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.”
READ: The Country Music Festival Bubble Is Bursting
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.
August 7, 2015 @ 10:53 pm
I was one of the people who stood with Merle’s team’s decision. A deal is a deal. It is pretty late here in my time zone and I lack the energy and mental capacity to really re-develop my thoughts on the matter, but I am pretty sure if you check out Merle’s Facebook page and the Matt with the complicated last name in the top comments, it is there. It is just too easy for individuals not involved with the music business to be reductive and make assumptions.. I get why they are upset, but this business we call “music” is a finnicky one.
August 7, 2015 @ 11:58 pm
My understanding is that they did not pay him….
August 8, 2015 @ 12:05 am
Merle being Merle. Still not taking no shit.
August 8, 2015 @ 12:54 am
The Mighty Merle has been doing this way too long to put up with shakey contracts. Music is a business, and I trust Merle wouldn’t leave his fans hanging unless it was for a damn good reason.
August 8, 2015 @ 5:20 am
I understand people being upset about not being able to see someone perform that they were planning on seeing but I back Merle’s decision. Promoters & event organizers have a bad reputation (it’s a generalization, I know) of screwing over artists. Respects to Merle for standing up against that.
August 8, 2015 @ 5:31 am
You’d think he has enough money now he could take the losing end of the stick once in a while to make some fans happy. Buck Owens may not have had half this guy’s talent but the night before he died he thought about cancelling his show, and then found out people were coming a great distance to see him and went on anyway. Weird Al found out his parents had died right before a show and he didn’t cancel… And honestly, how does he get that close to the performance without knowing what the contract states?
August 8, 2015 @ 8:18 am
When you have the amount of people that Merle has to pay each show, simply not getting paid is probably not an option. And if he does just do the show, how are promoters/venues going to respect his contract in the future?
August 8, 2015 @ 9:26 am
We are also under the assumption that money is the issue. A lot of the time, this tends to be the case.. but we just don’t know. There are a LOT of stipulations that fall under “terms and conditions”. It could have been an equipment liability clause, an issue with security, recording/video rights.. who knows. There is a reason national acts include lawyers and accountants as a part of their team, there are so many holes to fill. If it IS about money, I agree with you, Matt – regardless of Merle’s personal coffers, tours are booked and executed with a specific budget in mind, and there are usually a lot more people involved in any major act’s tour than just the guys on the stage
August 8, 2015 @ 7:07 pm
“simply not getting paid is probably not an option.” Like Bassman says, we don’t know that money was the issue, and I’m taking a bit of a leap of faith by assuming that Merle Haggard has plenty of money. But how does an artist come that close to the date of fulfillment of a contract without finding out that it isn’t satisfactory?
August 9, 2015 @ 9:41 am
Here you are, critisizing a 78 year old Legend who still tours relentlessly while never getting the credit he’s due, for refusing to play when his contract wasn’t met. Haggard doesn’t owe shit to anyone.
August 9, 2015 @ 9:59 am
I guess I don’t understand how Haggard, who probably has lots of qualified people around him to do his business, including making sure his contracts are met, let this happen. I have the utmost respect for the man, but in the interest of being open-minded we have to treat this the same way we treated the Kip Moore issue from a few months ago, otherwise we’re giving Merle preferential treatment. Somebody should have known well in advance that that contract wasn’t up to snuff. If money was the issue, and the festival was so empty that it couldn’t pay in advance, it makes sense… but I can’t imagine a festival would hire someone of that stature knowing they ran the risk of not being able to pay, it would be bad for business.
August 10, 2015 @ 4:39 pm
Who knows how rich Haggard is. He’s had divorces out the wazoo. He has several generations of children whom he’s tangled with. He hasn’t had a hit record in what, 25 years? He’s probably still out there on the road week after week because he feels he needs to keep earning money to meet the obligations that he’s assumed.
Hey, if a performer doesn’t get paid, he shouldn’t perform.
August 8, 2015 @ 6:30 am
I was there. The festival was empty. They probably didn’t have the money to pay him.
August 8, 2015 @ 8:28 am
Most any first year festival is going to have low turnout, and many promoters expect to lose money on their first go-round. Ink-N-Iron has been throwing festivals for years on the West Coast and other places. I went to an event they promoted about 5 years ago in Dallas. The promotion for the fest was pretty robust, so I’m surprised to hear the accounts that it was “empty,” It looked like a well-produced fest with lots of promotion, but in this crowded festival environment, at some point one festival will be one too many.
August 8, 2015 @ 6:31 am
I have been a fan of Merle’s for years, and I don’t blame him. He has been taken advantage of many
times in his life and probably feels like he doesn’t need to take anymore shit after all these years.
August 8, 2015 @ 9:36 am
The headlined scared me because I’m going to a make-up Haggard show Monday.
August 8, 2015 @ 9:38 am
Being a player , I’m happy anytime I hear that a musician / band has held their ground . There are far too many instances where the act is expected to do something they weren’t informed of by contract …verbal or otherwise . Most musicians are great people and aim to please because its all about the music and the vibe . I can say with some certainly that Merle has seen more than his share of shady scenarios and he and his people probably saw that this would be yet another …whatever the circumstance . As a ticket holder , yes I’d be upset ….particularly if I’d come any distance and incurred other costs. As a musician I’d have no problem bringing my own experiences into the equation and would side with the act .
August 8, 2015 @ 12:04 pm
From the picture of the stage that I saw on Facebook, it looked like a shitty set-up. A man Hag’s age would be lucky not to fall off of the risers.
I live here in Nashville and the Bicentennial Mall is a horrible place to hold one of these events.
August 8, 2015 @ 12:19 pm
Yeah, if that’s the case, Haggard doesn’t need to be playing malls. I think he’s past that in his career, lol.
August 8, 2015 @ 8:19 pm
It’s not a shopping mall. It’s a state park in downtown Nashville.
August 11, 2015 @ 1:24 pm
I think that guy was joking.
Every performer would be honored to play on the National Mall in D.C. on July 4th.
August 8, 2015 @ 12:16 pm
I’ve no doubt we don’t have all the details on this one. I have to agree with everyone above that’s said this is a business; if one party doesn’t hold up their end of things, inevitably, the show will fall apart.
It really sucks that ticketholders got shafted on this one, as they are ultimately the ones who lose, though. In my opinion, this is up to the promoter to make it up to the fans – either offer a refund, or a make-up show. It sounds like they are making good with the festival-long passes, but I’m sure there are some very disappointed people, and rightfully so.
Should be interesting to see how the rest of this plays out.
August 8, 2015 @ 4:36 pm
Mere is going from from.Nashville.to.do.a.show in Kentucky and then will go to Grrenburgh, Pennsylvania the following day to make up show that he cancelled when he was back east, due to being sick. That’s a lot of driving and I’m.sure he could have pushed that make.up.date back until it was more convenient for him but he keeps.his word and does the right thing. They should have too. They probably thought they could jerk him off and they were wrong.
August 13, 2015 @ 8:42 pm
Hey at least everyone got to see Shooter Jennings and he got paid! Ease up ya’ll. Merle played Friday and it was okay. It was a long day/weekend/festival and the Ink portion was dope. Noones talking about how good the Rev. & (Jimbo) killed the fest. It was the highlight. There were some bands that could have been cut to save $$ for Hag.
August 15, 2015 @ 12:09 pm
Merle Haggard said some perverted things about young girls backstage at a performance where my niece’s band opened for him. Additionally, in 1994, Merle played at a Palm Sunday benefit concert in Piedmont, AL, and didn’t even talk to any of the survivors or attendees. He also visited a hometown radio station on another occasion and acted like a major league ass. Suffice to say, I don’t care if Merle comes or goes. He’s a classless jerk.