Prince and Erykah Badu's Super Bowl Benefit Concert Gets Canceled At The Last Minute. So, Uh, What Exactly Happened? And Why?

Categories: DFW Music News
theeventflyer.jpg
The event flyer for TheEvent, which never took place.
There was a whirlwind of press releases in the past few weeks leading up to tonight's scheduled benefit featuring Prince and Erykah Badu. First, it was happening in a tent at the old Reunion Arena location. Then, it had been moved to the InterContinental Hotel. And then, just this afternoon, it was canceled due to lack of funding. Then, suddenly, it was back on again.

Turns out the final announcement was still to come. And it was given as guests were arriving at the event: The concert was off. No explanation. No announcement. And there was only vague discussion of refunds for tickets ("Head to the point of purchase," patrons were told) that, till they went half-off late today, cost $1,500 a person -- with proceeds going to a foundation for kids. People arriving at TheEvent, as this benefit concert was being called, were met at the escalator by the bearer of bad news, a seemingly odd source. Or, turns out, maybe not.

The job was left to Mavs sideline man and longtime radio fixture Chris Arnold, who referred to himself as "one of the event's organizers" and who was scheduled to emcee the event. He greeted these patrons, all dolled up for a swanky and expensive event, with a handshake, a sad frown and a litany of apologies. Arnold stood alone in these efforts. We could find no one representing Kenny Goss and George Michael's foundation, for whom the event was being thrown.

"Don't blame Prince," Arnold told a small gathering of fans, many visibly and audibly upset at the last-second news. "He really wanted to be here. His band was here. I will take the blame. Blame me for the event not happening."

When asked what he should be blamed for, Arnold smiled sheepishly. He wasn't sure. Money, he said, was not the issue -- despite the press release sent out this afternoon claiming the organizer, River Alexander Group, couldn't cough up the dough to make this happening happen. River Alexander Group, Teresa Gubbins notes on Pegasus News, is an entity registered to Arnold, turns out.

"We had the funds," Arnold said. "Did we need more? Well, we got more. We got over that hurdle."

When pressed for more details, Arnold offered none. He said he didn't know if Prince was in town. He said didn't know if Prince had made it out to the venue. All he knew was that refunds were going to be available at the point of purchase, and that Badu, at one point, had offered to perform on her own.

princeemptyballroom.jpg
Pete Freedman
The scene in the InterContinental's ballroom, where TheEvent was scheduled to take place, at 9 p.m. -- just about an hour after the show was canceled.
Nonetheless, the event was canceled.

Other than to say that he and his fellow organizers had been "that close" to pulling off their event, Arnold couldn't offer much else.

"I can't even think of the right words," he said, shrugging.

Paul Levatino, who works closely with Badu as part of her Badu World team, couldn't offer much more insight, either -- other than to say that the Dallas native tried her best to keep the event going.

"Even when they were saying, 'We're sorry, we're canceling,' Erykah was talking to me, trying to figure out how we could make something happen," Levatino said, indicating that Badu spent a good portion of her own money on the event. He hinted that she may also have contacted a few of her other famous friends in town for Super Bowl weekend, trying to find someone to replace Prince.

"There wasn't really too much opportunity for that, though," Levatino said. "But people were talking. There were a lot of things going on."

A different member of Badu's camp, who spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed that much, indeed, was going on behind the scenes -- albeit on another front. According to the source, Prince and his handlers arrived on the site this afternoon, and that the handlers had scoped the venue out only to find that it wasn't up to their standards.

"Prince never even stepped inside the hotel," the source said.

And that, the source added, was just one of the issues. Sound and lighting engineers hadn't been paid and were refusing to set up their equipment until they got their money. And when they finally did, the hotel -- which, our source says, was also claiming it wasn't paid -- apparently made the final decision to pull the plug and move on.

"We heard the news, like, right at 8 o'clock," Levatino added. "Literally, right when everybody got there. Erykah just wanted to perform with her friend and for the foundation. And she was going to do it. She didn't really know the Goss-Michael Foundation until recently, but she respects what they do."

Calls to the Goss-Michael Foundation have not been returned.

Levatino, meanwhile, said he'd prefer not to say more -- he too will be awaiting The Official Word from the Goss-Michael Foundation before speaking further.

"Hopefully," Levatino added, "we'll get another chance."

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27 comments
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Nem Inis
Nem Inis

For a man who gets paid for working his mouth, Chris Arnold sure had a lot of nothing to say about WTF happened here. "I can't even think of the right words."?! Bwahaha, that's just TOO funny. Something doesn't smell right.

6312468075531
6312468075531

Goss-Michael Foundation is NOT exempt from absorbing ANY blame. "Upstanding", "respectable" are NOT words used to describe a non-profit organization that does not show up to alleviate the concerns of the young artists who traveled to share their talent. In fact, as benificiaries they should have still released a statement sharing sad, regretful disappointment. THAT is called empathy and any reasonable organization knows that is the appropriate PR response. I will not continue patronizing, spreading the word of GMF, nor willi sponsor them again. Sad indeed.

Rooster
Rooster

GMF probably had zero experience in setting up an event of this size, and hired a promoter they trusted, who obviously dropped the ball.

I feel bad for the young artists who got stiffed, but in this litigious crazy environment, I can understand why they chose to keep their mouth shut.

Roger
Roger

Agreed, this could be a case study for what not to do and I hope the Foundation rallies to learn all its lessons. It was good to hear the Foundation has been in touch with their scholars and has offered to reimburse their travel expenses.

Desiree
Desiree

Prince has a right to maintain his standard and none of us should change them for anyone, go Prince! I would expect nothing less from you. Erykah is a Dallas home girl and that's what people will do for home, all that they can, she offered and I love her more. The engineers did right, by not working without pay, I'm sure they have learned priceless lessons before. And regardless of what the foundation was a victim, with faith in the promoters which I am sure did constitute some type of contact and interaction, but it's still not their fault. However, the talk about the price of the ticket wasn't important it was a BENEFIT NOT A CONCERT! So you are not paying market price for the performers, but you are also assisting in raising money for whatever the cause. I would like to believe that it is the responsibility of the promoters for the venue, the cost and the reputation of all parties. And someone did not know what they were doing and caused damaged to a number of persons...So I would hope that all of the individuals who were willing to participate place the responsibility in its proper place and hopefully are refunded for whatever monies they put out.

Oak Cliff Townie
Oak Cliff Townie

I know I know

There wasn't a place to have the extra 3 levels so the VIP folks could look down on the Commoners

Montemalone
Montemalone

As hilarious as this whole SuperFiascoBowl is, this concert/benefit doesn't make sense. Prince is one of those big-time acts, so that means big time fees, and this was supposed to be a big show downtown. The weather forced a move, but to a rinky-dink hotel ballroom? How many people could it possibly hold? They didn't sell enough tickets. They couldn't pay the tradesmen. Badu chipped in her own money for the cause? Great. Previous beneficiaries fly in on their own dime to perform? Awesome. Purple Guy shows up, sees the situationand wonders WTF? Probably wasn't going to get paid his promised fee, said sayonara and took off.I'm curious to see how the refund thing works out. It's too bad so many people are out money and disappointed.

Devin Pike
Devin Pike

Having been to several big-time events at the InterContinental, I wouldn't call it a "rinky-dink hotel ballroom." The size of it wouldn't have put the kibosh on the affair. Now, no sound techs getting any gear ready without getting paid? Bingo. The whole on-off-on-off-on chain of events? Shibumi.

The number of lawsuits will depend on the ability of the promoters to refund tickets for disgruntled folks. That clock is ticking, and fast.

Allan
Allan

The sound/light techs (and the hotel and the caterers) are probably all professionals who know better than to commit hundreds of thousands of dollars of gear and person-hours to a sketchy promoter without getting paid (at least a 50% deposit) just for showing up. Bands, big and not-so-big, require the similar payment terms in their performance agreements, because (sadly) the well-meant intentions of the promotors and/or beneficiaries simply fail to measure up to the very real economic risks.

I have no inside knowledge of this, but it sure sounds/smells like the promoter(s) failed to honor the terms of their contracts, despite being given multiple opportunities (and quite possibly a Badu bailout). The vendors may have simply decided to cut their losses rather than gamble on (not) getting paid after the gig, when they had no more leverage. They'd already lost money by a)not booking another paying gig and b)committing resources to the hotel venue.

Roger
Roger

IF the Foundation invited scholarship recipient performers to showcase the work of the Foundation at the event - and they did - common courtesy, reciprocity, and karma would all suggest the Foundation has a responsibiilty to those guest performers. Let's not forget this is not your run of the mill nonprofit; it is an organization founded by those with knowledge of the entertainment industry ... and its shady side.

phe_75034
phe_75034

Something like this makes everyone involved look bad. Unfortunately, that includes the organizing committee and the entire region. We're already getting laughed at nationally over the weather and our response to it. We didn't need this mess.

What's the over/under on number of lawsuits to come out of the debacle? I'm going to guess at least six.

Izabela
Izabela

Spoiled little princesses! If I Was Prince, I wouldn't care and would make the best of it all... So would any other decent entertainer. After all, there was a good cause behind it all.

UGuest
UGuest

George Michael always had the worst publicists. This explains a lot.

Tj
Tj

George Michael was in the parking lot. Slumped over the wheel. He'll be doing a show tomorrow at the Katy Trail. Rollerblade on down, he'll be in a trench coat...he'll jump out of the bushes.

CaptFantastic
CaptFantastic

You have to wonder how much the location played into this. A hotel ballroom? Prince? Really? I can totally see that scene of Prince rolling up to the Intercontinental and saying, "WTF?". But clearly the overriding factor was funding, and as much as I love Prince and would pay to see him, $1500 was really just not realistic.

ab122
ab122

LOL...Prince would NEVER perform in a hotel ballroom. You're right, $1,500 was way too much for an event at a hotel ballroom. I am a Prince superfan and would could consider $500-700, but not $1,500...the organizers should have been smart enough to know this.

Scottie
Scottie

Prince did roll up, looked at the joint and shot them the deuce. Maybe he hopped across the street and did an impromptu show at Pete's Dueling Piano Bar...

sorry but i'm a victim
sorry but i'm a victim

the show's not over. this was a staight up coon job. i was there last night...bill cosby and rev sharpton were there too. they've agreed to host a free debate on the current state of the cultural influnces of hip hop in America. If I can watch that, and get out alive...I won't ask for my money to be refunded.

Joey
Joey

Great story. Dallas Observer outclassed everyone on this. I wish you guys much success now that the DMN will be hemorrhaging readers. Just please kill Whitt, thanks.

MLouCamp
MLouCamp

What a total joke!! Of course, who'd pay $1500 to see Prince anyway LOL

modslel
modslel

Booker T. Washington scholarship winners had come in from out of town colleges at their own expense to perform at the event - at the bidding of the Goss-Michael Foundation. A GMF staffer was in contact with them up until late afternoon making certain that they would be there for sound check at 7:30pm. They were clearly involved in the organization of the event and should have stepped forward to help take responsibility. None of the student performers were EVER contacted about the possible cancellation and none of them received ANY kind of explanation/thank-you/kma from the GMF. Would make me think twice about ever donating to their foundation if this is the way they ultimately treat their beneficiaries!

sassmasterdfw
sassmasterdfw

If they are going off the info the event planner is giving them, that the show will take place, then all they can do is convey that. I know the folks at GMF very well and they are upstanding, respectable, generous people who were duped by the event planners, who did a shitty job planning, promoting and then moving the event to an awful location - The Intercontinental...REALLY? Yug. I'm sure when the shock has worn off, things will become more clear.

Regardless, the way this entire debacle was handled should be a case study in what NOT to do. Any skilled PR person could have taken care of it much better, with far less repercussions.

sassmasterdfw
sassmasterdfw

The Goss-Michael Foundation is not at fault here. They were contacted by the event organizers and were to be the beneficiaries of the money raised. This all falls on the event organizers for a crap job. I sincerely hope that everyone will look to the organizers, not the beneficiaries to assign blame. A not-for-profit organization is at the mercy of their donors. This event planner should be run out of town.

Informed Citizen
Informed Citizen

Sure they are. They should have checked the promoter's background before they signed-off for the event.

Guest
Guest

So true. This is not at all Prince's nor the Goss-Michael Foundation's fault...that promoter did not know what they were doing. Unfortunately, it puts Prince and the foundation in a negative light now...I hope that they both can do something quickly to redeem themselves from the embarrassment which the promoter caused.

Asdf
Asdf

fair enough, but if you put your name on something it's hard to not take responsibility for it -- good or bad.

Guest
Guest

Contact Sabrina Dee of Black Book Ink. She is the Publicist for the event.

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