Chris Hansen Orf of the East Valley Tribune reports:
When ex-Beatle John Lennon was murdered by an obsessed fan in 1980, it was a shocking act of violence against a legendary rock musician who felt comfortable enough to walk the streets of New York City without a bodyguard.
Last week, ex-PANTERA guitarist "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott was shot to death in the one place a musician should feel safe: Onstage during a concert.
The shooting at a Columbus, Ohio, concert by Abbott's new band, DAMAGEPLAN — in which the gunman took the lives of three other concertgoers and injured several more — illustrates just how vulnerable artists are when they are onstage.
Valley concert venues and local musicians were equally shocked at the slaying, but most believe it was a random incident that could have happened anywhere.
"If people wanted to risk their own life to do something like that, it can happen no matter how prepared you are or how much security you have," says Alicia Klein, general manager of Celebrity Theatre in Phoenix. "What if they shoot the guard that’s wanding them down and then they run in?"
Venues like the Celebrity Theatre, Marquee Theatre in Tempe and the Venue of Scottsdale, which are the size of Columbus' Alrosa Villa, the club where Abbott was killed, all employ combinations of pat-downs, wanding and making patrons empty their pockets before being admitted to a show.
Many clubs say the level of security depends on the expected crowd for a particular artist.
"It depends on the energy level of the crowd," explains the Venue of Scottsdale’s Jennifer Rico. "(Folk-rock singer) John Hiatt isn’t going to draw a crowd that’s violent, but for some of the heavier shows we have wands, we have extra security guards and we do pat-downs as well as having undercover security guards in the club and bicycle police on the outside."
"I don't want to say that it depends on the show, but it kind of does," Klein says. "If we have (comedian) Joan Rivers here I am not worried as much, but if I have (punk band) SOCIAL DISTORTION in — I actually hired an outside security company just to make sure I had tons of people here down near the stage. If the artist has specific instructions — and they are the ones that know their crowds the best — they let us know." Read more.