Did Two Old Men Escape a Nursing Home to Attend a Metal Fest?

Andreas Lawen, Fotandi, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
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In the sultry summer of 2018, a crazy tale blazed across the Internet, gobbled up by metalheads and do-gooders alike.

According to the reports, two elderly men had vanished from their nursing home in Germany, only to be discovered at the Wacken Open Air – the largest heavy metal festival in the world. The story seemed too good to be true – a testament to the spirit of rock’n’roll, a nod to the ageless power of music, and a reminder that you’re never too old to rock.

The escapade of these two senior daredevils kick-started as they slipped away from their retirement home in Dithmarscher.

The pair was eventually located at the festival, not amidst the serene comforts of their nursing home, but surrounded by 75,000 metal fanatics, their ears filled with the sounds of Danzig, Judas Priest, Hatebreed, and In Flames. The tale was so delectable that it was promptly devoured by the internet, the story of the pair, “disoriented and dazed,” attending Wacken Open Air, reluctant to leave the electrifying environment, and having to be escorted home as a “precaution.”

But here’s where the record scratches, and the music abruptly stops.

It turns out this endearing narrative of two elderly men sneaking out to headbang at one of the world’s most significant metal events was, unfortunately, misleading. The supposed escape from the nursing home and the eventual discovery at the festival had been inaccurately reported.

It was a classic case of internet telephone, where the story morphed with each retelling until it bore little resemblance to the truth.

In reality, the pair were not exactly the nursing-home-escaping septuagenarians they were initially made out to be.

German media outlet Deutsche Welle, the original source of the story, later clarified the misinformation. The truth was far less fantastical: the metalhead “senior citizens” were, in fact, 58 and 59 years old, and their escape was not from a retirement home but from a mental health facility. Moreover, they didn’t even attend the festival.

Rather than heading to the festival grounds, the metal-loving duo had made their way to the town of Wacken to party and had indulged in some alcohol, leading to a state of confusion.

Instead of being found amidst the raucous festival crowd, they were in a medical tent for festival-goers, which led to the misunderstanding.

While the spirit of the story may have been rooted in truth – that you’re never too old to rock – the details were a little distorted.

So next time you read a heartwarming tale about elderly escapades, remember – not everything on the internet should be taken at face value.