Maynard James Keenan says Lilith Fair rejected Tool’s offer to play

"I wanted the 'thank you but no thank you' letter to frame. Never got it"

Photo by Killian Young

When Lilith Fair was launched in 1997, its goal was to celebrate feminism with a lineup filled with top female musicians. Most of the artists were singer-songwriters like Sarah McLachlan, Sheryl Crow, Tracy Chapman, Jewel, Paula Cole, Fiona Apple. But if Maynard James Keenan had gotten his (ironic) way, his prog-metal outfit Tool would’ve been the event’s true headliner.

In an oral history of the festival in Glamour, Keenan revealed that he’d tendered an offer to organizers for the all-male Tool to perform. “I asked our booking agent to request an offer to play,” Keenan said. “He did. They declined.”

As might be expected, it doesn’t sound like he was entirely serious — he just wanted a keepsake. “I wanted the ‘thank you but no thank you’ letter to frame. Never got it.” And we never got the festival headliner that would have redefined feminism for generations. Ya know what, considering their most recent performances, maybe that’s a good thing.

In more realistic Tool news, bassist Justin Chancellor recently revealed that the band is about to get back in the studio for an album that, at last check, was “about 90%” written.


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