Monday, June 17, 2013


MARK WORKMAN, veteran tour manager for many legendary extreme metal bands has commented on (perhaps the tasteless)  fans whom built a "Get A Photo Taken In Jeff Hanneman’s Coffin" display @ COPENHELL 2013.
The  "Get A Photo Taken In Jeff Hanneman’s Coffin" display was taken down by COPENHELL FESTIVAL staff at the request of MARK WORKMAN and bands performing.

COPENHELL 2013 took place 6/14, 15th, 2013 in COPENHAGEN, DENMARK and featured  KING DIAMOND, AMON AMARTH, DOWN, IN FLAMES, SABATON, TESTAMENT, GODSEED and more extreme metal acts.

I’m sitting in a hotel lobby in Munich, Germany right now, and I’ve been dwelling on one of the most disturbing moments that I’ve ever experienced. 

This past Saturday night, Testament played a show at Copenhell, the heavy metal festival in Copenhagen, Denmark. Our truck showed up late after a 22.5-hour drive from Vienna, so it was a stressful day to start with. Testament’s road manager and sound engineer, Rick Diesing—my oldest and dearest road crew friend in the business since 1985—came to me and showed me a picture he had taken that appalled me like no other.

Out in the audience, where the fans bought food and beer, was a display called The Graveyard. In this display were numerous coffins and each coffin had a tall cross at the top of them with the names of dead rockstars: Cliff Burton from Metallica, Dimebag Darrell from Pantera, the King of Rock and Roll, Ronnie James Dio, and the Angel of Death himself, Jeff Hanneman, the lead guitarist from Slayer, and other empty coffins for others to die next, I presume.

I think I only met Cliff Burton once back in the old days before he was killed in a tour bus crash. I only met Dimebag a few times before he died, and I wouldn’t call him a close friend but he was one of the true greats to me. I have friends in the Pantera camp. But I worked for the King of Rock and Roll, Ronnie James Dio, and he was a great man to me, and I loved him. And Jeff Hanneman from Slayer was an old friend that I worked with for years and someone that I loved very much.

I looked at a picture on Rick Diesing’s cell phone that showed chairs for fans to sit in Jeff Hanneman’s coffin and get their picture taken. Rick actually saw people sitting in the coffins, but I don't want to see those pictures. The stupidity of this broke my heart. It’s only been six weeks since Jeff died, and now his death has became a tourist attraction at some heavy metal festival. I cannot even put into words how much this affected me.

I went to Chuck Billy and spoke to him about this. I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t overreacting. Chuck was equally appalled. I spoke to Alex Skolnick, Tiffany Billy and many others in our Testament camp and the look of shock on their faces told me that I wasn’t overreacting. Chuck Billy said to me, “Mark, you need to go and do something about this.”

I went to the office of Jeppe Nissen, the Live Nation promoter at Copenhell, and spoke to him about this abomination. He sat and listened to my words, he could see the pain and tears in my eyes, and he knew right then that their ‘tribute’ had misfired like a civil war musket that had been buried in the ground for 150 years.

Jeppe Nissen suddenly realized that their ‘atmosphere people’ screwed up in a major way with their ‘tribute’ and said, “Mark, this will be torn down in ten minutes.” And Jeppe did just that. I have no animosity for Jeppe or his ‘atmosphere kids’ because I want to believe that their hearts were in the right place, but I doubt that the family or anyone who personally knew these great men would find this acceptable in any way at all.

After Testament’s show, I caught up with Phil Anselmo—a good and honest man—in his dressing room. I told him about The Graveyard display, and from the look in his eyes I knew that none of us were overreacting—his brother and old friend, Dimebag Darrell’s simulated coffin out there in the audience as a tourist attraction at a heavy metal festival.

This entire affair is about as ridiculous as Phil Anselmo still being blamed for some lunatic with a gun murdering Dimebag Darrell, Nathan Bray, Erin Halk and Jeff Thompson. We need to stop trying to find someone to blame for the deaths of those we love and just honor them in the best way we can; and coffins and crosses at a concert is not the right way to do it.

I hope that people around the world will stop doing this sort of thing. It serves no purpose but to hurt those who truly knew these great men and saw them as just normal people with faults, problems, but men who gave their personal lives to the world to entertain us. They were more than just a song on the radio, a picture in a magazine, a giant on stage; they were just good people like you and me living a life.

I have always said in times of loss, memories are the most important things that we possess. As long as we never forget them, we will always be rich people. I will always believe this.

Mark Workman

Thanks-Stay Metal, Stay Brutal-\m/ -l-