The Rainbow Theatre Incident

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The pit71-12-10.jpg

The Rainbow Theatre, London. The band played the first show, and returned to play an encore. Since they were in England, Frank chose to play The Beatles' "I Want To Hold Your Hand". A member of the audience ran up the side steps of the stage and pushed Zappa off the stage, ten feet into the orchestra pit, knocking him unconscious and breaking his leg. Members of the audience immediately seized the man, Trevor Charles Howell, as he tried to get away. Zappa's roadies then taught him a few manners.

Chaotic scenes ensued outside the Rainbow where the audience for the second concert were joined on the street by the audience from the first. Wild rumours that Frank had been killed flashed through the massive crowd, and for upwards of an hour no-one knew what was happening. Eventually the crowd dispersed, most of them none the wiser about the evening's dramatic events.

Police arrested Howell, a 24-year-old manual worker, and charged him with assault with malicious intent to commit bodily harm. Bail was set at £100. According to a member of the audience, Howell kept mumbling something about his woman being in love with Zappa.

(On December 20th) Trevor Howell appeared in court charged with "maliciously inflicting grievous bodily harm" on Frank Zappa. Howell pleaded guilty and said "I did it because my girl friend said she loved Frank." He was sentenced to a year in jail.