The Who are returning to the Cincinnati area for the first time since a tragedy that has haunted them since.
It has been 40 years since eleven fans were crushed in a stampede at what was then known as Riverfront Coliseum, but Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend haven’t been back to the region to perform since. That will change when The Who plays across the river at Northern Kentucky University on April 23rd.
The announcement came after WCPO-TV in Cincinnati aired a documentary about the incident featuring interviews with Daltrey and Townshend, the two remaining original members.
“Now we can have a conversation about it when we go back,” Townshend told the AP. “We will meet people and we’ll be there. We’ll be there. That’s what’s important. I’m so glad that we’ve got this opportunity to go back.”
The concert disaster happened on December 3, 1979. Thousands of general admission tickets were sold, which resulted in fans lining up outside the arena to jockey for the best seats. When a few doors finally opened, fans tried to squeeze through and eleven people were crushed. In addition to the 11 killed, more than two dozen were injured. Three of the victims were students at Finneytown High School in the suburbs.
“It is right to recognize that the friends and families of those fans we lost that fateful night have not forgotten them," Daltrey told WCPO-TV. "For many years we have been in contact and supported the Finneytown High School memorial foundation in memory of the three students they lost. After seeing the good work the scholarships provided by the foundation achieve, we have decided that a concert to raise funds for them will allow these to continue and create something positive in their memory way into the future."
The 1979 concert went on as scheduled and the band wasn’t told about what happened until the end of the night. Longtime manager Bill Curbishley said that decision was made to avoid further chaos.
“Despite everything, I still feel inadequate,” he told WCPO. “I don’t know about the guys, but for me, I left a little bit of my soul in Cincinnati.”