For information on today's festivals see eFestivals.co.uk
Updated Feb 2019
This page dedicated to the memory of ALAN DICK (18yrs) and LANDON PETER SIGGERS (20yrs) who died at the festival..
Castle Donington Raceway.
© Mark Peat
" don't fuckin' kill each other "
Axel Rose addresses the audience during the Guns N' Roses set.....
Its a sea of Denim ! © Karl Davies
Fireworks close off the event © Dave Ingham
We start off our recollections of this festival with a rather harrowing account from a close friend of one of the deceased....
guys my name is Mark Bradshaw and I was there!!!!
caught the train from helensburugh central that morning totally buzzing
about the gig we then travel from Glasgow to donnington,
We got our tickets from the portacabin outside the main gate and went in to the grounds.
I don’t remember much of the gig other than maiden kicked ass and g 'n' r were amazing however I remember plenty about after the gig.
When I got back to the coach the first thing I noticed was no one was buzzing or talking about the gig , it was then I saw Joe and he told me what had happened, the arse fell out of my world I didn’t believe him at first and thought yeah right shit joke mate, but when the 2 cid officers boarded the coach and took us to the local hospital to identify Allan’s body it hit me like a fucking train.
The guy that had been the first to show me friendship when I moved to rhu ( the village we stayed in) and he was the guy who introduced me to guns n roses was lying on a morticians slab covered in mud and shit and a colour that will stay with me for the rest of my life.
Three of us went to donington and two came back, dicky (Allan) was the salt of the earth, he was a good mate and a really nice guy in general, his funeral was mobbed there was a 100 plus attended it. I wasn’t there as I couldn’t bring myself to watch my best mate being cremated.
One thing is for sure he will always be remembered. His full name was Allan Dick , he was from the village of Rhu near Helensburgh in Scotland .
haven’t been to another gig since and do get pretty nervous in crowds
but for me Donington 88 was my first and last concert.
i too was there...right in the middle during guns n roses,its like one of the other posters said you really did have to fight your way out. As i did there were loads of people in shock and crying...men and women......sad day ..Alan and Landen i think they were called.
Courtesy Ashley Haynes
was there and the whole crowd lifted me from my feet and took me towards
the front; I've never been so scared in my life. I don't know the lad
who died that day but i do feel very sorry for him because it could
very easily have been me! I don't know whose fault that death was but
the organisation of that concert was crap! Those there might remember,
the proj screen for Iron Maiden on the left had already collapsed before
the concert strated. H & S was never a priority in 1988!
I remember that - I jumped up in the air - the crowd was so tight i didnt touch the ground again for 10 mins - scared shitless I was - got pulled out from security during 'Paradise City'
I was there and almost got killed in the crush. Worst day of my life.
I was there too, right in the crush man. Scared the living piss outta me. I remember two people under me on the ground: one guy on the very bottom with his eyes closed and a girl who I lost after I got heaved out by some huge dude with a Megadeth patch on the back of his denim jacket. I remember the bottles and shit flying overhead too. A tragic day, one that I will always remember. So nice to hear from people that were there! All grown up and living back in Canada lol Boy, how times change....
Not terribly comforting to see such a fuckin big PA being supported by such a little forklift....! © Karl Davies
I was there too, SCARY. I was about 50 yards from the stage and for a while there, I was at the mercy of the crowd. Could barely breath! What a wild experience that was!
I was among the 108, 000 fans there that day and since the fans were crushed the organisers got their act together very quickly and the following year barriers were introduced to seperate the front section of the crowd. Sad that people were lost but credit to the organisers.
ROCK FANS. We will remember you.
G N'R © Dave Ingham
I didnt even know who they were I got my ticket that morning so when axel started to wind the crowd up we was all giving him the bird then it all went fucking manic they had such energy . Later on I saw the two people who died being carried off thet crowd . I didnt realize what had happened till the next day I just remember it being weird Iron Maiden refusing to play until everyone took a step back . Both great bands !
There was no riot. I was there. There was a huge crush caused by people rushing to get to the front to see them and because of the layout of the arena at the time, there was no way out. The position of the stage was changed in subsequent years. I didnt like them at the time but they did play an awesome set.
I too was there...right in the middle during guns n roses, its like one of the other posters said you really did have to fight your way out. As i did there were loads of people in shock and crying...men and women......sad day ..Alan and Landen i think they were called.
Nice website, really brings back memories. 20 years ago!!!
5 of us in total, 4 from my year at school, all took a bus at about 5am from Guidlford to Donington. We had had the tickets for weeks, bought from the local guitar shop who arranged the bus.
My mate and I had drunk 2.5 litres of Ruddles before the bus even arrived in Donington - and refilled the bottle from the other end! At the gate beer was allowed in in soft plastic containers like you get milk in today, but we had drunk all of ours already. These were to become missiles for the rest of the day, filled up again then thrown spinning so the air was permanently full of these bombs. I got smacked hard on the head twice and got a bit of a headache for a while, might have been a late hangover though. People were putting motorbike helmets on to protect themselves.
Two of us went down to the front during Megadeth, along the side, where the motion of the crown then sucked us in to the front just as they played God Save the Queen it went ballistic (you are missing their playlist by the way)! Just like everyone else talks about I could pick up my feet and put them down ten metres away. We held on to each other pretty tightly not to get separated, I fell twice and each time was instantly yanked back to my feet whoever was nearest just grabbed my jacket and lifted me up again. Probably should have been scared but it just felt exciting at the time, a bit of a rush.
remember Kiss ,it was like having two headline bands they were great.
So were Maiden. I didn't think I liked GnR at the time I saw Axl on a
Channel 4 video and thought he looked stupid, but I loved their music
at this gig, especially Paradise City.
Slash © Dave Ingham
I was there and almost got killed during G'n'R set. Can't say I have good memories.
I was there too . must of been close to you. i carried one of the gilfriends of one of the dead guys back stage. lost my jacket money n train ticket home in the chaos
It was my first gig too,and I got pulled under in the crush.I got out with cracked ribs and a broken nose.The bit when Axl told the crowd to get back brought tears to my eyes even after all this time.Total carnage that day.
Shit I was there right at the front. 17 years old covered in mud and piss, they were awsome but the crowd surge was fucking scary, I reckon my feet didnt touch the ground for a good 10 minutes. the first guy who died was pulled from the crowd just in front of me ... fucked up gig.... someone must have a decent tape of that day.
I was there got caught in the crush, it was very scary,one girl started screaming and crying, I had 2 fight 2 stay upright, but managed 2 fight my way out! I could feel all my breath and energy being drained, everyones legs getting caught up! as said very scary! I was so happy when I got out the crush!
I was there too, brings back some great memories, was up near the front when the crowd surged sideways and was shit scared when people near me got trampled
Axel © Dave Ingham
I am loving your site, it is bringing back so many memories that have been fogged with time.
For GnR I was caught in the crush at the front. I don't remember beingscared at the time, but in retrospect, especially reading other peoples accounts, I am feeling lucky that I got out alive. I wasn't too far from the stage, and remember collapsing on top of a pile of bodies. It saddens me to think that I may have contributed to the death of one of those poor souls.
think one of the problems was that in the time from the line up being fixed,
and the event taking place, GnR had become massive and it is obvious the organisers
weren't prepared for the ensuing rush of people to see a band so far down the
The only three bands I explicitly remember from that day were GnR, David Lee Roth - only because of his "I forgot the fucking words" act - and Maiden, who blew me away.
only other memory from that day, and it is a bizarre one, is after Maiden we
were all making our way to the exit when they announced overthe PA about the
tragedy during GnR. I remember a deathly silenceamongst the crowd, then, for
whatever reason, they decided to play Monty Python's "Always Look on the
Bright Side of Life". I remember shaking my head in disbelief.
long last British Heavy Metal heroes Iron Maiden finally got their shot at headlining
Britain’s top rock festival.
Their show was based around the ‘Seventh Son’ album. And with an impressive stage set and song selection they wowed the crowd with an excellent performance worthy of their position at the top of the bill.
However there was an impressive line up beneath them……
Megadeath © Dave Ingham
performed a no nonsense, no make up set, that would have set the crowd
alight had it not been for a very colourful Dave Lee Roth and co. strutting
their stuff with typical American bombast and flair immediately before
them. Steve Vai brought out his triple necked, heart shaped guitar at
We all know what happened during Guns ‘n’ Roses performance, although we didn’t at the time. The bands meteoric rise to superstardom had caught the organisers out (they were only second from bottom on the bill, which was probably right when they were originally booked). A sad day for rock music.
Megadeth and Helloween were OK, but nothing special.
are my people,
you are my crowd,
this is our music,
we love it loud...."- KISS
first (29 and counting) of my festival experiences.
16 yrs old, still only 5' 4" tall, 9 stone (wet through in my denims) and shit scared of life in general, i came to donington with eyes as wide as saucers ("is this what heaven's like?").
After Megadeth, i think Helloween had sold the most t-shirts that day, they were everywhere you looked but i can't say they got more than a polite roar.
That the sound wasn't great and it was drizzling is about all i remember. That and the fact that the singer had black canvas pants and huge white basketball trainers on "Hey, look, german rock stars dress just like us!"
Even then, my mate had already been a fan of Guns N Roses for a year (like some kind of heavy metal nostradamus) so we made our way down as far front as we could. Bottles were flying everywhere and i naively said to my mate "Why is everyone throwing their beer away?" A moment later a 2 litre cider bottle landed and perched on the shoulder of the guy in front, spilling its contents down his back before he could knock it off. When the steam of this "cider" rose off his back, the penny finally dropped and i don't think i could stop laughing for a good 20 minutes. With tears of joy in my eyes i fell in love with festival life right then and there.
I was still, like most people, undecided about Guns N' Roses. Truth be told, they didn't do that well except for the in pit area (all the other nostradamii?) which was so intense they were ordered to stop the set, ensuring they didn't have a great show with the majority of the audience and thats the OTHER great tragedy of the day. It should have been the defining moment of their career. Like most of the crowd, i had no idea why they'd suddenly stopped and started noodling. I just thought my mate had been wrong about them and Appetite For Destruction wasn't that great after all. Oh, how i'd change my tune on that score.
Megadeth were my favourite band at the festival when i bought the ticket but i thought they were a little flat. Still not a great sound and with their revolving door policy of band members, to this day there's never any onstage presence beyond Mustaine himself, and he's rooted to the mike stand! My first genuine disappointment.
Then came Dave Lee Roth. I wasn't a big fan before that day but like he said when the security guard jumped on stage "Get the fuck off my stage!" it was HIS stage that day. He put on a performance that Kiss could only have hoped to follow in their prime. All these years later and hundreds and hundreds gigs i've been to and still i've never seen showmanship that was even in the same LEAGUE as that guy put on that day. No lights, no pyro, halfway down the bill and even the screens were out of commission, just the guy himself and a decent sound (and no doubt a mountain of cocaine backstage). He was hilarious between songs and had possibly the finest band of musicians (technically speaking) that ever strode onto that stage.
Slash again ....© Dave Ingham
all the truly great gigs you ever see, he didn't beam down from another planet,
he beamed you to his.
I was a fan of Kiss and i enjoyed their set but they were never a support band. Its easy to say now but without the make up and gimmicks it was a bit like a blowjob after the nightclub has shut in a public toilet off a girlfriend you dumped a couple of months previous, still great but it really is time you both moved on and you both know it.
Megadeath © Dave Ingham
I still liked Iron Maiden and they had a better frontman with Bruce but the music had no street-level fire in the belly after Di'Anno. Still, you'll never get less than 100% out of them live and they went down like the home grown heroes they'll always be.
headed back to where we thought the coach might be (it wasn't), talking
with strangers about what a day it had been and everyone was talking about
Roth, the strange disappointment of Guns N Roses and the reports that
a couple of people had died while they were on.
It put a strange mood over the journey home.
nothing could change how my eyes had been opened to the joyous, spontaneous,
unpredictable magic of a festival.
2009 as i write this. I'm now bald of head, pot of belly and can talk
the balls off a rhinosuarus when it comes to festival moments passed BUT
i have a ticket for Donington (don't call it download to me, son) and
can't wait 'til june.
first Donington, ( the others being 91 and 95 ) and the most memorable for a
variety of reasons.
The 3 of us got the coach up from Norwich, 16 years old and no idea what to expect.
My memories are
Being amazed at how close we got to the stage during Helloween’s set
Laughing at some stupid cow setting up a picnic, complete with wicker basket in the middle of the crowd just before Guns N Roses came on and seeing the thing obliterated as the crowd surged forward and then trying to tell 107,000 people to move back!
Being seriously shit scared during the first song, the crush was unreal
Trying to get my mate out of the crush, he was only small and was in serious danger of falling. We managed to get to the area in front of the lighting tower and could see everything unfold.
Dave Mustaine was and still is an arrogant sod but he was damn good
Dave Lee Roth – the only guy who could get away with playing California Girls in the freezing cold and rain and pull it off.
Kiss – were truly awful
Maiden were on top form as always
It wasn’t until the bus trip home that we heard that those 2 kids had died! Everyone just stopped talking!
Festivals were different back then, you went with the purpose of having a laugh with your mates and seeing the Bands, I don’t go to festivals any more, too much other shit going on. The Big Day Out in Australia for example! I now live here and would never go again, 30 different bands, 5 stages, Ferris Wheels, markets WTF!!
The camaraderie was also one of the main attractions. Everyone got on!
I’ve met so many people in Australia who talk about wishing they could have gone to some of these Donington Festivals ! I’m lucky to have seen 3 of the best
Great site – brings back lots of memories
© Karl Davies
was my first visit to Donnington. I was 17 and very excited, My fav band were
Guns N Roses. I was known to buy anything they sold!!! My friend commented -
"If GnR packaged shit, Julian would buy it!!! ... they went on to release
one 12" with a sick bag!!!, and yes I bought it!!!
We went by coach from Poole, Dorset. I think there were 3 or 4 coaches of Rock fans.
I was in the middle of the crowd at the front, can't remember how close, but remember the the fear in my mind as the crowd swell grew. THE biggest problem was the ground. It was a mud bath. The stage was at the bottom of a bowl and the ground was not fit for the sheer volume of footfall. You could not keep your feet before hand, but once your feet were stepped on, you could not move your lower body. The crowd was moving left and right, front and back, you could not keep up.
eventually horizontal and couldn't see the sky due to bodies on top of me. I
genuinely had decided in my mind this was it. Very weird and never to be repeated.
I was on top of a girl, I think about my age, who was crying and very scared.
It was the scariest experience of my life.
Out of nowhere my friend grabbed me from behind and somehow managed to pull me out. I still don't know how to this day. As I got out I pulled the girl out too. She was really upset that she'd dropped her camera - I think she thought her parents would give her hell. I remember saying you're alive, don't worry. I never saw her again, hope she's fine.
My friend said I was as white as a sheet. I'll never forget, and wasn't surprised to hear of the two sad deaths at the end. I always thank my lucky stars it wasn't four, not realising it could have been many more.
Vixen backstage at Donington 88 © Mark Peat
all this said, I have fond memories too of the festival. I got to see my fav
band of all time Guns 'N Roses. Dave Lee Roth was awesome and enjoyed Kiss.
I was never a big Iron Maiden fan, but they put on a good show with all the
props and lights.
The sound was mostly awful at the start but got better from Diamond Dave.
The two sad deaths will never be forgotten by anyone there, but Monsters of Rock was how a festival should be. You see all the bands, you don't have to walk miles to miss half the set!
your site and the recollections.
Showed my eldest son as I had told him about 1988, he was shocked to read what I had told him. But he's got the bug, as my wife and I took him to Glastonbury when he was 18 months old!!!! More recently he loved Foo Fighters at Wembley, at 14 he's hopefully got some great gigs ahead of him as have his two sisters and two brothers!!!!!
Keeping the Rock flag flying.
was my 6th and last Monsters of Rock and only remember it for being the most
terrifying moment of my life
Me and my mate were huge fans of GnR so made our way down to the front for their set but couldn't really get that close. Before It's So Easy had finished I was a lot closer than I wanted to be having been literally carried forward in the surge with my feet off the ground. The crowd were all over the place, one minute I was stage centre, the next stage left. Then we were pushed to the right. People right next to me were falling over and I only just managed to hold my footing and helped a couple of people up.
I tried to get out of the crowd but it was so tightly packed it was impossible to move backwards. It was like being on a roller-coaster and wanting to get off, you had no choice but to wait until it had finished. It was a relief when the show was stopped and things calmed down a bit, but then it all went crazy again when they played Welcome To The Jungle. I seem to remember thinking they only played Patience to calm things down again, which kind of worked.
took a while to find my mate after the set, we'd got split up as soon as they
came on. He managed to get out of the worst of it but was still pretty shaken
up. I can't remember anything about Megadeth, or Dave Lee Roth, not even sure
if we watched them, and we ended up leaving halfway through Kiss. We didn't
hear about the deaths until the next day and sadly, weren't surprised at the
Fantastic website. Brought back a lot of memories, thanks for all your efforts in putting it together and keeping it going
large group of us set off from Hull in coaches for this festival. I had specific
instructions to look after my younger brother who was 15 at the time. It was
from memory all our first festival. At that time I certainly stood out like
a sore thumb with my extremely short hair (I had just joined the Army in March).
The weather was poor, really overcast and horrible drizzle. Through the mists of time I can remember that the festival site was already packed. There was no chance that we would get near the front of the stage, so we must have been 200-300m from the front.
I can remember the Bailey Brothers were awful. Helloween were good. And then Guns ‘n Roses. My mate Andy and I had been fortunate to see them in Newcastle back in late 87 just as they were beginning to break, so we weren’t too fussed. My brother thought they were crap.
I believe they opened with ‘It’s So Easy’. And all hell broke loose......................
From my vantage point, the entire crowd moved as one and didn’t stop for moving the entire set. The phrase of ‘packed in like sardines’ was extremely apt!! I remember a crowd surge from behind us with people wanting to join the melee at the front. In this surge I lost my bag containing food, drinks and souvenir t-shirts. Compared to two other young festival goers, this was nothing.......
It appeared relentless at the front, the entire front seemed packed and not moving. I can recall quite a few people being carried out by their friends, unconscious, past us to the medical post. The faces of these people showed sheer terror and panic. It was just sheer mayhem.
After GnR’s set, no one had an inkling of the tragedy that had unfolded in front of our eyes.
Megadeth, were, well to be honest I can’t recall their set!!
David Lee Roth was good, very entertaining.
Kiss were good. They played a festival set full of their hits.
Iron Maiden were great. You get what you get with Maiden.
We boarded the coach back home. It was only when the news came on after we left the festival site that the two deaths were reported. It left a very deflated feeling but after witnessing the carnage from afar, it wasn’t a surprise. To be honest, it was a surprise that no others sadly died. It would be interesting to know how many people were injured during GnR set.
Now, being older and a lot greyer, I still attend festivals, however I work them (namely Glastonbury). As part of my job I am trained in crowd control, crowd dynamics and mass panic in crowds (no I am not Festival Security!!). Over the years maybe festivals have become more corporate, but the lessons of the Donington 88 tragedy have been learnt in my opinion. Safety is paramount to all those who attend. Glastonbury proves that a large number of people can safely attend a festival. Should the festival organisers have taken more steps to prevent the crush and tragedy? Should they have been more aware of how big GnR had become? But did it really take the deaths of two young men who only wanted to see their favourite bands to change things..........
worst festival I've ever been to. They over sold the place (sheer greed) it
was crushing, wet and miserable. My girl friend and I (she's now my wife) clung
to each other as we got dragged through the crowd unable to move or put our
feet on the floor as people moved from left to right through the crowed, it
was scary. They later tried to pass peoples deaths off on slam dancers. RUBBISH
they over sold the place and the weather did the rest. I read the tribute to
one of the guys who died on here and I felt so sad, it just should not happen
at a gig. RIP. I'm not even going to talk about the music, it was irrelevant
on the day.
Carl , Essex.
saw your website & thought it was great & brought back a lot of memories. I was at 83, 84, 85, 87, 88, 90.
Got a few ticket stubs, lots of photo's of bottle fights - my mate got hit by a ball-cock from a toilet (fuck knows where that came from).
83 - Brilliant line up, just arrived as Diamond Head where playing Am I evil. Dio (amazing), Meatloaf getting pelted with anything & everything, Whitesnake - nailed it as headliners.
84 - Refused to go on family holiday as I wanted to see Van Halen. Some guy hit Dave Lee Roth with a bottle & Diamond Dave's response was - "Hey I saw you throw tha, t and after the show I'm going to come and find you and.......fuck your girlfriend". Some bloke also scrambled up the hoarding to get Eddie Van Halen to sign his Kramer.
88 - we were in front of the mixing desk and it went fucking nuts when Guns & Roses came on. Had to move as we had girlfriends in tow. Really sad end to a great day when we heard about the death at the end.
Hello, my name is Neil McIvor I was at donington in 1988. The night before Imwas in the dreadnought rock disco Bathgate West Lothian. i bought a ticket that night got a case of lager the next thing I know I was at donington. i remember standing at the front and a rock disco was on an airplane was doing dives to we will rock you. The PA looked massive I said to my mate is that as loud as it gets? Then Helloween came on and the volume nearly crushed my ribs. i remember before Guns and roses came on the exitement then the massive rush down the hill I stopped and thought if I fall here I'm dead. It wasn't until I got back to Bathgate that I found out. i walked into the British Legion got a pint and said to my dad That's me back, megadeath were chronic, he said we thought you were dead. All they could recognise from one of the dead was two tatoos and I had those tats. For what it's worth Kiss were the best band by miles and I was never a Kiss fan. The report on your page that Iron maiden were the best is wrong, everyone went to see stevie vai, he was chronic and Kiss blew every band away. They say 107 000 try 200 000 plus.
All the best
What a day!! Managed to scrounge a lift to Donington, the journey was bad enough rained all the way and the car kept overheating. Got in to the concert ok but the mate was with was will over six foot, so wherever we stood we got plastic bottles of piss lobed as us! So I managed to get away from him for a bit and found my way in to the front of the stage area biggest mistake of my life!
Guns and Roses got going and so did the crowd, I was swept off my feet and into the mud under foot, managed to right myself and stand up only to be transported into a crush of people. This seemed to last of ever. Axel Rose was shouting some think at the crowd, but I was too busy trying to live to take any notice. Some people were being passed over our heads to the pit area.
After sometime I managed to squeeze out to the edge of the pack and start breathing properly again. Iron Maiden start later in the evening just as the rain did again. I thing I can’t remember, was how I got home to Little Clacton in Essex, still a bit of a mystery. Still not great in crowds even after all this time. Steve Kerridge
a quick note
having attended my first MOR at donington at age 16 in 85. the actual amount of people at the event was immediately noticeable in ‘88. previous events it was easy to wander around at the back of the arena near the race track. at the event in ‘88 no chance it was people all the way. that's how many people there were.
soon as Bruce announced that maiden were going to be playing ‘in nineteen
eighty eight’(the biggest roar of the whole event) during the bon jovi
encore in ‘87 while singing CCR’s travilin’ band with Dee
snider of twisted sister, it was going to be a year of building anticipation/frustration,
loads more emotions too. its what the youth were waiting for, it had to happen.
when it did it was overwhelming to be part of it the day was fantastic. usually
you found out a few months before the festival who was playing, a whole year
to wait was a lot of time to wait out. worth it though. it still makes me sad
to remember my fellow festival goers that didn't make it home.
I was there that year also with my friend who I never seen again till we got back on the bus he was pulled from the crowd during gnr set it just went crazy !!! 1girl was screaming her friend crying but u had nowhere to go but forward in the mud as for them playing monty python after the announcement of the two deaths I made my way to the bus disgusted never been back after that year. it was my second time there Bon Jovi was the previous year which went off without any deaths my family were glad to see me home again they were worried I was 1 of the dead -tragic !!!!!
Great website which has brought back some happy memories. I went to monsters of rock in 87 & 88 and have returned for download 2006-10 & 12. The memory is a little fuzzy after all these years but I remember riding my motorbike from Somerset to Nottingham where I stayed with cousins both years.
87 was about the mud and seeing guys rolling around in it, it pissed down all day long but I seem to remember the sun coming out when Dio played "Naked in the rain" which struck me as being ironic. Although Metallica have gone on to become one of my favorite bands they didn't impress on the day and it was Anthrax who stole it for me.
88 obviously had the sad note to it, we were half way up the hill when Guns n Roses came on stage and there were loads of people running down the front to get a better view. There was a guy in front of us who had passed out from drinking, one of his mates pulled down his jeans and put a lit cigarette in his bum crack. When it woke him up with the burning his confused reaction was hilarious. Maiden were as Maiden always are, fantastic.
I kept the programs from these 2 days for years but somewhere in all the house moves they have gone awol.
I found your site after searching for the line up at the 1988 Monsters of Rock. Reading your page really brought back many memories not just of that year but others when I went too.
I remember forcing my way to the front to see Helloween's set, which was awesome. I travelled there driving a mini-bus full of my mates & my future husband travelled up on a separate mini-bus. We arranged to meet under the Dunlop bridge straight after Helloween had finished their set. It under the bridge that he got down on one knee & proposed, it was also the day of his 20th birthday. I remember that Guns'n'Roses where playing Sweet Child Of Mine. We're divorced now but that song stills brings back some great memories, sadly it also reminds everyone there that 2 people died.
After the show there were rumours going round the campsite that people had been injured, some very seriously & that there had been 2 fatalities. News also spread that one of guys killed had an Ozzy style dragon tattoo. This really scared our group because one guy in our group of mates had that tattoo & no one had seen him all day & he didn't return to his mini-bus on the Sunday. We finally found out that he was OK when my husband went to work on the Monday & he was there - relieve doesn't come close to the feelings we all had. Although when we saw him the Friday night in the pub we did give him a bollocking for not letting us know he'd got a lift home with another group.
I arrived home to my parents hugging me & thanking god I was ok. Back then there weren't any mobile phones. My dad was working as a night watchman & had heard on the local radio station that there'd been an accident. They were reporting that a screen had fallen, but they said it had fallen forward onto the crowd. Needless to say, he went straight home & tried to get more information. My uncle turned up because he'd heard the same news information & knew I was there. They were on the verge of travelling up to try & find me when the TV news confirmed that the screen had fallen backwards into the backstage area & that the fatalities were 2 men.
though we heard the rumours it wasn't until getting home on Sunday afternoon
that this was confirmed. I like everyone else I knew who'd been there felt sick
to our stomachs that something so aweful had happened while we were all enjoying
I went to a few more Monsters Of Rock after that, although of course not in 89 as there wasn't one - it was Milton Keynes that year. I also took my daughter to Download in 2010, her first festival (she was 20). Every time I've been there I've always thought about the guys who perished that aweful day in 1988 & take solace in thinking that they're up there rocking it out with some greats, playing Les Paul guitars with a stack of Marshal amps.
Still Rocking After All These Years
'Castle Donington 1988 Death' and found your site.
I was at the event that day and managed to fight myself to the front by the time Guns n Roses had started to play.
It was absolutely chaotic. It was like being in a tug of war, and the other side had let go, leaving a tangled mess of bodies. I got tangled up in it and ended up with someone standing on my leg. I couldn't move. I was almost drowning in people.
I eventually panicked enough to get pulled out by one of the muscle bound security men at the front. Despite his best efforts, I was stuck fast and it was 30 mins before I could get free enough to be pulled out.
I was pulled out, a guy behind me shouted to the security man, pointing downwards
'there's two down here dead.'
We were so tightly packed you couldn't even see below your chest, I didn't even see them. It wasn't even clear if it was genuine or not.
When I was pulled out, my 32 x 32 levi jeans were caked in mud and totally stretched and distorted and were nearly hanging off me.
It wasn't until after the Maiden set it was announced there was a fatality.
If anyone wants to they can contact me
I was looking for a bit of help. Like many people, I was in the middle of the crush during G'n'R. I remember being on the edge of one of the collapses and I fell down on one knee. I remember vividly telling myself "If I don't stand up now, I could be a dead man." Using every bit of strength, I managed to force myself up. When we cleared the collapsed area, at the bottom there was an unconscious kid who was white as a sheet. We passed him over the top, not to be seen again.
I am trying to figure out of that was actually one of the guys that died. Do you know if there are any existing photographs of the guys from news reports?
I swear I would recognise this guy, even now. I don't remember the song now, but I remember noting that Kerrang said the deaths occurred during a different song to when my "near death" occurred. I don't know if this confirms that he wasn't one of the victims or not, or whether the incident was mis-reported by Kerrang.
Thanks for reading,
I was there, I lived to tell my story but only just. I remember a great surge in the crowd during the Roses & I was carried sideways about 10 feet. The most vivid thing in my memory was my mate Simon’s face as he lost his footing in the mud. It was sheer terror turning to tears almost. I had my arm around him & I didn’t let go, I can’t recall ever seeing anyone that scared before! The music stopped & I could feel fresh air rush around my body. That’s when I knew something wasn’t right, I’ve seen bands play through all sorts of shit ‘n’ piss being thrown at them. A few minutes later there was a parting of the crowd as I saw the red cross carrying somebody through the melee & out! It was a really poignant moment for me, the realisation that somebody won’t be going home to their loved ones.
That said, we should not forget the fallen, but remember 1988 for the good times, the time Maiden tore Castle Donington a new arse. Their 1st time at Donington and what great memories I have from that day.
I’d also like to add, who has put the pictures up in the gallery? I laughed my nut off, there’s a picture of ME there!
© Vince Major
Hey there, awesome site, currently reading through every entry in true festival geek fashion. This is my Donington88, like others I am lucky to be alive, very lucky but I want to put a little more to it not just my perspective of that terrible hour.
Donny 88 was my second fest with 87 being the first and we couldn't wait for it after bruce announced maiden would be doing something special in a field...
In our own skint teenager style the four of us left Slough train station with one tent between two and a sleeping bag each, festival rules stated if one person pulled and got to the tent first the unlucky friend slept around the fire. This rule was soon abandoned cos it never stopped bloody raining!!
After two days of rain dodging, fire jumping, car powered skiing and power drinking in the camp site it was on and we rushed through the gates into the arena (roughly to the left if where we queue for download camping now I think) and it was obvious this was going to be way bigger that 1987, there was people streaming in from everywhere it seemed but regardless we got to the front few rows of people and staked our place for guns n roses, or so we thought.
The conditions were horrific, it rained in 87 but this year the mud was thick, you couldn't just pull your shoe out you had to almost wiggle it free, that was if you wasn't standing in a puddle, the wind was blowing a hooligan from behind the stage, the curtains were billowing and the video screens were swaying. It was packed, seriously packed. 107k was the official sales we heard but were told people were just getting in over fences and even that security were overwhelmed at the gates, but that's hearsay, all I know is I took a photo from a mates shoulders and it was peopke all the way back to the walls, apparently the infield then could hold 200k. My guess 107k was nowhere near the true crowd size.
Helloween came on to mighty roar after the bailey brothers whipped the crowd up but from memory fizzled a little but we ok for the first band, it was maybe halfway through when the video screen to our left came down in the wind and there was a lot of pushing and shoving and you could almost sense agitation in the wet cold and muddy crowd, not aggressive, just an atmosphere.
Forty minutes or so later and guns walk on stage the second main reason im here, this was going to be amazing...within minutes of its so easy I was picked up from just left of mid stage and got my feet back on the floor near the remains of the left screen, we paused moved a little more before swaying back to centre stage. This barely stopped till gnr stopped the set. It was the scariest thing imaginable, total loss of control. I remember my trainer coming off in the mud and diving down to pull it out, just thinking about that now makes me shudder, seconds later I could have been trampled to death unnoticed at no fault but my own for not thinking. I managed to get two guys either side of me to hold onto me while I tied the laces back on tight during the pause in the set. I also remember clearly the feeling of terror and chlostrophobia during the pause as this was the first chance I got to think of how I saw Matty and Alex dissappear one way and the terrified look on Adams face as he was shoved forward and vanished from my sight. These thoughts were soon gone when gnr started playing again and the pressure from behind was too much, everyone around me fell forward and I was face down with people on top of me. I dont know how I did it but I managed to turn myself half over and grabbed at whatever I could and with the help of a random hand I was pulled out and over some people and was back on my feet. I tried to help people up but there wasnt room to move and as security was wading through the crowd and I was shaking from head to toe and on the verge of an asthma attack I pushed my way back towards the sound desk got my head together and tried to enjoy the rest of gnr. Looking back I was probably in shock.
I hung around to check out megadeth but they bored me so I took myself up the hill for a rest and a beer and found Adam sitting with a beer staring at the stage, he went over the barrier holding an unconscious girl during the first surge and was as shaken as I was . I dont remember DLR at all.
We watched kiss from the hill and they were shocking compared to their arena performances. Eventually I ventured down alone to the right of the sound tower for maiden who lifted my spirits with the greatest performance I have seen them do and that stands to this day, amazing show.
I didnt know anything about the tragedy that had happened underneath me till I got home on sunday, my parents heard it on the news and couldnt do anything but wait and see if I came home. Apparently the description given fitted most male teenagers who had gone.
I returned to Donington for the 1990 festival but couldn't walk into the arena and just packed my stuff and sold my ticket outside. It took me years to attend another arena concert and then I couldnt be involved down the front and until 2010 to attend another festival.
I go to download every year now and sonisphere if its on but those memories live on, they just need shutting in a box and put in a dark place. But to this day I check my exits and once the arena starts to fill up i tend to watch the crowd almost as much as the stage and move in a heart beat if it gets too lively.
Alan Dick and Landon Siggers. Never knew you, never forget you. Rock on boys.
This was my first and last festival, we parked at East Mids airport and walked to the festival. We kept pretty much out of the way, all I remember are the guys peeing up the side of the hoardings and the women having to trek across the race track. We went because Bruce Dickinson had told my mum it would be safe to go. I also remember it being wet and the ground slippy with the urine bottle missiles flying overhead, also the choas when megadeth and g n r took to the stage. Maiden were wonderful as always. After the concert and the lights going out and stumbling to the exit in the dark, walking back to the airport, only my brother was allowed to get the car, waiting and then getting changed in the car into a grey tracksuit, we arrived home to find mum waiting, telling us that two fans had been killed and that I looked as grey as my track suit. We didn't know anything about the deaths.
The buzz at that point around Guns n Roses was intense.
When they burst on stage the whole place just surged forward. Me and a friend were near the front and pretty much had to crawl out. It's so easy just seemed so raw and powerful it was like watching a full throttle punk band coming at you.
I remember Axel saying he was going to slow it down and they did Patience to try and calm it all down.
Was terrible for the two lads who died, it could have been any of us at the front.
Anyone too young to have seen Guns n Roses as they were then won't understand what a band they were before they went overblown.
© Vince Major
We got stuck in London (Underground trains had finished for the night) so darted across the road to the all night Scala cinema and saw The Hitcher (featuring Rutger Gauer) for the first time!
Long Live Rock.
I have often thought about that day and will never forget what i witnessed.
On that day i can safely say that nobody had the view of events that i had .
So i was 50 feet above the stage with a view of backstage ,onstage and out front,a truly unforgettable sight.
regards Nick Hall
I was at the 1988 donington festival, and after trying to get a good view at the front we decided to move to the side , and the collapsing screen just missed us. We were luckier than some though, later on, unfortunately. Memorable day for good and bad reasons.
Can we get a witness ?
We need more info on this and the other Donington festivals, most especially more photos and personal recollections so c'mon head bangers, get yer photos out and fire up what's left of the aging brain cells .Send your recollections and scans to us NOW ! !! Contact us
Watch this space for more Monsters of Rock pages to be added in the next month or two - we will eventually go up till 1996, meanwhile if you have material from any years up to 1996 , send it along and we will add it as we build the pages.
Free festivals of the 70s and 80s
Back to the main Archive.