Anthony Riley

Why Did Anthony Riley Quit 'The Voice'? (Updated)

One of the big stories coming out of last night's Knockout Round premiere for The Voice Season 8 was the question of just what happened with Team Pharrell member Anthony Riley. Long story short, we still don't know what happened, but we do know what didn't.

A Philadelphia street performer by trade, Riley had earned the fastest four-chair turn in the history of the show with his performance of James Brown's "I Got You (I Feel Good)". He also defeated Travis Ewing in the Battle Round with a killer rendition of "Get Ready" by The Temptations. With a berth in the Knockouts, Riley seemed poised to make the live shows. But that all went out the window when coach Pharrell Williams revealed that Riley had quit the show for "personal reasons," resulting in the show's first-ever three-way battle between Sawyer Fredericks, Mia Z and Paul Pfau.

So why did Anthony Riley quit The Voice?

Well, unfortunately, neither Riley nor NBC have come forward with an official reason, although sources have shot down the two biggest rumors surrounding his departure.

One of the more pervasive rumors online was that Riley quit after refusing to be paired up against Mia Z. But a friend of Riley's came forward and flatly denied those rumors, claiming that his buddy really is suffering from personal matters that affected his ability to commit to the show.

The implication is that while Riley cannot continue on the show, he will certainly continue pursuing success in the music industry, so similar rumors of a terminal illness for Riley seem to be equally unfounded, at this point.

But for those looking into conspiracy theories, it's theorized Riley was asked to leave the show after posting a tweet dedicating his Battle Round performance to Mumia Abu Jamal, the former activist who was convicted and sentenced to death for the December 1981 murder of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner. Although controversy continues to surround the state of Mumia Abu Jamal's innocence to this day, Riley wasn't shy about showing his support. Could this have been what prompted Riley's ouster?

A source close to the situation shot down the conspiracy theory in a statement to Yahoo! Music, once again echoing the vague line that Riley had to leave for "personal reasons".

So why did Anthony Riley quit The Voice? Well, we know it wasn't his ego, and we know it wasn't because of his political views. So I guess it really is a case of something bad in Riley's personal life that has resulted in the end of what had been, up to this point, an impressive journey. And that's a shame. I hope Riley is able to get back on his feet and give music another run, regardless of whatever it is that happened here.

UPDATE: Anthony Riley left 'The Voice' to go to drug rehab


Riley is opening up about the problems that have plagued him. The 28-year-old said he struggled with drug addiction for two years, but since leaving The Voice has completed a rehabilitation program. "For me it's tough, because everyone's just finding out and I've been moving forward" past my departure, he said from Pittsburgh.

Riley sat down with The Voice's production staff in January after his first Battle Round victory and shared his ongoing struggle with substance abuse. That night, NBC producers flew him out from Los Angeles, where The Voice is shot, back to Philadelphia so he could enter Clarity Way, a drug and alcohol rehab facility in Hanover, Pa.

Riley said NBC footed the bill. NBC did not return a request for comment.

"The Voice has been a really great source of support," Riley said. "At the time, [being on the show] wasn't working for me and I felt like I needed to go, instead of taking on more responsibility than I could handle."

Why Did Anthony Riley Quit 'The Voice'
Credit: NBC