The LL Cool J and Run DMC show that ended in a riot
(Credit: Alamy)

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The LL Cool J and Run DMC show that ended in a riot

Watching live music can sometimes be a tetchy thing to do. Not only is there a lot of jostling for position, a lot of close contact dancing and a serious amount of giddy abandon, but usually, they’re all fuelled with alcohol and excitement in what is a very potent cocktail. Here, we’re looking back at the infamous LL Cool J and Run DMC riot.

It’s easy to see how the odd audience explosion can occur, and it’s not just bands who have had a bad day at the office who can feel the wrath of a crowd-turned-mob. Sometimes being a party-starting fire-breathing rock band can incite a riot just as easily, just ask the members of Run DMC and LL Cool J, who took to the stage in Long Beach and witnessed one of the worst riots in hip-hop history.

One of the more famous shows that ended in riots was the iconic 1986 performance from Run DMC, LL Cool J, Whodini and others in Long Beach, California. The 14,000-seat Long Beach Arena was the perfect place for a new and emerging style of music to find its footing. With Run DMC having already performed at the venue without incident, it seemed a safe enough space for the rest of the crew to join them.

Unlike the previous two incidents, there seems to be no real reason as to why violence erupted at the show, though reports suggest it began immediately. ″There are a bunch of people going crazy.″ said fire dispatcher Craig Beck. ″During the concert, there were stabbings and riots,″ he said. ″Shots were fired in front and at the rear of the arena.″

It was reported that 39 people suffered injuries during the violence. ″Organized gangs readily identifiable by articles of clothing began roaming the floor and halls, beating anyone they chose to beat,″ Burgess said. Security guards who searched concertgoers on their way in confiscated a number of weapons. ″But the crowd made its own weapons in the form of chairs and other pieces of furniture which was broken and then used to beat people.″

The show would go a long way to tarnish the reputation of hip-hop in America. However, trying to suggest these incidences of violence with the music played is ignoring the many, many rock and roll riots that came before it.