Don McLean, Lee Greenwood and two other country crooners said Thursday they would not perform at a National Rifle Association concert this weekend, citing the massacre at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.
“In light of the recent events in Texas, I have decided it would be disrespectful and hurtful for me to perform for the NRA at their convention in Houston this week,” McLean, best known for the 1971 hit “American Pie,” said in a statement Thursday morning.
“I’m sure all the folks planning to attend this event are shocked and sickened by these events as well. After all, we are all Americans,” he added. “I share the sorrow for this terrible, cruel loss with the rest of the nation.”
Larry Gatlin and Larry Stewart, two other performers who were on the concert lineup, confirmed Thursday afternoon they would also drop out because of the tragedy in Uvalde. Hours later, “God Bless the U.S.A.” singer Lee Greenwood said he would exit, too.
“After thoughtful consideration, we have decided to cancel the appearance out of respect for those mourning the loss of those innocent children and teachers in Uvalde,” Greenwood said in part.
In the wake of the Uvalde massacre, pro-gun groups such as the NRA have come under intense scrutiny from gun control advocates for historically resisting tighter restrictions. The man who opened fire at Robb Elementary School killed 19 children and two teachers.
The artists were scheduled to perform at the “NRA Grand Ole Night of Freedom” concert Saturday night during the group’s annual meeting in Houston. The convention begins Friday.
Notably, Gatlin appeared to criticize the NRA in announcing his decision.
“I cannot, in good conscience, perform at the NRA convention in Houston this weekend,” Gatlin said in a statement.
“While I agree with most of the positions held by the NRA, I have come to believe that, while background checks would not stop every madman with a gun, it is at the very least a step in the right direction toward trying to prevent the kind of tragedy we saw this week in Uvalde — in my beloved, weeping TEXAS.
“My prayers and thoughts go to all who are suffering, and I pray that the NRA will rethink some of its outdated and ill-thought-out positions regarding firearms in AMERICA,” Gatlin added. “I’m a 2nd Amendment guy, but the 2nd Amendment should not apply to everyone. It’s that simple.”
In a separate statement, Stewart — best known as the lead singer of the country pop group Restless Heart — said he planned to drop out of the event to “honor the victims, families, the town and our friends in the great state of Texas the best I know how.”
“I have made the decision to pull out as a performer for the NRA convention this weekend, especially given the event is just down the road,” Stewart said in part.
Jacob Bryant, one of the other singers on the lineup, confirmed that he is still scheduled to perform. Representatives for two other performs set to appear — T. Graham Brown and Danielle Peck — did not immediately reply to requests for comment Thursday.
Former President Donald Trump is scheduled to speak at the convention, and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is also expected to appear.
“Our deepest sympathies are with the families and victims involved in this horrific and evil crime,” the NRA said in a statement posted Wednesday on Twitter. “On behalf of our members, we salute the courage of school officials, first responders and others who offered their support and services.”