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The Highway Star

Deep Purple in Santiago, Chile, Feb. 27, 1997
[ d e e p P u r . p l e ) The Highway Star

When I got into work on Friday Feb. 28 a friend came up to me and said "did you see Deep Purple on the news this morning?". I said I didn't watch the news and he told me there had been an accident at a Deep Purple concert in Chile. When I opened my mailbox I found the emails you can read on this page.

Let's hope for a speedy recovery for the Deep Purple fans that got injured and that the rest of the South American tour continues without any major problems.

Svante Pettersson,
Editor, The Highway Star

[Map of Santiago, Chile]

Date: Thu, 27 Feb 1997 23:31:14
From: Javier Diaz
Subject: Chile

A bad night in Santiago

Tonight in Santiago, Feb 27, barely after the first 15 minutes of DP gig and while Gillan was greeting the 20,000 strong crowd in a very good spanish, the sound control tower collapsed upon the green of the Santa Laura soccer stadium, crushing an untold amount of youth who were trapped underneath and had to be rescued by firemen and evacuated in ambulances. No casualty figures so far.

The band stared in shock and quickly withdrew from the stage and, finaly, left the Stadium. The show was cancelled. People left the place calmly and in order. TV is supposed to show some footage of the tragedy later tonight.

The Stadium, located in a working class district in the northern part of Santiago had begun to fill past 16:00 hours in one of the hottest summer days we've had this season. The show was scheduled for 21:00.- At 21:50 the concert began with Hush. Especially outstanding were Paice and Gillan so far. The band made a break and Gillan started thanking wild crowd, when the tower erected in the soccer field gave in to the pressure of youth that, bypassing the security detail, had climbed onto it. There was a huge crashing sound with sparks all over and the steel frame began to bend fast and finaly gave in in full. At the time of this writing (23:20) there's no official account of the wounded, but many are presumed since local police had to call ambulance reinforcement and firement to rescue the trapped people.

This was a very bad night, indeed.

Javier Diaz

Date: Fri, 28 Feb 1997 00:22:54
From: Javier Diaz
Subject: Santiago Update

Ammendment to my previous information on the Santiago events.

1- Local Police gave the go-ahead tonight to resume the Deep Purple show in Santiago that had been put on hold after a tower collapsed upon the audience. Fearing disorders if the Stadium was forcibly evacuated, Police authorized the gig to resume, wich it did around 23:30 and is currently going on.

2- However, the live FM radio broadcast that was on the air until the accident happened did not resume.

3- Estimated number of wounded go from 80 to 200 people. No fatal casualties so far.

Regards, Javier Diaz

Date: Fri, 28 Feb 1997 10:16:06
From: Javier Diaz
Subject: More info from Santiago

The show resumed at the request of local organizers, who say feared clashes with the police if it was cancelled. My guess is that they feared bankruptcy more. If the concert had been cancelled and since the accident appears to be their fault for bad security measures, they would've had to pay the band and refund the tickets, an impossible proposition.

After the tower went down -it's the tower that goes at the center of sport fields in Rock concerts- the band left the stage and prepared to leave. They were already in their van when the local organizers (La Gargola) approached them and requested them to resume the show. The band complied and the show came to a natural conclusion if somewhat abridged.

Of the wounded, estimates are some 50 people of which all but four were sent home last night. The remaining four are under observation. No fatal casualties are feared so far.

Javier Diaz
Santiago -CHILE

From: AMBAFRAN@iusanet.cl
Date: Sun, 23 Feb 97 14:56:09
Subject: About the Santiago concert

I was one among thousands to witness the incidents at the concert last night. Newspapers said there were "around" 30 people injuried, 4 considered seriously wounded.

I admit the whole thing had been very badly organized, with serious lacks concerning security, accesses and all. The point is that when the tower collapsed, it could have killed tens of people, it was some kind of miracle there wasn't.

I wish somebody could tell me what happened at the end of the show (it wasn't resumed as I read. There was no PA, and a slightly reduced performance - a big thank you to all the crew and band, it was some kind of prowess. After the final encore, final notes of Highway Star still ringing, I saw Steve fighting with the crowd behind him, then he jumped in the pit. As he got his guitar grabbed by some guys and got it stolen? If you know something, please let me know.

I personnaly consider flying to Argentina or Brazil to see a good concert, as what I could hear yesterday night was so good...

Best regards, Chris.

Date: Sat, 01 Mar 1997 00:45:36
From: Javier Diaz

Santiago Accident Wrap-Up

TV showed tonight, Friday 28, a long feature on yesterday's accident at the Santiago Deep Purple show.

There could be seen both the sound and the lights console crushed under the steel bars of the collapsed tower. The band could resume playing last night thanks to a backup sound control unit they kept behind the stage. Static sources of light had to be used, reinforced by the Stadium's, since most special FX lights systems went down with the tower.

Some fifteen minutes after the accident, most of the people at the Stadium began to chant: "no nos vamos ni ..." which roughly translated means "the ... we'll leave". Clearly they were there to see the band and, after the first jolt had passed, couldn't care less for the outcome of the accident. The threatening attitude of the audience, made of trashers, neo punks and poor youth mostly as attested by the clashes with police outside the Stadium BEFORE the gig began, prompted the organisers and the Police to request from the band that they return to the stage. In an gesture that has been prominently highlighted by the local press, the guys had no problem and they were back as soon as conditions allowed.

The event made front page news in two Santiago newspapers today. Some here feared that this accident would fuel still more criticism against Rock by conservative and fundamentalist sectors of Chilean society. Fortunately enough, the local organisers are the ones getting all the fire for their faulty security measures, and the band has drawn nothing but praise.

Before leaving for Buenos Aires, Gillan told the press that he was impressed with the country, that he could sense a very special "national spirit" here and that he hoped the band would return one day to play in Santiago without incidents.

If that's the case, I'll keep you posted.

Javier Diaz
Santiago - CHILE

Date: Sat, 01 Mar 1997 22:02:36 -0800
From: Francisco Pablo Espinoza Estrada

    I'm a longtime Purple and Dregs fan and I was there 'the night the tower came down'. As you all know, it was a really sad thing, but the band played an incredibly energetic show, in spite of the accident. What impressed me the most was the way Steve's sound and style merged with the classic band. It sounded like they had been playin' together for years!! And Morse's guitar tone was beautiful! One of the best I've heard in a live setting (and I've seen Allan Holdsworth)! Very articulate, warm and LOUD!

    Sadly, the concert ended with another sad note... After a demolishing 'Highway Star', Steve threw his guitar to the floor and jumped down from the stage, very angry ! The reason ? A 'fan' had been giving him the finger and spitting on him for the last part of the show... I think he couldn't take any more of this so he tried to grab him ! Some crew members and the rest of the band came after Steve and tried to calm him down. Finally, a very frustrated Steve was carried away by his friends.... This is how the show ended. BUT, this didn't end here, because I proceeded to grab that sad punk by his hair, gave him three hard blows in the face, two kicks in the balls and threw him to the floor. Then, I personally kicked him some more and invited some 20 or more members of the crowd to kick the living crapola out of this sorry excuse for a human being. To make a long story short, the guy will probably never spit again! My knucklebones still hurt, but he deserved it, and it was a pleasure anyway!!

    I sincerely hope Purple come back and play a smaller venue (a theatre perhaps). They proved the fact that they belong to rock'n'roll royalty. I salute and thank them for their honorable decision to continue playing, and I sincerely apologize to Steve for what happened! A gentleman like him shouldn't have to take this shit from anyone.

Greetings from Concepcion, Chile
Francisco Espinoza Estrada

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