In the space of one week, pop quartet Hedley has gone from being poster boys for Canadian homegrown stardom to outcasts on a tour that could possibly end up being their last.
It all started Tuesday when an anonymous 21-year-old female using the handle cdnpsycho took to Twitter alleging sexual impropriety by the band with young women and possibly underage girls. Ratcheting up her fury, cdnpsycho urged the Juno Awards to “drop them” because “they don’t deserve the recognition” and in another of countless tweets stating “I want them to go down. I’m sure many people feel the same way. I don’t think they deserve to continue to win awards with their actions.”
She also urged other females to share their stories about the band, and even created the hashtag “outHedley2k18”, and this led to an extraordinary number of anonymous allegations possibly defaming the group.
By Wednesday afternoon, cdnpsycho’s wish was granted and the band’s performance on the March 24 Juno telecast was scratched, as per a statement published on the Juno Awards’ Twitter account (@TheJUNOAwards) that read: “After careful consideration of the situation and in discussions with the band, (Juno organizing Academy) CARAS and Hedley have decided that the band will not be performing at the 2018 JUNO Awards.”
Shortly after, Hedley tried to douse what by then had become a wildfire of controversy and innuendo in national media and on social platforms, offering the following on their Facebook page:
“All of us in Hedley respect and applaud the #MeToo movement and the open and honest discussion it has inspired. We believe these conversations are particularly important within the music industry, which does not exactly have an enviable history of treating women with the respect they deserve. We appreciate the bravery of those who have come forward with their own stories, and we realize that all of us, as individuals and as a society, can and must do better when it comes to this issue.
“However, if we are to have a meaningful, open and honest discussion, we all have to accept and respect that there are at least two sides to every story. The recent allegations against us posted on social media are simply unsubstantiated and have not been validated. We would hope that people will bear-in-mind the context in which these unsupported accusations have been made before passing judgment on us as individuals or as a band.
“We realize the life of a touring band is an unconventional one. While we are all now either married or have entered into committed, long-term relationships, there was a time, in the past, when we engaged in a lifestyle that incorporated certain rock and roll clichés. However, there was always a line that we would never cross.
“We realize this conversation is as important to our fans as it is to us, and we never want to distract from these important discussions. To that end, as we move forward, we will be evaluating some of our next steps. Hedley’s music should only ever be a positive force, and our performances and personal appearances should continue to be inclusive and safe experiences that bring nothing but joy and happiness to our fans.”
By the day following, Thursday the 15th, several broadcasters (including the Corus radio chain) chose to yank playing Hedley’s considerable catalogue of hits and sponsors and charitable orgs that had affiliations with the band were either opting out of deals or trying to take cover.
Later in the day, another bombshell hit with a story published on the Exclaim website that alleges Hedley was investigated for drugging a young concertgoer back in 2005 and extensively quoting Rob Bazinet, then managing (now shuttered) London, ON club Embassy. Since no charge stands, the story is one more in a growing list of allegations that as yet have no corroborative evidence.
Guilty as charged or guilty by association, the fallout from this incendiary situation will change the access fans will have with acts now, and work-for-hire contracts with recording and performing acts will undoubtedly now include moral clauses. It will also change the way men and women interact in this industry and this in itself must be viewed as a progressive change.
The band is currently on a national arena tour that is scheduled to end March 23 in Kelowna. Tonight Hedley is in Brandon, MB.