Tuesday, 24 October 2017


Friends and live music fans may remember that back in 2012, Aussie Floyd's drum technician Scott Johnson was tragically killed in Canada, when an outdoor stage collapsed. He'd been on tour with Radiohead. Scott was truly one of the kindest and most decent people I met during those years; it was an unbelievably cruel twist of fate.

Five years on, and no justice has been done; the organisations and individuals responsible have totally evaded accountability. His family have been denied closure; they live in an endless cycle of fighting powerful organisations seemingly to no avail. And now? Now the case has been thrown out of court because it's supposedly 'taken too long' - even though the delays were entirely caused by the courts and defendants themselves, and the agonisingly slow legal process. A process that unequivocally plays to the super-rich, and those who'd deliberately hide behind faceless corporations and brands.

I encountered the same thing to a lesser degree when I took on a large chain of Nursing Homes in 2014, whose negligence caused the untimely death of my mum. It was like swimming against a very large and unassailable tide. The whole thing was just a farce; I was doomed to fail, and it deeply affected me. But my mum was ill and in her seventies; she wasn't a young man with his whole life ahead of him, her life cut short by the questionable negligence of a multinational corporation worth billions. It's injustice off the scale.

Some of the most callous and immoral people in this world always argue it's 'just business'. It's something we see all the time, in every walk of life. From employers and multinational companies and institutions, to politicians, public figures and governments. People at the top don't think the 'little people' matter. They truly believe they can do what they like without reprisal, that the system and our very lives are theirs to play. I am so very sick of it: it's endemic, and it's why I rant at the heavens like a madman. It's the enduring legacy of capitalism, the veiled successor of feudalism and 'divine right', and I know I for one shall never be able to accept it.

This recent industry magazine article by Laura Barnes about the failure to achieve justice for Scott, again brought home to me the corruption and selfish careerism typically lurking behind such injustice. Like the trials and trauma faced by Grenfell Tower survivors battling a council and government that protects its own. Like the situation with Harvey-fucking-Weinstein, people all across the music industry are scared/unwilling to stand up for what's right, because the behemoth that is Live Nation holds too much sway over their lives and careers:

"The feelings of frustration and anger are echoed throughout the production fraternity, with more being shared in private than in public, perhaps due to the grip that Live Nation have on touring and festivals and the fact that people need to earn a living." 

"The UK based BECTU union has not replied to my request for comment, neither have the editors of two notable trade magazines dedicated to the live event industry. I have also contacted a number of large UK audio hire companies, none of whom are prepared to talk about the issue on the record while a few colleagues in senior production roles have spoken out but have asked not to be named- which is not a great deal of practical use, grateful though I am that they have responded."

Cowards, the lot of them.

I'm just so appalled by the way this tragedy has been brushed under the carpet. I cannot begin to imagine the trauma and frustration endured by Scott's parents. I'm still in touch with his father, Ken, who rightly so will never give up fighting, and fortunately Radiohead are firmly on side too - so it's not over yet.

But neither can it be denied, Radiohead are only able to speak out against the might of Live Nation because they're a huge global band, who can't simply be 'shut down'. Everyone else further down the food chain seems to be hushing up and closing ranks.

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."
- Edmund Burke

Whatever your cause, if you believe wrong-doing and injustice have occurred: fight it. Fight it all the way, even if it's to your detriment. However much others harangue and insult you, ostracise you and mock you...you are the spark of human decency and ethics that dragged humankind from the abyss of ignorance and violence. That spark is why we're free, and why they're free not to care. (Until it affects them, any way.)

RIP Scott. Gone but never forgotten. Good people are still fighting for you mate.

1 comment: