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Live Nation cancels anti-gay performer

Chicago NOW 8-28-2009 - LINK

GLN permalink posted August 28, 2009

Live Nation has canceled the concerts of a controversial reggae artist who was scheduled to perform at the House of Blues.

Buju Banton, known for singing violent anti-gay lyrics, was booked to perform at the House of Blues in Chicago Oct. 1. Live Nation announced late Thursday that all scheduled concerts by Banton have been canceled, including in Chicago, Las Vegas, Dallas and Houston.

Live Nation did not state a reason for the cancellation. Anyone who bought tickets can get refunds.

Gay rights groups had been pressuring Live Nation to cancel Banton's concerts, calling his music "murder music." 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.

Now that the show has been canceled, the march will likely move back to Boystown, said Andy Thayer, co-founder of the Gay Liberation Network.

"This is probably an unprecedented victory in the fight against murder music," Thayer said Friday. "I don't think we've ever had an entire cancellation."

Concert promoter AEG Live/Goldenvoice, which had Banton concerts scheduled in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Philadelphia, also pulled the plug on his tour.

Banton, a popular dancehall-reggae artist from Jamaica, has come under fire for lyrics in which he calls for gays to be tortured and killed.

In the song "Boom Bye Bye," Banton sings (translated from Rastafarian dialect): "The world is in trouble/When Buju Banton arrives/Faggots have to run/Or get a bullet in the head /Bang-bang, in a faggot's head/Homeboys don't condone nasty men/They must die."

The Gay Liberation Network had started distributing flyers at its booth at Northalsted Market Days in early August encouraging people to contact Live Nation and demand the cancellation of the Banton concerts.

"No private entity is under any free speech obligation to provide a venue that calls for the murder of a whole group," Thayer told RedEye in an interview last week.

Thayer said Friday that his group is "very gratified" that Live Nation and AEG canceled the tours.

"This was like getting the Microsoft of concert promoters to do the right thing," Thayer said. "We're going to be calling and emailing them 'Thanks.'"


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