Friday, January 18, 1991 was the worst day for AC/DC, after the death of Bon Scott. That night at the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City, Utah (USA), three young fans died just after the concert had started. According to the official report, the fans were crushed to death when the crowd came forward as soon as the band took the stage. One of the victims, Jimmy Boyd, 14 y.o., was pronounced dead that night by choking while Child Curtis, another teenager who was also 14, died Sunday at Holy Cross Hospital. The third, a woman named Elizabeth Glausi who was 19 years old, died three days later in hospital when life support machine was turned off at the request of her family.
It is not every day that the monster of rock AC / DC played in Salt Lake City, so the only show of the tour seemed like it would be the only chance for Utah fans. Many fans queued up overnight to buy tickets for $18, determined to be there even if the last thing they did. Unfortunately for three of them, it was.
Of the 13,294 fans present that evening, nearly 4,400 had received entries in the "general admission" section, which was standing only and no seats. These locations were banned in many rock concerts due to 11 people being crushed to death at a 1979 concert by The Who in Cincinnati.
Now the nightmare was repeated. As the show started, the crowd came forward. Apparently some roadies realized the situation and began pulling people, while others screamed desperately to the members of the band to stop playing. But stunned by the volume and blinded by the lights, they did not realize until after about 20 minutes. The band stopped their performance as soon as they realized the situation.
Here we can hear Brian calling on fans to move back because they had a problem with the front and did not want anyone getting hurt. Unfortunately, it was too late: http://soundcloud.com/cabeza01/ac-dc-01-18-91-salt-lake-city
The band was very distressed by misfortune; they were silent and let the lawyers work. Through a press release, they stated that nothing they said or did could lessen the pain caused by the loss, and gave their condolences to the families of the victims. The print media, meanwhile, was criticizing the band by reporting that the they kept playing while knowing of the tragedy. They said it was a clear demonstration of not caring about anything and only stopping when everything was very evident.
Old Salt Palace inaugrated in 1969
Demolished in 1994, there now stands a modern Convention Center
The Glausi Family demand:
July 1991. Parents and friends of the dead college student filed a lawsuit against the rock group and other companies that benefited from the concert. Elizabeth Glausi's family and friends who were injured at the concert filed a federal lawsuit accusing AC/DC of continuing to play while fans died before their eyes. Elizabeth was a native of Washington and was studying in Brigham Young University.
Glausi died and her friend was injured. Apparently AC/DC continued playing despite security members demanding that the band stop. According to the complaint, "Elizabeth suffocated slowly and painfully until she went into a coma while Brandi Leigh Burton also choked, but more slowly and struggled to save her friend, until she too fell into unconsciousness. If the band had stopped playing when security told them, our daughter would not have died.” The Glausie demand says and continues: "The band played while the people piled in front of the stage, struggling to get a little air to breathe."
John P. Coale, Glausie’s attorney said: "They were under that pile of people for half an hour. They could not leave. They could not breathe. There were people screaming and Brandi asked Elizabeth for help breathing and talked about to dying. Can you imagine what that was like? "
November 1991. Elizabeth Glausie’s parents returned to file a lawsuit against the band in the District Court. The parents had already filed a lawsuit against AC/DC and various event promoters in court, but Judge District David Winder dismissed the case, claiming that it belonged to the State Court. Otto and Jean Glausi added to the demand to "Dirty Deeds", a Delaware company that helps manage AC/DC.
Also in this new lawsuit, it adds that the band was negligent by violating an alleged city ordinance prohibiting recitals with no assigned seats. This was apart from the first charge to keep playing while security warned them of the tragedy. According to the lawsuit, if the band had stopped playing and turned on the lights just security staff said, it would have saved Elizabeth.
Old Salt Palace
The Child Family demand:
February 1991. Curtis's father filed an $8 million lawsuit for the wrongful death of his son against the band and any event related businesses, including a local radio station and concert promoter.
Bruce C. Child filed suit in District Court against the Australian band, its' management, the company that managed the Salt Palace, the security company, the local concert promoter who brought AC / DC to town and radio station which sponsored the event. The suit says that it was "intentional and malicious conduct of the accused that caused irreversible brain damage Curtis by asphyxiation by compression."
Bruce’s attorney was R Craig Clark Jr. from San Diego and only represents the father of the child, not the mother, since they are divorced.
Bruce Child sued for $3 million dollars for general damages, $5 million for punitive damages and an unspecified amount for special damages, including medical and funeral expenses.
"Mr. Child is terribly anguished over this", his Lawyer Clark said. "It is his fervent hope is that Curtis has not died in vain, and that this does not happen again. He speaks to everyone involved in this tragedy, I hope we can prevent this from happening again and to warn other sites. I hope we can save other lives. "
United Concerts, a concert promotion company, is the "main accused in the case" Clark said. “They are responsible for promoting, arming and selling the concert”, he said. Utahan James McNeil, president, is the defendant.
KBER Radio 101.1 FM is the second defendant. "The station has announced and promoted the concert", said Clark. "The day of the concert, they said they had another 500 general admission tickets. They have made the promotion of concerts like this for long. They had to be aware of the kind of situation of the Salt Palace. "
The company that owns KBER, Devine Media Corp. of Delaware, is also named in the lawsuit. A station spokesman said, "We have no comment at this time".
Child also sued Contemporary Services, a California security company, for not complying with its obligation to protect the fans. "The guards could not stop the concert. They could not save these people from being stifled. The guards simply did not guard", said Clark.
Spectacor Management, a New York company that manages the Salt Palace, was named in the lawsuit along with the director of the Salt Palace, David Meek. The lawsuit was resolved in a jury trial.
A mother wants to join the lawsuit
May 1991. The teen's mother Curtis Child wants to join with her former husband in the demand for $8 million that he started.
Lucy W. Child filed a motion in District Court to join the negligence lawsuit that her ex-husband filed Feb. 4 by the death of the couple's son. Lucy had primary custody of Curtis. She and her ex-husband are heirs of the property of Curtis, so can charge by the same.
Boyd Family demand:
May 1991. Jimmy Boyd's parents, the teenager suffocated to death in at the concert also filed a negligence lawsuit against the County of Salt Lake.
The notification of the complaint by the family of Jimmie L. Boyd Jr. was sent to the county prosecutor. It was not specified what is sought in this presentation.
Attorney M. David Eckersley, on behalf of the Boyds, said the boy died as a result "of the negligence of Salt Lake County to allow the presentation of the band."
The band defends:
April 1991. AC/DC hired a local lawyer to represent him in future actions filed following the accident at the concert held at the Salt Palace on January 18 that killed three teenagers.
Lawyer Mike Mohrman was hired by the band to defend against a wrongful death lawsuit filed by families of the victims. It was filed in February against the band, Spectacor Management Group, concert promoter JC McNeil, security firm Contemporary Services Corp., their agent and manager.
The acquittal of the band:
May 1991. AC/DC, and directly attributable Brian Johnson, Angus Young, Malcolm Young, Cliff Williams and Chris Slade, have been cleared of a wrongful death lawsuit brought by the father of one of the three teenagers killed on January 18, 1991 in Salt Lake City.
Refers to the demand of $8 million by Bruce Child in which he accuses the band and other intermediaries.
In the ruling, Judge Richard Moffat wrote that "the father has had a reasonable, well founded and sincere belief to act on the basis of fact and law".
Finally in August, all charges were dropped against the band. This brought a little peace and relief to the band and renewed the air, so they could concentrate fully on what would be a series of mega concerts in stadiums under the name of Monsters Of Rock / Rock Around The Block with Metallica, Mötley Crue, Queensryche and the Black Crowes. These led to, among other concerts, the 17th of that month to play at Donington, England and on 28th September in Moscow to about 1,200,000 people.
While the judgments dismissed the band, the complaint against the other defendants remained standing.
Perhaps the fact that the band was acquitted in the case is the reason little is known about the final decision of the trial. Those sentenced and others seem to be the most visible face outside the news had lost interest, but assumed that the families of the deceased have gotten a ruling in their favor.
Old Salt Palace - Inside
A few years after the tragedy, journalist Cathy Free traveled to Salt Lake City, collected data and conducted a People magazine report. The report begins with a short story, which we all know. What is interesting is the testimonials.
Scott Carter, 28, teacher, security guard at the concert:
“People are always pushing to try to reach the front, but this time they pushed too much. By the second song, those in the front rows started to fall over each other. There were 20 or 25 guys, all in a pile and people pushing everywhere. We tried to go out there and started to take people, but everyone's legs were intertwined and couldn't help them much. Everyone was trying desperately to get out. Each time the head of security took someone, someone else fell on top of the stack like dominoes”.
Carter says he tried unsuccessfully to tell the chief of security to stop the concert. The manager denies it, insisting that the band stopped playing as soon as they became aware of the danger. “I was screaming at the top of my lungs and gesturing with my hand, but he would not listen. He was getting the people at the top, but that did not help those who were crushed below. People were crying and reaching up, trying to hold the hair, anything they could. They grabbed my arms and my shirt in desperation. I looked to my right and saw the white part of the eyes of a boy. They were the size of two balls ... he was being stifled. Finally, four security men and I were leaving the barricade and threading our way through the crowd. It took nearly 10 minutes, although it seemed like hours, to reach the center of the tragedy. I was tired and desperate, to get the show stpped. I think 45 minutes passed until the singer Brian Johnson reached the edge of the stage and called for attention. I do not know who finally told him what was happening. "
Russ Boyd, another security guard, believed it to be after 6 or 7 songs from AC/DC that the singer asked people to run back (a representative of the band says that only played four songs before Johnson warned the audience, much less than 45 minutes.) “This band is like God to these kids. As soon as Johnson said that, the audience went away and that was when we started getting people. There were two girls on the bottom that looked very bad. Scotty and I took one (Brandi Burton) and had to fight with the crowd to leave. It's like these fans do not really care. They did not care, just the damn music”.
Brandi Burton, 19, awoke in a room at LDS Hospital hours after she fainted under a pile of bodies. Her roommate at Brigham Young University, Elizabeth Glausi, died three days later. “We were very excited about the show and laughed when we entered the stadium. When AC/DC came on stage, there was a forward shake, and Liz and I immediately fell. We were nearly five people from the fence. I remember the thumping of the music was incredibly loud. About 10 or 15 people were above us, with people falling over our faces and our bodies. I was down and Liz above me. We were screaming for help, but there was no way to help us ... we could not breathe ... after about 10 minutes I told Liz: - Liz, you have to breathe. Try to breathe, please breathe ... lshe looked at me and said I can not, I can not ... then closed her eyes. The last thing I remember was saying, "Please God, don’t let us die”
Neil Scott, 17, was the concert with his best friend, Curtis Child, but quickly lost his friend in the crowd. "I could see Curtis at first, but that's the last I saw of him until the police showed me photos of him with a respirator. During the first couple of songs, I fell against the metal barricade in front of the stage. But I got up and I kept holding on tightly. It was a panic scene”.
Jimmie Boyd Sr., auto mechanic and father of one of the boys that had died, had given Jimmie Jr. $20 for the ticket to the concert even though his wife, Betty, said the family did not agree. “My son was so anxious to go I said, well, okay, just to make you happy, I'll let you go. It was so important to him, I could not say no. He was happy. Jimmie liked the Rock And Roll, listening all the time. He liked football too, Nintendo and drawing. I have many drawings made by him, a lot of them are rock bands, including one is the AC/DC logo. Looking back what happened, I feel guilty ... I should not have given the money for the ticket ... I think I made a mistake. I should have said no. "
Full Circle: AC/DC returns to Utah: April 2001.
When AC/DC takes the stage on Thursday night, almost everyone will agree: there is little chance of a repeat of the tragedy that happened the last time the heavy metal rock band came to Utah.
Steve Harms, director of marketing the E-Centrer from West Valley City, which is where the concert will take place next week, says that the two events are completely different. To begin with, it is not the same type of seating configuration. Ten years ago, the configuration on the arena floor was the style of "Festival Seating": the floor without seats, all standing. A security expert called this “the most dangerous audience configuration” because the audience members are competing for the same space, next week, all seats are reserved. “Many things have been improved in recent years so something like this (tragedy of 1991) does not happen again. In this case, the solution is to put all the people in assigned seats” Harms said “It also helps that the simple passage of the time has affected the type of people you expect to see. I refer to the audience will be different. These people are 10 years oldest.”
Harms boss, E-Center general manager Kevin Bruder, said his main concern is to provide a safe, comfortable experience and is confident that everything will be fine next week. “Until now ,all we have seen from AC/DC has been wonderful.” Bruder said “They have had no more incidents in the last 10 years. Everything points to the fact that the show will succeed. ... We are proud to be very well prepared and have a good understanding of what's happening out there”.
AC/DC played on April 12, 2001 at the E-Center in Salt Lake City. Needless to say everything went well. Hopefully this let the band leave behind one of their worst tragedies.
The 2001 Ticket Stub