Prince Canceled ‘On A Whim’

Prince canceled his 2008 concert at Dublin’s Croke Park “on a whim,” according to MCD chief Denis Desmond, who was awarded undisclosed damages Feb. 26.

“I’m pleased with the result because it means I’m not out of pocket, but I’m still disappointed for the fans that bought the tickets,” he told Pollstar, hours after the Dublin Commercial Court laid down the judgment.

Photo: AP Photo
Prince delivers a four-song set during the Brit Awards held at Earls Court in London.

On Feb. 23, the day the case opened, Desmond told the court he didn’t have any “rumblings” that anything was wrong until two weeks before the June 18 show date. And then it was only because his production staff could not get any information from Prince’s production staff.

He brought a euro 1.6 million action against Prince (Prince Rogers Nelson) and William Morris Endeavour Entertainment’s Los Angeles office. WME was added to the case after Prince allegedly said the Beverly Hills-based agency had no authority to bind him to the concert.’

The Commercial Court took the view the agency did have authority to book Prince and awarded damages against the artist.

“In a way it was more like a case between Prince and WMEE because I know the agency did its utmost to try to make the show happen,” Desmond explained.

WME, which claimed an agreement dating back to August 2005 authorised it to negotiate on Prince’s behalf, said on Feb. 26, 2008, it agreed to a contract with MCD for Prince to play the Dublin park for guaranteed fee of $3 million. MCD transferred $1.5 million to William Morris as a deposit.

WME also admitted that it notified MCD of the cancellation June 6 on the grounds that Prince refused to travel to Dublin, an explanation that it described as having “no reason of substance.” It claimed the decision to cancel was outside its control and it had returned $1.5 million to MCD. The company denied negligence, breach of duty or misrepresentation.

Desmond told the court that he had a good relationship with the WME. He entered into negotiations with WME in 2007 and early 2008 to bring Prince to Ireland.

The act played 21 concerts in London in 2007, and while efforts to bring him to Ireland did not work out, Desmond later confirmed Prince for Croke Park in June 2008.

Desmond told the court that promoters can take out cancellation insurance and dates could be rescheduled in the event of a performer being genuinely ill but, in this case, there was no reason given for the cancellation.

Around the time of the show, MCD was the subject of negative media speculation saying it canceled because of poor ticket sales, but Ireland’s main promoter refuted the stories and said 55,000 tickets had been sold. Prince was told he could even earn $500,000 extra for the show on the basis of ticket sales.

As the date drew closer and concerns arose, MCD also offered to provide lighting and production services and the artist was told he would simply have to arrive with his band.

Although MCD has frequently been involved in litigation, this is the first time it’s brought action against an artist. In 2005, when Eminem canceled, it brought an action against its own insurance company to make it pay out.

There was certainly no problem between MCD and the artist, who has just confirmed he’ll play the company’s July 8-11.

The other acts on the bill include Muse, Jay-Z, The Black Eyed Peas, Kasabian, The Prodigy, Faithless and Paolo Nutini.