Vintage Video: Depeche Mode’s 1990 ‘riot’ outside the Wherehouse in Los Angeles

Today marks the 22nd anniversary of the release of Depeche Mode’s classic, and still best-selling, Violator, and to mark the occasion we thought we’d dredge up this vintage news footage about the band’s infamous near-riot outside a Wherehouse record store in Los Angeles. The band staged a signing on the following day — March 20, 1990, the U.S. release date for Violator — and when thousands of fans showed up, mayhem ensued, as you can see in the 18 minutes of compiled news footage above.

Most of those fans, of course, never got anywhere near the band, and to make up for the disastrous appearance, DM later issued, through KROQ, a free promo cassette with an interview by Richard Blade and a remix of “Something to Do.”

Were you one of the Depeche Mode fans at the Wherehouse that night? Remember listening to the whole thing go down on KROQ? Share your memories in the comments below.

 

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9 Comments

  • I have an Nth generation dub of that cassette that a friend made for me 20 years ago.

     
  • Jay Kern

    Ha, looking at that tape right now. It never occurred to me that the cover art with fans in a tree had a back story.

     
  • Depeche Mode were hot in 1990, we know that, but they were NEW?!! Idiots.

     
  • Jason

    Depeche Mode at their height …I still prefer ‘Music for the Masses’ and ‘Black Celebration’ over ‘Violator’ …but it was a great time musically and finacially for a band that by all rights should have been a one-hit wonder after ‘Just Can’t Get Enough.’ Thank God that wasn’t the case…

     
  • Manuel Romero

    Yes, I was there with my girlfriend at the time, Shannon. After we parked in the Beverly Center lot, we walked over to the Wherehouse and saw hundreds of fans. Being bored and having nothing else to do, we waited in line just long enough for the LAPD to show up and tell everyone to leave. My ex and I wound up standing across from the Wherehouse, watching the police do a piss-poor job trying to chase off yelling guys and crying girls who were pounding on the glass walls of the record store. Pure comedy… jeez, has it really been 22 years already? God, I’m getting old.

     
  • I remember hearing all about this. I was so sad that I couldn’t make it. Loved them pretty hard. Love what those kids said about them being composers and at the leading of every kind of music there is. Wise words.

    It’s hilarious how these announcers talked about them so clinically and can’t get the pronunciation right. I guess at that time, their music was for young people.

     
  • I was there, got whacked

     
  • Shannon

    I was a senior in high school and my friend and I had driven down to the Beverly Center after school to spend the night and wait in line. The crowds got along, KROQ delivered donuts in the morning, and things were fine until the afternoon. Friends of friends started to show up and the semi organized line turned chaotic and longer. Everyone had their radios tuned to KROQ listening for updates. I realized that even though we had started near the front we were closer than the thousands behind us blocks away. Then came the dreaded announcement that the fans far back in line had no chance to meet them and the surge hit hard! Everyone pushed. We were against the glass and you could hear creaking like the glass was being stressed. Depeche Mode made a quick exit and we were left with nothing. Then the bottles started flying in the air and breaking. It was scary. My friend and I clung on to each other as the crowd slowly dissipated we were able to make it back onto the street. I took pictures of the riot police and remember being in shock. I found a pay phone to call my dad to let him know I was ok- he had been watching the news and was very worried. My friend cried on our way home. Years later would I have done this again? YES!

     
  • Devoted Forever

    I know you guys will hate me, but I was 15, my friend’s dad gave us a ride there, we left school super early that day.

    Yes I got hurt in the riot. My ankle is forever damaged…

    BUT I GOT IN!!! And got pics and autographs. Too bad they are at my cousin’s house and I will probably never see them again. Until that house needs to be cleaned out… yes, being morbid. But she said I could have all of it back.

    The riot was pretty bad. the glass of the store, “the Wherehouse” where DM made their short appearance got smashed in. My friend and I were just lucky to have gotten in. But it was worth getting trampled. I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

     
 

 

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