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After Dave Chappelle's On-Stage Incident And Others, Rage Against The Machine's Tom Morello Is The Latest To Have A Mid-Show Scare Involving A Fan

Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello's MasterClass.
(Image credit: MasterClass)

There’s a disturbing trend that seems to be happening for live performers this year. Following “The Slap,” in which Will Smith infamously confronted Chris Rock on live TV at the Academy Awards, there have been other scary on-stage occurrences, including comedian Dave Chappelle being attacked in the middle of a show. The beloved rock band Rage Against the Machine was the latest to experience such an incident, at least somewhat, after a fan rushed the stage during a concert in Toronto.

On Saturday, July 23, Rage Against the Machine was wrapping their set with the hit “Killing in the Name,” video footage taken at the concert showed a man running (or leaping) onto the stage from the side. Security was quick to try to intervene, but as the fan tumbled off the front of the stage and into the pit, a security guard plowed into guitarist Tom Morello, knocking him off the stage as well. Check out the alarming video below:

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The fan who rushed the stage likely was just looking to attempt a stage dive into the crowd, despite it looking like a pretty massive jump. But with the incidents we’ve seen this year and in the past — especially given Rage Against the Machine’s strong political views, expressed through their lyrics and with visuals throughout their shows — the security guard was absolutely right to react in such an instinctive way. Unfortunately his instincts didn't equate to his physical efforts, since the fan was able to jump out of his grasp, causing the guard to tackle the esteemed 58-year-old guitarist.

Singer Zack de la Rocha continued the song for a few seconds after watching Tom Morello take the hit, but when his guitarist stayed down amid the chaos, surrounded by multiple security guards, the frontman called for his bandmates to, “Hold up, hold up, hold up,” while a fired-up Morello returned to the stage. The audience roared, and de la Rocha seemed to be making sure all was good before addressing the crowd. He told the concertgoers (per People):

Don't try that shit. We're cool, we love y'all… but don't do that.

Even though the stage-crasher likely intended no harm to the band, security guards don’t have time to wait to find out what fans’ intentions are before taking action, with the gravest example of that being the Damageplan shooting in 2004 that left five dead. Legendary Pantera and Damageplan guitarist “Dimebag” Darrell Abbott was killed during a concert in Columbus, Ohio, after a fan ran on stage and shot him multiple times. The shooter killed three others who tried to stop him, before he was shot and killed by law enforcement.

That was, of course, the worst-case scenario — and one we’ll hopefully never see again — but it does highlight the importance of keeping stage performers safe. Dave Chappelle was attacked by a man in possession of a makeshift blade while on stage at the Hollywood Bowl in May. That incident was mere weeks after the Oscars ceremony that saw Will Smith slap Chris Rock and then go on to receive a standing ovation for winning the award for Best Actor, an occurrence some including Jim Carrey found “sickening.”

Actor and comedian Craig Robinson experienced his own scary moment this month, when the North Carolina comedy club where he was set to perform had to be evacuated when a gunman entered. No one was injured, and even though The Office alum was still in the green room when the shooter entered the building, all of these incidents show just how important quality security and awareness are to live events. 

Hopefully Tom Morello, the security guard and all others involved have recovered from the dramatic scene at the Rage Against the Machine concert, and the band is able to continue their tour without any further problems.

Heidi Venable
Heidi Venable

Mom of two and hard-core '90s kid. Unprovoked, will quote Friends in any situation. Can usually be found rewatching The West Wing instead of doing anything productive.