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Ken Johnson, Father of Drum Tech Killed in Radiohead’s Stage Collapse in Toronto, Wants Answers

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Just over a year ago, Scott Johnson was onstage under a massive roof structure in Toronto, Ontario tuning drums for Radiohead’s upcoming show that night.  This would be the last time he ever tuned the kit again, as later that afternoon the roof structure came tumbling down on top of Scott and three other people.  The others made it.  Scott Johnson was killed.

A year has passed, and Scott Johnson’s dad, Ken, is destroyed.  He’s also pissed at how long this is taking, getting some justice for his dead son — who was doing the one thing he loved to do more than anything.  All he wants is answers, but the Crown hasn’t any for him.  From an interview article at The Spec:

Ken has been searching for answers ever since, crying daily over the loss of his only child, waiting to hear who’s to blame.

The Ministry of Labour recently announced 13 charges against concert organizer Live Nation, a staging company, and an engineer.

A postponed trial is expected to begin Thursday.

“I want to be there,” said Ken, weeping over the phone. “I want to see the people involved and hear what they have to say.”

The charges include eight against Live Nation Canada Inc. and Live Nation Ontario Concerts GP Inc., under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

The ministry alleges that Live Nation failed to ensure the stage was adequately designed and that every employer complied with the act.

Optex Staging & Services Inc. faces four charges, and engineer Domenic Cugliari is charged with endangering a worker, resulting from his advice or certification.

The maximum fine against a corporation, if convicted, is $500,000 per charge. Individuals face $25,000 per charge or up to a year in prison.

Ken Johnson, who works for a scaffolding safety association in England, is hoping the trial results in some “lessons” for those involved.

“Maybe people should have done some things differently,” he said. “Whatever the outcome of the trial, I just hope that it’s fair and honest.”

He said Scott was an honest, hard worker living his dream. Tuning drums for Radiohead was a pinnacle in his career, reached after years of determination.

“He always wanted to be a performer, but realized that wasn’t going to pan out,” said Ken, who used to cart his son around to perform small shows as a teen. “This was the next best thing.”

It breaks my heart to read of how this is going.  I know legal matters take time and accidents of this nature need investigated — but one has to wonder just exactly what is going to come of this, who is going to pay, and why.  “Scott’s message in life was to be fair, and none of this is fair,” said Ken Johnson, interviewed over the phone. “I still cry every day.”

Scott had been on the road with The Killers, the Australian Pink Floyd Show and Keane over the previous 8 years, taking on Radiohead in his career as the pinnacle of his performance.  Scott’s dad also talks about calling home once a week or more, spending time with his folks via Skype in his hotel room while on the road.

A memorial fund has been started for Scott Johnson that donates drum kits to students, along with other awesome positive acts for young musicians.  Visit the Scott Johnson Bursary Fund for Young Musicians.

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Radiohead Stage Collapse – Charges Laid On Live Nation, Optex Staging, and Domenic Cugliari

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Last summer’s Radiohead stage collapse in Toronto that killed the drum tech, Scott Johnson, has culminated in some legal actions.  Four charges each have been laid in Ontario court against Live Nation Canada Inc., Live Nation Ontario Concerts GP Inc., Optex Staging and Services Inc. alleging they failed to ensure the stage structure was being built in a safe manner – and one charge on an engineer, Domenic Cugliari, for “endangering a worker as a result of negligence.”  This case goes to trial on June 27, so there will be more to report.

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From the Billboard site – a prepared statement from Live Nation:

“We wholeheartedly disagree with the charges brought against us by the Ministry of Labour. We absolutely maintain that Live Nation and our employees did everything possible to ensure the safety of anyone who was on or near the stage involved in the tragic incident that led to the unfortunate death of Mr. Scott Johnson. We will vigorously defend ourselves and we are confident that through this process the facts will come to light and we will be exonerated. As we commence this year’s concert season with a new staging contractor, Live Nation will continue its strict peer review process with external engineers for rigging and staging. We will remain vigilant in these safety and security procedures because the wellbeing of our employees, fans and artists is of utmost importance.”

Here’s a list of the charges on the four parties mentioned:

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What do you think?  Leave a comment below – another tragedy past in our industry, and I know that from now on, the heads are gonna roll in our business.  Keep your stuff together, people.  Do a great job every time.

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Thanks to Star Phoenix, MSN News, CTV News, and Globe and Mail.

 

April 2013’s Top 20 Posts

April 2013 has not been a fully happy period in our industry, at least on the accidents front.  Unfortunately I have to report that a lot of the top 20 posts that were read in 193 countries all over the world were stories I reported where injury or death to our stage hand brothers and sisters.  At least their names will never be forgotten, at least by me.  Ever.  In order to go where we’re going, we have to remember how we got here.  It’s not all negative, but get ready to relive some disaster in our business.

The most read post in April of 2013 from JimOnLight.com:

A Rigger Dies after a 100 Foot Fall at AT&T Center in San AntonioRIGGERS-NOT-SKYDIVERS

April 2013’s Most Read Post #2:
The TO THE ARCHIVES link on JOL!
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April 2013’s Most Read Post #3:
San Antonio Rigger Falls 100 Feet to Death at AT&T Center
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April 2013’s Most Read Post #4:
Lighting 101:  Luminance VS. Illuminance
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April 2013’s Most Read Post #5:
New Footage of the Demolition of the Famous Texas Stadium
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April 2013’s Most Read Post #6:
Let’s Be Safer, At Least in the Entertainment Industry
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April 2013’s Most Read Post #7:
A Time-Lapse of the Maroon 5 Overexposed Tour Load-In
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April 2013’s Most Read Post #8:
Memorial Fund Established for Dean Williams, Rigger Who Fell at AT&T Center in San Antonio
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April 2013’s Most Read Post #9:
UPDATE – Ultra Music Festival LED Wall Accident
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April 2013’s Most Read Post #10:
Jim Hutchison Leaves CAST Software, Opens Lumen Buddha Studios, A Lighting Industries Think-Tank and Design Studio
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April 2013’s Most Read Post #11:
INDUSTRY ACCIDENT – Ultra Music Festival in Miami, Video Wall Falls on Workers
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April 2013’s Most Read Post #12:
Something Horribly Wrong is Going On at Wicked Lasers, UPDATED
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April 2013’s Most Read Post #13:
Recommended Reading on JOL!
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April 2013’s Most Read Post #14:
Radiohead Stage Collapse in Toronto — 1 Dead, 3 Wounded
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April 2013’s Most Read Post #15:
Gaffers and Grips — DIY Gaff Tape Key Fob
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April 2013’s Most Read Post #16:
LER:  Luminaire Efficacy Rating
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April 2013’s Most Read Post #17:
DARTH FADER
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April 2013’s Most Read Post #18:
LED Freerunning:  Lighting Emitting Dudes
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April 2013’s Most Read Post #19:
Mycena Lux Coeli — The Coolest Mushroom I Have Ever Seen!
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April 2013’s Most Read Post #20:
Pilobolus’ Shadowland Review
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Radiohead Stage Collapse in Toronto — 1 Dead, 3 Wounded

Scroll down for updates, please.

Oh no, not again.

My buddy Elie sent me this link from CBC News.  Radiohead‘s stage collapsed this afternoon — CBC News reports that a person is dead and at least 3 others are injured.  Toronto Star is reporting that it’s one dead and one injured critically.  It’s nice and calm here in Toronto today, I doubt this was weather-related.  From CBC News:

A stage at Toronto’s Downsview Park has collapsed in advance of a scheduled Radiohead concert, killing one person and injuring at least three, according to Toronto EMS.

Calls came in to emergency crews at about 4 p.m. ET. One person was transported to Sunnybrook Hospital in serious condition while two others assessed at the scene have minor injuries.

CBC’s Maria Nunes was driving by the park when she noticed the commotion. From her vantage point. she could see five ambulances, two police cars and a firetruck.

The 7:30 p.m. concert is cancelled. Gates had been scheduled to open at 5 p.m.

Some people at the park ahead of the show are saying on Twitter that the area has been cleared by emergency crews.

Police say the park wasn’t full but there was a considerable crowd of people already waiting for the show, and they are now leaving the area. The park is a frequent site of concerts, and 40,000 people were expected for tonight’s sold-out show by the hugely popular English band. The opener was to be Canadian act Caribou.

The weather in Toronto at the time of the accident was seemingly calm, with temperatures in the high 20s and the forecast calling for light winds.

More as it develops.  Radiohead was playing at Downsview Park near downtown for the North by Northeast Festival.  They’ve since cancelled the show.

Somebody taped the news broadcast below:

Update, Saturday, 7:13pm Eastern:

Most reports are saying that one person was killed, and the consensus is either three wounded or “several” wounded.  I spoke with a friend who was heading down early to see the Flaming Lips show later in the evening, and she said that there are lots of folks heading away from the Downsview Park area.  Police are asking people not to head to the area so that everything can be secured and investigated.

Story at the Montreal Gazette
Story at the Globe and Mail
Story at the Guardian
Story at the Province
Story at Canada.com
Story at NowPublic

I’m so sorry to have to report of the injured and killed again.  That is my least favorite part of writing.

More as I find it.  I’m not sure if this is even the time to bring it up, but there’s a creep around the place that Radiohead is playing at Sneaky Pete’s tonight; something not a rumor is that all ticket holders are being refunded for the show.

From NowPublic:

Update, Sunday, June 17, 5:51pm:

CNN posted an aerial flyby and an article of the Toronto stage that came down yesterday.  See below:

Thanks, @mcpoley, for tweeting the link.

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Update, Monday, June 18, 2012, 9:55am:

I have to report that the name of the one man killed has been released.  Radiohead (and Keane) drum tech Scott Johnson, 33, was killed by what investigators are calling “a heavy, crushing injury.”  I’m so sorry to have to report that.  Another industry veteran down.  Investigations are being called “fairly complex,” but none of the outside investigation parties are being named at this time.

From the Toronto Star:

The provincial Ministry of Labour remained tight-lipped Sunday on details surrounding a stage collapse at Downsview Park that killed a drum technician for Radiohead and forced the cancellation of a sold-out show.

spokesperson for the British band identified the drum technician as Scott Johnson, 33, of Doncaster, England. Johnson also toured with another U.K. band Keane.

“He was a lovely man, always positive, supportive and funny; a highly skilled and valued member of our great road crew,” Radiohead wrote on its website. “We will miss him very much.”

As three inspectors and two engineers from the ministry scoured the scene Sunday, it remained unclear what caused the massive structure to crumble, crushing Johnson and injuring three others.

Johnson was pronounced dead at the scene after sustaining what police said was a “heavy, crushing injury.”

Ministry spokesperson Matt Blajer said the investigation is “fairly complex” but could not confirm the names of any involved companies.

Meanwhile, industry professionals are questioning the circumstances leading up to the fatal accident, which occurred on an otherwise bright and sunny day, with only light winds.

From Radiohead‘s website:

We have all been shattered by the loss of Scott Johnson, our friend and colleague. He was a lovely man, always positive, supportive and funny; a highly skilled and valued member of our great road crew. We will miss him very much. Our thoughts and love are with Scott’s family and all those close to him.

Rest in peace, Scott Johnson.  More as it develops.

i-Pix Pix

I’ve written a few articles about the i-Pix LED wash and spot fixtures in the last several months – I got an email response to an inquiry made to i-Pix recently with some great photographs of the fixtures in action.  Check them out!

Bloc Party and i-Pix BB-7:

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Radiohead and the i-Pix BB-4 (as well as the BB-7):

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You have to check out these fixtures.  The output is amazing.

iPix and Radiohead – Awesome Video

Radiohead lighting and visuals designer Andi Watson is using 48 of the BB7 10 degree spot LED fixtures around his rig – with 25 of the units in five custom 5-way frames produced by Specialz.  Watson is also using 48 of the new BB4 wash luminaire models on his FOH truss.  25 i-Pix Satellite units with a holographic film are mounted on the floor in and around the backline to light Radiohead at close quarters.

Check out the offerings by i-Pix.  I certainly hope I have a chance in the near future to spec a few of each of the BB-4 and BB-7 fixtures!  The output is amazing.

Check out a more in-depth review of the Radiohead design and Andi Watson’s work in the i-Pix website’s article – great story!