Had They Known They were Stepping on Dead Kids
by Regis Boff
They would have stopped pushing had they known they were stepping on dead kids. I am mostly sure of that. On December 3, 1979 eleven children were killed and scores of others were hurt in Cincinnati at a Who concert. I was backstage just after the band began their show, when the hurt and the dead began to be passed through the area next to the stage to board accumulating ambulances just outside.
We argued quietly amongst ourselves about whether to tell the band while they were still on stage and risk having them stop playing, perhaps causing a second riot inside the hall by angry fans. We argued about whether to leave Cincinnati that night or to return to the hotel and be trapped there maybe for days by the press and crowds. We argued about whether to cancel the rest of tour completely or to just book one special small show to see if we could continue at all. We argued this way even before the parents had found out that their children were dead and before the show was over. I felt calm and ruthlessly protective.
We did do that one show in Buffalo, completely depending on a man named Harvey Weinstein to arrange the show successfully. He was the promoter we trusted most. He later made a name for himself in movie producing. Had that show had a problem, The Who may never again have played live, such would have been the outraged backlash. These were gruesome deaths and unfathomable tragedies. These were just kids who desperately wanted an experience that this band could offer them. This counts for much when trying understand what happened that night .