News

Live Nation Sponsors, Then Cancels, Tour by Homophobic Musician

by Kilian Melloy
EDGE Staff Reporter
Friday August 28, 2009

GLBT equality groups successfully lobbied Live Nation to pull four concerts by reggae artist Buju Banton, whose work, the groups say, celebrate the torture and murder of gays.

One of the groups that exerted pressure on Live Nation and other promoters was Chicago's Gay Liberation Network.

Said a member of the group, Bob Schwartz, "Live Nation, owner of four House of Blues locations at which 'kill gays' singer Buju Banton was scheduled to appear, has done the right thing and canceled the hate monger.

"These cancellations show the power of protest to deliver the goods," Schwartz continued.

A press release from the organization said that Schwartz had headed up several such protests against artists who perform "murder music."

"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," Schwartz said.

"We hope they have finally gotten the message."

Noted the Chicago's Gay Liberation Network's releases, "In Buju Banton's native Jamaica, anti-gay violence is rife and typically tolerated by the authorities.

"Gay sex is punishable by 10 years in prison," the release adds.

"Buju Banton both feeds off of and encourages this violence."

The release quoted an article from Passport Magazine, which said, "When [Human Rights Watch researcher Rebecca] Schleifer visited Jamaica in 2004, Brian Williamson, the country's leading gay activist, was violently chopped to death with a machete in his apartment in Kingston.

"Schleifer walked to his street shortly after the murder and found a crowd of people gathered outside Williamson's apartment singing and celebrating his murder and shouting the chorus of 'Boom Bye Bye,' a popular Buju Banton dancehall hit about shooting gay men: 'Boom bye bye, in a faggot's head. Rude boys don't promote nasty men, they have to die.'

"Others were laughing and yelling, 'Let's get them one at a time,' and, 'That's what you get for sin,'" the Passport article went on.

"Boom Bye Bye" was released in 1988. According to a Wikipedia article, Buju Banton was one of the artists who put their names to the 2007 "Reggae Compassionate Act," which included a pledge not to promote anti-gay messages. However, the article said, Banton subsequently said he had never signed the Act.

The musician's promotion by Live Nation made headlines in the online press with an Aug. 24 article at change.org detailing the concert schedule and noting, "Generally speaking, if you hear someone sing about taking an uzi, holding it up to a gay person's head, and then [pulling] the trigger, you wouldn't anticipate that they would get a national concert tour sponsored by one of the leading music industry promoters in the world."

The article then quoted lyrics from "Boom Bye Bye," and followed up by asking, "I'm curious what part of that song Live Nation most wants to promote? The part where he advocates shooting a gay person in the face?

"The part where he advocates pouring acid on a gay person's skin?

"Or the part where he wants to burn gay people like old tires?"

The article encouraged readers to contact Live Nation.

A follow-up article posted Aug. 27 reported that Live Nation had gotten over 650 emails from members of change.org protesting the concerts.

Live Nation cancelled all four concerts, which were to have taken place at various House of Blues locations, including Chicago, Dallas, Houston, and Las Vegas.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.


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