The Emirates Airline Dubai Jazz Festival has been forced to make their opening night free to enter after star turn the Stone Temple Pilots with Chester Bennington pulled out.

A scheduling conflict has been blamed for the decision to change to line-up just a fortnight before the festival begins on February 13. They have also canned gigs in Asia, Australia, South Africa, and other parts of the Middle East. 

The group, a grunge outfit initially from the 1990s but reshaped after former Linkin Park frontman Bennington replaced Scott Weiland as lead singer following an ugly row that resulted in lawsuits, are best known for the smash hit ‘Plush’. New tracks include ‘Out Of Time’ and ‘Black Heart’.

Stepping up to replace the Stone Temple Pilots is the Earth Wind & Fire Experience featuring The Al McKay Allstars. Fans can expect ‘stunning demonstration of a living, vital performance – with every component of the band upholding the high standard of excellence that established the original EWF sound’.

Those who bought tickets for the original performers will be given the choice to either get a refund or exchange their tickets for another show on the same ticket category depending on the availability. 

Elsewhere on the bill for the nine-day musical bonanza is Santana, the multi-award winning group behind songs like ‘Into The Night’, ‘Why Don’t You & I’, ‘The Game of Love’, ‘Maria Maria’ and ‘Smooth’. Jamie Cullum, Olly Murs, The Wanted and Colbie Caillat also feature.

Meanwhile, a program devoted entirely to internationally renowned jazz, blues, and soul legends will take place featuring the likes of  Larry Carlton, Al Foster, Billy Childs, Sean Jones, Kirk Lightsey, Wallace Roney, Nestor Torres, and Tony Lakatos.