Judge bans Hell on Earth's suicide webcast. Band insists it will proceed with Saturday's concert and assisted suicide of a terminally ill friend

By Gary Susman
Updated October 03, 2003 at 04:00 AM EDT
Credit: Hell on Earth Flier: RIS

Following up on a temporary injunction issued earlier this week, a Florida circuit judge on Thursday banned shock-rockers Hell on Earth from staging a live webcast event on Oct. 4 that the band said would include a concert and an assisted suicide of a terminally ill friend of the band. Nonetheless, band frontman Billy Tourtelot said the event would take place in St. Petersburg on Saturday as scheduled.

According to the St. Petersburg Times, Tourtelot spoke Wednesday in a phone interview with a local radio station, saying that the concert would take place at one secret location and the suicide at another. ”No one from the public can attend, for obvious reasons, because obviously we can’t have that leaked out,” he said.

The ruling follows the passing on Monday of an emergency ordinance by St. Petersburg’s city council that makes it illegal to conduct a suicide for commercial or entertainment purposes, or to host, promote or sell tickets for such an event. Violations are punishable with a $500 fine and up to 60 days in jail. There’s also a state law against assisting a suicide, a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison. St. Petersburg police told the Associated Press they would be monitoring the band’s website Saturday night. But Tourtelot told the radio station on Wednesday that he wouldn’t back down for the authorities. ”If they want to spend and waste more of our taxpayers’ money in St. Petersburg for a lawsuit that’s going to be bigger than anything they’ve seen on the planet, and they want to fund the next Hell on Earth album, then go for it.”