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Families who lost loved ones in 1979 prepare for The Who's return to Cincinnati

Kasey Ladd at mother's grave
Posted at 10:39 PM, May 12, 2022

CINCINNATI — The Who will return to Cincinnati for the first time since 1979, when 11 people were killed trying to get into the concert.

While many have been waiting for the band's return, the families that lost loved ones outside the concert decades ago are preparing for a lot of emotions.

"It's gonna be a very emotional time to see a concert my mom and dad are supposed to see, 43 years ago," Kasey Ladd said.

Ladd's mother, Teva Rae Ladd, was one of the 11 killed trying to see The Who perform at Riverfront Coliseum Dec. 3, 1979.

"It changed my life entirely," Ladd said. "You know, I was 2 years old. I grew up without a mother."

Growing up, Ladd said his father did not talk much about the night of the concert.

"I lost a part of my dad too,” he said. "Not only did I lose a mom, but my dad pretty much shut down emotionally."

Ladd said they’ve started talking about it more over the last few years, and it has helped them in their healing process. He said there’s still one thing that needs to be done to honor his mom.

"To go see this concert she should've seen," Ladd said.

The family will be at TQL Stadium Sunday for the concert. FC Cincinnati CEO Jeff Berding said it’s an honor to have The Who as the first concert at TQL, noting it will be symbolic.

"This is a historic event for Cincinnati,” Berding said. “When you think about what happened in 1979, that was yesterday. That was a long time ago, that was Cincinnati of the past. TQL Stadium represents Cincinnati, the future.

"To a certain degree, The Who will book end Cincinnati's history," Berding said.

Berding said the concert brings optimism for the future and closure to what has been a painful past. Ladd said he thinks the concert will be monumental for the city.

“I'm glad because I feel like it's the healing process coming full circle for all those that were directly affected by Dec. 3, 1979,” Ladd said.

That means the band as well.

“Hopefully for The Who, the members, Roger and Pete, that they don't have that any guilt,” Berding said. “And that the burden of what they've been carrying for these 40-plus years can be put to bed with what is this new experience in Cincinnati."

Berding said the concert will also be a full-circle moment for him.

“They were my favorite band growing up,” Berding said. “I've never seen them live. Their music spoke to me when I was a young kid in Westwood.”

He said he's going to see the concert with his childhood friends from Westwood.

“To have the opportunity to be a part of welcoming The Who to Cincinnati, my hometown, to play in our new stadium that I helped make happen ... it's an extraordinary feeling," said Berding.

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