Illness Forces Lolla Headliners Korn Off Tour

One of Lollapalooza's biggest draws this summer, Korn has dropped out of the lineup less than halfway through the tour after guitarist James "Munky" Schaffer was diagnosed with what doctors believe to be the brain disease viral meningitis.

Current darlings of the angry young man set and Lolla '97 headliners, Korn completed only 14 of the 33 scheduled Lolla dates before Shaffer fell ill earlier this month. They have already missed seven dates and will not be available for the remaining 12, according to Lisa Vega, of Scoop Marketing, which handles the publicity for Lolla.

"We love our fans, this is the last thing we want to do but it's the only decision to make at this time," said Korn singer Jonathan Davis, explaining in a press release that the band didn't think it could go on without Schaffer. "It just doesn't feel right without Munky."

The rising California-based band, which was performing on the main stage alongside such big name acts as Tool, Snoop Doggy Dogg, Tricky, James and Julian & Damian Marley, played their final Lollapalooza date on July 18 in Cleveland, Ohio at the Blossom Music Center.

A press release from Dan Klores Associates, the company handling public relations for Korn, said that Schaffer was "initially diagnosed with viral meningitis." It did not give details as to how he may have contracted the potentially serious illness, but goes on to say that the guitarist is currently under a doctor's care in Los Angeles and that a more complete diagnosis is forthcoming.

Dr. Mark Strassberg, a San Francisco-based neurologist said Tuesday, that based on the limited information given the public, it doesn't seem that Schaffer is in any serious health danger. The disease is usually not life-threatening, he added.

"We typically don't make much of it," Strassberg said. "It usually consists of a headache, which can be quite severe and uncomfortable, and some muscle fatigue and pain in the neck."

Strassberg explained that the disorder, which usually corrects itself, is a form of meningitis, an inflammation in the lining of the brain, which can be caused by a number of different viruses. Among the more harmless viruses which can cause meningitis are echo or coxsacki. But others may be more severe, such as mycoplasma, lyme disease or tuberculosis.

"Most cases of this kind of aseptic meningitis are due to benign viruses and they go away on their own," Strassberg said. "But the first thing to do is what it sounds like he's done, which is get a proper diagnosis and make sure they're not missing a more serious disorder."

Korn, a Huntington Beach, Calif. quintet whose mix of thrash and rap has made them popular among young angry rock fans looking for new idols who speak their language, shot to prominence in 1995 with the nursery rhyme-quoting song "Shoots and Ladders." Their current album, Life is Peachy recently passed the 700,000 sales mark, according to their label, Epic Records.

Though the band will miss out on the remaining Lollapalooza dates, Vega said no other act has been tapped to take Korn's slot in the Lolla '97 lineup. L.A.'s Failure has stepped into the opening position on the main stage.