Pink Floyd - 1994 Earls Court seating collapse report

THAT FIRST NIGHT... A Disastrous opener for English fans!

(Originally appeared in Brain Damage Magazine issue 35)

Pink Floyd’s record-breaking 14 night run at London’s Earls Court (12th October 1994) was marked with near tragedy in an event which had wide publicity across Britain (Pink Floyd news is usually not considered so!). The day started well enough for the band with press interviews and photographs of the band with various charities who stood to benefit from the shows - all the profits from the shows are going to a selection of 13 charities picked with difficulty by the band. However, less than a minute after the band had started playing Shine On You Crazy Diamond, a scaffolding stand (block 9) holding 1200 fans, collapsed, throwing hundereds of people 20 feet to the ground. Ninety-six people were injured, with 36 needing hospital treatment. Six were detained overnight with back, neck and rib injuries, but all were expected to make a full recovery. The show was immediately cancelled and re-scheduled for October 17th, one of their rest days. The stand was replaced and all other shows went ahead as planned.

The common view of the fans in the stand was this: the sound effects tape was coming to a close with increasing volume; the lights went down and the rumbling noise kept building whilst Rick Wright and Jon Carin started playing. Then in what was initially felt to be great special effects the seats began moving, then buckling and falling. General pandemonium and fear arose, the house lights went up instantly (to the surprise and anger of Rick, Dave and Jon who weren’t intially aware of what was happening) and the rescue operation began. It took over an hour to free everyone from the twisted wreckage.

Gilmour said afterwards: “We are very distressed at what happened and we are particularly concerned about the injured. We are also sorry to have disappointed those who came to see the show.” He later added: “I am angry and upset about what happened... it is extremely fortunate nobody died. When the accident happened I was at the back of the stage waiting to go on. I heard banging and presumed there was a fault on the PA system. We were about to start playing when the house lights came up. I was getting a bit frantic with people when someone said they were stopping the concert.” Gilmour also issued a statement assuring the charities that the accident would not affect the amount of money they were receiving.

That was not the end of the story, however. The re-scheduled concert had traumatised fans being sat in exactly the same seats they’d had on the first night - giving them even more cause for complaint as it was reported that Earls Court were not giving due attention to claims for compensation for damaged clothing, time off work and medical bills. One good thing about this re-scheduled show for those in block 9 was that they were all given special t-shirts to ‘commemorate’ the incident and were all invited backstage after the show to meet all the band.

The last word goes to Gilmour, who announced on stage: “If I were you, I’d sue somebody. Er, not me, though...”