Hedley dropped by management, radio, tour opener amid sexual misconduct allegations

TORONTO — Besieged pop-rockers Hedley faced a barrage of more bad news Friday as they were dropped by their management team, abandoned by one of the opening bands on their cross-Canada tour, and saw their music blacklisted by the CBC.

The whirlwind of developments came a day after dozens of radio stations also stripped Hedley’s hit songs from the air in response to sexual misconduct allegations, which had been circulated by anonymous social media users who detailed encounters with young fans.

The former MuchMusic darlings — fronted by Jacob Hoggard and including Dave Rosin, Tommy Mac and Jay Benison — released a statement Wednesday calling the allegations “unsubstantiated,” but acknowledged they “engaged in a lifestyle that incorporated certain rock ‘n’ roll cliches.”

They went ahead with a show in Medicine Hat, Alta., that night and were set to play Brandon, Man., on Friday — but without openers Neon Dreams.

“In light of the allegations surfacing against Hedley, we can no longer in good conscience continue on the ‘Cageless’ tour,” the band said in a statement, just hours before they were due to hit the stage.

“We understand this choice could negatively impact our band professionally but in the end we have to do what we feel is morally right. We would like to thank all the amazing fans that have made the first eight shows on the tour the best experience of our lives.”

The other tour opener, Shawn Hook, said in a statement late Thursday that he was ”obviously disheartened” by the allegations levelled against Hedley but would continue “to fulfil my contractual obligations.”

On Friday morning, Hedley’s management team said it had terminated all “business relationships with the band” and the CBC announced it was dropping the group’s music from its radio and streaming platforms “in light of the serious allegations that have surfaced.”

On Thursday, Corus Radio revealed it had suspended all airplay of Hedley songs across its 30 music stations, as did other stations in Edmonton and Vancouver.

The Junos also dropped the Vancouver group from the upcoming televised awards bash in what was called a joint decision with the band “after careful consideration of the situation.” Wednesday’s move by the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences came shortly after the release of the band’s statement addressing claims of impropriety involving young fans.

“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,” reads the statement, which also notes the band’s members ”are all now either married or have entered into committed, long-term relationships.”

“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.”

Hoggard rose to fame in 2004 as a charismatic, sexually-charged provocateur on the second season of the smash hit “Canadian Idol.” Although he finished in third place, the Surrey, B.C., native parlayed his screentime into a record deal and Hedley’s self-titled debut album the following year went on to go double-platinum.

The band became teen darlings and perennial Juno and MuchMusic Video Awards contenders, with Hoggard developing a reputation for over-the-top red carpet antics, including commandeering reporters’ microphones (in one case, sticking the device down his pants).

Michael Oliveira, The Canadian Press

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version misstated the number of music radio stations Corus owns.

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