Trap Them, Dave Grohl and a Brief History of Musicians Being Injured Falling Off Stage
Trap Them vocalist Matt McKenney broke both his feet Saturday in a stage diving incident — but he's hardly the only musician to incur such an injury.
Massachusetts grindcore band Trap Them is getting their largest bump in visibility this week thanks to the fact that lead vocalist Ryan McKenney apparently broke both feet in a leap from a speaker cabinet Saturday night and finished the band’s set. (The next evening, he performed — with two black eyes and casts on both feet — from an office chair, possibly because a wheelchair was deemed not metal enough.)
If McKenney can take any solace in his injuries, though, it’s in the fact that he’s hardly alone. Many musicians have been injured falling from the stage, and a few fans as well. Below, a brief history of injuries occurred when musicians and the stage they’re performing on have a falling out.
Zappa was performing in London in 1971 when a fan rushed the stage during the band’s encore and — either because Zappa had been “making eyes at his girlfriend” or the band “hadn’t given him value for his money” — punched Zappa, causing him to fall 15 feet into the venue’s concrete-floored orchestra pit. He sustained various injuries to his head and neck, a broken rib, a paralyzed arm, and suffered the permanent loss of a portion of his vocal range. The man wound up spending a year in jail over the incident.
Rare was the Stooges show where Iggy Pop didn’t end up in the crowd at some point, but when the group was playing New York’s famed Max’s Kansas City in 1973, there was one crowd member he didn’t count on: A table of glasses, which he knocked over and fell onto during one of his forays into the crowd. Pop emerged with blood reportedly spurting from his torso, and after attempts to patch him up with gaffer’s tape failed, none other than Alice Cooper finally took him to the ER.
Punk’s poet laureate, Smith was on an ill-matched tour with Bob Seger in 1977 when she fell 15 feet off stage in Tampa, Florida, landing in — what else — an orchestra pit. She broke several vertebrae in her neck and had to undergo physical therapy, but got some encouraging advice from her doctor. “Actually I felt like an assh—, but my doctor told me not to worry, it happens to everybody.”
Dietrich took a series of falls in the ’70s that had wits everywhere turning the name of her most famous performance into “Falling Off Stage Again.” But the accidents were serious: One in 1973 required skin grafts afterwards, and one in 1975 resulted in the broken leg that forced her retirement.
Stage dives are often considered more the domain of the rock star, but in 1986, legendary jazz saxophonist Sonny Rollins jumped off stage during a performance in New York. He broke his foot, but just continued playing, flat on his back.
Stevie Ray Vaughan
Vaughan’s breathtaking performances contributed to his mythos throughout the ’80s as the preeminent bluesman of the day. Unfortunately, those performances were frequently powered by prodigious amounts of cocaine and alcohol, and as a result, he blacked out onstage during a performance in London in 1986, an incident that was the wake-up call he needed to get sober.
Amazingly, Vedder has never been severely injured during his long history of climbing whatever was available at venues hosting the band and then flinging himself off said structures into the crowd. But he probably did more to elevate the art of the stage dive throughout the ’90s than anyone else, so he’s getting an honorable mention here.
Sid Wilson (Slipknot)
Slipknot is known for their devoted fans, who they — lovingly, we swear — refer to as “maggots.” The band’s DJ, Sid Wilson, once broke both his heels jumping into a crowd of said maggots during the first show of the band’s 2008 tour. He finished the tour in a wheelchair, though he didn’t miss a show.
Steven Tyler (Aerosmith)
Tyler might be rivaling Dietrich at this point for stage falls. After dancing off the stage in 2009 and injuring his head, neck and shoulder, Tyler shoved guitarist Joe Perry in 2010 and Perry shoved him back a little too hard, sending him off stage.
Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters)
Growl fell off stage during a June 2015 show in Sweden, breaking his leg in the process, though he managed to finish the show and — while high on pain pills — sketched a primitive throne and sent it to the band’s lighting guy with the note, “Build this.” Build it he did, and Grohl finished the tour atop his very own custom-made, guitar-shooting throne.