R&B Singer R. Kelly Says Aussie Tour 'Fake' Amid Backlash Over His Past
Less than 24 hours after event promoters announced the controversial singer's Australian and New Zealand tour, the troubled star called it fake news.
It's the latest bizarre twist for the musician who's as good at making headlines as he is hits.
On Friday, local promoters announced the 51-year-old would tour Australia and New Zealand early next year. The criticism came hard and fast -- about why a singer with a controversial history of alleged sexual assault should be coming to Australia.
Robert Sylvester Kelly rose to stardom in the 1990s alongside R&B acts like Jodeci, SWV and Boyz II Men.
At the peak of his fame in 1994, Kelly, 27, illegally married 15-year-old singer Aaliyah, sparking more than two decades of chatter about his suspected affairs with young girls.
Australian promoters Big Tour Music defended their decision to work with Kelly.
“Our focus remains on [Kelly's] incredible music and bringing the show to his fans. Mr Kelly was cleared of all allegations and in our view, you are innocent until proven guilty," the promoters said in a statement on Friday.
On Saturday, Kelly posted on his Instagram page saying the tour was "fake".
"While I love all my amazing fans in the Australia region I am not involved in this tour nor do I have knowledge of it, its promoters, etc."
Yet 10 daily discovered a number of local companies were pitched the tour this year, but backed out when Kelly's lengthy record of suspected abuse was considered.
One national promoter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the decision to retract their offer came down to putting Kelly's "victims first".
"We consider morality, ethics and integrity paramount over making a quick buck.
"And over time -- with the abundance of allegations avalanching against Mr Kelly into a #MuteRKelly campaign -- we had to consider the victims first.
"People over business, always. We backed out and booked someone else who was more deserving of our attention and money."
Journalist Toure -- who famously asked R. Kelly about his penchant for teenage girls -- told 10 daily it was "insane" the artist still had a career.
"His ickiness is fairly obvious -- those love songs don’t work so well when you think about them being sung to 14-year-old girls. Sure you’re innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, but that doesn’t mean the rest of us have to close our eyes and ignore decades of evidence that he’s a predator."
A crash course in Kelly's suspected dealings with underage women begins with Aaliyah (whose parents had their marriage annulled in 1995) and reaches its apex in 2002, when sex tapes leaked of the artist allegedly engaging in sexual acts with minors in his Chicago home.
He was charged with 21 counts of making child pornography involving intercourse, oral sex, urination and other sexual acts.
After the case took six years to go to trial, the jury concluded they couldn't prove the girl on the tape was a minor and found Kelly not guilty on all counts.
He was further charged with 12 counts of making child pornography at his holiday home in Florida, which were dropped when a judge ruled police didn't have enough evidence to justify their search of his property.
Pop culture somehow found these sordid cases funny, with Dave Chappelle famously parodying the sexual acts for his hit TV series Chappelle's Show.
In between, Kelly settled extra cases that included multiple rape charges with underage girls and taping sexual encounters without consent.
Music critic, author and filmmaker Nelson George told 10 daily an overseas tour provided a means of retreat for Kelly from relentless criticism in America.
"Performing in a country on the other side of the planet would be an escape hatch, plus I'm sure he needs the cash flow with his personal overhead and legal fees sure to mount," George said.
Datwon Thomas, editor-in-chief of hip-hop/R&B publication VIBE, said Kelly should be allowed to make money from his musical legacy.
"R. Kelly's a sad case of genius talent and dark torment. He should be able to tour as he needs to generate income to defend the charges brought against him -- whatever they may be. I say this not knowing if he is guilty or not."
Kelly is the subject of a new six-hour docu-series called Surviving R. Kelly, set to air in the United States next month.
The singer has not commented on the documentary.
If you need assistance, call 1800 RESPECT -- the National Sexual Assault, Domestic and Family Violence Counselling Service -- on 1800 737 732.
Featured image: Getty.
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