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KISS is latest to postpone tour dates after Gene Simmons tests positive for COVID-19

Two men with long, black hair play guitar in studded outfits and face paint.
Paul Stanley, left, and Gene Simmons of KISS perform at Dodger Stadium in 1998.
(Bob Carey / Los Angeles Times)

If you don’t think the Delta variant is real, a few performers and concert promoters might change your mind: KISS and Florida Georgia Line are the latest musical acts to announce they’re canceling or delaying shows because of the resurgent pandemic.

Stevie Nicks, Nine Inch Nails, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Garth Brooks and other artists also have recently scrapped or postponed tour dates as the coronavirus’ highly contagious Delta variant continues to sweep across the United States and abroad.

Several musicians have returned to the stage as the country gradually reopens for the first time since COVID-19 vaccines became widely accessible. But some have begun to back out of performances as the recent surge in coronavirus cases takes an increasing toll — primarily on the unvaccinated community.

Other performers — such as Phoebe Bridgers, the Foo Fighters, the Eagles, Phish, Dead & Company and Maroon 5 — are requiring concertgoers to produce proof of immunization or recent negative test results before entering their shows.

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AEG Presents, the promoter of marquee music events such as the Coachella festival, recently announced a mandatory vaccination policy for staff and fans at upcoming shows. Meanwhile, some major festivals are already canceling this year’s dates, with more likely to follow suit.

“We are aware that there might be some pushback, but I’m confident we will be on the right side of history” the Coachella and Stagecoach promoter said Thursday.

As of Aug. 20, 64% of Californians had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine — but hospitals are quickly becoming overwhelmed after seeing coronavirus hospitalizations multiply over the span of a few weeks.

The new wave of live music cancellations is, of course, reminiscent of the beginning of the pandemic, when musician after musician — from BTS and Billie Eilish to Khalid and Mariah Carey — began scrapping their planned 2020 concert appearances slowly, and then all at once.

Here’s a running list of artists who have altered their 2021 touring schedules so far.

KISS

Men perform music in black-and-white face makeup and elaborate outfits.
KISS performs at the Pond.
(Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles Times)

Rock band KISS delayed its next four appearances in Michigan, Ohio, Illinois and Wisconsin after bassist and singer Gene Simmons tested positive for COVID-19.

“While [guitarist and singer] Paul Stanley recently tweeted that he has recovered from COVID, Gene Simmons has now tested positive and is experiencing mild symptoms,” the group said in an Aug. 31 statement.

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“The band and crew will remain at home and isolate for the next 10 days. ... All previously purchased tickets will be honored for the new dates once announced. More information will be emailed to ticket holders directly.”

KISS’ End of the Road tour is expected to resume Sept. 9 at FivePoint Amphitheatre in Irvine.

Florida Georgia Line

Two men in white suits sing into microphones.
Brian Kelley, left, and Tyler Hubbard of Florida Georgia Line perform at the 2020 CMA Awards in Nashville.
(Charles Sykes / Invision/AP)

On Aug. 20, country music duo Florida Georgia Line canceled the remainder of their I Love My Country tour, citing safety concerns.

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In California, the “Cruise” hitmakers were expected to travel to San Diego, Mountain View, Wheatland, Fresno, Los Angeles and San Bernardino in November.

Other stops on the itinerary spanned Georgia, Louisiana, Texas, Ohio, Indiana, Virginia, Connecticut, New York, Iowa, Nebraska, Missouri, North Carolina, Michigan, Illinois, Colorado, Arizona, Utah, Oregon, Washington state and Washington, D.C.

“While we’ve been able to see some of y’all at shows recently, everyone’s continued safety has been weighing heavy on us,” the group said in a statement.

“We’re so bummed to have to cancel this tour, but we know in our hearts that we still have to make sure we’re keeping our fans and crew safe. We love y’all and can’t wait to be back out when the time is right.”

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BTS

BTS posing in a line on the Grammys red carpet
BTS attends the 2020 Grammy Awards in Los Angeles.
(Jordan Strauss / Invision/AP)

Global pop supergroup BTS officially pulled the plug Aug. 20 on its highly anticipated Map of the Soul tour, long after postponing the North American leg of the tour in March 2020.

“Our company has worked hard to resume preparations for the BTS Map of the Soul tour, knowing that all fans have been waiting eagerly and long for the tour,” the band’s record label, Bighit, said in a statement.

“However, due to changing circumstances beyond our control, it has become difficult to resume performances at the same scale and timeline as previously planned. ... [Allow] us to offer our sincere apology to all fans who have waited for the BTS Map of the Soul tour to resume. We are working to prepare a viable schedule and performance format that can meet your expectations, and we will provide updated notices as soon as possible.”

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Nine Inch Nails

On Aug. 19, rock band Nine Inch Nails canceled the remainder of its 2021 concert appearances “with great regret.”

“When originally planned, these shows were intended to be a cathartic and celebratory return to live music,” the group said in a statement.

“However, with each passing day it’s becoming more apparent we’re not at that place yet. We are sorry for any inconvenience or disappointment and look forward to seeing you again when the time is right.”

Garth Brooks

Garth Brooks in a black suit with a black cowboy hat
Country star Garth Brooks, seen in 2017, has canceled tour dates amid COVID-19 concerns.
(Evan Agostini / Invision/AP)
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Country superstar Brooks announced Aug. 18 that his stadium tour would be going on hiatus while his team continues to “monitor the virus’ impact and watch how schools, sports, and other entertainment entities are handling this stage of the pandemic.”

As a precaution, the singer has canceled five upcoming performances across Ohio, North Carolina, Maryland, Massachusetts and Tennessee.

“In July, I sincerely thought the pandemic was falling behind us. Now, watching this new wave, I realize we are still in the fight and I must do my part,” Brooks said in a statement. “It is with a heavy heart we announce the decision to cancel all 5 shows but with a hopeful heart, we will reschedule and start over when this wave seems to be behind us.”

“The joy I have seen in everyone’s faces as live music returns has been more than worth our constant diligence to maintain safety protocols not only for the fans, but for our band, the crew and the hard working staff in these stadiums,” he added. “Their dedication to safety for the people who fill those seats has been a miracle to watch and a blessing to receive. I am truly grateful.”

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Having Brooks onstage was a way to reach out to the entire country, including his fans in red states.

Korn

California metal band Korn canceled and rescheduled a slew of concert dates Aug. 16 after frontman Jonathan Davis tested positive for COVID-19.

“On Saturday, we received the unfortunate news that Jonathan tested positive for Covid, and needless to say, we had to postpone the show last minute,” the group said in a statement.

“As always, our primary goal is to ensure the safety of everyone involved, so this is something that has to be done. Jonathan’s spirits are high, and he’s resting and recovering now. We’re as disappointed as you are about the circumstances, but we’ll get through it though, and we can’t wait to see you once we’re back, firing on all cylinders once again.”

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Some of Korn’s August shows in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Hampshire were postponed to late September and early October, while performances in New York have been canceled.

Tony Bennett

After performing back-to-back, sold-out shows with frequent collaborator Lady Gaga in early August at New York’s Radio City Music Hall, famed crooner Bennett will no longer go on tour this fall as planned.

“There won’t be any additional concerts,” Bennett’s son told Variety Aug. 12. ”This was a hard decision for us to make, as he is a capable performer. This is, however, doctors’ orders. ... He’ll be doing other things, but not those upcoming shows.”

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Earlier this year, Bennett’s family revealed that the veteran musician had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. In addition to his health complications, Bennett’s advanced age — he just turned 95 — places him firmly in the high-risk category for COVID-19.

Lady Gaga announces “Love for Sale,” her second album with Tony Bennett. She and the birthday boy, who has Alzheimer’s, perform tonight and Thursday.

“It’s not the singing aspect but, rather, the traveling,” his son told Variety. “Look, he gets tired. ... [D]oing concerts now is just too much for him. We don’t want him to fall onstage, for instance — something as simple as that.”

Titled “One Last Time: An Evening With Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga,” the singer’s recent appearance in the Big Apple already had hinted at Bennett’s retirement from live performing. Still on the horizon, however, is his second and final joint album with Gaga, “Love for Sale” — out Oct. 1.

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Stevie Nicks

On Aug. 10, legendary Fleetwood Mac rocker Nicks, 73, announced her reluctant decision to abort a string of upcoming tour dates in Colorado, California, Texas and Louisiana.

“These are challenging times with challenging decisions that have to be made,” the “Edge of Seventeen” hitmaker explained via Twitter. “I want everyone to be safe and healthy and the rising Covid cases should be of concern to all of us.

“While I’m vaccinated, at my age, I am still being extremely cautious and for that reason have decided to skip the 5 performances I had planned for 2021. Because singing and performing have been my whole life, my primary goal is to keep healthy so I can continue singing for the next decade or longer. I’m devastated and I know the fans are disappointed, but we will look towards a brighter 2022.”

On the eve of the release of a solo concert film, Fleetwood Mac star Stevie Nicks opens up on Lindsey Buckingham’s exit and looking for love in her 70s.

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Lynyrd Skynyrd

Southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd pulled out of its forthcoming shows in Ohio, Mississippi, Georgia and Alabama on Aug. 9 after longtime guitarist Rickey Medlocke tested positive for COVID-19.

Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Aug. 13 appearance in Atlanta was moved to Oct. 23.

“Rickey is home resting and responding well to treatment,” the group said in a statement. “We will continue to update you on his condition.”

From Lollapalooza to ACL, here’s a running list of music festivals that have scrubbed rapper DaBaby from their lineups after his homophobic rant.

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Michael Bublé

Canadian singer-songwriter Bublé also amended his touring schedule on Aug. 6 “due to concerns over the rising number of Coronavirus infections.”

The “Just Haven’t Met You Yet” artist’s August concert appearances in New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Ohio, North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida have all been rescheduled to October, while new dates for the South American leg of the tour “will be announced shortly,” according to Bublé's Twitter account.

Limp Bizkit

On Aug. 7, rap-rock band Limp Bizkit, which performed at Lollapalooza in Chicago late last month, indefinitely postponed the remainder of its August tour dates “out of an abundance of caution and concern for the safety of the band, crew and most of all the fans,” according to a statement.

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“In short, the system is still very flawed,” frontman Fred Durst told Billboard. “Even if the performers, crews, staff, and promoters do their best to ensure safety on and behind the stage, that doesn’t ensure the safety of the audience as a whole.”

Tickets purchased online for shows in New York, New Hampshire, Virginia, Nebraska and Texas will be automatically refunded.

Joe Russo’s Almost Dead

On Aug. 11, Grateful Dead cover band Joe Russo’s Almost Dead postponed its upcoming indoor shows in Wisconsin and Missouri to late March, while canceling multiple appearances in Michigan and New Orleans.

“After much consideration and discussion, we believe it’s in the best interest of our fans, band and crew to err on the side of safety and caution at this time,” the group said in a statement.

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“As of now, we will continue playing [select] shows with ... additional safety precautions. ... As the year progresses, we will make decisions based on the best data available with the health and safety of ourselves and our fans in mind. We apologize for the bad news and deeply appreciate your understanding.”

The String Cheese Incident

On Aug. 12, Colorado jam band the String Cheese Incident canceled its weekend performances in Kentucky and Ohio after one of its members tested positive for COVID-19 — “despite all being vaccinated.”

“We are super bummed we can’t play music for y’all, but this is how the world seems to run these days,” the group said in a statement. “Thanks for the continued support, and we look forward to crossing paths soon.”

The band also canceled appearances in late August at the Big Top and the Backwoods Festival at Mulberry Mountain, but its website says it will play shows in October and later in the year.


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