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Dixie Chicks pulled from air after bashing Bush

The Dixie Chicks: Emily Robison, left, Natalie Maines, center, and Martie Maguire
The Dixie Chicks: Emily Robison, left, Natalie Maines, center, and Martie Maguire

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DALLAS, Texas (Reuters) -- There are a lot worse things in country music than your wife leaving you or your dog dying. There's stations not playing your music because you done gone and said some things against the president.

Music superstars the Dixie Chicks are finding out that criticizing President Bush's plans for war in Iraq can cost you air play, big time.

Country stations across the United States have pulled the Chicks from playlists following reports that lead singer Natalie Maines said in a concert in London earlier this week that she was "ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas."

Station managers said their decisions were prompted by calls from irate listeners who thought criticism of the president was unpatriotic.

The group, which got its start in Texas, was one of the darlings of this year's Grammy Awards. The three-woman band that blends blue grass and pop hooks has spawned legions of fans who embrace the ideals of strong women celebrated in some of the trio's songs.

One station in Kansas City, Missouri held a Dixie "chicken toss" party Friday morning, where Chick critics were encouraged to dump the group's tapes, CDs and concert tickets into trash cans.

Houston country station KILT pulled the band's records from its playlist -- at least temporarily -- after 77 percent of people polled on its Web site said they supported the move.

"We've got them off the air for right now," said Jeff Garrison, program director at KILT, which is owned by Viacom's Infinity Broadcasting Corp.

"People are shocked. They cannot believe Texas' own have attacked the state and the president," Garrison said.

Lead singer Maines said in a statement she felt the president was ignoring the opinions of many in the United States and alienating the rest of the world by pushing for war with Iraq.

"We've been overseas for several weeks and have been reading and following the news accounts of our government's position. The anti-American sentiment that has unfolded here is astounding," Maines said.

One of the country stations in Dallas that helped champion the Chicks when they were scraping by in that city playing gigs on street corners for tips, "99.5 The Wolf," said they are listening to the listener's views but do not think it is right to immediately jump on the bandwagon and stop playing the Chicks, said program director Paul Williams.

Williams said it is too early to tell how strong a backlash may develop against the Chicks. He said the comments touched a deep nerve in Texas because they came from one of the biggest country groups to come out of the state and were directed at a president who calls Texas home.

"The listener outlash is probably bigger here than anywhere else," William said.

The Chicks have the number one country album in the United States on the Billboard charts called "Home" and the No. 1 single with "Travelin' Soldier", which is about a U.S. soldier who fought in Vietnam.



Copyright 2003 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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