On February 20, 2003, the deadliest rock concert in U.S. history took place at a roadhouse called The Station in West Warwick, Rhode Island. That night, in the few minutes it takes to play a hard-rock standard, the fate of many of the unsuspecting nightclub patrons was determined with awful certainty. The blaze was ignited when pyrotechnics set off by Great White, a 1980s heavy-metal band, lit flammable polyurethane “egg crate” foam sound insulation on the club’s walls. In less than 10 minutes, 96 people were dead and 200 more were injured, many catastrophically. The final death toll topped out, three months later, at the eerily unlikely round number of 100. The story of the fire, its causes, and its legal and human aftermath is one of lives put at risk by petty economic decisions—by a band, club owners, promoters, building inspectors, and product manufacturers. Any one of those decisions, made differently, might have averted the tragedy. Together, however, they reached a fatal critical mass. Killer Show is the first comprehensive exploration of the chain of events leading up to the fire, the conflagration itself, and the painstaking search for evidence to hold the guilty to account and obtain justice for the victims. Anyone who has entered an entertainment venue and wondered, “Could I get out of here in a hurry?” will identify with concertgoers at The Station. Fans of disaster nonfiction and forensic thrillers will find ample elements of both genres in Killer Show.
The fire started by pyrotechnics ignited during a Great White concert at the Station, a rock club in West Warwick, R.I., resulted in the deaths of 96 people and injuries to 200 more. In his first book, Barylick, an attorney who investigated the blaze and prosecuted wrongful death and personal injury cases for victims and their families, gives an in-depth accounting of the disaster, from events leading up to the first flames to the medical and legal aftermaths. The author does a great job presenting the evidence of the case the negligence of local fire inspectors and the club owners, the Derderian brothers; the scientific findings relating to the flammable sound proofing on the club's walls; and outlining the plaintiff's cases against the array of civil defendants. But this book is more than just a legal document, and Barylick demonstrates great storytelling skills in his intense dramatization of what those in the fire suffered and his heartfelt descriptions of the lives of the victims and the memories of the survivors. An exploration of the perils of greed and corruption as well as a testament to the strength of the human spirit, Barylick has created a modern cautionary tale that will take your breath away.
Very detailed and compelling account of the tragedy
I was in my early 20s and living in Massachusetts when this tragedy occurred. Hadn’t thought about it in years and then came across this book as I now live in Rhode Island. Answered so many of the questions that I had about the fire from many years ago. It is very well written and extremely detailed. I would highly recommend it.