The B-Street Band, the Bruce Springsteen cover band that had been under fire for agreeing to play during a New Jersey inauguration gala for President-elect Donald Trump, has pulled out of the event.
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 c**n, calling me house ****e*, 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!”
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UPDATE: Bruce Springsteen cover band changes tune, pulls out of Donald Trump inaugural event
A Bruce Springsteen tribute band is now running from the Donald Trump inaugural event where they were originally scheduled to perform.
B Street Band leader Willie Forte said Monday that the decision is based "solely on the respect and gratitude we have for Bruce and the E Street Band." He told The Associated Press that "this whole thing just got blown out of proportion."
The group had signed a contract to appear Thursday with the New Jersey State Society at the Washington, DC galat, but it had drawn criticism for the show because of Springsteen's distaste for Trump.
Springsteen has called Trump a "flagrant, toxic narcissist."
Springsteen performed during Obama's inaugural in 2009.
The New Jersey State Society said Sunday it was "very disappointed" by the cancellation but understood the group's decision.
The band faced intense criticism following the news it would be playing at the event
"Shame on the #BStreetBand playing at #Trump's inaugural," Democratic New Jersey state Sen. Ray Lesniak tweeted last week. "They've profited from #Bruce now they're abandoning the message in his music."
The B Street Band said its performance at the gala — which is not Trump's inaugural ball itself, as many have mistakenly posted online — had been planned since 2013.
The cover band has twice performed for the nonprofit and nonpartisan group's galas to mark Democrat President Barack Obama's inaugurals.
"We got some flak from the others, but nothing like this," B Street Band bandleader Willie Forte.
Forte believes much of the criticism arose because people mistakenly thought the group was going to perform at Trump's inaugural ball.
Springsteen superfan Gov. Chris Christie and his wife, Mary Pat, are honorary co-chairs of the $225-per-person event. The Republican governor's office did not respond to a question about whether they would attend.
Forte said the B Street Band is composed of six "hard-working" guys and has been performing Springsteen songs for nearly 37 years. It draws its name from the E Street Band, which has backed Springsteen since 1972.
Bruce Springsteen Cover Band Backs Out Of Playing Trump Inauguration Party
The B Street Band ― a Bruce Springsteen cover band who should not be confused with The E Street Band, musicians who actually back The Boss ― have dropped out of playing the Garden State Presidential Inaugural Gala on Jan. 19.
The band announced their decision to back out of the party on Monday, because playing the party isn’t something Springsteen himself would approve of.
“Our decision is based SOLELY on the respect and gratitude we have for Bruce and the E Street Band,” the cover band’s founder and keyboardist Will Forte, 63, told Backstreets in a statement. “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.”
Like many celebrities, Springsteen has been a vocal critic of Trump. While speaking to Rolling Stone in September, Springsteen called Trump a “moron” and criticized him for normalizing the “dangerous ideas” of “white nationalism and the alt-right movement.”
The group previously played the gala twice before and signed on to perform at this year’s party back in 2013 ― way before anyone even knew the potential nominees, let alone whose inauguration it would be.
Earlier on Monday, Forte defended the band’s initial decision to play the event, telling The Associated Press, “We got some flak from the others, but nothing like this. We made a commitment, and we’re not political.”
By the afternoon, the band’s stance on the matter had changed.
“As time went by, the complexity of the situation became real immense and intense,” Forte told Rolling Stone of the decision to drop out. “The band was caught in a hurricane. We didn’t see this coming, of course.”
The band’s choice to drop out of the gala follows news that Jennifer Holliday canceled plans to perform at Trump’s inauguration on Jan. 20. On Saturday, The Wrap published a letter written by the singer apologizing to the LGBTQ community for her “lapse of judgement.”