Rapper Travis Scott was the most recognizable figure associated with Astroworld, the Houston music festival that ended in tragedy Friday evening when eight people died and hundreds more were injured. Also among the event organizers, however, was the conglomerate Live Nation, the world’s largest live-events company — and one that has already been linked to hundreds of deaths and injuries in the past 15 years.
Live Nation Entertainment and its subsidiary Live Nation Worldwide have been connected to about 200 deaths and at least 750 injuries since 2006, the Houston Chronicle reported on Monday after searching past court records, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reports and news coverage. NPR has also found numerous OSHA citations against Live Nation.
In a message posted to social media on Saturday, the company wrote: “Heartbroken for those lost and impacted at Astroworld last night. We will continue working to provide as much information and assistance as possible to the local authorities as they investigate the situation.”
Houston Public Media reported Monday that at least 12 lawsuits have been filed against Travis Scott as well as Live Nation thus far. Other defendants in the suits include Drake, who was also performing at the event, and the festival’s venue, NRG Park.
In a statement to NPR on Monday afternoon, Live Nation wrote: “We continue to support and assist local authorities in their ongoing investigation so that both the fans who attended and their families can get the answers they want and deserve, and we will address all legal matters at the appropriate time.”
In a statement Live Nation published on social media Monday afternoon, the company added: “Load out of the site and equipment is currently paused to give investigators the time they requested to walk and document the grounds. Full refunds are being offered for all those who purchased tickets.”
The statement continued: “And most importantly we are working on ways to support attendees, the families of victims, and staff, from providing mental health counseling to setting up a health fund to help with costs for medical expenses. Our entire team is mourning alongside the community.”
The Live Nation-linked incidents reported by the Houston Chronicle include deaths and injuries committed by intruders, including the suicide bomber who attacked an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, in 2017 and the mass shooting at the Route 91 Harvest country music festival in Las Vegas later that year.
However, those incidents also include a 2011 stage collapse in Indiana in which seven people were killed and 61 injured; the company settled with the victims for $50 million. In a 2013 incident, a concert staffer in Long Island, N.Y., suffered brain damage after a forklift tipped over the booth he had been working in. A jury awarded him $101 million.
NPR has also found records on OSHA’s website showing that Live Nation has been cited for previous safety violations, including an incident in 2018 when a Live Nation employee was hit on the head by a 6-foot steel metal post that tipped over; the victim required hospitalization.
Just last week, Live Nation reported $2.7 billion in revenue for its third quarter, beating Wall Street expectations. The company attributed its growth to consumers’ pent-up demand for concerts, festivals and other live events that had been squelched by the coronavirus pandemic. The company has also been able to corner even more of the live-events market during the last 19 months, as smaller independent venues and organizers have struggled to stay afloat during lockdowns. (In the aftermath of the Astroworld tragedy, Live Nation’s stock price slid more than 4% during trading Monday, as of publication time.)
At the inaugural edition of Astroworld, in 2019, three people were injured in a stampede while trying to get into the festival, which was also held at NRG Park. The event was canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic.
On Monday, The New York Times reported that according to its sources, Houston Police Chief Troy Finner personally visited Scott in his trailer before Friday’s performance “and conveyed concerns about the energy in the crowd.”