Live Nation cancels "kill gays" performer

Fri. August 28, 2009 12:00 AM by Brett Anthony

Live Nation cancels all its concerts with anti-gay performer Buju Banton

Chicago, IL - Concert promoters LiveNation and AEG Live have each canceled upcoming concerts of controversial Jamaican reggae artist Buju Banton.

Live Nation announced late Thursday that it cancelled all of the scheduled concerts by Banton at company-owned House of Blues locations, including Chicago, Dallas, Las Vegas and Houston. Live Nation has been under fire by gay rights groups for booking Banton who is known for singing violent anti-gay lyrics.

In Chicago, the Gay Liberation Network had scheduled its 11th annual Matthew Shepherd Walk for LGBT Freedom to take place downtown Oct. 1, ending at the House of Blues for a protest. The Matthew Shepherd Walk, which drew about 400 people last year, has always taken place in Boystown.

"Live Nation has done the right thing and canceled the hate monger," said Bob Schwartz of Chicago's Gay Liberation Network. "These cancellations show the power of protest to deliver the goods."

Schwartz had written Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino to demand that Banton not be rewarded with bookings for advocating the murder of lesbians and gay men. "We first wrote Live Nation several years ago following their purchase of House of Blues to alert them to the Jamaican Reggae 'Dancehall' singers who advocated killing gays, and had thought we wouldn't have to go down this road again. We hope they have finally gotten the message," said Schwartz.

AEG Live/Goldenvoice cancelled scheduled concerts in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Philadelphia.

In 2004, Banton was tried and acquitted on charges that he participated in the beating of six gay men. In his native Jamaica, anti-gay violence is rife and typically tolerated by the authorities. Gay sex is punishable by 10 years in prison.

Passport Magazine reported that in 2004, Jamaican gay activist Brian Williamson was brutally murdered, and afterward crowd was seen celebrating the murder outside his apartment by shouting the chorus of "Boom Bye Bye," a 1992 hit by Banton that proposes pouring acid on gay men and shooting them in the head with an Uzi.

Banton's appearance has previously drawn controversy in Chicago. A September 2006 concert at the House of Blues and a July 2007 appearance at the International Festival of Life in Washington Park both drew protests from local gay rights advocates.

"This is probably an unprecedented victory in the fight against murder music," Andy Thayer, co-founder of the Gay Liberation Network, told the RedEye on Friday. "I don't think we've ever had an entire cancellation."

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