Hours after Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band canceled their Greensboro, North Carolina concert Sunday to protest the state's controversial, discriminatory "bathroom bill," guitarist Steven "Little Stevie" Van Zandt defended Springsteen's decision while backstage at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony Friday.
"We just felt the issue was just too important," Van Zandt said. "This really vile and evil discrimination is starting to spread state to state and we thought, 'We better take a stand right now and catch it early.'"
In a statement posted on Springsteen's official site Friday, the rocker wrote slammed HB2 – or the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act – for discriminating against transgender people and the LGBT community. "To my mind, it's an attempt by people who cannot stand the progress our country has made in recognizing the human rights of all of our citizens to overturn that progress," Springsteen said. "No other group of North Carolinians faces such a burden."
While Springsteen apologized to his "dedicated fans" for the canceled gig, he said it was important that the E Street Band "show solidarity for those freedom fighters" fighting HB2 and send a message to North Carolina lawmakers, a reaction that was backed by Van Zandt.
"It's unfortunately the only way people understand. You have to hurt them economically in order to have them do the right thing morally, unfortunately," the guitarist said, adding that he hoped Springsteen's efforts in the state would "set some kind of example for others."
Following Springsteen's decision to cancel his Greensboro concert, North Carolina representative Mark Walker criticized the rocker's "bully tactic." "It's disappointing he's not following through on his commitments," the Republican congressman told The Hollywood Reporter. "We've got other artists coming soon — Def Leppard, Justin Bieber. I've never been a Bieber fan, but I might have to go. Maybe artists who weren't 'born to run' deserve a little bit more support."