Matchbox Twenty singer Rob Thomas was booed for making a racist joke about Aboriginal Australians during a concert on Saturday night. He has since issued a formal apology.
During a technical interruption at Melbourne's Rod Laver Arena on the opening night of his solo Australian tour, Thomas told the audience how he deals with long flights.
“I’ve been doing it for so long, I’ve got the jet lag figured out,” he said. “What you do is, when you get on the plane on your way here, you start drinking.” This was met by cheers and laughs from the audience. Thomas went on, “And then I drink until I think I’m Australian.” More laughs. But then he added, “And I keep drinking until I think I’m a black Australian.”
Video shows the comment being met with groans and laughter.
The 43-year-old later posted an apology on his Facebook account that read, "After the show in Melbourne tonight while backstage with some of my Australian friends, it was brought to my attention that I said something that is racist and insensitive. Please understand that although it is no excuse, I was completely unaware that in Australia there is a polarizing social issue happening right now involving indigenous people and alcohol."
Thomas has been a frequent visitor to Australia. Matchbox Twenty first visited Australia 20 years ago and Thomas has since toured numerous times both with the band and as a solo performer.