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KISS booted from Jackson tribute amid fan uproar

By Alan Duke, CNN
KISS has been yanked from the Michael Jackson tribute show.
KISS has been yanked from the Michael Jackson tribute show.
  • NEW: "We have listened to Michael's fans," the promoter says
  • KISS leader Gene Simmons made negative remarks about Michael Jackson after his death
  • Tribute organizers say they were unaware of the comments
  • Several fan sites were calling for a boycott of the October 8 concert

Los Angeles (CNN) -- Promoters yanked the rock band KISS from the Michael Jackson tribute show Tuesday after fans called their attention to negative remarks KISS leader Gene Simmons made about the pop star in the weeks after his death.

The reversals came a day after Katherine Jackson appeared live on CNN to announce the addition of KISS to the lineup for "Michael Forever: The Tribute Concert," scheduled for October 8 in Cardiff, Wales.

"We have listened to Michael's fans and are grateful to have been alerted to these unfortunate statements by Gene Simmons," Global Live Events CEO Chris Hunt told CNN Tuesday.

Fan clubs appeared in open revolt against the tribute show after promoters added the group. Fan websites pointed to published interviews in which Simmons spoke about his suspicions that Jackson, who was acquitted of child molestation in 2005, was a pedophile.

The executors of the Michael Jackson estate also spoke out late Monday, sending a letter to the promoters saying they were "especially disappointed" by the announcement that KISS was in the show. The estate asked promoters to provide an explanation.

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"As I am sure you are aware, Mr. Simmons has made numerous disparaging public comments about Michael Jackson after his passing," estate lawyer Howard Weitzman wrote in the letter obtained by CNN. He called media coverage of the controversy "extraordinarily embarrassing."

The estate, which has not sanctioned the event, also questioned the promoters' promise to share profits with charities and a provision in the terms of the ticket sale that so long as 50% of the billed acts show up there would be no refunds,.

"It is a concern to us that loyal Michael Jackson fans will pay for tickets and not receive full benefit for their purchase, nor will they be able to get a full refund if certain artists they paid to see cancel their participation," the letter said.

The promoters replied Tuesday morning.

"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.

Promoters, who had hoped the addition of the legendary group would bolster their lineup, said they were unaware of Simmons' statements when they booked KISS for the show.

"We offer our sincerest apologies to Mrs. Jackson and the family for this oversight. Our primary concern must be to do justice to Michael's memory, and to put on a tribute that the family and the fans will find suitable and fit for a King, our King of Pop," Hunt said.

Simmons' comments were well-known among many Jackson fans. Fan websites quickly posted scathing objections after Monday's announcement.

"In the days following Michael Jackson's death, Gene Simmons has made slanderous, derogatory comments about Michael and his children," the fan site United For Michael Jackson's Legacy said. "It is quite ironic that Simmons has now agreed to himself pay tribute to the man he called a child predator."

The fan website MJ4Justice was one of several calling for a boycott of the show.

"Either they don't have access to computers, telephones or do not know how to use GOOGLE," MJ4Justice said in an online statement. "But, There is NO excuse for the Tribute organizers NOT to know Gene Simmons should not be part of any Michael Jackson Tribute Event."

Global Live Events executives appeared with Jackson matriarch Katherine Jackson on CNN Monday to announce the signing of KISS.

"I know he would be very excited about KISS," Michael Jackson's mother said.

But within minutes, their tribute's Facebook page was filled with negative fan reactions.

"This is a complete disgrace," wrote one fan. "You can kiss your audience goodbye folks. I doubt whether any self-respecting fan will pay a penny to see that man after the comments he made about Michael. I'm shocked this act was even considered."

The KISS controversy overshadowed other announcements that promoters expected would gain fan support for their show, including word that many of the musicians who played in Jackson's touring band for the past two decades would reunite as the show's house band.

Kevin Dorsey, who served as musical director for several Michael Jackson tours, will direct the show.

Other acts signed for the show include Christina Aguilera, Leona Lewis, Smokey Robinson, Cee Lo Green and JLS. Alternative rock band Alien Ant Farm and British R&B singer Craig David are also on the bill.

Members of the Jackson family set to take the stage include "the next generation of Jacksons" and 3T, which consists of Tito Jackson's three sons, the promoters said.

It is also expected that one or more of the three Jackson sisters -- Janet, La Toya and Rebe -- will perform.

It appeared unlikely the tribute stage would be the scene for a reunion for the surviving members of the Jackson 5. While Jackie, Tito and Marlon support the concert, brothers Jermaine and Randy have publicly objected to the show being held at the same time as the trial for Michael Jackson's doctor.

"While we wholeheartedly support the spirit of a tribute that honors our brother, we find it impossible to support an event that is due to take place during the criminal trial surrounding Michael's death," Jermaine and Randy Jackson said in a joint statement last month.

Dr. Conrad Murray's involuntary manslaughter trial is scheduled to begin in September and is expected to continue through October.

"The trial is very important and I can understand how Randy and Jermaine feel, but it's been two years," Katherine Jackson told CNN Monday. "I thought it was a good idea; I'd like to keep Michael's legacy alive."

Katherine Jackson plans to attend the trial, although she will miss some days to fly to Wales to attend the show with Michael Jackson's children, she said.

"It will be on a Saturday when the courtroom is dark," said Paul Ring, a Global Live Events executive.

Fans can get tickets through a two-step process. They must first "register their interest for tickets" online at A lottery then will decide which fans will be e-mailed invitations to complete the ticket purchase.

The concert in the Wales Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, which seats 75,000 people, will be at least four hours long, Global Live Events CEO Chris Hunt said.