When the news first broke that a cabal of Michael Jackson’s family members (lead by Michael’s mother Katherine) were planning a tribute concert for the late King of Pop in Wales later this year, the red flags immediately went up.
After all, we’ve been through this sort of thing before (remember that concert that was supposed to take place in Vienna a few months after Jackson’s passing in 2009?), and it didn’t help that the Jacksons announced the existence of the concert without mentioning a single performer on the lineup.
Also not helpful? The fact that only hours after Michael Forever was introduced, another set of Jackson family members (including brothers Jermaine and Randy) issued a statement saying they did not endorse the show—though only because it would take place during the manslaughter trial of Jackson physician Conrad Murray, and not because it’s a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad idea). That seemed like a good enough reason to close up shop on the whole thing, right?
Nope! Despite all these big, red, flashing sirens going off all at once, they still managed to find a handful of top-line artists to commit to Michael Forever, including Christina Aguilera, Cee Lo Green, Smokey Robinson, Craig David, Leona Lewis, and, inexplicably, Alien Ant Farm (who are apparently still a band). That’s a pretty motley crew (though sadly not Mötley Crüe), but the weirdest addition came earlier this week when it was announced that Kiss—yes, that Kiss—would be appearing at the concert.
Their booking didn’t last long, mostly because of Kiss bassist (and resident Demon) Gene Simmons’ comments about Jackson’s past legal troubles. In the wake of Jackson’s death in June 2009, Simmons said, “While it’s sad that [Jackson] had this sad life and I understand, that’s horrible, Michael’s not the only victim. I want to know what these boys have to say.”
And he very recently told Classic Rock magazine, “There’s no question in my mind he molested those kids. Not a doubt.” Fans flooded Facebook with anti-Kiss messages and noted that the inclusion of a person who had such negative things to say about MJ would taint the whole affair (as though the addition of Alien Ant Farm hadn’t already done that).
Promoters responded quickly and told Simmons to leave his battleaxe-shaped guitar and Kabuki make-up at home. “We have listened to Michael’s fans and are grateful to have been alerted to these unfortunate statements by Gene Simmons,” the promoters said in a statement. “Under the circumstances we fully agree that even though Kiss is a band Michael admired we have no choice but to rescind our invitation to them to appear in our tribute concert.”