EL PASO, Texas -- A British rock group has canceled its scheduled Feb. 15 concert at the University of Texas at El Paso because of death threats generated by an anti-Mexican ethnic slur in 1983, promoters said Tuesday.
Joe Elliott, lead singer for Def Leppard, told a Tucson, Ariz., audience on Sept 8, 1983, that the group had performed the night before in El Paso, 'that place with all the greasy Mexicans.'
The remark angered El Paso Mayor Jonathan Rogers and Hispanic groups who called for a boycott of the group. The boycott was later lifted.
Elliott apologized for the remark the next day and the group donated $10,000 to a Hispanic charity in Los Angeles.
Rogers told listeners to an El Paso rock station earlier this month that Def Leppard would never be welcome in El Paso again after insulting the majority of the population. About 65 percent of the city's population is Mexican-American.
Listeners to KPRR radio station in El Paso were polled on how they felt about the rock group and 60 percent said they were still angry over the remark. However, a poll done by station KLAQ found that 85 percent of its listeners were in favor of the group appearing.
Michael Martinez of KPRR, who conducted the poll, said the group had promised to hold a news conference in El Paso, confront the issue and apologize.
'That's what I was told when we talked to the manager of the group,' Martinez said. 'It would have been a good idea. Now two weeks later they say they're not coming because of death threats.'
Bobby Welch, director of special events at the university and promoter of the El Paso concert, said there were threats of a picket, a possible disruption of the concert and a few reported death threats.
'The group decided the publicity was too adverse and canceled,' Welch said.
Welch said the group's music is popular with young people and advance ticket sales were good.
'It's too bad they canceled,' she said. 'The group could have apologized publicly and the issue would have been over.'