On July 17th, Cheap Trick guitarist and Guitar Aficionado contributor Rick Nielsen was almost killed when the stage roof at an outdoor concert in Ottowa, Canada collapsed on the band and crew. We spoke to Nielsen a few days after the accident and the scene that he described was both terrifying and chaotic. Cheap Trick have now released a statement about the accident.
On July 17, 2011 Cheap Trick and its crew, along with other stage personnel, narrowly averted death when the MNBA Stage roof at the 2011 Cisco Ottawa Bluesfest fell on the stage during their evening performance. Several thousand fans were also lucky to escape basically unharmed.
While honored by the concern and support expressed for their well-being, Cheap Trick is as interested in ensuring that no other band or crew experience the same potentially lethal hazard.
"We simply want to know: what are the companies and organizers doing to protect the next act and the next audience?" says band manager Dave Frey. "Every act and every fan ought to be asking the same question when attending an outside musical event."
While weather likely contributed to the incident, Cheap Trick notes that the multi-ton stage roof that fell on everyone on the stage must be properly explained, especially when nearby tents and other temporary structures stood untouched. "Was it a design flaw? Was it an implementation mistake? These are important questions that must be answered," Frey added.
The incident is now under independent and Ontario government investigation. Cheap Trick is actively participating in those efforts and urges all parties involved to do the same.
Cheap Trick plans to continue pressing for a full accounting of what happened and is dedicated to ensuring that proper safety measures are taken at future concerts.