RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) - The members of Richmond’s internationally-known heavy metal band Lamb of God are heading back to Virginia, but singer Randy Blythe remains locked up in a Czech Republic prison.
Blythe is facing a charge that he fatally injured a fan during the band’s last show in Prague two years ago. The police were waiting for him when he returned to the city for Thursday’s show at the Rock Café.
Prague police spokeswoman Jana Rosslerova says Randy was arrested Wednesday and accused of causing bodily harm resulting in death.
Rosslerova says Blythe has been in custody since and a court is set to rule on Saturday on whether to continue his detention.
That would be quick action by Czech standards. Although it’s criminal justice and judicial system was reformed prior to its admission to the European Union eight years ago, long detentions without adjudication have been known to occur in the former communist block country.
“We’re all concerned about him,” Randy’s brother, Mark Blythe, told CBS-6 Friday. “We’re hoping for the best.”
This is a serious accusation – punishable by up to ten years in prison, according that country’s popular news website, Novinky.cz.
Another Czech online news site, Aktualne.cz, has published statements from a witness – a friend of the victim – who said the fan wasn’t using drugs or alcohol and fell back directly on his head. The victim lapsed into a coma and died weeks later.
Other published reports citing witnesses indicate differing amounts of contact between Blythe and the fan.
It’s unclear if investigators have any video of the incident. The show was filmed by several different fans, with some of the footage posted on YouTube.
Lamb of God’s management issued a statement Friday, describing the arrest as part of an investigation and denying reports that Blythe assaulted the fan, who has yet to be identified.
“Under no circumstances was there a fight of any kind involved,” the statement said. “This incident deals with a fan that three times during a concert jumped the barricade and rushed Randy during the performance. It is alleged that the third time, security was not able to reach him and that Randy pushed him back into the audience where supposedly he fell and hit his head.”
Drummer Chris Adler posted this statement on a social media site: “It’s been a rough couple of days . All I can say is that I can’t recall that particular show let alone a fan being beaten on the stage. I think I would’ve noticed something like that considering the Dime thing.” He was referring to the 2004 Ohio incident in which a crazed fan leapt onstage and fatally shot legendary guitarist Dimebag Darrell Abbott, who is best remembered for his playing with Pantera.
Adler also offered his condolences to the family of the victim, saying they had no idea what happened to him. “All we try to do is entertain; the fans are why we’re here. We would never try and harm anyone.”
Friends in Richmond are wishing Randy Blythe the best. (The band was formed here in 1990 when the members were students at Virginia Commonwealth University.) This incident comes as the 41-year-old Blythe was settling into a clean-living rhythm after two decades of drinking as heavy as his singing.
He spoke with Spin magazine earlier this year, citing the importance of family and priorities: "I always thought nothing could ever beat me. But drinking beat me into a state of submission."
Lamb of God plays high energy music, with lots of moshing in the crowd, which can appear somewhat out of control.
It’s a scene Richmond is known for around the world, with several other local bands like GWAR, Municipal Waste and Down To Nothing stirring up crowds in far-away lands.
Lots of musicians are watching this case, and not just because they like Blythe. Could they be held liable for the crazy things some fans do during their shows?
Heavy music celebrities are tweeting in support at #FreeRandyBlythe. There’s a Free Randy Blythe Facebook site and a “Free Randy” t-shirt being marketed.