Lamb of God's Blythe faces possible jail time
U.S. heavy metal front man's arrest over fan death chills music industry
Posted: July 4, 2012
Randy Blythe, the leader of American band Lamb of God, was arrested at Prague Airport as he returned to the city for a concert.
The Czech Republic has come under the spotlight of the international music community after the front man of heavy-metal group Lamb of God, Randy Blythe, was arrested in Prague and charged with manslaughter.
Blythe is accused of pushing a fan off the stage at a gig in 2010. The 19-year-old, named only as Daniel N., died in hospital 14 days later.
Štěpánka Zenklová from the State Attorney's Office and police spokeswoman Jana Rösslerová both confirmed the singer had been charged with causing "bodily harm of the fourth degree, resulting in the death of a fan." Zenklová said Blythe could face up to 10 years in prison if found guilty of the charge.
As of press time, the 41-year-old was still in detention at Pankrác Prison while he awaited his bail of 4 million Kč ($197,000/156,000 euros) to be reviewed. Contrary to media reports that Blythe was considered a flight risk, the singer will be allowed to leave the Czech Republic, said his defense lawyer Martin Radvan.
The American group Lamb of God had landed in Prague June 27 to play at the Hard Rock Café the following day. According to the band's manager, Larry Mazer, police were waiting at the airport to take Blythe into custody.
Lamb of God were forced to cancel their performance, and the rest of the band has since returned to the United States.
The singer was jailed following his arrest and handed the charge 48 hours later. Mazer told The Prague Post he was convinced Blythe would be exonerated but spoke of his shock at the incident.
"We are stunned," he said. "We flew in from Norway and were looking forward to putting on a great show. We would never have come out here if we knew this was going to happen."
The charge relates to an incident dating to May 2010, when Lamb of God played a concert at Club Abaton in Prague. Mazer said the fan twice tried to climb on to the stage before being thwarted by security staff. On the third occasion, however, he evaded the bouncers and was allegedly pushed by Blythe onto the ground below, hitting his head on a concrete floor.
The teenager fell into a coma as a result of his injuries and died 14 days later. TV Nova reported a postmortem apparently found he had not been drunk or under the influence of drugs. Mazer says he can't understand why it has taken more than two years for the case to come to light.
"I would raise blood and hell trying to find the person who killed my son. The whole thing is a crock of shit," he said.
Meanwhile, Martin Holub, a lawyer at Šafra & Partners, says Blythe's legal team should be able to mount a strong defense.
"An important factor to consider is the link between the alleged attack and the resulting consequence, which was death," he said. "The prosecution will have difficulty establishing whether Randy Blythe alone was the cause of death, based on his alleged attack, or whether the fan was also accidentally kicked, stepped on or left without help by other concertgoers below the stage."
Concert organizer Obscure Promotion said it was not able to comment on the case, but did say the incident was an "unfortunate accident." However, it has raised fresh concerns over concert security, with Mazer claiming the stage "should be a safe haven" for performers.
In December 2004, Pantera guitarist "Dimebag" Darrell Abbot was shot dead at a gig in Columbus, Ohio, by a rampaging gunman. Mazer said heavy-metal groups lived in fear of a similar scenario repeating itself.
Other Czech promoters say bands may now think twice before coming to the Czech Republic in the future.
"They'll be asking questions about safety and wondering how it was possible for a fan to get on the stage," said Lenka Murárikova of Charm Music. "They'll be worried it could happen to them too, and it raises doubts about the fairness of the Czech police."
Lamb of God are one of the most popular heavy-metal groups in the world, receiving a Grammy nomination in 2007 for their album Sacrament. Fans of the band have taken to Twitter to show their support for the singer with the hashtag #FreeRandyBlythe.
Kimberley Raines from Miami tweeted, "Don't imprison someone for defending himself against the stupidity of stage divers."
Lacuna Coil singer Cristina Scabbia posted, "Love you brother. Feel sorry for that guy but know it wasn't your fault."
The group had been touring the world to promote their new album, Resolution. Speaking earlier this year to the hard-rock magazine Loudwire, Blythe said, "It's 2012, the year of the Mayan calendar, according to some, say the world is going to end. What better time than to embark on a world tour?"
It might not yet be the end of the world, but for Lamb of God, it does - for the time being at least - appear to be the end of the road.
- Elizabeth Jonas contributed to this report.
Jonathan Crane can be reached at
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