Dr. Luke won’t ‘budge’ on Kesha’s nixed Billboard performance, despite reassurance from singer

Kesha performs onstage with record producer Zedd at the 2016 Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival on April 16, 2016, in Indio.
(Frazer Harrison / Getty Images for Coachella)

Kesha planned on paying tribute to Bob Dylan at this year’s Billboard Music Awards, before her performance was torpedoed amid a nasty lawsuit between the pop star and her longtime producer, Dr. Luke. 

Dick Clark Productions, which puts on the awards spectacle, announced Tuesday that Kesha had to pull out of a previously announced performance after Luke’s label, Kemosabe Records, to which the singer remains signed, “rescinded its approval.” 

“Kesha accepted an invitation to perform on the show and she received written approval from Dr. Luke’s record label, Kemosabe Records,” the statement read. “Unfortunately, Kesha and Kemosabe have since been unable to come to an agreement for Kesha to perform on the show. Kemosabe subsequently rescinded its approval following a media report on Wednesday, May 11th regarding Kesha’s appearance on the BBMAs.”

A representative for Luke declined to comment to The Times.


In a statement posted to her Instagram late Tuesday, the singer said she had planned to sing a cover of Bob Dylan’s “It Ain’t Me, Babe” at the show and had no intentions of using her appearance to address the ongoing controversy with the hit-maker.

“I’m very sad and sorry to say I won’t be allowed to do this,” she wrote. “I just wanted to make very clear that this performance was about me honoring one of my favorite songwriters of all time and has never had anything at all to do with Dr. Luke. I was never going to use a picture of him, speak of him or allude to my legal situation in any way.”

The performance on Sunday’s telecast would have been her first televised performance since her legal battle with the producer began in 2014. 

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Kesha, whose full name is Kesha Rose Sebert, is signed to Dr. Luke’s Kemosabe Records, an imprint of Sony Music. In 2014, she hit her longtime partner and platinum producer with a suit, alleging a decade of sexual, physical and mental abuse.

In the suit filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, the singer alleges that the years of abuse resulted in an eating disorder and a stint in rehab that sidelined a once white-hot career. Dr. Luke has denied all the claims and has continued to remain one of pop’s most in-demand producers.

Kesha’s ongoing case got widespread attention earlier this year after a video of the singer breaking down and sobbing in court brought an onslaught of public support from some of the biggest names in pop music.

In April, a New York State Supreme Court judge dismissed Kesha’s counterclaims against the producer and rejected her request to be let out of her contract with Dr. Luke and Sony. A judge in California put the sexual assault case on hold on Monday, pending the outcome of a breach-of-contract lawsuit in New York that was brought by Dr. Luke, who accuses Kesha of lying about the abuse in order to get out of her contract.

Last week, it was reported the singer would use her performance at the Billboard Awards to make a statement of sorts about her ongoing case. 

A representative for Kesha told The Times that the rumor, which originated with a TMZ report that was picked up by numerous gossip blogs, led to the producer’s team requesting confirmation that the performance would not mention or allude to the ongoing case in the performance or any interview on the red carpet.

Kesha provided written assurance, and “Luke still wouldn’t budge,” the rep said. 

Kesha already had been rehearsing for the performance, and she was going to be accompanied by Ben Folds on the piano, according to the rep who said it was “very unlikely” that the singer and the producer would come to an agreement that would allow her to perform on Sunday’s telecast. 


The singer is still planning on attending and walking the red carpet. 

“I simply wanted to sing a song I love to honor an artist I have always looked up to,” Kesha’s statement continued. “Thank [you] all for the continued support.”


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