Four Wu-Tang Clan Members Investigated In Beating

The Wu-Tang Clan's sudden exit from its tour with Rage Against the Machine

has taken yet another mysterious turn, as four members of the popular rap

group have come under investigation for allegedly beating an employee of

their record company backstage after their last tour stop outside of Chicago

last Friday.

Investigator Steve Vaccaro of Tinley Park Police Department said today that a

Loud Records marketing and promotions manager filed a complaint against four

members of the Staten Island, N.Y.-based rap group and at least three of the

band's associates for an alleged

battering following the group's Saturday performance at the New World Music

Theatre in Tinley Park.

Exactly which members of the nine-member Clan were allegedly involved remains

unclear. "At this time we have an idea, but we're going to wait until we get

positive identifications on the subjects before we release any of that,"

Vaccaro said. "We're also looking to contact them personally and give them

an opportunity to come into our department here for an interview." Vaccaro added

he hopes that the band members, based in New York, will fly to

Chicago for personal interviews.

The Chicago-area victim, whose name is being withheld by the police,

sustained bruises, abrasions and scrapes to his head and both hands, Vaccaro

said. The Loud employee told police he believes he was beaten for releasing

information about the locations of the Wu-Tang's after-concert parties during

a live radio interview on the afternoon of the show. Vaccaro said he did not

know which radio station featured the broadcast.

"We have no comment until we get further information," Loud Records

representative Dana Mullen said on Thursday. Neither the Famous Artists

booking agency nor the PB&J touring company, both of which handle the Wu-Tang

Clan, returned calls Thursday morning.

Until police can talk with members of the band, the allegation lodged

against the Wu-Tang Clan remains a complaint, not a formal charge.

The Chicago-area concert was the last show performed

by the Wu-Tang Clan on its successful, genre-blending

tour with Rage and Atari Teenage Riot. News of the

investigation comes on the heels of the announcement

that the Wu-Tang have quit the tour and will be replaced

for most of the remaining dates by the Roots; the final two shows will

feature the Foo Fighters in Wu-Tang's slot.

The precise impetus for the band's departure, however, remains murky.

"Wu-Tang is not finishing the rest of the tour," a source close to Rage

Against the Machine who preferred to remain anonymous said Wednesday.

"Basically it's due to internal conflicts. I believe Wu-Tang is telling

people that they never committed to finish the second half, but they always

did. It was always clear that they

were doing the whole tour. They have now decided to do other activities."

After missing a pair of shows this past weekend with little advance notice to

either the venues or headliners Rage, the rap crew out of Staten Island, N.Y.

have apparently decided to skip the rest of the well-received tour. The first

no-show, still unexplained, was in St. Louis, Mo., on Aug. 31, and was

followed by another in Kansas City, Mo. on Sept. 1, which the band bowed out

to play the third-annual Park Hill Day festival in New York.

The rap crew also took itself off the bill for Wednesday night's show at the

Target Center in Minneapolis, Minn., so that its members could travel to New

York to act as presenters at MTV's '97 Video Music Awards show held this

evening.

When asked Wednesday to verify the Clan's flight from the bill, Erin Burke,

of the group's label, Loud Records, said, "At this moment their

participation is canceled due to some personal things." Typical of the

hard-to-pin-down nature of the multi-platinum band, another source at Loud

verified that the group was off the tour, but intimated that they "were

trying to get them back on."

The tour was doing "surprisingly well," said Gary Bongiovanni, editor of the

concert trade magazine Pollstar -- citing sellouts and near sellouts

at a majority of the scheduled dates -- "considering you wouldn't think of

either of these bands as headlining in 15-20,000 seat venues."

Sandy Sweetser, a spokeswoman for the Target Center, said her venue was told

of the Wu-Tang cancellation the day of the show, just a few hours before the

performance was scheduled to begin. "We're not being given any statement on

it," Sweetser said of the last-minute change, other than the "personal

reasons" statement received from Wu management. No additional opening act

will join Rage and ATR for that show. Like the Riverport Amphitheater in St.

Louis, the Target Center is offering refunds to concert-goers who request

them. Over 800 fans reportedly requested refunds for the St. Louis show.

Philadelphia hip-hoppers the Roots will fill the Wu-Tang's space for eight dates

beginning Sept. 5 in Dallas, Texas. Foo Fighters will then take over as

openers on the tour's final two nights in Irvine, Calif. (Sept. 19) and

Phoenix, Ariz. (Sept. 21). ATN Senior Writer

Gil Kaufman contributed to this story.