USA TODAY has reported that entertainers such as Beyonce, Mariah Carey, Nelly Furtado and Usher have all performed private shows paid for by Libyian dictator Moammar Gadhafi. Mariah Carey is deeply embarrassed about the news and has pledged to donate her salary to charity from her private show.
Gadhafi is thought to have an oil income wealth estimated at between $17-$20 billion dollars. He continues to spend massive amounts of money on a lavish billionaire lifestyle, even as his country is embattled in a civil war with rebel forces hoping to overthrow him. These rebel forces include elements that range from intellectuals and moderate democrats all the way to Al Qaeda Islamic radicals.
While some big name performers can rake in a $1 million salary for performing one show for someone like Gadhafi, many of his own people live in deep poverty or struggle with life in his country which is ruled with an iron hand. The massive appetite for oil from Libya of countries like the U.S. and China also only helps to keep dictators like Gadhafi in power for decades. Currently, world oil and gas prices have rising at an alarming rate as some oil fields in Libya are burning from the civil war.
Many stars perform controversial private concerts. Elton John performed at a lavish 2010 wedding for right wing radio host Rush Limbaugh, even though much of the politics of Limbaugh is sharply in contrast to the pro-Gay and more progressive politics of Elton John.
Parrothead leader, Jimmy Buffet has a happy go lucky sound. However, there wasn’t as much joy when he got tripped up for performing a 2001 private show for former Tyco executive L. Dennis Kozlowski who was later convicted of misappropriation of funds from the corporation. Film footage of the lavish Roman-themed party with Jimmy Buffett performing only became a huge embarrassment to the performer who might have lost some long time fans for his part in the scandal.
Declining Cd sales and lower gross revenues of concerts due to rising ticket prices in a bad economy begin to make doing lavish private shows look more attractive to many performers. However, since the 2001 scandal involving Jimmy Buffett, entertainers need to ask more questions to avoid a negative backlash.