REELZ original documentary America’s Deadliest Rock Concert: The Guest List premieres Sunday, February 20 at 8pm ET/5pm PT presenting the deeply personal stories of lives forever altered by the tragic Station nightclub fire that left 100 people dead, more than 200 injured, and devastated the tight-knit community of West Warwick, Rhode Island. It is also a story of the triumph of the human spirit, as seen in a community’s resilience and the recovery and rebirth of Joe Kinan, who was the last survivor pulled from the fire and the most severely burned.
On the night of February 20, 2003, more than 400 music fans packed into the small Station nightclub. Just seconds after Great White took the stage, pyrotechnics ignited a fire that raced up the walls and across the ceiling of the packed venue. In less than 90 seconds, most of those who hadn’t already made their escape would be trapped inside. They would be burned alive, identified days later only by dental records or tattoos. The Station fire was a perfect storm of human error that became one of the worst nightclub tragedies in U.S. history. It remains America’s deadliest rock concert.
“Seen through the human lens of victims, survivors and their families, the fire and milestones of healing physical and emotional scars all come into focus in this poignant television event,” said Steve Cheskin, SVP of Programming at REELZ. “With intimate insight from people who were impacted by the tragedy, this is a potent portrait of humanity, from deep resentment and brutal suffering to resilience and the power of community.”
“This documentary addresses timeless themes of personal responsibility, loss, courage and forgiveness. The people intertwined with this event struggle to cope in the aftermath of disaster – some gracefully, and some less so. It is an abject lesson in the tragic potential of poor decisions,” said David Bellino, director of America’s Deadliest Rock Concert: The Guest List. “The local pride and fortitude of the community shine through as interviewees recount the fire and reflect upon both their duty both to remember and to move forward toward healing. Survivor Joe Kinan’s courage, and even humor, in the face of the horrific challenges he faced recovering serve as powerful reminders of the endurance of the human spirit.”
America’s Deadliest Rock Concert: The Guest List is partially based on the book, “Killer Show: The Station Nightclub Fire, America’s Deadliest Rock Concert,” written by John Barylick. who is a producing partner of the documentary and an attorney/law professor in Rhode Island. His book is regarded as the first and most comprehensive exploration of the chain of events leading up to the fire, as well as its legal and human aftermath.
“The crowd’s mood inside the Station went from celebration, to curiosity, to concern, to absolute terror within about a 20-second span. This was a tragedy of a magnitude not seen before in Rhode Island. The fire site looked like the scene of a battle, fought and lost,” said John Barylick. “My horror at the incident rose along with the body count. It was difficult to comprehend the whole scope of this and what missteps could give rise to such an extreme and deadly fire. Hopefully, this story will make us all change our lives just a little bit so we never have another Station nightclub disaster.”
Dee Snider, Twisted Sister frontman, once played the Station nightclub and many others just like it in cities and towns across the country, as was common for many rock and metal bands of the 80s era. Snider, who was instrumental in bringing together fellow recording artists for a fundraising concert for survivors and victims’ families, can be heard performing a new song, “Stand”.
“Nobody should have to die because they want to see a band and listen to the music they love. Nobody should be scarred for life, be crippled or have their children orphaned because of their love for rock n roll,” said Dee Snider. “This documentary not only serves as a reminder of this incredible tragedy, but it shines a light on an amazing group of people who overcame unfathomable loss, and survived, even thrived in the aftermath.”