OFFSTAGE: Tragedy Strikes at Sugarland Concert

(CMT Offstage keeps a 24/7 watch on everything that’s happening with country music artists behind the scenes and out of the spotlight.)

To me, country music has always been nothing but good news. So seeing the words “fans die” in a headline about a Sugarland concert is unthinkable. But the unthinkable happened Saturday night (Aug. 13) at the Indiana State Fair in Indianapolis. Four fans and one local stagehand died as the result of a stage collapse at the fair’s grandstand. And what I keep thinking about is how those four fans were likely right up front, either in the standing-room-only Sugar Pit or somewhere else close to the stage. It’s a highly-coveted spot at a show on any night but this one. They’d probably been looking forward to the show for months and were so thrilled to be that close to the stage, they didn’t even mind if bad weather was supposed to be headed their way. When you’re a loyal fan, like I’m guessing these people were, nothing could tear you away from the music. I don’t know anything about how the fans who were killed or the 45 injured got their tickets or how much they loved Sugarland. Did they pay a premium to sit there? Did they win tickets? Did they get a last-minute invitation from a friend? Were they fan club members? Were they having fun before the high winds came through? What was their favorite Sugarland song? We will never have all the answers, but I pray that the victims — Tammy Vandam, Glenn Goodrich, Alina Bigjohny and Nathan Byrd, all of Indiana, and Christina Santiago of Chicago — are resting in peace and that their families and friends can find some sort of comfort following the tragedy.

Alison makes her living loving country music. She's based in Chicago, but she's always leaving her heart in Nashville.