DALLASÂ â" Nearly 24 hours before Dallas rock ânâ roll band Midnight Empire wasÂ slated to openÂ for the sold-outÂ SlashÂ show at theÂ House of BluesÂ in Dallas, the band manager got a phone call: Theyâd been cut from the bill. They received the coveted gig through a contest from a Guitar Center program called âOnstage with Slash,â and the company found out that Matt Cook, drummer for Midnight Empire, is an employee at Guitar Center. Thatâs against the rules.
âWhen we discovered the band's drummer was an employee of Guitar Center, we sadly had no choice but to disqualify them as our rules clearly state employees are ineligible to participate,â wrote Dustin Hinz, director of Music and Entertainment Marketing for Guitar Center, in an email. The band was not replaced.
The band members had applied for the contest over the summer and were told that Slash hand-selected their band. But members of Midnight Empire signed a form acknowledging they accepted and read the rules, including that a band member couldnât be an employee of Guitar Center.
The bandâs manager Kevin Huckabee said the musicians were âcrushed.â
âIt was devastating at first,â he said. âOur guitar player [Art Struck] â" Slash is his hero. To hear he couldnât play for his hero, it left him numb.â
They initially pointed fingers at Guitar Center â" âat how they couldnât get over it and help us out,â Huckabee said. But he said they also should have read the fine print, explaining, âItâs in the contract and we missed it.â
Employees of Guitar Center are not eligible for Guitar Center contests now or in the future, Hinz told us.
Huckabee was still able to get five tickets to the show and a backstage pass, and band members met and shook hands with Slash.
âWhen we went into this, it wasnât like weâre just a good band out to fulfill a dream, weâre a legendary band about to take our first step,â said Huckabee. âWe missed the step, but we grabbed a rail and ended up meeting Slash.â