PROVIDENCE, R.I. — It was December 1979 when Emery Lucier learned the concert he was eagerly awaiting in Rhode Island by British rock band The Who had been canceled over safety concerns. The 17-year-old was so angry he knocked over a chair in his high school classroom.
“I just remember being so upset about the whole thing,” he said.
Lucier, now 50, of Milford, Mass., held onto the ticket, for which he paid $25 ($12.50 for the ticket and $12.50 more for the scalper). On Tuesday, he and nine other people traded in tickets from that canceled show and got new ones for The Who’s final appearance on its Quadrophenia tour in February at the Dunkin Donuts Center, the same venue it was supposed to play 33 years ago.
The venue’s general manager, Lawrence Lepore, said earlier this month he would honor tickets for the 1979 show, which then-Mayor Buddy Cianci canceled after a stampede before a Who concert in Ohio killed 11 people. Any 1979 tickets the venue receives will be donated to the Special Olympics of Rhode Island, which plans an August eBay auction of the 14 tickets turned in on Tuesday.
Ed McConnell, now 50, was a high school student in Pawtucket and planned to attend the concert with about 15 friends. He said he remembers the disappointment when he heard the concert was canceled, and even now can list reasons why it was a bad decision, among them that the concert had assigned seats and not festival seating — which is what was blamed for the stampede in Cincinnati.
“I still don’t agree with it,” McConnell said after trading in his and his brother’s tickets for the show.
McConnell said he met Cianci once and took the opportunity to complain.
Sandy Ball exchanged two tickets that her brother, Stephen, now of Colonial Heights, Va., had waited in line for overnight when he was a college freshman. The tickets have moved 16 times since then with Stephen, who was in the military. Ball said her family remembers the day when he learned the show was canceled.
“We had to talk him off the cliff,” she said.
Barry Belotti, now 53, of Fitchburg, Mass., estimates he’s seen The Who 100 times but still remembers the canceled show in Providence. He had second-row tickets and had bought several other tickets for friends to come along.
“We were pretty upset about it,” he said.
He got a refund on most of the tickets after the show was canceled but kept one as a memento in a binder filled with newspaper clippings about the band and photos of singer Pete Townshend. Belotti said he is planning to see the band play on four or five stops on this tour, one he’s especially looking forward to because it’s playing the 1973 album “Quadrophenia,” which is especially meaningful for him.
“It was very instrumental in my adolescence,” Belotti said. “Townshend’s writing, he was talking about me.”
As for Lucier, he never got a chance to see The Who perform after that canceled 1979 show, until now. He’s held onto the ticket for decades.
After he heard he could exchange his old ticket for a new one, he started digging and found it in a box with about 65 other stubs.
The one for The Who was the only one that wasn’t ripped.
An earlier version of this story requires correction. The Associated Press misspelled the last name of The Who’s guitarist. He is Pete Townshend, not Townsend.