LL Cool J became the second person to cancel a performance for the 50th anniversary special of Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve after he tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday.

The rapper and actor, who hosted the National Christmas Tree Lighting with President Joe Biden, was slated to perform in his hometown of New York City shortly before the ball drops at midnight.

“I know it’s disappointing to the millions of fans but my test came back positive for COVID, which means I’ll no longer be able to perform as scheduled at NYRE,” LL Cool J told Billboard in a statement. “We were ready and I was really looking forward to ringing in 2022 in my hometown in a special way, but for now I wish everyone a healthy and happy New Year. The best is yet to come.”

Singer-songwriter Chloe Bailey, also known as simply Chloe, was the other person to drop out of the special airing on ABC. No reason for her withdrawal has been released.


Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve has aired every year since 1971 and was traditionally hosted by Dick Clark himself until 1999. He hosted the show again from 2001-04. He stopped hosting after he had a stroke that left him with a speech impediment, and Ryan Seacrest has hosted the show every year since. Clark made limited guest appearances on the show until his death in 2012.

LL Cool J
LL Cool J hosts the National Christmas Tree lighting ceremony at the Ellipse near the White House in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 2. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Despite LL Cool J and Chloe withdrawing their performances, 25 artists are still slated to appear. The rock band Journey and Karol G will perform in Times Square, Billy Porter will host and perform in New Orleans for the central time countdown, and Ciara will host the Los Angeles countdown with guest performers AJR and Daisy the Great, according to Billboard.

Avril Lavigne and Travis Barker, OneRepublic, Macklemore with Ryan Lewis and Windset, Big Boi and Sleepy Brown, Don Omar, French Montana, Mae Muller, Maneskin, Masked Wolf, Polo G, and Walker Hayes will also perform throughout the night.

New York City officials announced that the Times Square celebration will be scaled back this year after the omicron variant forced officials to limit the in-person attendance number to 15,000 — down from 58,000 in previous years.


Spectators are encouraged to watch the ball drop virtually this year.

Jeffrey Strauss, president of Countdown Entertainment, said he expects a global audience of 1 billion people, according to CNN. The theme for the ball this year is "the Gift of Wisdom," shown by a wheel with "petals of knowledge" protruding from it.