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Barry White no-show leaves fans in lurch

Atlanta resident Jesus Gomez took four days off from his job and scrambled to find a flight to Tampa. Katrina and Eddie Williams hired a babysitter, rented a hotel room and drove down from Tallahassee. Donna and Charlie Blankenship drove in from Melbourne. Maria Centeio came in from Boston.

By 7:30 p.m. Thursday, all were searching for a Plan B, after the reason for all their excitement _ R&B singer Barry White _ postponed his concert at the USF Sun Dome only hours earlier.

White, one of the 1970s' most popular singers, is riding the comeback trail with a multiplatinum album, The Icon Is Love. But the 50-year-old White contracted asthmatic bronchitis and exhaustion, forcing the postponement of Thursday's show, according to his publicist. It also caused him to cancel shows earlier this week in Hampton, Va., and Augusta, Ga., and upcoming dates in Sunrise, New Orleans, and Atlanta. Thursday's show has been rescheduled for Aug. 23.

After the Hampton cancellation Sunday, hundreds of angry fans crowded the venue's box office, demanding refunds.

The reaction Thursday was not nearly as extreme, but the emotions, were just as strong.

Fans weren't complaining about being out money for tickets. Tickets bought for Thursday's show will be honored at the August show, and refunds are available at the point of purchase. But Katrina and Eddie Williams couldn't get a refund on the $800 the trip cost them in lost pay, gas and babysitting fees.

Some special moments got dampened, too.

Larry and Linda Ries of Palm Harbor planned to celebrate their 32nd wedding anniversary Thursday. An evening with one of pop's most romantic singers would be the perfect topper, they figured.

"Now, we'll just go catch a movie," Larry Ries said.

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