CINCINNATI – The rock band The Who announced Tuesday night it will play its first Cincinnati area concert since 11 fans died 40 years ago in a pre-show stampede.
The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame band will play April 23 at Northern Kentucky University’s BB&T Arena, across the Ohio River 7 miles south of the Dec. 3, 1979, concert site, where another two dozen people were injured Dec. 3, 1979, amid confusion and lack of preparation for thousands of fans lined up for hours for first-come seats.
The announcement came after WCPO-TV in Cincinnati aired a Tuesday night documentary featuring interviews with lead singer Roger Daltrey and guitarist Pete Townshend, the remaining original members of the British band that emerged in the 1960s featuring songs of youthful rebellion such as “My Generation” and its “Summertime Blues” cover.
Both have said they’ve been haunted by the tragedy. Townshend recently told The Associated Press he was looking forward to discussing it in Cincinnati.
“Now we can have a conversation about it when we go back,” Townshend said. “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 band is adding the concert to its “Moving On!” tour 2020 dates.
The Who said it will donate a portion of proceeds from the Cincinnati-area concert to a memorial scholarship fund benefiting students in the Cincinnati suburb of Finneytown. Daltrey visited a Finneytown High School memorial site in 2018 and the band has for years supported the scholarship effort there. Three of the 11 killed, including two 15-year-old girls who were the youngest victims, had attended Finneytown High.
The band didn’t know about the tragedy until the concert was ending. Longtime manager Bill Curbishley had made the decision to have the show go on, warning Cincinnati authorities that they wouldn’t be able to control the crowd if the concert was called off.
“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.”
Associated Press writer John Carucci contributed in New York.