Exclusive: The truth about Kid Rock and Download
The first few bands have been announced for this summer's Download Festival. They include Slipknot, Korn, The Prodigy and Motley Crue. SIMON WILSON spoke to the man who booked them and discovered the truth behind the non-appearance of Kid Rock last year...
TENS of thousands of people heard it.
"Kid Rock is not very well – we've had to rush him to hospital. He apologises to his fans."
It was day one of last year's Download Festival at Donington Park and in the late afternoon it was announced that the day's headliner would not be performing.
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The following week the story would change.
He wasn't ill but had turned up at the site and, unhappy with the facilities, decided he was leaving.
The goatee'd rocker said: "They treated me like ****. There was just one trailer for my whole band. We had no water, no bathroom, no rider. The final straw was when they wouldn't give my crew any food or drinks vouchers. I called the promoter and told him he had two hours to get it sorted or I was out. They did nothing."
Not so, says Andy Copping, the former Rock City promoter who is now promotions vice president for Live Nation and the man responsible for booking all 100 or so bands that appear at the Download Festival each year.
"It just wasn't for him that day. He got a little bitter and twisted and said some pretty outrageous things in the press.
We did go through a bit of tug-of-war through the press which was interesting."
So, what happened exactly? He turned up and then...?
"He said he didn't like the facilities, he said the grass was too long in the backstage area. Which I thought was quite funny for someone who sings about smoking pot."
He has a theory about what prompted Kid's mood.
"That night I got a call from my girlfriend who said 'have you seen Teletext?' The main story was 'Pamela Anderson swears undying love for Tommy Lee. I've never loved anyone else, Tommy is the father of my kids and I hope we get back together'.
"I mean, Kid Rock was married to Pamela Anderson. Even though they were divorced, reading that on the day that you were supposed to be playing in front of 60,000 people is going to p*ss you off.
"Is he going to admit that to you or to me? Of course he isn't – he's going to moan about the grass and that the water isn't the right temperature in the dressing room."
He adds: "I got to meet up with him at the end of November and we got to thrash it out. We talked about the whole Donington experience. And I said to him, regardless of whatever he thought or I thought, 'you made an error of judgement'.
"And we're now friends again. It's water under the bridge. It's big hugs when we see each other now."
And he'll play Download at some point?
"Absolutely. I said to him 'I'd love you to come and play'. Unfortunately this year he can't because of the scheduling. But he is a phenomenal live act."
That was last year's story.
This year, Download, which runs over the weekend of June 12-14, will include Slipknot, The Prodigy, Korn, Motley Crue, Dragonforce, Pendulum and Devildriver.
That's the first wave of confirmations for the seventh Download.
Two more headliners are to be announced soon to join Slipknot as top billing, he says.
"I think we're going to have a really strong Download this year.
"I think people do go anyway, almost religiously if you like, regardless of who is playing. Like it's their holiday. The last few years we've had 20,000 people on the campsite on the Wednesday, a good 48 hours before the first act is on. All the facilities are there, the security is in place.
"But I think you've got to have a strong bill to make it good value for money. Particularly with the financial situation as it is."
How much of an effect will the recession have on sales this year?
"I don't think any of the festivals will know until we're actually right in the eye of it. But just over the last few weeks, looking at how well bands are doing in the marketplace – Take That, The Killers, Oasis, Pussycat Dolls, Girls Aloud, Kings Of Leon, AC/DC, Neil Diamond, Stevie Wonder... all these artists have done phenomenal business, playing to huge audiences. So, if you are a must-see act people will go.
"These acts are almost defying the credit crunch. And that's not being flippant because it is tough for people out there but if you give value for money then I believe they'll go.
"You'll pay £45 for a gig and people will say that's expensive but you can pay £45, £50, £60 to go and see a Premiership match and they might lose, you leave and you feel miserable. For the most part after a concert you feel euphoric.
"With Download it's close on 100 bands, you're there with your friends, the atmosphere is really good."
Andy, 48, is solely responsible for booking those bands for the festival, which now has a capacity of 80,000. But he's had a little help.
"Once every few months we get together with the key players on the fans' forum on the website and bring them down to London. We have a night out, do a question-and-answer session and find out what they think we've got wrong. It can be about the location of the camping, the food that's on offer or what bands they wants to see.
"Because I want people to come back year after year. And it's made a huge difference to the way we do things. No other festival in the world was doing it but now they're starting to."
He admits there have been grumblings about the line-up in the past with the addition of some non-rock acts.
"There's no mistaking that Donington is the home of rock and Download goes across the whole spectrum of rock. But it's not a metal festival. Slipknot are one of the most popular metal bands at the minute. Motley Crue are classic rock from the old school and Korn are nu-metal.
"The Prodigy and Pendulum come from a dance side. There was some criticism when we had Pendulum on last year but they were one of the bands of the festival. Their tunes are really full on. And The Prodigy transcend the dance act pigeonhole. They're really intense live and can deliver just as much intensity as Slipknot."
He adds: "Would we put a Neil Diamond on? No. Would I put on something that would shock people but would still fit in with what we're doing? Yes, every time."
The side events such as the stalls and stunt riders, club nights, film screenings, fairground rides will once again be part of the event.
It's a different set-up to Monsters Of Rock, which ran for 16 years at the site.
"I was at the very first Monsters of Rock in 1980. And went to many more after. So I used to go as a fan, watching all those bands, but I couldn't have dreamed that years later I'd be booking all the bands for it. That's where I'm coming from – I'm a fan. If I wasn't working Download I'd buy a ticket and all the people involved in it are the same. That's why it's easy to relate to the fans.
"I've a real emotional history with Donington."
Weekend tickets are now on sale at £135 (car park £10/£20, camping £25, campervans £40, lockers £11). Visit download.co.uk. Day ticket details yet to be confimed.