Pat Benatar refuses to get onstage for charity event
INVERNESS, FL – Pat Benatar and husband Neil Giraldo refused to perform at the WalkerFest charity benefit for Habitat for Humanity, Wounded Warriors and United Way, after arriving onsite to find the stage was unstable.
The negotiating team who hired Benatar, was Richard Nader Entertainment, who has been promoting concerts since 1969. Deborah Nader owner of Richard Nader Entertainment was the main contact for Benatar’s team, and according to Benatar, the stage crew and local management could not get a hold of Nader to try and resolve the problem before show time.
“Deborah Nader, the promoter for the Citrus Fairgrounds charity fundraiser show, failed to meet the contractual obligations for safety,” Benatar explained, “Our crew arrived first thing this morning to find substandard staging and unsafe conditions…and Nader was nowhere to be found until approximately 3pm!”
CelebrityExaminer spoke to promoter Deborah Nader on Sunday regarding the situation. According to Nader, “Everything that was required for the performance was provided to Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo and they choose not to perform Friday at the Citrus County Fairgrounds in Inverness, Florida on Friday June 21st.” Nader went on to explain, “Since early in the morning, upon their arrival, they were contacting me wanting to cancel. It felt like it was orchestrated and I feel that the fans, WalkerFest and the charities were all conned.”
According to Benatar’s statement, the group’s management team brought in an independent structural engineer to assess the stage and confirmed the stage was not fit for a performance and would require modifications before anyone would be permitted to use it.
While Nader agrees that a structural engineer was called out, her view is in stark contrast with Benatar’s. Structural engineers from Furman & Hilpert were called to the site to certify the stage by TMC Productions, who provided the stage. After some modifications the engineer certified that the stage was ready and Nader paid Benatar’s management in full. According to the engineer at Furman & Hilpert, the stage was certified at 4:45 p.m., again contradicting Benatar’s statement.
“I personally handed the cashier’s check for the final payment to Jimmy Johnson, tour manager for Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo,” Nader claimed. She added that she told Johnson her “concern was, if I give you the check you will turn around and take off.”
And they did just that.
Nader stood in front of the last bus to prevent them from leaving in hopes of talking to their management team. It was at this point Benatar’s management team contacted the local sheriff’s department, who were onsite for the event. Eventually Nader was told to get out of the way so the bus could leave.
According to Benatar, the fee for the evening’s performance has been placed into a separate account and will be held until the performance takes place, vowing “to reschedule this event with a professional “A” level promoter who will not compromise everyone’s safety!”
Benatar included a personal message to fans, “If you really want to help, please don’t ask for refunds….hold on to your tickets and anyone who shows a ticket from this event will be let in free to the make-up show.” Continuing she apologized, “We are sorry to all our fans and the three charity recipients (Wounded Warriors Project, Habitat for Humanity and the United Way) that this unfortunate situation occurred. Everyone loses.”
While the band has received support in their decision, and who wouldn’t support a band refusing to perform on a sub-standard stage, it appears fans are not getting the complete story.
A volunteer at the event, Eloy Nuñez, was close enough to hear what was going on with the stage and made it clear in an open letter to Pat Benatar.
“I am not an expert in stage construction, so I cannot offer an opinion. But I was close enough to the workers setting up the stage to have witnessed them complying with every request that your on-ground engineer had made.” Nuñez wrote. “The extra bracing was placed on the stage in order to satisfy your engineer’s concerns.”
Nuñez, confirming Nader’s assertion regarding certification of the stage, said, “And as your team requested, an independent third party was brought in to certify that the stage had been made safe and in compliance with all safety regulations. I do not know what your people have told you, but I thought it was important that you hear both sides of the story.”
Referencing payment Nuñez continued, “I don’t want to believe that you simply waited until you got your money at the scheduled 5 o’clock payment, and then packed up and left at 5:05. It’s difficult for me to imagine that if you knew all the effort and hard work that was put into organizing this charity concert, that you would simply leave and abandon a thousand of your loyal fans. I cannot fathom that if you and your husband were fully apprised by your staff that you would have agreed to this. Whether it was intended or not, the act of leaving a thousand fans behind felt like a stab in the heart of the people of our town.”
You be the judge.
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