Morgan Wallen Pulled From This Weekend’s ‘SNL’ Due to ‘COVID Protocols’

Roughly 72 hours before he was set to take the stage at Saturday Night Live, Morgan Wallen has been pulled from the weekly show after videos surfaced of the country star  partying and mingling with fans without wearing a mask or practicing social distancing while attending the University of Alabama football game on Oct. 3.

An emotional Wallen posted a two-and-a-half-minute video via Instagram on Wednesday afternoon (Oct. 7) saying SNL had yanked him from the show. He was already in New York in preparation for the show. “I got a call from the show letting me know that I will no longer be able to play and that’s because of COVID protocols, which I understand.”

Wallen added that he was not positive for COVID, “but my actions this past weekend were pretty short-sighted and they have obviously affected my long-term goals and my dreams.” He apologized, adding he has some growing up to do and he intends to take some time to work on himself.

The TikTok videos that emerged over the last few days  appear to show the 27-year-old East Tennessee native drinking and kissing women in a packed room where few, if any, people are wearing masks. Wallen posted a photo to his Instagram from the skybox at Alabama’s Bryant-Denny Stadium.

Wallen’s statement leaves unclear if he has also pulled out of  the Rome River Jam in Rome, Ga., where he is still slated to headline the Friday night segment of the Oct. 9-10 festival.

The Jam, which is one of the biggest live country events to take place since COVID-19 shut down the touring industry, is sold out, with 5,100 people attending each night. Patrons at the Coosa Valley Fairgrounds site will be in individual, socially distanced, open-air pods holding six people each. All patrons must wear masks and receive an entry and exit time.

Wallen is the biggest artist on the bill, which also includes HARDY and Ashland Craft on Oct. 9 and Riley Green, Jon Langston and Hunter Chastain on Oct. 10. No word on if fans, who paid up to $420 for tickets for both nights, are able to receive refunds.

A representative for Saturday Night Live did not respond to request for comment, nor did representatives for Wallen or the Rome River Festival.

Nitro Circus Announces 2021 Return, Partnership With Indigo Road

Action sports producers Nitro Circus and indie promoter Indigo Road Entertainment are partnering to bring the high-adrenaline action sports show back to U.S. fans next year.

“With ten years of concert promotion experience in ballparks we are well positioned to add Nitro Circus to our entertainment offerings and provide fans a first-class experience in venues across the United States,” says Denny Baxter, president of Indigo Road Entertainment. “IRE already has commitments for concerts with artists for 2021 and plans on announcing tours with a couple of major artists soon.”

Nitro Circus and Indigo Road are finalizing a comprehensive tour of outdoor venues across the country for 2021. The routing will cover the entire U.S. as well shows in Canada, with the full 26-city itinerary to be announced later this year and expand into top state fairs and festivals.

“We are excited to collaborate with Indigo Road on our return to live touring. Their extensive network of venues and festivals across the country puts us in a great position as we look forward to a big year in 2021,” says Joe Carr, chief executive of Nitro Circus parent company Thrill One Sports & Entertainment. “After being sidelined for so many months, our athletes can’t wait to get back to doing what they love and put on spectacular shows for our North American fans.”

Baxter added: “For over a decade, Nitro Circus has electrified stadiums around the world with their mix of exciting high-flying action and family-friendly entertainment. We look forward to teaming up with them to help give American fans some much-needed high-adrenaline fun next year.”

In the seven months following the outbreak of COVID-19, action sports has been caught up in the same unprecedented situation affecting the greater live event industry. With tours postponed and competitions having to either cancel or take place in front of empty seats, athletes and brands have faced the same pressures that are impacting music artists and concert promoters.

More details regarding Nitro Circus’ 2021 North American tour itinerary and on sale information will be announced soon.

Pretty Ricky’s Baby Blue Facing Federal Charges in Coronavirus Relief Fraud Scheme

Pretty Ricky member Baby Blue is facing federal charges for alleged involvement in a coronavirus relief fraud scheme, and is accused of pocketing the money to buy a Ferrari.

The Love & Hip Hop: Miami star and Tonye C. Johnson of Pennsylvania were arrested for their roles in the $24 million scheme. They both face charges of wire fraud, bank fraud, and conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud, according to the Department of Justice.

Baby Blue, real name Diamond Smith, allegedly obtained a $426,717 loan under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) for his company, Throwbackjersey.com “using falsified documents.” He then obtained another $708,065 PPP loan for his other company, Blue Star Records LLC, again “using falsified documents.”

The Paycheck Protection Program, part of the Small Business Administration’s Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which provides emergency financial aid for those affected by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The rapper allegedly used the money to purchase a $96,000 Ferrari “and made other luxury purchases using PPP loan proceeds.” Authorities seized the car upon his arrest.

The FBI’s investigation also revealed that Smith and Johnson were allegedly part of a larger scheme, with at least 11 other defendants.

RuPaul Is Back on Social Media

For the last few months, RuPaul Charles has offered up complete radio silence across the internet — but now he’s back, and he wants to promote an important cause.

On Wednesday (Oct. 7), RuPaul broke his social media silence, posting for the first time since July when the Drag Race host wiped and deactivated his accounts on Twitter and Instagram. For his new post, Ru wrote about Olivia Newton-John’s brand-new foundation, which the actress/singer announced two days ago as an organization dedicated to finding “a world beyond cancer.”

For his part, RuPaul encouraged his fans to offer what they could to Newton-John’s work. “Olivia Newton-John has started a new foundation to find kinder ways to treat, prevent & cure all cancers, with a strong focus on plant medicine,” he wrote on Twitter and Instagram. “Follow & support @onjfoundation #beyondcancer @therealonj #onjfoundation”

In her launch video for the organization, Newton-John, who is currently fighting breast cancer, sent a powerful message to those watching about what it means to survive cancer. “I made the decision that I would be okay,” she said. “I had to believe I was going to be okay, that my daughter was the most important thing in my life and I would be okay for her.”

Check out RuPaul’s posts about the Olivia Newton-John Foundation below:

Hispanic Heritage Month 2020: Famous Athletes Who Kicked Off Music Careers

With Hispanic Heritage Month in full swing, Billboard is spotlighting Latin artists who, before making waves in the music industry, were first athletes.

Prior to becoming one of Latin music’s most emblematic artists with timeless hits such as “Me Olvidé de Vivir” and “De Niña a Mujer,” Julio Iglesias was a goalkeeper for Real Madrid Castilla in the Segunda División. Former professional boxer Oscar de la Hoya hit No. 1 on Hot Latin Songs in 2000 with his romantic pop “Ven a Mi.”

Like Iglesias and De La Hoya, other sportsmen have dipped their toes in the music industry. Check out the list below.

CARLOS ARROYO

Carlos Arroyo kicked off his music career in 2009, collaborating with artists such as Yomo and Ivy Queen. But from 2001 to 2011, he played for various NBA teams, including Toronto Raptors, Boston Celtics, Orlando Magic and Miami Heat, becoming the fifth Puerto Rican player to play in the NBA. Earlier this year, Arroyo returned to music with a fiery collaboration with Zion & Lennox and is currently making the rounds with his Farruko-assisted “Aruba.”

PINTO “WAHIN”

From 2008 to 2014, José Manuel Pinto was a professional soccer goalkeeper for Barcelona FC. He retired from sports to produce music under the artistic name Pinto “Wahin.” As a music artist, Wahin’s “La Habana,” featuring Cuban artist El Taiger, formed part of the Fate of the Furious music soundtrack, he won a Latin Grammy in 2016 as the sound engineer on Niña Pastori’s album Amame Como Soy, and he’s collaborated with artists such as CNCO and Lali.

MELENDI

Before discovering his passion for music, Spanish pop crooner Melendi was a sports lover, testing his luck in racing and soccer. Melendi, known for songs such as “Destino o Casualidad,” “La Promesa” and “Tu Jardín con Enanitos,” played in the lower ranks of the Oviedo-based team Astur Club de Fútbol. In the early 2000s, he officially kicked off his music career with the release of his debut album Sin Noticias de Holanda.

JEY M

In 2016, Billboard announced that soccer player Jese Rodriguez, then a striker for Real Madrid, debuted his reggaetonero alter ego Jey M. His debut single “Yo Sabia” counts a star-studded remix that includes reggaeton veterans Alexis & Fido, De La Ghetto, and the up-and-coming Alex Rose. Currently playing as a forward for Paris Saint-German or the Premier League in England, Jey M continues his music career with songs such as “Tarjeta Roja.”

Bunny Lee, Legendary Reggae & Dub Producer Behind ‘Cherry, Oh Baby,’ Dies at 79

Edward “Bunny” Lee, legendary Jamaican reggae and dub producer, has died. He was 79.

Trojan Records, which has a licensing deal with Lee, confirmed the news on its website. While no cause of death has been revealed, Jamaican broadcaster Clinton Lindsay reported that the producer was “battling kidney problems for the past few months.”

“Friendly, astute and affable, he always willing to offer assistance to others, remaining a great friend of Trojan over the years that followed its inception in 1968,” Trojan Records wrote. “He will be hugely missed to all of those who knew him personally or through his incredible catalogue of music.”

Lee grew up in Kingston, Jamaica, where as a teenager, he developed an interest in popular music. His first music gig was a part-time job as a record plugger for the popular JBC radio program, Teenage Dance Party. However, by the mid-1960s, he was producing records on his own and became one of the island’s biggest reggae producers, working with artists like Lester Sterling and Stranger Cole, Pat Kelly, the Sensations and more.

Most notably, Lee produced Eric Donaldson’s 1971 song “Cherry, Oh Baby,” plus songs by  for Delroy Wilson, John Holt, Beenie Man and more. He also produced King Tubby’s 1974 album Dub From the Roots and The Roots of Dub a year

In October 2008, Lee received the Order of Distinction in the rank of Officer for more than 40 years of dedicated service to the music industry.