Hip-hop group Public Enemy have clarified their decision to part ways with rapper Flavor Flav, saying he was not fired for his political views.
The band said their co-founder had been “on suspension” since 2016, when he failed to turn up for a benefit show.
“That was the last straw for the group. He had previously missed numerous live gigs from Glastonbury to Canada, album recording sessions and photo shoots.”
They finally split after a dispute over a Bernie Sanders rally at the weekend.
Public Enemy Radio – an off-shoot of the main band – had been booked to play the event in Los Angeles, but Flavor Flav sent a cease-and-desist letter to the Sanders campaign, saying he “has not endorsed any political candidate in this election cycle”.
Chuck D, who co-founded the group in the 1980s, responded by saying his former bandmate didn’t “know the difference between [American football player] Barry Sanders or Bernie Sanders”, and was simply unprepared to play a benefit concert for free.
Later, the band’s remaining members issued a statement saying they would be “moving forward without Flavor Flav. We thank him for his years of service and wish him well.”
Flavor, whose real name is William Drayton, formed Public Enemy after meeting Chuck D at university in the 1980s.
A self-taught piano prodigy, he was cast as the humorous sidekick to Chuck’s fire-and-brimstone MC, occasionally stealing the limelight on tracks like Too Much Posse and Cold Lampin’ with Flavor.
He took exception to his dismissal from the band, insisting that the split was was politically-motivated.
“Chuck D, are you kidding me right now?” he wrote on Twitter. “You wanna destroy something we’ve built over 35 years over politics? All because I don’t wanna endorse a candidate? I’m very disappointed in you and your decisions right now.”
After Chuck D suggested he had “better find rehab”, Flavor retorted that he was “not on drugs” and had been “clean for 10 years”.
Flavor also denied suing the Sanders campaign, saying he had only sought to “correct misleading marketing” that suggested he supported the candidate.
“I’m not your employee, I’m your partner,” he concluded. “You can’t fire me. There is no Public Enemy without Flavor Flav – so let’s get it right, Chuck.”