INDONESIAN NIGHTMARE STRIKES DEEP PURPLE
ROLLING STONE MAGAZINE, JANUARY 29, 1976
By Peter Crescenti (submitted by Gord Jantzen)
Tragedy and mayhem struck the Deep Purple tour December 4 in Jakarta, Indonesia, when one of the group’s road crew, Patsy Collins, a well-loved celebrity of the British rock scene and guitarist Tommy Bolin’s bodyguard, was killed in a six-story fall down a service elevator shaft at the band’s hotel. Then at a Deep Purple concert the following night, Indonesian police armed with machine guns, truncheons and a pack of Doberman pinschers waded into the audience, seriously injuring over 200 people.
Deep Purple played to an estimated 150,000 Indonesians in two shows at the outdoor Senyan Sports Stadium as part of their first tour since adding Bolin to the band. The first concert, which saw about 20,000 people break down fences to join 35,000 ticket holders, was relatively free of police reaction. “they let everybody be, “ keyboard player Jon Lord said. “There were machine-gun guards all over the place and they were pushing kids around, but there seemed to be no organized police thing.”
Back at the group’s hotel after the opening concert, Collins got into an argument with two other member of the road crew and left their room to go upstairs to his own. The elevators in the hotel were operating slowly, so the impatient Collins decided to walk up the fire escape stairs to the next floor, only to find the door on the next landing locked. Then, inside the stairwell on the sixth floor he found an unmarked, unlocked door. He opened it and hastily stepped in, plunging three-floors down the service elevator shaft, crashing through some hot water pipes. The explosion was heard by another of the band’s crew, who ran from the hotel lobby thingking a bomb had gone off. Boiling water cascaded through the lobby ceiling.
A set of larger pipes had stopped Collins’s fall, and though in shock, the stout, muscular man smashed through a door on the third floor, only to be trapped again by another locked door. Bleeding profusely and badly burned, Collins accidently stumbled back into the shaft. Falling three more floors to the main floor.
Amazingly, Collins got to his feet again, found an open door and staggered into the hotel lobby, muttering, “Hospital.” He walked outside the hotel, climbed into a parked minibus and then collapsed. Hospitalized, he died early the next morning from internal injuries and burns.
Surprisingly, the Jakartan police arrested the two crew members Collins had argued with and , later, the band’s manager, Rob Cooksey. The three were held on suspicion of murder and isolated from the jail’s other prisoners for two days, said Cooksey, “with a kind of threat hanging over us. All the time we were under suspicion of murder, they were making us sign autographs and things. You just wouldn’t believe the mentality.”
After interviewing two girls who were eyewitnesses to the accidental death, the police became convinced that in fact it was an accident and the three were released. “They’re all on the take, on the make,” said a disgusted Cooksey.
The night following the accident, with three of their entourage in jail, Deep Purple played their second show. About 6000 armed and helmeted policemen, backed by dogs, circulated throughout the stadium. Before the concert began, an announcement warned any Europeans in the audience to congregate near the side of the auditorium.
No sooner did the music begin, getting the rock-starved Indonesians to their feet dancing, than police waded into the crowd, savagely butting, clubbing, punching and kicking the boogying audience. Then the Dobermans were let loose, joining the attack. Deep Purple keyboardist Jon Lord later said, “Every time an effort to get up and boogie was made by any section, it was immediately pounded on.” He also recalled seeing one mammoth dog dragging a kid across the floor by his arm, its teeth sinking into the boy’s flesh.
The band played only half a set and left the stage frightened and sickened. “they went crazy said Cooksey of the Indonesian police. “It was like maneuvers for them. Just a nightmare.” And though Bolin thought that Collins had simply misread a sigh, Lord left Indonesia doubting that the death had been an accident. “Obviously the guys who were arrested had nothing to do with it, but I don’t personally believe that Patsy would step into a lift shaft. You don’t open a door and step into the darkness.”