March 8, 1973 – The Whiskey Au Go Go Fire

The Whiskey Au Go Go nightclub in Brisbane, Australia, was firebombed on March 8, 1973. Two drums of gasoline were ignited in the foyer of the building where the club was located. There were 50 people inside the club at the time. Most were able to escape by jumping out of windows or via the rear stairs, which was the lone emergency exit. However, it was poorly marked and the path out was blocked by crates of bottles, leading to the death of 15 people from carbon monoxide poisoning. Of the 15 who died, 10 were patrons, three were staff, and two were members of the band performing that night.

Prior to the fire, John Stuart, a career criminal, devised a plan to extort Brisbane nightclub owners by threatening to burn their establishments down if they did not pay him. Stuart confessed his plan to a local reporter, telling him that he would burn down an empty club first and then a club full of people. The reporter wrote numerous articles about the threat. Prior to the fire at the Whiskey Au Go Go, an empty club, Torinos, burned down on Feb. 25.

Stuart and his accomplice, James Finch, were soon arrested for the fire. Despite claiming their innocence, they were both convicted of the murder of Jennifer Davie, a waitress at the club, in October 1973 and sentenced to life in prison. They were never tried for the other 14 deaths. Stuart died in prison in 1979 following a six-day hunger strike. His cause of death was recorded as an acute heart infection. Finch was released in 1988 and sent back to his native England, where in an interview with The Sun newspaper, he confessed to setting the fire. However, Finch later recanted. Finch died in 2021.

4 Responses

  1. This is absolutely sickening. The fact that someone would intentionally set fire to a nightclub, endangering the lives of innocent people, is beyond comprehension. It’s horrifying to think about the fear and panic that must have consumed those inside the Whiskey Au Go Go that night. This act of violence is a stark reminder of the darkness that exists in our society. My heart goes out to the victims and their families who had to endure such a horrific tragedy. Such senseless acts of destruction should never be

  2. The Whiskey Au Go Go nightclub firebombing in Brisbane, Australia, was like a devastating storm that swept through a peaceful town, leaving destruction and chaos in its wake.

  3. I’m curious to know the author’s thoughts on the Whiskey Au Go Go nightclub firebombing in Brisbane, Australia. How do they think this event impacted the local community and the nightclub scene in general?

  4. Did you know that the firebombing at the Whiskey Au Go Go nightclub in Brisbane was one of the deadliest acts of arson in Australian history? The attack claimed the lives of 15 people and left many others injured. It was a tragic event that had a significant impact on the city and led to changes in fire safety regulations across the country.

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