Jonathan Knight was not quite ready to face the music at iHeartRadio's New Kids on the Block concert in New York City earlier this week. Halfway through the April 4 show, the singer — who has admitted in the past to suffering social anxiety — walked off stage alone, leaving his bandmates to continue without him. Afterward, he took to his Twitter account to apologize for the sudden departure, writing simply, "I'm sorry…"
Footage of the incident shows that Knight, 44, was visibly uncomfortable from the very beginning of the hourlong set. While his fellow New Kids — Jordan Knight, 42, Joey McIntyre, 40, Donnie Wahlberg, 43, and Danny Wood, 43 — bounced around the stage energetically and engaged with the audience, Knight hung back by himself. At one point, he appeared to be looking at his cellphone in the middle of a song. Then, a little more than 25 minutes into the concert, the group introduced a ballad, "Survive You," from their new album, 10. Knight was supposed to do a solo, but when it came time for him to sing, he couldn't get the words out.
"Jon, these people paid thousands of dollars for these tickets. For one reason. They heard that you're singing on this record," Wahlberg joked, putting a supportive arm around his bandmate.
Knight laughed uncomfortably, then walked offstage shaking his head as the remaining four continued the song. The band told their fans (known as Blockheads, or BHs) that he would return — but he didn't, despite repeated chants from the crowd. (Toward the end of the evening, McIntyre quipped that he was locked in the bathroom.)
Fans were understandably concerned. Twelve years ago, in an emotional interview with Oprah Winfrey, Knight confessed that debilitating panic attacks led him to become something of a recluse in the 1990s. "The whole New Kids thing was crazy. The more it grew, the more I just felt like I was trapped. I just always had this feeling inside me of always being nervous and afraid of situations," he explained.
"From 1994 to 1997, I did nothing," he told Winfrey of how he coped. "I slept and slept and slept. If I was awake, I had to deal with things, I had to do things. In order to avoid that, I would just stay in bed. You go through the whole thing, too, like 'I'm weird or I'm strange,' and it just makes your whole self shrink down even more."
In any case, Knight appeared to be feeling better on Friday, April 5, when he performed "We Own Tonight" with the group on the Today show. Afterward, the band went online to reassure concertgoers that he was okay. "Not 2 worry BHs, all is well w Jon!" a tweet on the NKOTB account read. "It was a crazy album release week & we are all on a plane to Napa & look fwd to a grt show this weekend!"
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