Billy Bob hits the wrong note in Canada

Hollywood actor-turned-musician cancels tour after 'national insult' provokes a furious reaction

Sex, drugs and rock'n'roll are no problem. But as Billy Bob Thornton has just discovered, no musician – however famous – can get away with coming to Canada and suggesting that the locals might be ever-so-slightly boring.

The Hollywood actor, who is trying to rebrand himself as a hillbilly singer, has cancelled a tour of Quebec and Ontario after saying in a radio interview that Canadian fans were like "mashed potatoes with no gravy".

During a remarkably cantankerous audience with CBC, the national radio network, Thornton complained that local audiences were "very reserved" and consistently failed to behave in a suitably uproarious fashion when his band takes to the stage.

"It doesn't matter what you say to them," he complained. "It's mashed potatoes with no gravy ... We tend to play places where people throw things at each other. And here, they just sit there."

The comments sparked public outrage when they were aired on Wednesday and Thornton and his band, the Boxmasters, were greeted with a chorus of boos when they arrived onstage in Toronto as the support act for Willie Nelson the following night. The Toronto Star reported that large sections of the audience shouted "here comes the gravy!" while unconfirmed reports suggested that several irate punters decided to take Thornton at his word and throw plastic cups at him.

On Friday, a large crowd in Montreal was gearing up for a similar performance when they were suddenly informed that the Boxmasters had cancelled their remaining Canadian dates. The news was greeted with wild applause.

A post on Nelson's website initially said that "no reasons have been announced" for the withdrawal. But yesterday, Thornton's publicist blamed flu, which he said had suddenly struck down the group's guitarist and several crew members. The band will resume scheduled performances on 14 April, in the safety of their native USA.

It will take some time for Thornton to regain the affections of the Canadian people. The actor, who was once married to Angelina Jolie, launched his tirade against the country after becoming highly upset at the way his "electric hillbilly" band was introduced on CBC's Q programme.

In the opening segment of the show, host Jian Ghomeshi had gently informed listeners that, in addition to being the Boxmasters' lead singer and drummer, Thornton was an "Oscar-winning screenwriter-actor-director".

That apparently contradicted Thornton's wishes that his career outside of music never be mentioned during interviews he conducts with the band. In the remainder of the interview, he greeted most questions with either complete silence, or non sequiturs.

At one section of the appearance, Thornton complained that he had been forbidden from smoking in the radio station's studios – a factor which some blamed for his apparent belligerence.

Some might say that Canada's response to them came dangerously close to protesting too much. However, the famously hospitable nation's concert-goers have a reputation for pushing the envelope: last week, Britney Spears had to leave the stage in Vancouver for 30 minutes after becoming upset by fumes from people in the audience who were smoking marijuana.

Arts and Entertainment
Martin Freeman as Lester Nygaard in the TV adaptation of 'Fargo'

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules

Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'

Arts and Entertainment
<p>Troubled actor Robert Downey Jr cements his comeback from drug problems by bagging the lead role in Iron Man. Two further films follow</p>

Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book

Arts and Entertainment
Panic! In The Disco's Brendon Urie performs on stage

Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Radio 4's Today programme host Evan Davis has been announced as the new face of Newsnight

Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams performing on the Main Stage at the Wireless Festival in Finsbury Park, north London

Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Mathison returns to the field in the fourth season of Showtime's Homeland

Arts and Entertainment
Crowds soak up the atmosphere at Latitude Festival

Arts and Entertainment
Meyne Wyatt and Caren Pistorus arrive for the AACTA Aawrds in Sydney, Australia

Arts and Entertainment
Rick Astley's original music video for 'Never Gonna Give You Up' has been removed from YouTube

Arts and Entertainment
Quentin Blake's 'Artists on the beach'

Artists unveils new exhibition inspired by Hastings beach

Arts and Entertainment
MusicFans were left disappointed after technical issues
Arts and Entertainment
'Girl with a Pearl Earring' by Johannes Vermeer, c. 1665
artWhat is it about the period that so enthrals novelists?
Arts and Entertainment
Into the woods: The Merry Wives of Windsor at Petersfield
theatreOpen-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

    Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

    The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

    Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

    Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
    German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

    Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

    Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
    BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

    BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

    The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
    Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

    Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

    Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
    How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

    Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

    Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
    Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

    Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

    Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
    10 best reed diffusers

    Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

    Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

    Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

    There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
    Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

    Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

    It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
    Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

    Screwing your way to the top?

    Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
    Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

    Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

    Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

    The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

    Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
    US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

    Meet the US Army's shooting star

    Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform