Merle Haggard Cancels Headlining Set at Ink-N-Iron Fest Last Minute After Contract Dispute


This weekend in downtown Nashville, the inaugural Ink-N-Iron Festival is being held in Bicentennial Mall Park. Promoted by the same individuals who’ve been putting on tattoo conventions in Long Beach, California for the last 13 years, the 3-day festival features a diverse mix of performers, including headliners Merle Haggard, Coheed & Cambria, and Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings. Merle Haggard also performed at a pre-festival event held Thursday evening.

However attendees Friday night were disappointed when Merle Haggard did not appear for his headlining set at 10 PM. The other performers, including Revered Horton Heat who was scheduled to play right before Merle Haggard, performed without a hitch. But Merle Haggard backed out of the performance last minute, leaving many fans unhappy and wondering what happened, including many who had traveled from out of town to see the country legend.

“Tonight my management team advised me that the terms and conditions of my contract with Ink & Iron had not been met for last night’s show and would not be met by showtime tonight,” said a statement posted on Merle Haggard’s Facebook page Friday night, right near the time he was scheduled to take the stage. “I place my confidence in My management team to make these decisions. I regret that I will not perform for my Nashville fans tonight. I look forward to returning to Nashville soon under better circumstances.”

Shortly before Merle’s statement, a spokesperson for Ink-N-Iron told News Channel 5 in Nashville, “Due to circumstances beyond Merle Haggard’s control, Merle will not take the stage tonight.”

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Some festival goers expressed anger with Merle on social network sites for backing out of the performance, but a majority defended Merle’s decision to not play if his contract stipulations were not met. There is no word as of yet what specific contract issues arose between Merle Haggard’s management and the Ink-N-Iron Festival.

UPDATE: According to reports, patrons were told their Friday wristbands would be honored for the rest of the festival due to Merle’s cancellation.

This story will be updated if further information is made available.

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