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Killer Show

The Station Nightclub Fire, America’s Deadliest Rock Concert

John Barylick

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.

Paper: $24.95 | E-book: $15.99
ISBN-13: 9781611688535
Pages: 324 | Size: 6.25 in. x 9.25 in.
Date Published: August 8, 2012
Imprint: 
Screenshot-2023-10-11-at-16.51.58

Reviews

  • Barylick has created a modern cautionary tale that will take your breath away.

    Publishers Weekly
  • In Killer Show, John Barylick sifts an abundance of clear, convincing, and frightening evidence in what is perhaps the definitive account of the Station nightclub fire. And he demonstrates that the greatest tragedy here was that it didn't need to happen.

    Boston Globe
  • The fascinating book probes into every conceivable detail leading up to, during and after the fire, creating a convincing case for culpability by the rockers, their manager, the local official and the Derdarian brothers, who owned The Station and did everything they could to cut operating expenses and maximize box office, including lying to booking agents about the club’s capacity.

    Hartford Courant
  • Station fire survivor Victoria Potvin Eagan says, "I kind of thought I knew everything there was to know" about the fire and the people who were in it. As the founder of the Station Family Fund and head of the Station Memorial Foundation, she fields a lot of questions about that night, and so she says, "I’ve made it my mission to know everything there is about everyone." Barylick’s book, however, "even surprised me-there were definitely some facts I wasn’t aware of." ­ Eagan says four or five personal stories of survivors have been published so far, but that Barylick’s book is "very detailed ... extremely informative. And written without being sensationalized, which is what I appreciated." She says she’s given countless interviews all over the world, and is always asked what really happened. "Next time I’m asked that question, I’m just referring them to that book.

    Providence Journal
  • On February 20, 2003, the deadliest rock concert in U.S. history took place at a roadhouse called The Station in West Warwick, RI. The story of the fire, its causes and its legal and human aftermath is captured in Killer Show: The Station Nightclub Fire, America’s Deadliest Rock Concert (University Press of New England; Hardcover), the first comprehensive exploration of the chain 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. Killer Show was written by John Barylick, who for seven years was a lead attorney investigating and prosecuting wrongful-death and personal-injury cases arising from the Station fire. Throughout the book, Barylick offers multiple story arcs to demonstrate how greed and negligence sparked the horrific fire, and how courage and heroism elevated and bound together survivors, families and rescuers, alike. Part disaster story, part legal drama and part human-interest story, Killer Show offers unprecedented access and shocking detail as it lays bare the entire heartbreakingly tragic story of the Station nightclub fire.

    Firehouse Magazine

About the Author

John P. Barylick

For seven years John Barylick was a lead attorney investigating and prosecuting wrongful-death and personal-injury cases arising from The Station fire. He has practiced law in Rhode Island since 1977.

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