In a letter posted on a Springsteen fan site, the band, which had played the Garden State Presidential Inaugural Gala for the past two Barack Obama inaugurals, said it was exiting the gig out of respect for Springsteen, a vocal Trump critic. The band originally signed on for the Thursday gig in 2013, but it had gotten heat amid a wave of entertainers who have either refused to play events related to Friday’s inauguration or pulled out after being criticized.
Before today, the latest to exit was singer Jennifer Holliday, who reversed her decision to perform at Trump’s “Make America Great Again! Welcome Celebration” concert Thursday at the Lincoln Memorial, citing an online backlash from the LGBT community.
She told MSNBC’s Joy Reid in an interview that the backlash was severe: “They were calling me coon, calling me house n***er, calling me Aunt Jemima, calling me all kinds of names and asking me to kill myself,” the Grammy and Tony-winning singer said. “And that was from the black community.”
Here’s the B-Street Band’s statement to the fansite Backstreets:
With deepest apologies to our fans and the New Jersey Inaugural Ball committee, the B Street Band is withdrawing from performing at this year’s inauguration Gala.
Our decision is based SOLELY on the respect and gratitude we have for Bruce and the E Street Band.
Bruce’s music has been the foundation of our livelihood. The B Street Band would not exist without the talents of Bruce and our E Street brothers.
We are most grateful to these rock legends and look forward to many more years of emulating and performing the Forever Music, of Bruce Springsteen.
Lead singer Will Forte (not the actor) told Rolling Stone today that its plan to play the nonpartisan event took on a much different tone this year, as Springsteen fans lashed out after word came out it would play the event.
“All this stuff made it clear to us that this event is not worth it,” Forte told Rolling Stone. “It’s just a job to us. We’re just trying to hold up a contract. We’re not trying to prove anything. We’re just a fun band!”