When iconic British singer Morrissey landed in Southern California to resume his beleaguered U.S. tour, no one expected the tsunami of controversy that would soon follow. He’d already been forced to reschedule more than 25 shows after landing in a Michigan hospital with a bleeding ulcer this past January.
Instead of kicking of the new dates as scheduled with an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, the former Smiths frontman embarked on a campaign of scathing public statements and press wars, ultimately resulting in two triumphant Los Angeles performances.
Here is a complete rundown of Moz’s dramatic “March Madness” swing through Southern California, one snarky comment at a time. With three weeks left in the month, God only knows what kind of craziness he’ll get into before April rolls around…
Moz Claims All-Veggie L.A. Concert
Before even arriving in Southern California, Morrissey was igniting headlines when he announced that Los Angeles 20,000-seat Staples Center arena would be serving strictly vegetarian fare for his headlining show on March 1.
“I don’t look upon it as a victory for me but a victory for the animals,” Morrissey said, as the news broke of the veggie show (including the on-site McDonald’s being shuttered for the occasion), with the reminder that even Sir Paul McCartney had been denied the same request.
The Staples Center was quick to issue their own press release clarifying that while the venue would not be 100 percent meat-free, there would be expanded vegan and vegetarian options made available to concert-goers.
Still, Morrissey persisted, releasing yet another press statement: “Reports that the Staples Center will not be 100 percent vegetarian on March 1st are playfully untrue. Contractually, all McDonalds vendors shall be closed down, and the only thing burning shall be my heart.”
The Kimmel Kiss-Off
Anticipation was high among L.A. Morrissey fans when the singer booked a performance on Jimmy Kimmel Live!
The appearance was scheduled as a “mini-concert,” where a few hundred lucky fans pack the lot behind the El Capitan Theater where Kimmel’s show is filmed and watch musical guests perform.
Instead, Morrissey released a last-minute statement canceling the appearance when it was learned he would be appearing alongside the cast of A&E reality show, Duck Dynasty.
“As far as my reputation is concerned, I can’t take the risk of being on a show alongside people who, in effect, amount to animal serial killers. If Jimmy cannot dump Duck Dynasty then we must step away,” he said.
Kimmel Strikes Back
When Jimmy Kimmel Live! did go on-air the night of Morrissey’s cancellation, the singer did not come out unscathed.
“While I respect his stance on this – I really do – there’s a very good reason why I didn’t dump the Duck Dynasty guys for Morrissey,” Kimmel joked during the show. “It’s because they have guns, and Morrissey doesn’t,” adding, “he keeps finding new ways to depress us.”
The show went on to feature a mock commercial featuring the cast of Duck Dynasty hunting for vegetables.
Ironically, the Moz-generated controversy would help propel Duck Dynasty to some of the show’s highest ratings to date.
Morrissey Kicks Kimmel Again
The day after Kimmel responded to Morrissey’s cancellation, the singer quickly fired back with yet another retort: “I was disappointed with last night’s Jimmy Kimmel Show wherein our smiling host managed to ridicule depression (70 percent of Americans suffer from depression according to the National Institute of Mental Health),” he said in a press release.
“He then found time to ridicule healthy eating (the obesity epidemic in the U.S. costs $147 billion per year in medical expenditure), and he also ridiculed the notion that animals should be entitled to the possession of their own lives,” the statement continued.
“Furthermore, he found time to jokingly promote gun-ownership – hugely amusing for the parents at Sandy Hook, no doubt. He also promoted his special guests Duck Dynasty – who kill beings for fun,” Morrissey added. “None of the above issues are, of course, as important as Jimmy Kimmel himself, who has finally revealed his show to have an overwhelming loss of meaning. Tune in and relive the intellectual fog of the 1950s.”
Moz Roasts Paul McCartney Over Food Fight
During an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Morrissey lit into Paul McCartney during a question about the Staples Center going vegetarian for his show and not the former Beatle’s.
“I was amused to hear that Sir Paul McCartload was very angry that Staples had said yes to me but no to him, when really, he should be happy for any victory on behalf of the animals,” Morrissey said.
“I know he works tirelessly for the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals [PETA], but he also loves the British royals, whose treatment of animals is abysmal,” Morrissey added. “The Queen herself wears enough fur to blanket most of Russia. He also once sang ‘Give Ireland back to the Irish,’ which was directed at the Queen. Well, she refused, and she still refuses, yet Sir Paul gives her the thumbs up! If he cared passionately about animals, he’d return his knighthood.”
Moz did have a few kind words to throw McCartney’s way, however: “He doesn’t need the Queen’s approval. He’s given more pleasure to people worldwide than she could ever dream of.”
“If More Men Were Homosexual, There Would Be No Wars”
Amidst the Jimmy Kimmel controversy, Morrissey found the time to speak with online teen magazine Rookie, where he made some eyebrow-raising comments on war.
“War, I thought, was the most negative aspect of male heterosexuality,” Moz said in the interview.
“If more men were homosexual, there would be no wars, because homosexual men would never kill other men, whereas heterosexual men love killing other men,” he added. “They even get medals for it. Women don’t go to war to kill other women. Wars and armies and nuclear weapons are essentially heterosexual hobbies.”
In the same Rookie interview, Morrissey made a very grand claim regarding the politics of food.
“The most political gesture you can make is to refuse to eat animals,” the 53-year-old insisted. “It was so when I was a teenager, and is still the case now.”
Next Target: Beyonce
When Morrissey’s much-discussed Staples Center show arrived, it was with much fanfare. With Patti Smith as his special guest opening act, the singer even drafted Grey’s Anatomy star Patrick Dempsey to welcome him to the stage.
The sold-out arena hung on Morrissey’s every word, so he took the opportunity to lash out at pop singer Beyonce, citing her choice in handbags as the main reason the world’s rhino population is on the verge of extinction. The statement was followed by a thunderous rendition of 1985 Smiths song, “Meat is Murder,” complete with grisly videos of animals being slaughtered for food shown on a big screen over the stage.
Is Beyonce “Beyond” Morrissey’s Verbal Volley?
While she has yet to reply to Moz’s dis directly, Beyonce did post a couple of images to her Instagram account the following day that some think could be a subliminal response to Moz.
In the photos, Beyonce is seen wearing a black baseball cap emblazoned with the word “BEYOND” in bold white letters across the front.
It’s far from confirmed, but it has been questioned if the hat is the pop star’s way of saying she’s “beyond” Morrissey’s rhino slap.
Morrissey Goes To Rock & Roll High School
Right in the middle of the singer’s Los Angeles exploits, the singer announced a last-minute special show in a most unexpected venue: Hollywood High School’s auditorium.
The relatively scant tickets for the intimate event were snapped up in a single minute’s time, with fans camping out more than 24 hours in advance.
Morrissey rewarded the faithful with a dynamic show that was filmed and recorded, presumably for a future movie or DVD release.