Singer and potential candidate for Senate Robert Ritchie, who goes by the stage name Kid Rock, played a career-spanning two-hour set Tuesday night at Detroit’s new $862 million Little Caesars Arena. In the inaugural performance at the venue, Rock offered up mostly music, adding a brief political statement, and reportedly denied the Detroit Free Press a press pass to attend.
Kid Rock, the Michigan rebel who has proudly displayed a Confederate flag during his shows, recently spoke out in defiance of organizations and media outlets who said he shouldn’t represent Detroit at the arena’s opening. Rock did his show anyway, in defiance of protesters who were marching against him Tuesday night.
Rock’s displeasure with the Detroit Free Press stems from their publication of an article which spoke against him in very harsh terms.
The Free Press article indicated Rock didn’t deserve to open the city’s new taxpayer-funded sports arena, over what they deemed his racist attitudes and the fact that, according to them, he’s a “divisive performer.” A Free Press columnist had written that Rock represented a “middle finger to Detroiters,” and that in choosing him to perform the opening concert, it was a signal that people of color would not be welcome in the arena.
Stephen Henderson, a Free Press editorial page editor, said: “It’s a message that’s not too far off those Jim Crow-era signs warning that blacks weren’t welcome.”
“This is a musician who got rich off crass cultural appropriation of black music, who used to wrap his brand in the Confederate flag — a symbol inextricably linked to racism, no matter what its defenders say,” Henderson added.
Officially, the Free Press said the article about Kid Rock was not the paper’s position but an opinion article reflecting an individual writer’s views.
But Rock was not happy about the piece. The singer called his detractors a “handful of jacka**es” in a Facebook post that railed against the media, the alt-left, and Al Sharpton.
Rock began his post with, “People! Pay NO attention to the garbage the extreme left is trying to create! (and by the way, f*** the extreme left and the extreme right!).”
Addressing the issue of the Confederate flag, Rock wrote: “They are trying to use the old confederate flag BS, etc. to stir the pot, when we all know none of this would be going on if I were not thinking of running for office. Pretty funny how scared I have them all and their only agenda is to try and label people / me racist who do not agree or cower to them!!”
Rock’s publicist, Kirt Webster, also spoke out against the allegations in the Free Press piece. “You guys wrote a f–ked up story and allowed it to be published,” he reportedly said to the publication when asked for a quote. “You want a quote, there it is.”
“To be published without doing any fact-checking on what Kid Rock has done for the city of Detroit? We don’t condone bad behavior. We won’t reward bad behavior,” Webster added.
Rock briefly addressed the controversy mid-way through the concert Tuesday night, according to The Detroit News. He reportedly “blasted those who opposed him” while he was seated at a piano during his intro to “Cowboy.”
“If anyone wants to protest tonight, tell them they can protest these nuts,” Rock said, then added, “That wasn’t very nice,” with a chuckle.
He also addressed politics. The Detroit News reports:
He played that potential politician role up early in the show on Tuesday, giving a sing-songy stump speech that largely mirrored the one he debuted in Grand Rapids several nights prior. He again mentioned his denouncement of racists and the KKK, slammed those who take advantage of the welfare system and offered support for single mothers, but this time around, he added a few lines pertaining to the LBGTQ community.
“And why these days is everything soooo gay?” he asked. “Gay rights, transgender this and that. I say let gay folks get married if they want, and I’m not even close to a death trap. But things shouldn’t be this complicated, and no you don’t get to choose, because whatever you have between your legs should determine the bathroom that you use.”
Kid Rock is a vocal supporter of President Donald J. Trump, which may be one reason that he’s drawn so much negative attention from certain groups.
Rock will headline another five concerts in a row at the arena. He will reportedly make a political speech at each event and may announce whether he will run for Senate during the final concert on Sunday.
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