling Stones most recent tour were pushing out the poorer fans, the band announced a free concert in San Francisco. The concert included appearances from Santana and The Flying Burrito Brothers and finished with a scene of fearful desperation from The Rolling Stones. 

Over 300,000 patrons attended the low-stage concert that predictably escalated into a dire situation. As a safety measure The Rolling Stones hired The Hell’s Angels, a notoriously explosive and violent biker gang, to surround the stage and act as security. 

Meredith Hunter, under the influence of methamphetamine, attempted to storm the stage only to be pushed away by the Hells Angels. In video footage Hunter can be seen approaching the stage a second time brandishing a revolver. Hells Angel Alan Passaro picked up on this and stabbed Hunter in the wrist twice and pushed him back into the crowd to be trampled on and subsequently die. 

The death of 18 year-old Meredith Hunter was one of a number of deaths at the show. Drownings and a hit-and-run incident made for an image of apocalypse where the correct measures weren’t taken to protect the concert-goers.

 

 

Atlanta Olympics Bombing - 27th July 1996

Just after Jack Mack And The Heart Attack finished a song late at night in Atlanta’s Centennial Olympic Park, a bomb was detonated killing one and injuring more than 100 others. Security guard Richard Jewell luckily discovered the bomb before detonation and assisted in moving spectators away form the blast zone, but couldn’t act quick enough to save everybody. Despite being hailed as a hero, Jewell was accused of being responsible for the bombing shortly after the concert. 

Once Jewell was exonerated the police had no leads. After bombing an abortion clinic and a lesbian nightclub the police began chasing Eric Robert Rudolph who, after being caught in 2003, confessed to the Atlanta Olympic bombings. 

President Bill Clinton described the attack as "an act of vicious terror… clearly directed at the spirit of our own democracy. We must not let these attacks stop us from going forward. We cannot let terror win.” 

Despite the high-profile bombing, the citizens refused to let the fear take over and continued to attend olympic events in an act of defiance to terrorist desire.

 

 

The Death of Dimebag Darrel - 8th December 2004

At a Damageplan show at the Alrosa Nightclub in Columbus, Ohio, an obsessed fan rushed the stage during their first song and shot the former guitarist of Pantera several times before security reacted and shot and killed the 25 year-old. 

It is speculated that Nathan Gale was furious at the disbandment of Pantera the previous year and blamed it on Darrel Abbott. According to an in depth account of the night by Rolling Stone, Gale had no ticket for the show and instead chose to hang out in the parking lot and waited until Damageplan were set to perform, telling a local construction worker, “I don’t want to see no shitty local bands.”

Nathan jumped a fence and entered the venue through a side door where he walked straight on stage and began firing shots first at Abbott and then at the crowd, killing three others; Nathan Bray, Jeff Thompson and Erin A. Halk.

Both the musical world and the global media offered their condolences to the Abbott family and consolidated a moment of mutual grievance between genres under much controversy and conflict at the time.

 

 

Temptation Bombings, Sri Lanka - 11th December 2004

In a Bollywood concert, Temptation 2004, in Colombo, Sri Lanka in which famous star Shah Rukh Khan was performing, a grenade was rolled into the crowd killing two people and injuring 19 others. 

The musical extravaganza was put on to celebrate Indian culture with the youth of Sri Lanka, but received negative comments from the Buddhist community due to its running the day before the anniversary of the death of Buddhist cleric Gangodawila Soma. Protestors and activists had stated their distaste for the disrespect shown to the Buddhist community.

The grenade was detonated in the VIP section of the crowd of over 15,000 people.

At a press conference on December 2, JHU parliamentarian Omalpe Sobhitha declared: “We will go on a fast unto death to compel the government to cancel the Sharukh Khan show and force the government to hasten the appointment of a commission of inquiry into the death of Reverend Soma Thera.”

Previous to this and in response to Soma’s death, the JHU demanded legislation aimed at the banning of the conversion of Buddhists conducted by Christian organisations.

Since then the JHU has staged anti-muslim riots involving the the attack on Mosques and Churches in Muslim communities in reaction to much of the violence occurring in Sri Lanka which the JHU blame on the Muslim community.

 

 

Aden Singing Festival Terrorist Threats - 14th February 2008

Assala Nasry, a famous Syrian singer, had been warned by the al-Qaeda that if she ever stepped foot in Yemen, she would be killed. She had been booked to perform at the first Aden Singing Festival although a newly introduced fatwa had banned music concerts and many areas were under Sharia law.

Despite receiving four e-mails prior to the concert warning her of the severity of her possible actions, Nasry refused to bow down to the fear al-Qaeda were hoping to instil. At a press conference in preparation for the concert, Nasry affirmed that she would go to every extent to reach her fans, stating, “The message of my  art is peace and love for the whole world.”

The concert was attended by as many as 50,000 fans who joined Nasry in her belief that music cannot be silenced by violence. What could have been a massacre of gigantic consequences turned into a unity of beliefs to fight against terrorism.

Despite politicians attempting to boycott and picket the performance, it was the volume of public voice that silenced the corruption in Yemen’s government.

 

Hero City Memorial Concert Bombing, Minsk, Belarus - 4th July 2008

In what is one of the most hate-fuelled terrorist attacks in recent history, 54 people were injured during a concert at the Hero City Memorial to celebrate Belarus’ independence. Luckily, nobody was killed. 

Responsibility of the attack has never truly been decided. Some pin it on the guerrilla group White Legion, a number of Georgians who resisted the ethnic cleansing of Georgians in disputed territory. Others believe the idea of planting a bomb into an army-protected area could only be conducted by the state, especially due to the bomb’s custom design to injure, not kill.

A second, larger bomb, was discovered before the first explosion and a third after. Despite the danger of the situation, celebrations continued far into the night and the people of Belarus rejoiced in their independence from Germany in 1944.

Stood in the face of fear, music refuses to bow down to intimidation. In many cultures it’s the events like those mentioned above that bring out the peace in people and allow everyone to receive an organic, human message of music. Music is a voice that bares no religion, no political agenda and no bias and it’s important to continue to fuel the lifeblood of music through live performance. It’s a hope that Eagles Of Death Metal don’t let the events in Paris deter them from continuing deliver a positive message to the people. Peace Love Death Metal.