On Jan. 18, 1991 tragedy struck during an AC/DC concert in Salt Lake City.
The band had barely launched into its opening song – “Thunderstruck,” the hit single from 1990’s The Razor’s Edge – when a sea of fans rushed towards the stage. The venue, the Salt Palace, had booked the show as a general admission event with no assigned seating. More than 13,000 people were in attendance that night, and the free-for-all for premium spots led to a mad dash for the front row. The stampede quickly got out of control with bodies crushed against one another.
“I was telling the security guard for AC/DC to shut off the music, to turn off the lights, people are hurting, people are screaming,” venue security guard Scott Carter recalled to MTV the day after the concert. “All I can remember is feeling helpless because I was being ignored. Nothing was being done.”
Indeed, even as the mayhem in the crowd was unfolding, the band initially played on. Exactly how long the group continued performing was a subject of debate – some said 15 minutes, while others estimated it was more like 45. Three teens died as a result of injuries sustained during the chaos – one that night, two in the hospital days later.
“Terrible night. I’ll never forget it for as long as I live,” recalled Brian Johnson years afterward on Behind the Music, insisting he and the rest of AC/DC had no idea the magnitude of what was going on in the audience. “I was shattered,” the singer remembered of the moment word finally reached the band. “Angus was beside himself. I could see he was welling up. Mal was trying to hold it together as best he could.”