Stop The Presses!

Burning Question: Is Chris Brown Really Going to Retire or is This a False Alarm?

Stop The Presses!

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(Photo: Ethan Miller, Getty Images)

By Leslie Gornstein

Why is Chris Brown telling people that he’s retiring at 24? Does he think people will suddenly buy more of his music? -- L. the Caterer, Kansas

I never put anything past celebrities or their throat-chewing publicity machines of doom. However, industry veterans say that Brown probably isn’t making these promises--er, threats--in any sort of calculated fashion.

Jay Z (nee Jay-Z); Anthony “Hannibal” Hopkins; Michael Jordan; Muhammad Ali; Garth Brooks--all have publicly toyed with retirement only to reneg, or, at least, fail to go permanently go away. Barbra Streisand infamously mounted a “farewell tour” in 2000, only to launch a 2006 comeback that commanded up to $12,500. Fans were not pleased, and it wasn’t because she was leaving “The Way We Were” off of her set list.

Lilly Allen sorta-retired from music in 2010 only to re-emerge via Twitter last year.

More recently, Johnny Depp has said that retirement “is probably not too far away.” That’s intriguing, considering he’s attached to four upcoming pictures that will keep him busy through 2015, when Pirates of the Caribbean 5 comes out.

Angelina Jolie has raised the specter of pending retirement at least twice, once in 2010; like Depp, she’s booked through 2015.

Some musicians have said they’re retiring and meant it; Phil Collins announced his departure from the studio in 2011 and he hasn’t released any new music since.

As for why Brown is now tantalizing us with this delicious possibility, don’t give him too much credit. A cynic may think he’s trying to squeeze more money out of fans, but industry vets say that Brown’s message is probably far less crafty.

“What happens with a lot of these big musicians is that they become exhausted,” says
Angela Thomas, former vice president of marketing at EMI, Sony and Polygram. “It all becomes too much. Chris Brown has had faced a huge amount of controversy, and i think he’s probably just gotten really fed up.”

So why not just announce that he’s, say, taking a vacation?

“When you’re exhausted you’re not even able to think straight,” says Thomas, who worked with the band Dru Hill when they were also publicly toying with retirement. “You’re living out of hotels and bags and you just want it all to be normal again.

“And you’re dealing with young people, here”--people who aren’t exactly known for thinking all that long term.

Then again, if Brown really didn’t want to work anymore, he could probably live quite nicely; Thomas estimates that musicians such as Brown can pocket $200,000 from a single concert.

See Chris Brown and Rihanna Get Cozy at the Grammys Photo Gallery:

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