Maines' comments anger fans; radio stations boycott music
2003 Comments made by Lubbock native Natalie Maines at the Dixie Chicks' tour-opening concert at Shepherd's Bush Empire in London, England, angered and incited many Americans and inspired a number of country radio stations, including all three Lubbock FM country stations, to stop playing the Chicks' music.
During the March 10 concert, Maines was quoted by London Guardian critic Betty Clarke as telling the crowd, "Just so you know, we're ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas."
The British fans reportedly cheered.
Rather than immediately speaking with the American media about statements made at the concert, the Chicks - Maines, Emily Robison and Martie Maguire - chose to rapidly place brief statements on their own Web site.
On Friday, Maines apologized for her on-stage comment.
"As a concerned American citizen, I apologize to President Bush because my remark was disrespectful," the singer said in a statement. "I feel that whoever holds that office should be treated with the utmost respect."
She said the group is "witnessing a huge anti-American sentiment as a result of the perceived rush to war" while on tour in Europe.
"While war may remain a viable option, as a mother, I just want to see every possible alternative exhausted before children and American soldiers' lives are lost," she said. "I love my country. I am a proud American."
The Dixie Chicks begin the American leg of their world tour on May 1 in Greenville, S.C. Their Texas dates are July 6, Dallas; July 29, San Antonio; and July 30, Houston.
Callers to Lubbock's KLLL-Radio (96.3 FM) Friday morning questioned whether Maines would continue to criticize Bush when back in the United States or whether she was grandstanding for a foreign crowd.
Jay Richards, the station's operations manager, said Friday, "I am extremely shocked that Natalie Maines did not stop to evaluate who her fan base is. Country music traditionally is a conservative format. Artists do not tread out into gray areas."
At midafternoon Friday, Richards said, "In the 15 years I have been working for KLLL, I have never once seen our phones light up like they have today. Callers are overwhelmingly in favor of us not playing the Dixie Chicks' songs.
"... And to honor their requests, we have decided not to play any Dixie Chicks music this weekend. We'll re-evaluate the situation Monday. If this issue remains just as volatile, we'll extend the ban."
Scott Parsons, Clear Channel general manager over Lubbock country station KQBR-Radio (99.5 FM), indicated that his on-air personalities will not make any announcements.
"But we've also decided to rest' ... Dixie Chicks songs for the next couple days," Parsons said. "We'll re-evaluate Monday.
"Country music is God, apple pie and America. By saying what she did, she ran the risk of killing her own band. It will be interesting to see what the reaction is when the Dixie Chicks come back to America."
Paul Beane, manager of KRBL-Radio (105.7 FM), said, "We've elected not to play any more Dixie Chicks music at least until the smoke clears."
Beane added, "We've been overwhelmed by a tremendous amount of calls and e-mails from listeners. The vast majority are very, very critical of Natalie criticizing the president while she was in England."
Lubbock radio stations are not the only ones rebelling.
Callers flooded the telephone lines at WKDF-FM in Nashville, demanding a Dixie Chicks boycott.
Maines, who was born and raised in Lubbock and now lives in Austin, angered South Plains fans earlier this year by not pushing for a Lubbock concert on the current world tour.
The Chicks' concert in 2000 at the United Spirit Arena sold out in slightly more than 40 minutes.