Iron Maiden South Africa support competition wasn't rigged, says organiser
Exclusive: Little-known band Jasper Dan win coveted Joburg support slot with Iron Maiden – kicking off controversy in the Rainbow Nation
The organiser of a competition to find a support act for Iron Maiden's upcoming show in Johannesburg, South Africa, has denied that it was rigged.
Little-known Joburg band Jasper Dan were picked from a batch of 28 hopefuls who entered a battle-of-the-bands event called Battle For Iron Maiden and handed the opportunity to open for Maiden at Carnival City Festival Lawns in Johannesburg this coming Saturday (May 21).
But established bands and music experts in South Africa are up in arms over the decision, accusing the competition organisers of corruption.
The controversy surrounds the fact that Jasper Dan have never released any music and played hardly any gigs before those held as part of Battle For Iron Maiden.
Questions have also been asked over how much money organisers Big Concerts made from the Battle For Iron Maiden events and where the money ended up.
Simon Foulds of Big Concerts was interviewed on Gary Cool's Republic Of Rock show on TeamRock Radio and defended the judges' decision in picking Jasper Dan from a shortlist of six acts in the final. He also insisted the proceeds were used to host the various heats and final of the competition.
Foulds says: "It's pretty simple, the band went on stage and met all the criteria and were the best band on the night.
"The bands weren't paid and they knew that. The prize was the Iron Maiden gig and the bands were told that from the beginning. They all knew what the deal was."
To add to the controversy, a heavily redacted email was leaked three days before the Battle For Iron Maiden final, regarding an unrelated, upcoming gig featuring Jasper Dan. The email includes the line: "Jasper Dan have got a huge following as they will be opening for Iron Maiden."
Asked to explain the email and whether the competition was rigged, Foulds says: "No it wasn't fixed, trust me. Whoever sent that email out was being malicious and should be taken to task. They're trying to discredit me. The whole thing with Jasper Dan and it being rigged, I totally deny that."
As well as the concerns over how the competition was run, Jasper Dan have come under fire for performing with a Confederate flag as a backdrop.
Jasper Dan vocalist Jamie Hendry tells TeamRock Radio that the band never used the flag to cause controversy.
He says: "In hindsight, it kind of backfired. The reason is, I ride a Harley Davidson and for all bikers the rebel flag has never been a symbol of racism, but rather a symbol of standing against the establishment.
"Like any young, aspiring South African, we are taking a lot of strain in the country. A lot of guys are taking a stand against corruption and saying to the establishment, 'We've had enough. We'd like to see our South African rise again.'
"We want to see economic reform and recovery and the strengthening of the rand. We apologise publicly to anyone who may have been insulted or offended by the flag. We've retired them and you won't be seeing them ever again at Jasper Dan events."
As for the Battle For Iron Maiden saga – known in South Africa as #MaidenGate – Hendry insists it wasn't a fix and says the band have been hurt by the fallout.
"The response that we have received, you've got to rise above it," he says. "But it's quite surprising. It affects you and it hurts, but it is what it is.
"We didn't have any relationship with the judges. We've played on Simon Foulds' events. That's as far as the relationship goes."
Maiden perform in Cape Town tonight (May 18), with The Raven Age in support. The Raven Age and Jasper Dan are lined up to support in Joburg on Saturday.
From the archive
Iron Maiden The Book Of Souls World Tour remaining dates
May 18: Cape Town Grand Arena, South Africa
May 21: Johannesburg Carnival City Festival Lawns, South Africa
May 27: Dortmund Rock Im Revier Festival, Germany
May 29: Munich Rockavaria Festival, Germany
May 31: Berlin The Waldbuehne, Germany
Jun 03: Lucerne Sonisphere Allmend Rockt, Switzerland
Jun 05: Rock In Vienna Festival, Austria
Jun 08: Arnhem Gelredome, Netherlands
Jun 10: Paris Download Festival, France
Jun 12: Donington Download Festival, UK
Jun 15: Oslo Telenor Arena, Norway
Jun 17: Gothenburg Ullevi Stadium, Sweden
Jun 19: Dessel Graspop Metal Meeting, Belgium
Jun 21: Herning Jyske Bank Boxen, Denmark
Jun 23: Kaunas Zalgirio Arena, Lithuania
Jun 25: Moscow Olimpiyskiy, Russia
Jun 29: Hameenlinna Kantolan Tapahtumapuisto, Finland
Jul 01: Sopron Volt Festival, Hungary
Jul 03: Wroclaw Stadium, Poland
Jul 05: Prague Eden Arena, Czech Republic
Jul 06: Zilina Airport, Slovakia
Jul 09: Viveiro Resurrection Festival, Spain
Jul 11: Lisbon MEO Arena, Portugal
Jul 13: Madrid Barclaycard Center, Spain
Jul 16: Barcelona Rock Fest
Jul 22: Milan Mediolanum Forum, Italy
Jul 24: Rome Rock in Rome Sonisphere, Italy
Jul 26: Trieste Piazza dell'Unita D'Italia, Italy
Jul 27: Split Spaladium Arena, Croatia
Aug 02: Esch-sur-Alzette Rockhal, Luxembourg
Aug 04: Wacken Open Air, Germany