Brixton Academy is temporarily SHUT after crowd crush deaths

Brixton Academy is temporarily SHUT after crowd crush deaths

Brixton Academy must stay SHUT after crush deaths: Future of iconic music venue in doubt as it is temporarily closed after mother-of-two and security guard died at Asake concert

  • Gig by Afro-pop artist Asake on December 15 had to be abandoned after a crush
  • Rebecca Ikumelo and Gaby Hutchinson both died in hospital from their injuries
  • Lambeth Council today ordered the venue to shut its doors until January 16  

Brixton Academy has been ordered to stay closed for a month after two people died when they were crushed at a gig last week. 

A concert by Afro-pop artist Asake on December 15 had to be abandoned after a large number of ticketless fans tried to rush inside the south-west London venue. 

Mother-of-two Rebecca Ikumelo, 33, and 23-year-old security guard Gaby Hutchinson, died from injuries caused by the crush. 

Councillors gathered today to discuss a request from the Met Police for a summary review of the venue’s licence. The Academy has been shut since the incident and was today ordered to remain so until January 16, when councillors will meet again to discuss its future. 

Rebecca Ikumelo (pictured), 33, from Newham, east London, died in hospital after being critically injured in the crush which unfolded during Nigerian artist Asake’s concert on Thursday

Gaby Hutchinson, 23, also died in hospital after being injured during a crush 

Brixton Academy is one of London’s most iconic music venues and was founded in 1929. 

Lambeth Council said: ‘We are shocked and saddened by the devastating incident in Brixton on Thursday night, and are working to support our communities in the wake of this tragedy.

‘The council is also fully playing its role in the investigations that are now underway. We are determined that answers must be found as to why these awful events occurred.

‘The venue is currently closed and we are set to undertake an urgent, in-depth review of its licence, which covers the legal conditions it must meet to run, including its public safety arrangements.’

It comes as the family of Gaby Hutchinson paid tribute to their ‘selfless’ relative. 

The 23-year-old, from Gravesend in Kent, died in hospital on Monday from injuries sustained in the incident.

Video footage shows a large crowd gathered outside the Brixton O2 Academy on Thursday

In a tribute reported by BBC Newsbeat, family members said Gaby ‘protected those they loved fiercely and it was the same with Gaby’s job’.

‘When Gaby loved you, it was with their whole heart,’ relatives said.

‘Gaby has brought so much love, laughter and inappropriate jokes into our lives and will forever be our baby, our daughter, our sister, our man and our joy.

‘Getting 23 years of Gaby’s life was a blessing and one we will never forget. Gaby will forever live on in our hearts.

‘No-one should go to work and not come home.

‘But Gaby protected those they loved fiercely and it was the same with Gaby’s job.’

Chief Superintendent Colin Wingrove from the Metropolitan Police said: ‘It is devastating news that a second person has lost their life following the events on Thursday.

‘I wish to express my heartfelt condolences to Gaby’s family at this unimaginably difficult time.’

The force said the three people critically injured in the crush were all in the foyer of the building.

The venue said its ‘heartfelt condolences’ were with Mr Hutchinson’s family and friends.

Nigerian star Asake’s (pictured) concert descended into chaos after fans were filmed clashing with police outside Brixton’s O2 Academy

‘We continue to be devastated by this tragic situation and are fully supporting the ongoing investigation.’

Gaby Hutchinson was one of three people badly hurt in the crush and the second person to die.

Rebecca Ikumelo, 33, from Newham, east London, died in hospital on Saturday and a 21-year-old woman remains seriously ill in hospital.

Ms Ikumelo’s family paid tribute to the ‘adorable mother-of-two’ who was a nursing graduate.

The incident has been referred to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) under standard practice following incidents where police had been in attendance and members of the public had been seriously injured.

The scene outside the Brixton O2 Academy in south London on Friday morning

The Met said the three people critically injured in the crush were all in the foyer of the building.

Asake, whose real name is Ahmed Ololade, was recently nominated for BBC Radio 1’s Sound of 2023 award, for artists breaking through in the UK.

Ahead of the gig, he urged fans not to go to the venue without a valid ticket.

The concert was the third of three sold-out dates at the 4,921-standing capacity venue and concluded a run of UK dates.    

How Brixton Academy became one of the UK’s most iconic music venues – as tragedy puts its future into doubt 

Brixton Academy’s status as one of the UK’s most iconic music venues has seen it attract a remarkable line-up of stars over the years, from Bob Dylan to The Clash.   

The building opened in 1929 as a cinema, featuring a magnificent Art Deco interior and a huge stage framed by an arch modelled on the Rialto Bridge in Venice. 

It would continue in this guise for 43 years before closing in July 1972 and reopening as a disco. 

Ronnie Wood, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Darryl Jones The Rolling Stones in concert at the Brixton Academy on July 19, 1995

Brian May appearing at the venue with Queen on March 28, 2005

David Bowie with Tin Machine (left to right – Tony Sales, Eric Schermerhorn, David Bowie, Reeves Gabrels)

The then derelict Astoria Variety Cinema on May 3, 1974, when it was due to be demolished 

Brixton Academy in an undated photo from the 1970s  

But this venture lasted only four months, and the building was narrowly saved from demolition to serve briefly as a storage facility. 

After redevelopment works it opened once again in 1981, this time known as The Fair Deal, and hosted some major stars including The Clash and UB40. 

Once again though the sums failed to add up and it shut a year later.  

Redemption finally came in 1983, when 23-year-old former public schoolboy Simon Parkes paid just £1 to take over the lease. 

Over the next 15 years he would attract some of the world’s greatest acts, from The Clash to David Bowie, Bruce Springsteen to The Rolling Stones. 

But it wasn’t all plain sailing – during this time he was stabbed, held up at gunpoint, menaced by drug dealers and even threatened by IRA bombers.  

The Clash performing in 1982 on what was briefly named The Fair Deal

U2 perform on stage on their ‘Unforgettable Fire’ tour on November 3, 1984

Madonna performing at Brixton Academy in an undated photo 

‘To begin with, we ran messy, chaotic reggae shows, as rock bands feared their fans wouldn’t make the trip to Brixton,’ he recalled in his biography, Dream Academy. 

‘But gradually, big stars began making the trip down: The Clash, The Style Council; The Smiths played their final show there; Soul II Soul were the house band at one of our club nights. Within a few years, ours became the coolest venue in London.

‘With our capacity of just 5,000, we couldn’t initially get the very biggest bands for full-scale shows. Diana Ross was the first real superstar to give us a chance.’

In 1995, after promising to stay on for a while as a consultant, he sold the Brixton Academy for £2.5million.  

The Specials singer Terry Hall, who died recently, performing in Brixton on May 29, 2013

A full capacity crowd at Brixton Academy for the Kaiser Chiefs in 2006 

Now owned by Academy Music Group, Brixton Academy has been voted venue of the year 12 times since 1994 in the annual NME Awards. 

Other headline acts who’ve played there include Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones, the Sex Pistols, REM, Kings of Leon, Amy Winehouse, Rhianna, Lady Gaga, Kasabian, Florence and the Machine, The Strokes, Blur and Coldplay.  

The venue’s future is now being reviewed after Rebecca Ikumelo, 33, and 23-year-old security guard Gaby Hutchinson died from injuries caused by a crush at a concert by Afro-pop artist Asake. 

Kanye West on stage in 2004

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