SINGER Jamie Bruce has apologised after suggesting on Twitter that a young Henley rock band should be working at McDonald’s.
The 35-year-old’s comments were in response to an insult directed at him on the site by teenage metal quartet To Burn And Blossom.
This followed an incident at the town’s Music on the Meadows festival on Sunday in which Bruce is alleged to have mocked their performance.
But the musician, who reached the finals of BBC One’s The Voice last year, says the row was due to a misunderstanding.
Bruce, of Reading Road in Henley, was compering the free event for the second year running and watching the acts from backstage.
To Burn And Blossom, whose 16-year-old founder members Jake Clark and George Buckett went to Gillotts School in Henley, performed early in the evening.
During their set on the bandstand, Bruce turned to festival co-organiser Jayson Jaurigue and asked “are all the bands like this?”
Another group from Henley called Launch Control, who are friends with To Burn And Blossom, overheard and assumed it was derogatory.
During their show a short while later, they told the audience of about 350 people that he had been mocking their friends backstage.
The singer did not respond but continued to compere until the festival finished at 10pm.
He says the comment was innocent as he wanted to know more about the bands he would be introducing.
At about 10.20pm that night, To Burn And Blossom posted a tweet criticising The Voice with a swear word.
Bruce replied with a link to McDonald’s jobs page and the hashtag #futuresbright.
He also posted the hashtags #jumpedupamateurfool, #goodluckingrownupland and #futuremcdonalds on his Facebook account.
About half a dozen of the band’s followers hit back on Twitter, some using swear words and making derogatory claims about his weight.
Others criticised him for implying it would be bad to work for McDonald’s.
This week, Bruce said he regretted his reference to the fast food chain but felt he had the right to reply.
He told the Standard: “When I saw that comment on Twitter it stirred me up and I thought: ‘I’m not having this.’
“My retaliation was probably slightly unnecessary but it was quite tongue in cheek.
“It’s now been blown up into this claim that I’m not supporting music in Henley, which is ridiculous.
“I understand how hard the route is to being a musician and appreciate how lucky I am to still be working in that field after 20 years.
“I certainly would not give up my time just to laugh at kids because I know how hard it is to get gigs, even when you’re young.”
I would like to sit down with Jake to clear the air, wish him good luck for the future and publicly apologise for the McDonald’s comment.”
He later did so in a tweet to Jake, who booked the bands for the festival.
He admitted he had “retaliated badly” and said: “Your efforts on the entire project were incredible, admirable and quite astonishing with GCSE commitments. I applaud you.
“[Jayson] and I talked about how you would probably be running one of the big festivals in five years time.”
Jake, of Highmoor, said he had not heard the alleged insult and initially dismissed it as a misunderstanding.
But, he claimed, said several audience members complained that Bruce was criticising other bands, which the singer denies.
Jake said he did not want the incident to overshadow the success of the festival, which is now in its second year.
This year it was raising money to build a youth counselling centre above Magoo’s bar in Hart Street.
He said: “I’ve requested that it’s him or me next year because it really brought the mood down.
“It shouldn’t happen at a community festival and we want people to know that’s not what the event is about.
“We don’t want to be associated with rivalries and feuds - it’s about giving young bands a starting place and encouraging them.
“This problem will be solved and we’re going to make sure the atmosphere is a lot better next year.”
None of the members of Launch Control replied to requests for comment.