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Mos Def Promoter Talks About Failed Tour

Written by Brayden Darke on January 9, 2012

Tour promoter Sam Speaight sat down with The Vine recently to talk about the failed Mos Def tour.

Mos Def cancelled four out of his eleven shows he was booked to play last year. At the time, everything from the illness of his DJ to floods in Brisbane was blamed for the problems. Speaight claims that those “cancellations meant an immediate net loss of around $250,000.” But he admits he holds no grudges, saying “Looking back on it now … I’m a bit of a hippie, a bit of a Buddhist. I believe that everything in this life has some kind of underlying karmic reason behind it. I was meant to have that experience. I’ve had it now, and as awful as it was, I don’t regret it. It’s part of my path here, on this plane.”

He goes on to talk about one of the bizarre excuses given that caused the tour to be rescheduled once, and some shows even being rescheduled twice, incurring cancellation fees.

I got a call at 5am on a Saturday, two hours before they were due to book their flight to Australia [which would see them play the first show at the Palace Theatre], to tell me that they wouldn’t be getting on the flight because one of the manager’s daughters had slipped and hit her head on the ground, and that as a result, the tour couldn’t commence.

This is after weeks of mind-crushing madness and insanity that wore me down to breaking. That was Saturday morning. They were originally supposed to board flights on Friday, but they refused and postponed. So the daughter had hit her head, and they couldn’t come. You know, this is just ridiculous; the manager with the daughter was completely non-essential to the tour.

After calling up The Palace in Melbourne and Ticketmaster to try and reschedule the show, it became clear what an inconvenience the delay would be for Speaight.

“We can’t contact all the ticketholders. We don’t have enough staff in the office today to call people even if we could try to do that. The only option you’ve got in this scenario, I’m sorry to say, is to cancel the show and refund all the money that the ticketholders have paid.”

Speaight then goes on to talk about the “watertight” contracts he had in place, but realised that so many breaches had been made, coupled with being left with very little money, it was useless trying to take any sort of legal action.

We absolutely had bulletproof, watertight contracts in place with the artist. They were breached … God, I lost track of the number of contract breaches in the end, to be honest.

But unfortunately a contract is only as good as one’s willingness to go to court to prosecute it … The contract was basically meaningless. It was breached so many times that, in the end, I forgot all about using it as a legal instrument, because it quickly became apparent that, at the end of this tour, I wasn’t going to have enough money to buy my next meal, let alone … well, I use that in a dramatic sense. [Laughs] Obviously I’m not a pauper living in the streets.

I have to experience it, let it go, move on, revamp my entire approach to everything that I do in my life, move halfway around the world, sell my worldly possessions, and completely start again. [laughs] So instead of going to court – that’s what I did.

You can read the entire interview with Sam Speaight on The Vine.

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