The Who to Play First Cincinnati Area Concert Since 1979 Tragedy

Following WCPO’s documentary about the ‘79 concert that left 11 area fans dead, the legendary band announced it will play a benefit concert in April 2020 at Northern Kentucky University's BB&T Arena

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click to enlarge The Who - Photo: Raph PH (CC-by-2.0)
Photo: Raph PH (CC-by-2.0)
The Who

It’s been exactly 40 years since The Who last performed in Cincinnati. That show, on Dec. 3, 1979, at Riverfront Coliseum, resulted in one of the worst concert tragedies of all time, as 11 people were killed in the push to get into the arena.

Near the end of WCPO’s documentary The Who: The Night That Changed Rock that premiered tonight — featuring the most extensive interviews yet about that night with The Who’s Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey, as well as the group's longtime manager, Bill Curbishley — the band announced it would once again return to Cincinnati to perform.

Despite being "so nervous" about it, during Townshend's interview with host Tanya O'Rourke he said that The Who would indeed be coming back to the Cincinnati area to play a benefit for the P.E.M. Memorial scholarship.

"We need to go back to Cincinnati," Townshend said.

WCPO announced the details of The Who's first concert in Greater Cincinnati in 40 years at 11 p.m.

The band will perform April 23, 2020 at BB&T Arena at Northern Kentucky University. Tickets go on sale this Friday, Dec. 6 at 10 a.m. through ticketmaster.com.

O'Rourke said on the 11 p.m. WCPO newscast that the Northern Kentucky venue was chosen due to scheduling. The band didn't want to return to Riverfront Coliseum (now Heritage Bank Center) and didn't want to risk playing an outdoor venue due to weather concerns, she said. BB&T Arena was the best available option for the April 23 date.

The P.E.M. organization — which will reportedly receive "a portion of the proceeds" from ticket sales — provides scholarships for Finneytown High School students looking to pursue the arts. The grants are given in the name of the three Finneytown students killed on that night in 1979 — Stephan Preston (who was 19), Jackie Eckerle (15) and Karen Morrison (15). The others who died that night were Walter Adams Jr., Peter Bowes, Connie Sue Burns, David Heck, Teva Rae Ladd, Philip Snyder, Bryan Wagner and James Warmoth. All 11 are memorialized on a plaque outside of the former Riverfront Coliseum.

In an AP interview that posted this morning, Townshend said he was eager to return to Cincinnati.

“Now, we can have a conversation about it when we go back. That conversation will pick up. We will meet people and we’ll be there. We’ll be there. That’s what’s important. I’m so glad that we’ve got this opportunity to go back,” he said.

If you missed the WCPO documentary, you can stream it here.

This post has been updated with the concert details.


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