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SoulMonster

1988.08.20 - Monsters of Rock Festival, Donnington Castle, England

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1988.08.20 - Monsters of Rock Festival, Donnington Castle, England

Post by Soulmonster on Thu Dec 08, 2011 12:19 am

Date:
August 20, 1988.

Venue:
Monsters of Rock Festival.

Location:
Donnington Castle, England.

Setlist:
01. It's So Easy
02. Mr. Brownstone
03. You're Crazy
04. Paradise City
05. Welcome to the Jungle
06. Patience
07. Sweet Child O'Mine

Line-up:
Axl Rose (vocals), Izzy Stradlin (rhythm guitarist), Slash (lead guitarist), Duff McKagan (bass) and Steven Adler (drums).

Quotes:
I think our performance is kind of secondary to what's happening in the crowd. They have casualties here. Were you out there at all? I think I saw a casualty happen. It was really weird. It was really strange. We had to stop the show. The P.A. system is kind of screwed up and you don't get time to have a good sound check so we couldn't really hear ourselves but we pulled it off. I think we did a good show. But I'm still stunned at the size of the audience and what was happening up front. It was real scary. We all went like, "woah!" [...] It was kids piled on kids horizontal on the ground. They were unconscious. And more people kept on falling on them. I saw them! It took about 20 minutes to get everybody out. We stopped the show and they finally pulled the last couple of people out and I think they were dead. It was really weird. I saw no life in those bodies at all. [...] ['Patience's] on the EP. The crowd needed to settle down and that's a song that says, "ok, everybody relax and listen"[Interview with Duff, Minutes after the concert]
We didn't tell people to smash each other. We didn't tell people, 'Drink so much alcohol that you can't fucking stand up.' I don't feel responsible in those ways [1988.11.17, Rolling Stone Magazine]
The band were really brought down by the event. And we did try to stop the craziness down the front by changing our set, slowing things down, I actually don’t know it the accident was our fault or not. If someone were to ask me face-to-face whether Guns n’ Roses were to blame, I couldn’t say with any conviction that we’re not. I don’t think we can be held responsible, but I’d have to think very hard before giving an answer. Maybe we have to take some of the blame. After all, we were onstage when those kids died, and had Guns n’ Roses not existed then perhaps the tragedy wouldn’t have occurred.

It weighs very heavily on us and whatever anyone else may write or say about the incident can’t make us feel any worse. Quite honestly, we couldn’t give a fuck about the media trying to make us the scapegoats. That thing will haunt me forever anyway.

It’s strange, but tragedy and pain do seem to dog our career, A lot of weird shit happens to this band. We seem to attract it. I dunno, I can’t help wondering if the reason why Slash and Izzy were so strung out on certain ‘substances’ recently (they’re now cleaned out and revved up) was their way of attempting to hide and numb the pain they felt
[Raw Magazine - "Mad, Bad and Dangerous To Know?", 1989.07.28]
That was... very strange. I mean, I saw it all go down. I stopped the gig three times. Kids were lookin' at me, givin' me this real intense look, like "something really, really bad is going down." You could read it all in their faces. I tried to stop the band... like three times... but they just kept playing, y'know on and on. Then I turned around and I could see the bodies being pulled out [The Face - "The Daze of Guns N' Roses", January 1990]
We stopped the show a couple of times at Donnington - a big racetrack in England - when things started getting out of hand. It was people as far as you could see. It rained; people would fall over and asphyxiate in the mud. We didn't know that a couple of people died untill after the show [Slash - The Hands Behind the Hype, December 1991]
Donnington was the worst show we've ever played. You don't know what's happening so you can't stop it [The Days of Wine and Roses, Classic Rock, April 2005]
At that show we experienced a frenzied reaction like nothing we'd seen before. The festival broke attendance records that year, surpassing the hundred-thousand mark. There couldn't have been a better place for us to record live footage...except for the fact that two people were trampled to death at the front of the stage during our set. The audience was crazy, just this sea of surging people. Axl stopped the set a number of times in an effort to control the crowd, but there was no calming them down. We had no idea that anyone was actually hurt let alone killed; after we'd done the gig and were celebrating in a nearby pub, Alan came in completely distraught and gave us the news. It was horrible; none of us knew what to do: something that had been a cause for celebration a moment before had become a tragedy [Slash's autobiography, 2007, p 236]
Those fans dying at Donnington has stayed with me, for sure. We were so excited to be playing there, but of course the phrase 'bittersweet' is way too light to cover it. We'd come off stage on a total high, feeling complete elation at the reception we'd got, and then we went to some pub near the venue, some hotel, and our manager Alan Niven told us what had happened and it was numbing. It just erased everything. I still think about it to this day. Two kids who had got up that morning to go to a rock concert... [The Truth, Mojo, June2008]
About a week after the sheet-cake ceremony [for reaching no. 1 on Billboard for Appetite], we flew to England again to play the outdoor Monsters of Rock festival at Castle Donnington. This was the kind of thing you heard about other band playing - big bands, household names, not grubby kids a year or two removed from living in a back-alley storage space and treating their venereal diseases with fucking fish food. Looking out on the sea of faces on August 20, 1988, I realized I'd never eve seen a crowd that size, much less stood in front of one. The festival had been going for a few years, but this was the biggest one so far - 107,000 in attendance. It was stormy, and the lawn - the infield of a racetrack - was thick with mud. Wind swirled. The PA had problems and a giant video screen blew over. We were near the bottom of the bill and played early in the day. When we started laying, tens of thousands of people surged forward. 'Shit almighty, people really want to see us. This is fucking crazy.' As fans swarmed toward the stage, I could see people getting pushed around, losing their footing. "Back up!" Axl screamed at the crowd. Security stopped te show during the third song to fish a few people out of the scrum. But they were also occupied dealing with the video screen that had collapsed in the wind., People refused to get out from under it - it was still showing the video feed. We continued playing after getting the okay from security. When we played 'Paradise City' the crowd surged forward again, a writhing mass of bodies, singing, screaming, nodding. Suddenly I could see kids piled on top of other kids, horizontal in the mud. It looked like some kids might be getting hurt. 'Should I jump in and try to do something?' I was too scared. We stopped playing again. "Don't fucking kill each other," Axl said to the crowd. This pause lasted about twenty minutes. Dozens of people were pulled out of the mud by security, Then once again we were told we could resume playing and finish our set. Only later did we hear the news: two fans had died, suffocated beneath other fans in the mud. 'Oh, fuck, no, no, no, no.' Those two fans, Alan Dick and Landon Siggers, had just come to see a rock concert. They had tried to see us, to sing with us. And now they were dead. All I could think about were their final moments of anguish, the horror they must have faced as they struggled to breathe in the knee-deep mud and other fans fell on top of them. 'Oh, God, no. I wish we'd never played this fucking show.' I wanted to apologize to their families [Duff's autobiography, "It's So Easy", 2011, p. 136-137]
In the middle of the tour we were flown out to England to perform at the annual Monsters of Rock festival at a racetrack in Castle Donnington, England. [...] In the middle of the afternoon we hit the stage. It was a madhouse. Over a hundred thousand kids were cramming against the front. The racetrack were selling these big thirty-two-ounce beers. The kids were drinking, and they weren't about to go through this whole fucking crowd just to urinate at a stall, so they pissed in the bottles. Before we went on, we were standing at the side of the stage looking at the size of the crowd.

Suddenly, we saw what looked like a swarm of giant locusts flying through the air; they were actually hundreds of these plastic bottles of urine soaring over the crowd. We were like, "What the fuck?" Bam, pop! People were getting hit in the head and splattered with pee. But it wasn't going to change anything. We had gotten spit on, we had bottles of booze and beet thrown at us, and we had gotten in shoving matches with fans and other bands, so what's a little projectile piss?

I was surprised to see so many Guns N' Roses banners waving in the crowd. By the time we went on there were 120,000 people screaming and jumping up and down. It was really an impressive sight for us all. Everyone was so out of control, and we had to stop the show several times because people kept rushing the stage. Axl asked the crowd to settle down and back up. People were getting crushed at the front of the stage. It wasn't until the next day, after we flew the Concorde back to the U.S., that we were told that two kids were killed during our set. They were trampled to death.

I was shell-shocked. Numb. I couldn't believe it. Of course, the media blamed the band, fueling our notorious bad-boy image. And we were just starting to get a broader, more friendly public image going when this happened. [...]

To this day, the Donnington tragedy still haunts me like a nightmare
[Steven's autobiography, "My Appetite for Destruction", 2010, p. 168-170]
What’s kind of lost is that people think Guns n’ Roses headlined Donington. We played at noon. We were really low on the bill and we were just happy to be here. [Classic Rock Magazine, June 2013]
Next concert: 1988.08.24.
Previous concert: 1988.08.17.


Last edited by Soulmonster on Mon Jun 17, 2013 7:14 pm; edited 7 times in total
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Re: 1988.08.20 - Monsters of Rock Festival, Donnington Castle, England

Post by Soulmonster on Fri Apr 27, 2012 10:33 pm

Cool having all the members comment on this tragedy.
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Re: 1988.08.20 - Monsters of Rock Festival, Donnington Castle, England

Post by Soulmonster on Mon Aug 06, 2012 12:37 am

Guns N' Roses were brilliant that night: the best show I ever saw them play. At times, Axl was in playful mood, swapping cowboy hats with Duff. [...] Aerosmith may have been the headliners of that tour, but Guns N' Roses were the main attraction, and Axl owned that stage. Just before they'd gone on, Ian Tilton [photographer for the Shine (?)] had asked Doug Goldstein [GN'R's manager at the time] if he could shoot from the side of the stage. "Not unless you want to eat a mic-stand..." Ian asked me if that was a joke. I assured him it wasn't [20 Years of Appetite, Classic Rock Magazine, July 2007]
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Re: 1988.08.20 - Monsters of Rock Festival, Donnington Castle, England

Post by Soulmonster on Mon Jun 17, 2013 7:15 pm

New quote from Duff added.
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