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This Day in Metal: August 8th 1992 A Massive riot breaks out at a Metallica concert in Montreal
On This Day in Metal, August 8th 1992 a massive riot breaks out at a Metallica/Guns N' Roses concert in Montreal.
During Fade to Black, James walked into a big Pyrotechnic flame due to a miscommunication with the pyro guy.
He was rushed to the hospital and suffered severe burns.
Recalling the incident some years later to VH-1’s Behind The Music, he said: “I’m a little confused on where I’m supposed to be, and then pyro guy doesn’t see me, and ‘whoosh!’, a big coloured flame goes right up under me. I’m burnt. My arm, my hand, completely down to the bone. The side of my face. Hair’s gone. Part of my back. I watched the skin just rising, all these things going wrong.”
GNR took more than two hours to take the stage after Metallica's departure, and things went downhill from there. According to the New York Times, Rose lasted 55 minutes before ending the set, although the Seattle Times timed it at a far less charitable 15 minutes.
Either way, after standing around waiting to rock only to hear Rose say, "this will be our last show for a long time" then walk off the stage, the crowd turned to violence. "The PA fed back the entire time, the monitors fed back the entire time, the crowd was like, nonexistent," Slash later told MTV.
"We had just stopped the tour because I had throat problems. Came back, and I realized, 'I'm gonna hurt myself,' Rose said. "I told Slash, 'Two more songs, if we can't get it fixed, I gotta go.' We did more than two more songs, and finally I was just, like, 'I don't know what to do.' I looked over and Gilby was like, 'Dude, I can't hear. And Duff McKagan was like, 'I can't hear either.' We had a little huddle, and we were like, 'We're outta here.'"
Added Slash: "Montreal was just really creepy. Nothing against the people of Montreal; we had a great time hanging out there. I think it was the building itself."
Ultimately, out of the 53,000 or so in attendance, only an estimated 2,000 were involved in the riot, and aside from grotesque levels of property damage – which reportedly included an uprooted street lamp and an overturned police cruiser – the whole thing was kept from spiraling too far out of control by Montreal police, who showed up in riot gear, sealed off the area and used tear gas to quell the violence. When the dust settled, there were "at least three police officers and 10 rioters injured" and "at least a dozen arrests."
The whole mess made headlines around the world, giving Rose's list of detractors more ammunition and furthering the band's growing reputation for bad behavior. The Montreal Gazette recalls that when U2 visited the city a few weeks later, Bono cracked a veiled joke at Rose's expense from the stage, pausing a few songs into the set and quipping, "What time is it? We gotta go."
You can watch a news report of the riot below