Michael’s brother Jermaine Jackson had struggled to get R&B stars Mary J Blige and Chris Brown, and veteran singer Natalie Cole to confirm they could attend, fuelling speculation the gig would be cancelled for lack of interest.
Organiser Georg Kindel blamed negative treatment by the Austrian media for the cancellation and told reporters that the tribute would be held at Wembley Stadium in London in June 2010, to mark the first anniversary of Jackson’s death.
“The artists were disrespectfully treated as B-list artists by the media,” Kindel said.
US representatives for Blige, Brown and Cole said none of the three would perform in Vienna, contrary to statements by the concert organisers.
This left only lesser-known performers such as Sister Sledge, best known for a 30-year-old track, “We Are Family.”
“It has just taken the wrong course,” Jermaine Jackson said. “I personally didn’t want to take that course because Michael wouldn’t have wanted to be part of anything that was going that way.”
Organisers had hoped to draw a crowd of about 65,000 in Vienna.