The story goes something like this: While playing at Indianapolis’ Radio Radio club, an intoxicated Earle took umbrage — as performers sometimes do — to some annoying hecklers in the audience. Someone yelled out the inevitable “Freebird!” to which Earle “humorously” replied, “Fuck ‘Freebird.’ I fuckin’ hate Lynyrd Skynyrd.” (Side note: the real Leonard Skinner died yesterday.) Another audience member then yelled for Earle to take off his shirt, to which Earle replied, “You fuckin’ take off your shirt!” When a shirt came hurling stage-bound, landing on the singer’s guitar, he exclaimed an irritated “Fuck you!” to the unruly fan, but otherwise kept his composure enough to finish the show without any kind of Michael Richards-worthy meltdown. Then he walked offstage, forgoing an encore.
According to reports, it was afterward, in the club’s dressing room, when Earle came unhinged — smashing things and causing $200 in property damage. When informed that $200 would be deducted from his pay, what started off as your garden-variety incident of a volatile rocker angrily trashing a dressing room took a violent turn, as Earle — allegedly — “flew into a rage, assaulting the venue owner and reportedly closed-fist punched the owner’s daughter.”
The night didn’t end there. Earle reportedly continued to make a scene outside the club where, as one concertgoer told My Own Kentucky Blog, “He was wasted and belligerent. … He was bitching and ranting about the audience.” The cops came and were forced to pin Earle to the ground and handcuff him. The following day, Earle told Louisville.com he’s been charged with assault and battery (in addition to resisting arrest). According to the Marion County Sheriff’s Department, the singer posted a $150 bond and is due back in Indianapolis for an Oct. 19 court appearance.
The incident forced Earle to cancel a Friday radio appearance in Louisville, so he tweeted, “Sorry for missing the radio Louisville. I was in jail!” He also had some words for that club in Indianapolis, “Oh and Radio Radio in Indy and all it's staff can kiss my fucking ass!”
The club has reportedly filed assault and battery charges against Earle.
If I may editorialize for a minute, I’d encourage everyone to give Earle the benefit of the doubt and reserve judgment until he has his day in court. Not because he writes good songs, or because he’s from Nashville, but because this kind of allegation could follow him for life.
More to come ….
Update: Justin Townes Earle has released the following the statement: "Unfortunately, reports surfacing online about the incident in Indianapolis are not accurate. I have been advised by counsel that I should not comment on a pending criminal matter, but suffice to say that I am looking forward to having my day in court. I would also like to say that I oppose violence against women in any form."