Various musicians took to Twitter last night to pay tribute to Scott Johnson, the 33 year old British drum technician who died after staging collapsed ahead of a planned Radiohead concert in Toronto yesterday. The Live Nation-promoted sell-out show was cancelled after the accident, which also injured three other crew members.
According to CNN, a large “scaffolding-type structure” 40 to 60 feet above the main stage collapsed about an hour before gates were due to open for the event, which would have seen Caribou play as well as headliners Radiohead. There was no unusual or extreme weather conditions at the time, so the cause of the collapse is not currently known.
Describing the incident, a spokesman for Toronto Fire Services told Reuters: “The roof part of the stage collapsed. It’s like an arch made out of round piping similar to what they use for scaffolding. From our understanding, at this point in the investigation, there were a number of people on the stage preparing for a concert. They were setting up when the top portion of the stage collapsed on top of them. Unfortunately, four people were hurt [including Johnson]. The remainder of the people, when they heard the stage coming down, ran from the area”.
Meanwhile a spokesman for Toronto Police told reporters at a press conference: “The one thing that we’re going to be doing is working closely with the Ministry Of Labour, trying to determine exactly how that stage came down, and we’re urging any witnesses that were in the area to come forward. It’s going to take us a large amount of time to determine exactly what occurred”.
In a brief statement on behalf of Radiohead, the band’s drummer Phil Selway said: “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”.
Meanwhile on Twitter, Geoff Barrow from Portishead wrote: “Shocking to hear the passing of crew member Scott Johnson of the Radiohead tour – my thoughts and condolences are with everyone involved”.
Jack Lawrence Brown, drummer with White Lies, wrote: “Devastated to learn that the man killed in the Radiohead stage collapse was drum tech Scott Johnson. Scott worked with White Lies on a show earlier in the year as my drum tech. A very talented man and a lovely guy all round. Glad to have known him. A big loss. RIP Scott”.
Meanwhile, according to Metro, Ian West, who taught Johnson drumming in his home town of Doncaster, said: “It is a very, very big shock. He was a great student, a great drummer. He got a lucky break and made the most of it. He never looked back”.
Last summer, of course, there were a number of dangerous stage collapse incidents around the world, most notably those at the Sugarland concert in Indiana and at the Pukkelpop festival in Belgium, though both of those were caused by extreme weather conditions. It remains to be seen if anything can be learned from this latest incident, in calm weather, to prevent future fatalities.