'Dancing with the Stars' fires Harold Wheeler and his band for Season 18

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"Dancing with the Stars" will sound a little different in Season 18. The long-running dancing competition series has fired band leader Harold Wheeler and his musicians and plans to replace them with recordings and a smaller group of live performers.

BBC Worldwide (the show's producer) and ABC released the following statement on the decision:

"Our talented Music Director, Harold Wheeler, will not be joining us for season 18 of 'Dancing with the Stars.' Since season one, Harold and his band have performed brilliant music in our ballroom for our dancers and the American viewers at home. We are grateful to him and his band for their amazing work and years of collaboration. We wish him the best of luck."

The Harold Wheeler Orchestra and Singers consists of 28 members, with most participating in all previous 17 seasons of "Dancing with the Stars."

President of the American Federation of Musicians, Ray Hair, released a statement on the issue via The Hollywood Reporter on Monday (Feb. 3): "People who love 'Dancing with the Stars' also love the superb performances of the orchestra because it is such an integral part of the show. The tight, elaborate musical productions that catapulted the show into the top 10 in 17 countries can't be duplicated by recordings and a small combo. Viewers, whether they are young or old, will reject that as artistic fraud."

It's expected that the replacement band leader will make the choices with regard to future performers.

On the show's side, the claim is that certain types of modern music cannot be reproduced by the live band and require a recording instead.

Whatever the case, the sounds of "Dancing with the Stars" Season 18 won't be the same.
Photo/Video credit: ABC