The rock band Kiss was removed from the line-up for a Michael Jackson tribute concert in Britain, after it was revealed frontman Gene Simmons has called Jackson a child molester, organizers said on Tuesday.
The decision to scratch Kiss from the line-up came after Jackson’s fans this week expressed anger at Simmons’ comments.
“We have listened to Michael’s fans and are grateful to have been alerted to these unfortunate statements by Gene Simmons,” Chris Hunt, the chief executive of organizer Global Live Events, 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,” Hunt said.
Kiss, a rock band famous for such songs as “Rock and Roll All Nite” and “Detroit Rock City,” was a recent addition to the line-up for the tribute concert.
The “Michael Forever” show is planned for October 8 in Cardiff, Wales, and so far the scheduled performers include Christina Aguilera, Cee Lo Green and Smokey Robinson, organizers said.
The concert has the backing of Jackson’s mother, Katherine, and his siblings LaToya, Tito, Jackie and Marlon.
The 61 year-old Simmons, who is known for being outspoken, had in the past criticized Jackson over old accusations that the singer abused children. Jackson was acquitted at a trial in 2005 of charges that he molested a boy at his Neverland Ranch.
“The only sexual references ever made about Michael Jackson that were made by anyone, anywhere around the world, have always been made by kids, and specifically males usually 10 to 14 years of age; never females that age or older, and never grown men,” Simmons told Classic Rock magazine in 2010.
Howard Weitzman, an attorney for the executors of Jackson’s estate lawyer John Branca and music executive John McClain, said on Monday in a letter to the tribute concert organizers they were “disappointed” at the decision to include Kiss.
The letter from Weitzman also raised questions about the October 8 show, including whether all the artists booked to appear will indeed perform that day.
And Weitzman noted that Michael Jackson’s brothers, Jermaine and Randy, have publicly said they cannot offer their support for the show.
Jermaine and Randy have said the show is ill-timed because the upcoming involuntary manslaughter trial of Dr. Conrad Murray, who was Jackson’s personal physician when the singer died in 2009, is expected to be ongoing when the show is held.
“In light of the questions raised…and the confusion surrounding this ‘event,’ we are extremely concerned about Michael’s legacy, his fans and the public-at-large,” Weitzman wrote in the letter.
A spokeswoman for the concert organizers declined to comment on the letter.