No More Live Music

A big shake-up has happened on the DWTS set. ABC has fired respected bandleader Harold Wheeler and his orchestra.


It's the end of an era on Dancing With the Stars. After 17 seasons, ABC has decided to fire the entire 28-member band along with bandleader Harold Wheeler.

The news began to circulate over the weekend after longtime trumpet player Rick Baptist posted the news on his Facebook page.

He wrote, "Last night, the Harold Wheeler Orchestra and Singers received an email from Harold informing us that after 17 seasons, Disney/ABC Dancing With the Stars has replaced the orchestra and singers with records and a small electronic band. Allegedly, this was done to attract a younger demographic."

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Once the news traveled over social media, fans began to swamp ABC network executive Candice Ashton with emails protesting their dismissal. While the show has tried to court younger viewers with Disney Channel contestants and using some taped music in Season 16, the live music was one of the reasons many fans tuned in.

The American Federation of Musicians, the official musicians' union, chimed in with their own press release on Monday.

President Ray Hair blasted the network, "It's not like ABC and Disney don't have any money and can't afford an orchestra. It's about the insatiable thirst for profits at the expense of music, art, and those who create it. Firing the band, using recordings, and hiring fewer musicians won't boost ratings. It will kill the show."

Despite all the protests, it looks like the network has officially made up its mind for the spring season. The network and BBC Worldwide Productions sent out a brief statement on Tuesday.

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"Our talented music director, Harold Wheeler, will not be joining us for season 18 of Dancing with the Stars. Since season one, Harold and his band have performed brilliant music in our ballroom for our dancers and the American viewers at home. We are grateful to him and his band for their amazing work and years of collaboration. We wish him the best of luck."

It will be interesting to see how this affects the pro dancers and choreographers who had more control over tempo and sound when working with the orchestra. The cast members have not been vocal about the elimination because many of them are still working out their contracts for the next season.

What do you think of the elimination of live music on DWTS?

Photo credit: FayesVision/


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Comments on "ABC fires Dancing With the Stars orchestra after 17 seasons"

Sharon Nevius March 16, 2014 | 9:25 AM

I will watch at least one show before I make my decision to never watch the show again. The bad WAS a big part of the show and they were fantastic!

Linda Hinton February 24, 2014 | 12:58 PM

I think it wrong to fire the band. They don't no what they will miss.

Jerry Bell February 24, 2014 | 9:10 AM

I guess Disney failed to realize talent over ratings. Sad day for the music business. Next thing will be Justin Bieber as a judge. Good luck doing calssic rock and roll songs with a Fender keyboard. If your going to fire someone after 17 years how about doing it face to face you spineless --------. Time to hit the remote.

Susan February 04, 2014 | 5:27 PM

If you are able to pass this on, you should let the powers that be know that I, for one, no longer care who the contestants are. I will no longer watch DWTS with no live band.

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