Beyoncé, Mariah Carey and Usher Performed at Qaddafi Family Parties

All took huge paychecks for singing for the Libyan dictator's family

February 24, 2011 10:30 AM ET
Lionel Ritchie performs for Libyan leader Muammar al-Qaddafi in Tripoli, Libya,  April 14, 2006.
Lionel Ritchie performs for Libyan leader Muammar al-Qaddafi in Tripoli, Libya, April 14, 2006.

According to reports by the New York Times and a document obtained by WikiLeaks, several pop stars including Mariah Carey, Beyoncé, Usher and Lionel Richie have taken lucrative gigs performing for the members of Libyan dictator Muammar al-Qaddafi's family.

Photos: Mariah Carey Gets Sexy For Atlanta

Yesterday the Times reported that Qaddafi’s son Muatassim, Libya’s national security adviser, had hired Beyoncé and Usher to entertain at his New Year’s Eve party in St. Barts. Another Qaddafi son, Seif al-Islam el-Qaddafi, reportedly paid Carey $1 million to sing four songs at the previous year's New Year's party, also in St. Barts.

Photos: Beyoncé and Jay-Z - Hip Hop Royalty

These sort of secret private events featuring big-time pop stars are not unusual, but in this case the artists in question are being criticized for accepting money from a violent and oppressive regime. In legal terms, there is no problem here -- the United States welcomed the Qaddafi regime during the Bush administration as an ally in the war on terrorism, leaving the door open for such dealings.

The ethics of the performances are murkier. It could be argued that by performing for the Qaddafi family and taking their money amounts to a de facto acceptance of their politics and actions – though it's probably a stretch to call them complicit.

WikiLeaks Cables Detail Qaddafi Family Exploits [New York Times via Popdust]

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

Music Main Next

blog comments powered by Disqus
Around the Web
Powered By ZergNet
Daily Newsletter

Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
marketing partners.


We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

Song Stories

“American Girl”

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers | 1976

It turns out that a single with "American" in its title--recorded on the Fourth of July during the nation's Bicentennial, no less--can actually sell better in Britain. Coupled with the Heartbreakers' flair for Byrds jangle and Animals hooks, though, is Tom Petty's native-Florida drawl that keeps this classic grounded at home. Petty dispelled rumors that the song was about a suicidal student, explaining that the inspiration came from when he was 25 and used to salute the highway traffic outside his apartment window. "It sounded like the ocean to me," he recalled. "That was my ocean. My Malibu. Where I heard the waves crash, but it was just the cars going by."

More Song Stories entries »