Monday 23 April 2018

Radiohead stage collapse victim was band's drum technician

The top of a stage being set up for a concert by band Radiohead collapsed, killing one of the stage workers preparing for the event. Photo: AP
The top of a stage being set up for a concert by band Radiohead collapsed, killing one of the stage workers preparing for the event. Photo: AP

Lucy Jones

A drum technician who died when a stage collapsed before a Radiohead concert in Toronto has been named.

Radiohead representative Laura Eldeiry confirmed the death of the 33-year-old Scott Johnson who also worked for another British band, Keane.

He died when the top portion of the stage fell in on him as he was setting up for the show.

A message from Radiohead’s drummer Philip Selway has been left on the band's official website: “We have all been shattered by the loss of Scott Johnson, our friend and colleague. He was a lovely man, always positive, supportive and funny; a highly skilled and valued member of our great road crew. We will miss him very much. Our thoughts and love are with Scott’s family and all those close to him.”

Three other people were also injured, paramedics said.

The stage at Downsview Park after it collapsed

Toronto Police spokesman Tony Vella said a 45-year-old man hospitalized with a head injury was improving and his life was not in danger. The other two were treated at the scene.

Tony Bellavance, Fire Services Platoon Chief in Toronto, said officials were alerted to a person trapped under the rubble and crews assisted in extracting the victim.

He said: "It was a crushing injury that killed the man."

Tony Vella, a spokesman for Toronto police said crew were setting up the stage when it collapsed.

"They were setting up when the top portion collapsed on top of them. Unfortunately, four people were hurt. The remainder of the people, when they heard the stage coming down, ran from the area," Mr Vella said.

A force spokesman later tweeted that once the structure was deemed safe to work around, forensic officers would begin a joint investigation with the coroner and the Ministry of Labour.

The band had been due to play to a sold-out crowd at Downsview Park in Toronto.

A statement on the band's website said: "Due to unforeseen circumstances the radiohead show at downsview park tonight has been cancelled.

"Fans are advised not to make their way to the venue. Refunds will be made at point of purchase. Further information is to follow."

Ian West, Mr Johnson's drum teacher in Doncaster, said his former pupil toured the world with famous bands, including Radiohead and Keane.

"It was a very, very big shock. He was a great student and a great drummer. He got a lucky break and made the most of it, he never looked back.

"He was a fantastic guy, never down, very enthusiastic. He was very thoughtful and would do anything for you, he was spot on.

Many of the disappointed fans headed instead to Yonge-Dundas Square in downtown Toronto, where "Spinner Magazine" was hosting a free concert headlined by the Flaming Lips as part of the week-long North by Northeast musical festival.

Flaming Lips frontman Wayne Coyne paid tribute to Radiohead throughout the show, including performing a cover of Radiohead's "Knives Out," which he introduced saying "peace be with their hearts tonight."

"This has been a pretty powerful day. This goes out to the Radiohead family," he said.

There have been a number of concert stage collapses in recent years.

In Canada, one person died and several people were injured when the stage went down at Bluesfest in Ottawa last July, and one person died and more than a dozen were injured in 2009 when a powerful windstorm caused the main stage to collapse at the Big Valley Jamboree near Camrose.

Six people died last August when the stage collapsed at a Sugarland concert in Indianapolis; five died in Belgium when a storm swept in and toppled the stage at the Pukkelpop Festival.

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