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.
Editor, The Highway Star
Date: Thu, 27 Feb 1997 23:31:14
From: Javier Diaz
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
Santiago - CHILE
Date: Sat, 01 Mar 1997 22:02:36 -0800
From: Francisco Pablo Espinoza Estrada
Subject: STEVE MORSE INCIDENT IN SANTIAGO
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
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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