The Who to play Cincinnati 40 years after concert tragedy

By Dan Sewell

Rock band The Who have announced they will play their first concert in the Cincinnati area since 11 fans died there 40 years ago in a pre-show stampede.

The band will play on April 23 next year at Northern Kentucky University’s BB&T Arena, seven miles south of the site of the concert on December 3 1979 in the Ohio city where another two dozen people were injured amid confusion and lack of preparation for thousands of fans who queued up for hours for seats.

The announcement came after WCPO-TV in Cincinnati aired a documentary featuring interviews with lead singer Roger Daltrey and guitarist Pete Townshend, the remaining original members of the British band behind such hits as My Generation and Won’t Get Fooled Again.

Both said they have 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,” he said.

“I’m so glad that we’ve got this opportunity to go back.”

The band is adding the concert to its 2020 Moving On! tour dates.

The Who will donate a portion of proceeds from the Cincinnati area concert to a memorial scholarship fund benefiting students in the Cincinnati suburb of Finneytown.

The Who on stage (David Jensen/PA)

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 people killed, including two 15-year-old girls who were the youngest victims, had attended Finneytown High.

The band did not know about the tragedy until the concert was ending. Long-time manager Bill Curbishley had made the decision to have the show go on, warning Cincinnati authorities that they would not 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.”