Bringing you the Web's best '70s music & culture news since 1997!
Viking publishers announced on May 20 that they have acquired the rights to a Barbra Streisand autobiography to be published in 2017 in what is expected to be one of the biggest blockbuster celebrity memoirs of the year. "Barbra Streisand's memoir is the entertainment story that has been on the top of every publisher's wish list for years," Viking president Brian Tart said in a press release. "There are over fifty unauthorized biographies about Ms. Streisand that are full of myths and inaccuracies, and she is finally going to tell her own story." The singer/actress/director/producer, who once sang about misty water-colored memories" in her hit 1974 song "The Way We Were," will reminisce about her participation in such iconic films as Funny Girl, The Way We Were, Yentl, Meet the Fockers and Prince of Tides, as well as her two marriages, to Elliott Gould and James Brolin. Streisand is the only person to earn Oscar, Tony, Emmy, Grammy, Directors Guild of America, Golden Globe, and Peabody awards, as well as receiving Kennedy Center Honors and the American Film Institute's Life Achievement Award. - The Hollywood Reporter, 5/20/15...... The Who's Pete Townshend marked his 70th birthday on May 19 by releasing a new track titled "Guantanamo," about the (in)famous American military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. "I thought this song might never see the light of day, but now President Obama has relaxed sanctions in Cuba, it is a happy sign he might go further," Townshend said in a statement. "Technically this was created in rather a laborious way," he continued. "I recorded a long organ drone using my vintage Yamaha E70 organ (used many times by me on Who and solo recordings in the past), and then cut it into something that sounded like a song using a feature unique to Digital Performer called 'chunks'. This creates blocks of groups of tracks that can be assembled and disassembled easily, like cutting multi-track analogue tape with a razor blade, but with less blood. The lyric grew out of the implicit angry frustration in the organ tracks." "Guantanamo" will be featured in an upcoming new 17-song compilation of the musician's work set for release via UMC/Universal MG on June 30, Truancy: The Very Best Of Pete Townshend. The release also includes remastered versions of the Townshend singles "Rough Boys," "Let My Love Open The Door," "English Boy" and "Face The Face," among others. Shortly before the release, Townshend will play two UK dates, the British Summer Time festival at Hyde Park on June 26, and the Glastonbury music fest on June 28. - New Musical Express, 5/19/15...... The Rolling Stones have announed an eclectic mix of opening acts on their forthcoming North American Zip Code Tour, which gets underway on May 24 in San Diego. Guy Clark, Kid Rock, Grace Potter, St. Paul & the Broken Bones, Temperance Movement, Braid Paisley, AWOLNATION, Buddy Guy, Ed Sheeran, Avett Brothers and Walk the Moon will open for the venerable British band on their dates in San Diego, Columbus, Oh., Minneapolis, Atlanta, Orlando, Nashville, Pittsburgh, Milwaukee, Kansas City, Mo., Raleigh, NC, and Detroit, respectively. The band will have no opener for their shows in Dallas, Indianapolis, Buffalo, NY, or the closer, a July 15 show in Quebec, Quebec. In conjunction with the tour, the Stones will release a deluxe edition of their classic 1971 set Sticky Fingers with bonus unreleased tracks. Meanwhile, Mick Jagger allegedly correctly predicted the results of the recent UK general election, according to political advisor Jim Messina, who served as campaign manager for US president Barack Obama. "One of the savviest political observers I've come across is Mick Jagger," Messina told Politico.com. "I was invited to a dinner that included the legendary rocker in London before the British election (I took about 9,000 selfies), when I discovered that Mick has been a bit of a political junkie his whole life." Messina said Jagger predicted David Cameron's Tories would regain control because "the average guy thinks Cameron makes tough decisions and things are getting a bit better... They won't change from that." Although Jagger is a keen observer of both the UK and US political scenes, he is not known as an activist and doesn't take sides. - Billboard/NME, 5/20/15...... Bob Dylan was the musical guest of David Letterman on the penultimate episode of his long-running CBS talk show on May 19. Letterman introduced Dylan as "the greatest songwriter of modern times," before the delivered an intimate performance of "The Night We Called It a Day," from his latest album Shadows in the Night. Dylan last graced the stage of Letterman's iconic program back in 1993, having first appeared on it in 1984. Shadows, a collection of covers of songs Frank Sinatra recorded in the 1940s, '50s and '60s, topped Billboard's Top Rock Albums chart, opened at No. 7 on the Billboard Hot 200, and peaked at No. 1 on the Official U.K. Albums Chart. - Billboard, 5/20/15...... David Crosby has apologized to his onetime Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young bandmate Neil Young for remarks he made about Young's girlfriend, actress Daryl Hannah, in a September 2014 interview with the Idaho Statesman newspaper, calling her a "purely poisonous predator." "I was completely out of line," Young said on Howard Stern's Sirius radio program on May 18. "I'm screwed up way worse than that girl. Where do I get off criticising her? She's making Neil happy. I love Neil and I want him happy." Crosby continued: "Daryl, if you're out there, I apologise. Where do I get off criticising you? There are people I can criticise: politicians, pond scum. Not other artists that have gone through a hard life, same as me. She hasn't had it easy either." Crosby also revealed that Young had contacted him after the comments' publication. "He wanted me to print a retraction," he said. "I said, 'I don't know about that.' The first thing that I did was apologize right away. I said, 'Neil, I shouldn't have shot my mouth off. I'm sorry.'" When Young appeared on Stern's show in October, he was adamant that CSN&Y would never reunite. "We were together for a long time. We did some good work. Why should we get together and celebrate how great we were? What difference does it make?," he said. - NME, 5/19/15...... The UK's Screen Daily magazine is reporting that a planned biopic of the Kinks, directed by Julien Temple, has been cast. Johnny Flynn of the UK TV series Scrotal Recall and George Mackay (of the 2014 film Pride), will portray Kinks founding brothers Ray and Dave Davies, respectively. "The project, which will focus on the tension between genious [sic] songwriter rivalry Ray Davies and his rebel rousing [sic] brother Dave Davies will hit your face sometime next year," Temple previously posted on his official website. Temple is also the director of the Kinks' popular video for their 1980's hit "Come Dancing" and directed the 1988 film Earth Girls Are Easy as well as the 1980 Sex Pistols mockumentary The Great Rock 'n' Roll Swindle. The Kinks biopic is expected to be released sometime in 2016. - Billboard, 5/19/15...... In an interview with London's Evening Standard paper on May 16, Paul McCartney said he felt "lucky" and "flattered" to have recently worked with controversial hip-hop star Kayne West. "It's good to connect with different artists," said McCartney, who collaborated with West on three tracks on West's forthcoming album. "The secret is I keep myself very open to suggestions -- I still feel like I'm about 30." Sir Paul continued" "I'm lucky that someone like Kanye would go, 'Yes I would like to work with Paul McCartney'. I was quite flattered -- I thought, 'Why does he want to work with me?' It was a few months later when I was starting to think, 'should I ring him and ask him did anything come of the stuff we did?' But then I thought 'I can't do that -- that's too soppy!' I'll just leave it and try and act cool." - NME, 5/20/15...... In other Beatles-related news, a Maton Mastersound guitar owned by George Harrison and played by him at nearly a dozen gigs in July and August 1963, including a hometown show in Liverpool, sold for $485,000 at a Julien's auction on May 17. According to Julien's, the Maton guitar was loaned to Harrison by Barratt's Music Store to use while his famous Gibson Country Gentleman was being repaired. It was later bought by Roy Barber, guitarist with Dave Berry and The Cruisers, who was informed of its previous owner. Barber played the instrument for several years until he retired it to storage where it stayed for two decades. Following Barber's death, his widow auctioned the guitar at Sotheby's in 2002. - NME, 5/17/15...... Elsewhere on the Fab Four front, the site of the band's famous 1968 spiritual retreat in northern India, where the band visited for a transcendental meditation experience conducted by guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and allegedly wrote 48 songs for 'The White Album" while staying there, has reportedly become overgrown by forest and wildlife. "Today the ashram is a ghostly relic of [The Beatles'] days," BBC correspondent Soutik Biswas, who recently visited the site, writes. "Mildewed and grotty stone and concrete buildings peep out of overgrown bushes and thick forests in a national park where some 1,700 elephants live, alongside tigers and leopards." The article points out that the ashram, which was opened by Maharishi in 1957, was abandoned in the mid-70s. The site has since become a place of pilgrimage for Beatles fans, but one local resident says that "The gods have left the place, but the devotees keep on coming." - NME, 5/16/15...... David Bowie has announced he will re-release his smash 1983 single "Let's Dance" as a limited-edition single on yellow vinyl on July 16 to mark the opening of Bowie's "David Bowie Is" exhibition in Melbourne, Australia. The AA-side seven-inch will include the original single version of the track, along with a live recording of the song taken from Bowie's Serious Moonlight Tour date in Vancouver, Canada. Both tracks have been remastered especially for the release, and will be limited to just 550 copies at the Australian Centre For The Moving Image (ACMI) gallery. Bowie has also announced plans to re-release his 1975 No. 1 single "Fame" for its 40th anniversary on July 24, backed with an alternate mix of its fellow Young Americans track "Right." - NME, 5/19/15...... Members of the heavy metal bands Black Sabbath, Megadeth and Stone Sour marked the fifth anniversary of the death of Ronnie James Dio on May 16 during a musical tribute at Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills on May 16. Dio, who played in Black Sabbath, DIO, Heaven & Hell and Rainbow, died of cancer in 2010. - NME, 5/18/15...... Pink Floyd co-founder Roger Waters, who has long lobbied for musicians to boycott Israel due to, in his view, the country's mistreatment of Palestinians and occupation of their land, has responded to criticism from pop singer Dionne Warwick over his political views. Warwick, who performed a concert in Tel Aviv on May 19, recently told The Jerusalem Post that "art has no boundaries" and that she "would never fall victim to the hard pressures of Roger Waters, from Pink Floyd, or other political people who have their views on politics in Israel." Now Waters has written a piece for Salon.com in which he rebuffed the singer's comments. "It strikes me as deeply disingenuous of Ms. Warwick to try to cast herself as a potential victim here," Waters wrote. "The victims are the occupied people of Palestine with no right to vote and the unequal Palestinian citizens of Israel, including Bedouin Israeli citizens of the village of al-Araqib, which has now been bulldozed 83 times by order of the Israeli government." Waters continued: "I believe you mean well, Ms. Warwick, but you are showing yourself to be profoundly ignorant of what has happened in Palestine since 1947, and I am sorry but you are wrong, art does know boundaries. In fact, it is an absolute responsibility of artists to stand up for human rights -- social, political and religious -- on behalf of all our brothers and sisters who are being oppressed, whoever and wherever they may be on the surface of this small planet." - NME, 5/19/15...... Cable TV's CNN will launch a new eight-part documentary series on the Seventies, simply titled The Seventies, on June 11 at 9 p.m. ET/PT. "The Seventies will examine the individuals and events that influenced and shaped a decade that had a profound impact on America," CNN says. "Through the use of raw and rarely seen archival footage, as well as interviews with journalists, historians, musicians and television artists who were eyewitnesses to history, The Seventies paints a vivid portrait of a period of lasting consequence." The premiere episode, "Television Gets Real," explores how television matured into the medium people know today with network programming like MASH, the half-hour comedies of Norman Lear (All in the Family, The Jeffersons), and new formats including the made-for-TV movie, miniseries (Roots), and two of the most successful franchises in television history (Monday Night Football and Saturday Night Live). The episode features commentary from TV titans Tom Hanks, Garry Marshall, Norman Lear, Ed Asner, Bob Newhart, Valerie Harper, and LeVar Burton among many others. The Seventies, which will also be simulcast on the Internet via CNNgo, follows in the footsteps of the top-rated, critically-acclaimed series The Sixties, which was also produced by Hanks and Gary Goetzman's Playtone Productions, and precedes the recently announced The Eighties, which will air in 2016. The premiere episode of The Seventies will be available for free on CNN.com for one week beginning June 12. - CNN, 5/15/15.
B.B. King, the influential Mississippi-born singer/guitarist who broke through to the American mainstream in the 1970s and later became honored by three American presidents for his contributions to modern electric blues, died peacefully in his sleep on May 14 in his home in Las Vegas. He was 89. Born Riley King on Sept. 16, 1925, in the Mississippi Delta near Itta Bena, Mr. King was raised on a cotton farm by his maternal grandmother, Elnora, after his mother died he was 9. He picked cotton on a plantation in Indianola, Miss., and made his first recording, the "Sharecropper Record," in 1940. After the war, King moved in with Bukka White in Memphis and caught his first break in 1948 performing on Sonny Boy Williamson's radio program on KWEM in West Memphis, Tenn. His first record deal was with the small Nashville label Bullet Records, his first single being "Miss Martha King," written for his first wife. That led to a deal in 1949 with the Bihari Brothers, whose labels included RPM, Modern and Kent, and quickly found success. His first hit, "Clock Blues," was recorded at the Memphis YMCA in 1951 with Ike Turner on piano. In the early 1960s, Mr. King signed with ABC-Paramount, then home to Ray Charles, and his records took on a more sophisticated tone mostly due to him working with arrangers for the first time. His 1965 concert album Live at the Regal, recorded in Chicago, became a hallmark concert LP. In Feb. 1967, Mr. King was booked on a bill at the Fillmore Auditorium in San Francisco with Moby Grape and the Steve Miller Band, a booking he thought was a mistake after he arrived, having never played to an all-white audience. In 1969, he scored his first hit single with "The Thrill is Gone," which became his highest-charting single at No. 15. "I had been carrying 'The Thrill is Gone' around for seven or eight years," Mr. King recalled in the liner notes of one of his albums. "Had tried it many times, but it would never come out like I wanted it." Mr. King, who had a catalog of some 375 blues songs, landed 35 of them on the Billboard Hot 100 between 1957 and 1988, when his duet with U2 "When Love Comes to Town," reached No. 68. Mr. King won 15 Grammy Awards, received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1987 and was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 1980 and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. Nearly as famous as the man was the man's guitar, which he named "Lucille" after he witnessed two men fighting in a dance hall over a woman named Lucille. "I named the guitar Lucille to remind me to never do a thing like that again," he said (in 1982 he partnered with Gibson to create the "B.B. King Lucille" guitar model). In Oct. 2014, Mr. King fell ill during a show and after being diagnosed with dehydration and exhaustion, canceled his concert tour and had not returned to touring at the time of his death. He had also suffered from Type II diabetes for two decades. Rock legend Eric Clapton, who collaborated with him on a 2000 album titled Riding with the King, posted a tribute to his close friend on his Facebook page. "I just want to express my sadness and to say thank you to my dear friend B.B. King," Clapton said. "I want to thank him for all the inspiration and encouragement he gave me as a player over the years, and for the friendship that we enjoyed." He also encouraged fans to "go out and find and album called B.B. King: Live at the Regal, which is where it really started for me as a young player." - Billboard, 5/15/15.
The Rolling Stones will take part in their first ever Twitter Q&A on May 18, and are promising to personally respond to select questions with videos and text responses with their official @RollingStones Twitter account. "#AskTheStones! The Rolling Stones are doing their first ever twitter Q&A! Tweet us your questions, answers on Monday 10am PST/ 6pm BST," the band tweeted on May 14. The band announced on Mar. 31 that they will embark on a 15-date North American "Zip Code Tour" this summer, beginning with a May 24 show in San Diego. - NME, 5/14/15...... The entire solo catalog of former Genesis singer/drummer and '80s solo star Phil Collins will be getting a deluxe reissue treatment under a new worldwide deal with Warner Music Group. Collins's first block of solo albums, including the '80s classics Face Value and No Jacket Required, were originally released in the UK via Virgin, and on the Warner Music label Atlantic in the US, the longtime home of his old band Genesis. "I've had a fantastic relationship with Warner and Atlantic throughout my career and I'm thrilled to be continuing that," says Collins. "I'm working with them now on these new presentations. Very exciting." WMG also promises to release "other uniquely curated titles from the vaults" as part of the deal. In addition to eight solo studio albums, Collins has released one live album and two compilations. The first two reissues, 1981's Face Value and 1993's Both Sides, will hit stores this fall. - Billboard, 5/12/15...... After announcing in January that they are planning a series of TV-movies based on Dolly Parton's life and career, NBC released details on May 12 on the first movie, which will focus on the country crooner's early years. Parton was in attendance during the press conference, and took to the stage to perform two of her best known hits, "Coat of Many Colors" and "I Will Always Love You," during NBC's Upfronts presentation. No premiere date has been set and the cast has not been named, though NBC Entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt has noted Parton will produce the series and could even see time on screen. - Billboard, 5/12/15...... '70s glam-rocker Gary Glitter has notified a UK Court of Appeal that he will appeal his recent conviction for historic child sex offenses next March. In February, Glitter was jailed for 16 years after being found guilty of abuse offences dating back to the '70s and '80s. Glitter was sentenced for attempted rape, four counts of indecent assault and one of having sex with a girl under 13. Sentencing Judge Alistair McCreath said that there was "no real evidence" that Glitter, whose real name is Paul Gadd, had atoned for his crimes. There is no scheduled date for the appeal hearing yet. Glitter was previously convicted in 1999 for possession of child pornography and served four months in prison. After his release he relocated to Vietnam, where he was subsequently convicted for child sex abuse offenses. - New Musical Express, 5/12/15...... Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page has filed a second complaint against his neighbor, singer Robbie Williams, in an ongoing feud with Williams over the latter's plans to develop his mansion. Williams has been planning to make changes to the garden and the layout of his house, as well as replacing the roof of its glass studio, and Page was previously thought to have won the battle when Williams withdrew his plans to develop his property. Page objected to the renovations, and hired architects, structural engineers and town planners to put together reports arguing why they should not go ahead. After Williams initially dropped his application, he now has reportedly filed new, scaled-down plans. Williams is reportedly aiming to lower floors and create bigger rooms at his property, with his application stating his intention of creating a "contemporary family living that will ensure the long term occupation and appropriate use of the place into the future." The pair live in west London, where Page has resided since 1972. Williams bought the 17.5 million mansion next door to the Led Zepp guitarist, previously owned by late director Michael Winner, in 2013. - New Musical Express, 5/13/15...... In other Heavy Metal news, Ozzy Osbourne has donated $10,000 to the Louisville Leopard Percussionists, a children's band that scored a viral hit in 2013 with their all-percussion take on the Ozzy hit "Crazy Train." Osbourne said he was compelled to send a note to the group after watching the video. In a typewritten letter dated April 24th, he commended the Louisville Leopard Percussionists with, "Myself, my whole family and my fans all loved your rendition of 'Crazy Train.' Keep up the good work. Also enclosed: a $10,000 check." The Louisville Leopard Percussionists have also covered tracks by Led Zeppelin, for which they earned Jimmy Page's praise, and have performed with My Morning Jacket. - Billboard, 5/15/15...... Paul McCartney is among the artists appearing in a new rap music video to promote celebrity chef Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution Day campaign, which takes place on May 15. The campaign aims to lobby governments to commit to offering children a better food education, and also participating in the video are Ed Sheeran, Jamie Cullum, Alesha Dixon and Professor Green. Meanwhile, Sir Paul has shared his views on a possibile reunion of '90s alternative faves Oasis. Speaking to fans via Japanese app Line, McCartney said, "I don't know if they will ever make up. It would be good because I think everyone likes brothers to like each other -- and make up. It's a pity because they are very good together. Like many brothers, they are crazy. But it would be nice if they got together." Oasis member Liam Gallagher recently declined to comment following tabloid reports suggesting that the Britpop band would reform without his brother, Noel Gallagher. Oasis split in 2009 with Noel citing an inability to work with his brother as the key reason. - NME, 5/14/15...... '60s pop icons The Monkees will perform their first concert in the UK on Sept. 4 since their sold-out concert at the Royal Albert Hall in 2011. The concert, under the name "The Monkees featuring Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork," will take place at the London Hammersmith Eventim Apollo. The show will be the band's first UK performance since the untimely passing of Davy Jones in Feb. 2012. Since their 1960s heyday, the band has charted two more Top 20 albums in the UK, in 1989 and 1997. Their new show features all of the Monkees hits, including "Last Train To Clarkesville" and "Daydream Believer," plus an intimate acoustic set and selections from their cult movie classic, Head. - Noble PR, 5/11/15...... Seventies teen idol David Cassidy was fined $900 on May 12 and ordered to perform 50 hours of community service in a case stemming from an upstate New York drunken-driving case. Cassidy, 65, leaded guilty last September to a misdemeanor charge of driving while intoxicated. He was sentenced in absentia by a Schodack town justice, who also ordered him to forfeit his drivers license for six months, install an ignition interlock device to prevent him from starting a car drunk, and waive his right to appeal. Cassidy, a resident of Florida, was charged in Aug. 2013 while on his annual summer visit to the Saratoga Race Course, 40 miles north of Schodack. In 2014, Cassidy's attorney said his client had entered alcohol rehabilitation after a previous Los Angeles DWI conviction. - AP, 5/12/15...... Stan Cornyn, a longtime visionary music exec with Warner Brothers Records, died on May 12 at the age of 81 in Carpinteria, Calif., after a long battle with cancer. Mr. Cornyn was regarded as a legend by many of his peers, and worked for Warner Bros. during the time the label signed such groundbreaking acts as the Grateful Dead and Jimi Hendrix. Mr. Cornyn's promotional campaigns included a lookalike contest for the Dead's Ron "Pigpen" McKernan; a "Win a Fug Dream Date Competition" sweepstakes; and mail-in orders for a pile of dirt from Laurel Canyon during its heyday as an artist haven. He also created a series of two-LP Loss Leader sampler collections that Warner Bros. released during the '70s to further expose the label's new releases, and continued to write and consult in the record industry until the past year. - Billboard, 5/12/15...... Actress Elizabeth Wilson, best known for playing the mother of Benjamim Braddock in the 1967 classic film The Graduate, passed away on May 9 in her home in New Haven, Conn. She was 94. Her other notable supporting role was as Roz, the nemesis of Jane Fonda, Dolly Parton and Lily Tomlin in 9 to 5. Throughout her nearly seven-decade career, she also appeared in films such as The Birds, Quiz Show and The Addams Family, and her TV credits include East Side/West Side, Doc, Dark Shadows, All in the Family, and Murder, She Wrote. She was also a famed stage star, and was awarded a Best Actress Tony Award in 1972 for her role in anti-war drama "Sticks and Bones." - WENN.com, 5/11/15.
Organizers of the UK's Glastonbury Festival announced on May 6 that The Who has officially been added to the list of headliners for the 2015 edition, which runs from June 24 through June 28. Pete Townshend, Roger Daltrey & Co. will take the stage on Sunday the 28th, the final night of the fest, with Paul Weller as the opener. Headliners on other nights include Foo Fighters and Kayne West. - Billboard, 5/6/15...... Elton John appeared before a US Senate appropriations subcomittee on foreign operations in Washington, D.C. on May 7 to urge the panel to help eradicate AIDS by funding a global program to fight the disease. "The Aids epidemic is not over, and America's continued leadership is critical," Sir Elton told the legislators. "You have the power to maintain America's historic commitment to leading the global campaign against this disease. I'm here today to ask you to use that power." John, who founded the Elton John AIDS Foundation in 1992, has said he believes US congressional support could help bring about the end of the disease in his lifetime, and he told the panel that "America's continued leadership is critical." "You have the power to maintain America's historic commitment to leading the global campaign against this disease. I'm here today to ask you to use that power," he added. The event was set up to discuss plans for HIV/Aids relief fund Pepfar, which was established in 2003 and renewed in 2008 by Pres. George W. Bush's administration. - New Musical Express, 5/7/15...... Rapper Kayne West met with Cher as the two attended the Met Gala in New York on May 4 and thanked her for popularising Auto-Tune, which she used in her 1998 smash "Believe." West's wife, Kim Kardashian, posted an image of the encounter on Instagram, and Cher told her Twitter fans that she enjoyed meeting the couple, describing Kardashian as "very gracious" and stating that West "thanked me for Autotune." She added: "They were sweet, & seemed 2 be having fun." West first ventured into the world of Auto-Tune with his 2008 album 808s & Heartbreak. He also adopted the technique for his additional albums My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and Yeezus. - NME, 5/7/15...... Former Talking Heads frontman David Byrne has joined the board of directors of music royalty collectors SoundExchange, with aims of securing the "long-term value of music." Byrne has spoken previously about the effect the internet has had on the music industry. In his new position at SoundExchange, he will sit amongst other artists and record label representatives, and advocate for new policy on streaming. Byrne says he is aiming to "fight on behalf of all creators for fairness and the long-term value of music," using his experience as a musician to his advantage. Meanwhile, Byrne will curate this year's Meltdown festival at London's Southbank Centre, which takes place between Aug. 17-28. - NME, 5/9/15...... Fans of late The Doors frontman Jim Morrison have begun a campaign to preserve his childhood home in Albuquerque, N.M., and designate it as a historical site to be placed among a list of tourist attractions in the city. "Living in Albuquerque for a while, I think he should have a spot here," says Doors historian Anthony Gomez, who added Morrison spent several important years in the city before his family relocated to Alexandria, Virginia. Morrison lived in Albuquerque and attended Monroe and Wilson middle schools from age 12 to 14 while his father, George S. Morrison, worked at Kirtland Air Force Base. In the biography No One Here Gets Out Alive, Morrison speaks of witnessing a car accident in the desert involving an American Indian family where some might have died. The accident, which likely happened in New Mexico, was dramatized in the Oliver Stone-directed movie The Doors, and is thought to have later influenced his songs, poetry and interviews. Morrison, who was born in Florida, died in July 1971 at the age of 27 in a Paris bathtub. - AP, 5/6/15...... Country music legend Willie Nelson confirms the rumor that he once smoked pot on the roof of the White House in Washington, D.C., in his new autobiography It's a Long Story: My Life, which was released on May 5. In the memoir, Nelson recalls the 1977 incident, which happened after he spent a brief stint behind bars in the Bahamas for marijuana possession when then-President Jimmy Carter invited Nelson to the White House to thank the singer for his support. Following a dinner with the U.S. leader, Nelson says he was taken to the roof of the building by a "White House insider" to see the city views at night. Nelson said that the unnamed insider offered him a joint, and said, "Getting stoned on the roof of the White House, you can't help but turn inward... Certain philosophical questions come to mind, like... how the f--- did I get here?" - WENN.com, 5/6/15...... A British research team has released the results of a study that claims legendary bands like the Beatles and the Rolling Stones did not "revolutionise" music but instead followed patterns that had already existed. The London academics studied patterns from the US pop charts over the period of 1960 to 2010, measuring the occurrence and duration of different music trends. The study, which showed three years of marked change in music (1964, 1983 and 1991), was recently published in the Royal Society Open Science journal and contends that the impact of the "British invasion" of the 1960s -- which saw the Beatles, Stones, The Kinks, The Who and others break through in the US -- has been notably exaggerated. The research found that the musical characteristics of these bands -- which they measure in terms of chord changes, tone and other quantifiable attributes -- were already established in the US beforehand. The study instead finds that hip-hop has had more of an impact on the shape of popular music since its entry into the US charts in 1991. The authors conclude that the genre has "reinvented the musical climate more than any other genre." The researchers analyzed 30-second snippets of roughly 17,000 songs from the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 charts from 1960 to 2010, and used computer programs to categorize each song based on musical properties, instrumentation used, chord patterns and other elements. - NME, 5/6/15...... Classic rockers REO Speedwagon and contemporary group Imagine Dragons joined forces on the May 4 broadcast of ABC's Jimmy Kimmel Live! to perform a a mash-up of REO's 1978 hit "Roll With the Changes." Introduced by Kimmel as "Imagine REO SpeedDragons," both group's frontmen, Dan Reynolds of Imagine Dragons and REO Speedwagon singer Kevin Cronin, shared vocal duties while being backed by members of each band. - NME, 5/10/15...... Movie production companies White Horse Pictures and Studiocanal have announced they will launch international sales of a new Beatles documentary directed by Ron Howard that will focus on the Fab Four's touring years -- presenting unseen footage from early performances -- at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival. The untitled film, first announced in July 2014, is produced with the full cooperation of Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Yoko Ono and Olivia Harrison. White Horse's Nigel Sinclair, Scott Pascucci and Brian Grazer of Imagine Entertainment are producing with Howard; exec producers include Apple Corps Ltd.'s Jeff Jones and Jonathan Clyde, along with Imagine's Michael Rosenberg and White Horse's Guy East. Howard's film is aimed at exploring The Beatles' inner world -- how they made decisions, how they related to each other -- along with their musical ability and complementary personalities. Footage will include performances at the Cavern Club in Liverpool, engagements in Hamburg and their final public concert in Candlestick Park in San Francisco in 1966. The Beatles' Ed Sullivan Show appearance in 1964 caused their popularity to explode. When the band stopped touring, they had performed 166 concerts in 15 countries and 90 cities. This project was originally brought to Apple Corps by One Voice One World, which had invited Beatles fans to send in clips of home movies and photos. - Variety, 5/5/15...... A dispute over the health and wealth of ailing blues guitar legend B.B. King was tossed out of a Nevada court on May 7 by a judge in Las Vegas who said two investigations found no evidence that King was being abused. The ruling in Clark County Family Court keeps the 89-year-old musician's longtime business manager, Laverne Toney, in legal control of his affairs. Three of King's 11 surviving children -- Karen Williams, Rita Washington and Patty King -- said outside court they suspect Toney is stealing money and neglecting King's medical needs while blocking them from seeing their father in home hospice care. They vowed to keep fighting. "We lost the battle, but we haven't lost the war," Williams vowed. Toney and B.B. King's lead lawyer, Brent Bryson, denied the allegations, said visits can be scheduled as they've always been, and called the sisters' efforts a money grab. "It's all about money," Bryson said. "Mr. King is no longer out able to tour at this particular time so there's no money coming in. The only way they can get money now is by filing a frivolous type of action." King was married several times and had 15 biological and adoptive children, four of which have died. His eldest surviving daughter, Shirley King, who tours as "Daughter of the Blues," said the dispute between family members and Toney has been months in the making. - AP, 5/7/15...... Errol Brown, the lead singer and co-founder of '70s funk band Hot Chocolate, died on the morning of May 6 after a battle with liver cancer. He was 71. Brown penned Hot Chocolate's biggest hit, "You Sexy Thing," which peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1976, and has been rendered almost immortal through its appearances in movies from The Full Monty to Legally Blonde to Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist. Hot Chocolate scored chart hits throughout the 1970s and 80s in over 50 countries, with the most success coming in the group's native England. Brown, originally from Jamaica, had moved to the U.K. at 12. His first single, a reggae version of John Lennon's "Give Peace A Chance," ended up being endorsed by Lennon, which kicked off his very successful career. Hot Chocolate had at least one hit every year in the UK between 1970 and 1984, making it the only group there to have a hit for 15 consecutive years. In 1985, Brown left the band to spend more time with his family, but he made a comeback in the 1990s with two solo UK tours. Brown embarked on a farewell tour in 2009, telling BBC Breakfast he had "done all [he] wanted to do." "I'm getting a little older now, you know," he went on. "It's hard to pack the suitcase and get back on the road again." "Errol was a gentleman and a personal friend of mine who will be sadly missed by everyone who knew him," said his longtime manager Phil Dale. "His greatest legacy is that his music will live on!" - Billboard, 5/6/15...... Renowned country music fiddler Johnny Gimble, who gained fame for his backup work with such stars as Merle Haggard to Carrie Underwood, died on May 9 near his home in Dripping Springs, Tex., near Austin, after a series of strokes in recent years. He was 89. Mr. Gimble grew up on a farm near Tyler, in East Texas, and became a much-requested session musician in Nashville performing with country giants such as Haggard, Willie Nelson, George Strait, Dolly Parton and Loretta Lynn. He won six Country Music Association awards as best instrumentalist. - AP, 5/9/15...... Joanne Carson, the second wife of late night talk show legend Johnny Carson, died at her home in Los Angeles on May 8. She was 83. Born Joanne Copeland in Los Angeles, she married Johnny Carson in 1963, a year after he began hosting The Tonight Show. After their divorce in 1972, Ms. Carson became close to writer Truman Capote. He kept a writing room at her house, where he died in 1984. Ed Rada, the executor of her estate, said she will be interred next to Capote at Westwood Cemetery in Los Angeles. Ms. Carson had a second marriage late in her life to Richard Rever that also ended in divorce. - AP, 5/9/15.
On May 1 Bob Dylan announced he'll launch a 6-date U.K. tour in late October. Dylan, whose latest covers LP Shadows in the Night climbed to No. 1 in the UK charts, will play three consecutive nights at London's Royal Albert Hall from Oct. 21-23, two nights at the Manchester O2 Apollo on Oct. 27-28, and an Oct. 29 show at Cardiff's Motorpoint Arena. The singer-songwriter wraps a 19-city spring U.S. tour in San Antonio, Tex., on May 7. - New Musical Express, 5/1/15...... German electronic pioneers Kraftwerk announced on May 4 that they'll bring their unique brand of techno-pop tunes to North America in September and October for a 12-city trek to begin in Edmonton, Alberta on Sept. 16. The Dusseldorf-based troupe will also be visiting Calgary (9/17), Portland, Ore. (9/19), Denver (9/23), Austin, Tex. (9/25), Nashville, Tenn. (9/27), Miami (9/29), Philadelphia (10/2), Boston (10/3), Detroit (10/5) and Minneapolis (10/7) before wrapping in Kansas City, Mo. on Oct. 9. In 2014, Kraftwerk toured its "The Catologue" 3-D show at noteworthy venues in New York, London, Tokyo, Sydney, Los Angeles, Paris and Berlin. - Billboard, 5/4/15...... Eric Clapton celebrated his milestone 70th birthday on May 1 by rocking New York City's Madison Square Garden before a sold-out crowd. Helping out Slowhand at his birthday party (though he actually turned 70 on Mar. 30) were a few of his guitar-playing friends, including John Mayer, Jimmy Vaughan and Derek Trucks, as well as vocalist/keyboardist Paul Carrack, who performed "You Are So Beautiful," popularized by late Clapton friend Joe Cocker. Clapton also dedicated a song to his beloved mentor, 89-year-old B.B. King, who earlier in the day announced that he is in hospice care in Las Vegas. Clapton, as usual, kept his loyal fans entranced, thrilling with songs like "I Shot the Sheriff," "Crossroads" and "Layla," and "Cocaine." "I want to thank you for helping me celebrate," he said as the show ended. "This is the best birthday I ever had." - AP, 5/4/15...... Elton John has extended his worldwide tour Down Under for a series of winery and arena dates in Australia this winter. The addition to Elton's "All The Hits Tour" will start Dec. 5 at the Hope Estate winery, then he'll visit Brisbane (12/8), Melbourne (12/11), Geelong (12/12), and Adelaide (12/15) before wrapping on Dec. 19 in Sydney. Since playing his first ever show in Oz on Oct. 17, 1971 in Perth, the British rock legend has played Australia 179 times. Elton also married sound engineer Renate Blauel in Sydney back in 1984 (the marriage last three years). "Australia has been one of my favorite countries to tour in ever since my first visit there at the start of my world-wide career in 1971," Elton said in a statement. "Some of my most memorable concerts have taken place in venues all across the continent. The Australian audiences always seem to bring out the best in us, and I am certain there will be many more fantastic evenings when we visit in December," he added. In the interim, John will kick off a European tour on May 31 at the Kent Event Centre in the U.K., then travel across the pond for a U.S. trek to begin Aug. 8 at the Lake Tahoe Outdoor Arena. - Billboard, 5/4/15...... In other news Down Under, longtime AC/DC drummer Phil Rudd has spoken publicly for the first time following his recent arrest and subsequent exit from the band. Speaking to Australia's A Current Affair, TV show, Rudd said: "I was pretty stressed at the time. I got back [to Australia] and the people who I had working for me for this [album] launch -- it was a total f---ing disaster. So I was really pissed off." The musician, who has been replaced by former drummer Chris Slade in the band's current line-up, also addressed his departure from the group. "I wrote them a letter, I tried to get in contact with Angus [Young, guitarist]... I've had no contact with anybody. I'm very disappointed... But, you know, that's life. I'm sure they're having a great old time I'm sure they're really enjoying playing. I'm sure it really sounds great." Rudd also seemed keen on rejoining the band in the future, saying "There'll be another tour and another and I'll be on it. It'll go until we all die. We'll probably all have to be dead before it stops... I've seen the errors of my ways... It's onward and upward from here." - New Musical Express, 5/5/15...... Southern Rock legends Lynyrd Skynyrd say they're planning on releasing a new LP sometime in 2016. Guitarist Gary Rossington, the sole surviving original member of the group, says "the record business is so different now, but they want us to do a new album with new material and we're gonna do it." Rossington continued: "We've been writing it a little bit here and there, and through the years we've written songs we never really used 'cause we didn't have enough time to record them. So we're gonna get do some new material here. I'm not sure when it's gonna come out; it'll probably end up being next year 'cause we're so busy with material this year, but we hope to record it in the fall." If a new album materializes, it will be the follow-up to 2012's Last of a Dyin' Breed, which debuted at No. 14 on Billboard's Hot 200 album chart. In the meantime, Skynyrd will release Sweet Home Alabama Live at Rockpalast on June 2, a 2-disc live set from a 1996 concert on Germany's Rockpalast TV show with bonus tracks from 1974. Still to be scheduled, is Lynyrd Skynyrd -- One More For the Fans!, a CD and DVD from a tribute concert in Nov. 2014 in Atlanta featuring the band as well as Gregg Allman, Cheap Trick, Peter Frampton, Charlie Daniels, Alabama, Warren Haynes and others. The group winds down a European tour on May 5 in Finland, then after a brief rest launches a summer run in North America, starting May 28 in Westbury, N.Y. "(Some bands are) great bands but they just kind of fade away 'cause you don't get to hear them anymore," Rossington noted. "So as long as we're doing this, I think the name stays at least a little relevant." - Billboard, 5/2/15...... Perhaps unsurprisingly, iconclastic punk icon John Lydon (a.k.a. Johnny Rotten) recently told the NPR radio network that he has no interest in being honored with an MBE by his native Great Britain. "I've heard the rumors. Oh, they're trying to give me an O.B.E. or an M.B.E. or whatever that is," Lyden said. "Nope, not interested... You wouldn't say that [I'm a national treasure] if you saw the state of my underpants. I tell you. Let's be honest." Lydon also defended himself against the notion that he has "sold out" by appearing on reality TV shows and in adverts." I've spent my whole life trying to be myself. I'm not emulating other human beings, not trying to fit into what society thinks it has the right to dictate to me about what is right or wrong. Who's right or wrong here? Well, it's either me or the whole of society," he said. - NME, 5/3/15...... Speaking at a fan Q&A in London on Apr. 28 to promote his new book How Can It Be? A Rock & Roll Diary, Rolling Stones guitarist and former Faces member Ronnie Wood said that a Faces reunion is being held up by Rod Stewart's manager, who "makes everything about money." "Why can't the three surviving guys from the Faces just get together and play for people? That's what we want to try and do. I think that would be brilliant," Wood said. The Faces reunited in 2010 with Simply Red's Mick Hucknall on lead vocals in place of Stewart and played a headline set at the Vintage at Goodwood Festival, and the band mounted a tour the following year. In 2013 Stewart said that he and Wood were planning a Faces reunion for 2015. However, there are no confirmed plans for any such reunion. Keyboardist Ian McLagan of the Faces and Small Faces, meanwhile, died in 2014 after suffering a stroke. - NME, 5/2/15...... James Taylor debuted a new single, "Angels of Fenway," at the legendary Boston baseball venue on May 3. The song was played on the P.A.system before the Red Sox' game against the New York Yankees, accompanied by a video with highlights of the century-old rivalry. "Angels of Fenway, hear our prayer," the chorus goes. "We have been chastened. We have been patient." The song follows his Red Sox fandom through three generations, from the sale of Babe Ruth to the team's cathartic 2004 World Series title. Taylor says he inherited his love for the team from his father and grandmother, and said he continued to follow the team after his family moved from there to North Carolina. He returned for high school in the Boston suburb of Milton -- during the lean years of the early 1960s -- and said he became a Fenway regular in the '90s through his wife's friendship with Boston Symphony Orchestra conductor Seiji Ozawa. Taylor added he has sung at Fenway Park about a half-dozen times, including the national anthem before Game 2 of the 2004 World Series. He is scheduled to play a concert at the ballpark with Bonnie Raitt on Aug. 6. - AP, 5/3/15...... Fleetwood Mac fans will remember how the University of Southern California marching band famously backed the '70s rock stars on their track "Tusk" in 1979, and Mac singer/guitarist Lindsey Buckingham appeared at USC's Bovard Auditorium on Apr. 29 for a two-hour speech interspersed with several performances, including "Never Going Back Again," "Go Your Own Way," and "Tusk" with the current USC marching band. "It's a great time for Fleetwood Mac," Buckingham said, crediting the return of Christine McVie. "It's a very karmic time for the band, in that if you look at this perhaps as the beginning of the last act then it's very appropriate for her to return," he said. "[And] we're playing to many generations of people and they all seem to be enjoying it the same." Before the night ended, students got to ask questions, one of which wondered whether today's artists will have the staying power of Fleetwood Mac. In his answer, Buckingham referenced current pop sensation Taylor Swift. "I actually like Taylor Swift," he said. "I admire what she's been able to do on some levels. There are a ton of really good people out there. I don't think music is any less vital. I think it's a little harder to churn out interfaces with sociology. When I was a kid and Elvis Presley broke through to a middle class, white audience, it was a sociological phenomenon that lasted through the Beatles and even a bit through Fleetwood Mac," he added. - Billboard, 5/1/15...... It has been announced that the Grateful Dead's last-ever concert will be screened in U.K. cinemas this summer. The band's final outing will be shown at 250 cinemas across the U.K. on July 6, the day after the band plays its farewell concert at Chicago's Soldier Field, where their last performance with late frontman Jerry Garcia took place in July 1995. Venues are still to be announced, with tickets going on sale on May 13. - NME, 5/5/15...... The 2015 Billboard Music Awards will feature a performance by Van Halen. The event, set for the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas on May 17, will also be telecast on ABC beginning at 8:00 p.m. EDT. The lineup of performers also includes previously announced acts Kelly Clarkson, Hozier, Nick Jonas, Ed Sheeran and Sam Smith. - Billboard, 5/1/15...... Speaking to the London Times on May 3, Pink Floyd co-founder Roger Waters argued that the perceived "takeover by Silicon Valley" has meant that it's hard for modern musicians to make a living. "I feel enormously privileged to have been born in 1943 and not 1983," Waters said. "To have been around when there was a music business and the takeover by Silicon Valley hadn't happened, and in consequence, you could still make a living writing and recording songs and playing them to people. When this gallery of rogues and thieves had not yet injected themselves between the people who aspire to be creative and their potential audience and steal every f----ing cent anybody ever made." Waters also declared that a reunion of the surviving classic '70s Pink Floyd lineup is "out of the question." "Life after all gets shorter and shorter the closer you get to the end of it and time becomes more and more precious and in my view should be entirely devoted to doing the things you want to do. One can't look backwards," he said. In November, Pink Floyd secured their first No. 1 album since 1995 with its latest -- and apparently final -- album The Endless River. - NME, 5/3/15...... In an interview with Britain's The Sun newspaper on Mar. 30, Paul McCartney drew similarities between his recent writing sessions with rapper Kanye West and those he held with late bandmate John Lennon. "When I wrote with John, he would sit down with a guitar. I would sit down. We'd ping-pong till we had a song. (Writing with West) was like that. We sat around and talked an awful lot just to break the ice. One of the stories I told him about was how I happened to have written Let It Be. My mom came to me in a dream when she'd died years previously. I was in a bit of a state - it was in the sixties and I was overdoing it. In the dream she said, 'Don't worry it's all going to be fine, just let it be.' And I woke up and thought, 'Woah' and wrote the song." Sir Paul collaborated with West earlier in 2015 on two songs, "Only One," a homage to the "Stronger" hitmaker's late mother Donda, and "FourFiveSeconds," a collaboration with Rihanna. - WENN.com, 5/1/15...... An attorney for Joni Mitchell said on May 4 that the ailing singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell may be released from the hospital in a few days. Attorney Alan Watenmaker cited Mitchell's possible release as the reason for why one of the singer's longtime friends needed to be appointed as her conservator during a court hearing earlier in the day. A judge agreed and gave Leslie Morris emergency powers to make decisions about Mitchell's health care and lifestyle. Morris, Mitchell's friend of more than 40 years, recently petitioned to become the Grammy winner's conservator because there are no relatives who could serve. Morris' petition, accompanied by a doctor's statement, stated that Mitchell was unconscious and unable to participate in her care. Mitchell's official website has said she is expected to make a full recovery. - AP, 5/4/15...... R&B legend Ben E. King, best known for his hit song "Stand By Me," died on Mar. 30 at a medical center in Hackensack, N.J., after an unspecified brief illness. He was 76. Born in Henderson, North Carolina, on Sept. 28, 1938, King moved to Harlem when he was nine years old. He joined a doo-wop group in 1958 that eventually came to be known as The Drifters. They scored a number of successful R&B singles, and in 1960, he left the group after a contract dispute and assumed his stage name out on his own. "Stand By Me," King's second single during his solo career, was re-issued in 1986 after it was used as the theme song to the Rob Reiner-directed movie of the same name. The U.S. Library of Congress added the iconic song to the National Recording Registry in April 2015, saying, "It was King's incandescent vocal that made it a classic." On his own and with the Drifters, King had five number-one hits: "There Goes My Baby," "Save The Last Dance For Me," "Stand By Me," "Supernatural Thing," and the 1986 re-issue of "Stand By Me," according to his website. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a Drifter. Recording for Atco, a subsidiary of Atlantic, Mr. King scored modest successes in the 1960s with "Don't Play That Song (You Lied)," "I (Who Have Nothing)," "Seven Letters" and "Tears, Tears, Tears." By the end of the decade his career was in decline, but he rebounded in 1975 with the funk hit "Supernatural Thing, Part 1," and in 1977 recorded a well-regarded album with the Average White Band, Benny and Us. He continued to turn out albums for Atlantic into the 1980s, recording Let Me Live in Your Life (1978), Music Trance (1980) and Street Tough (1981). He later recorded for a variety of independent labels and performed regularly in clubs and small concert halls in the United States and abroad. "With an extremely heavy heart, I must say goodbye to one of the sweetest, gentlest and gifted souls that I have had the privilege of knowing and calling my friend for more than 50 years - Mr. Ben E. King," his friend, singer/songwriter Gary U.S. Bonds posted on his Facebook page. "I can tell you that Ben E. will be missed more than words can say." - Billboard/NBCNews.com, 5/1/15.
In an interview with the UK music mag Uncut, The Who's Pete Townshend admitted that he doesn't find performing fulfilling anymore -- "but I'm brilliant at it." "The shows? I don't like them," Townshend said as the Who prepares to resume the North American leg of their "Who Hits 50" tour at the start of May. "I don't find them fulfilling. But I'm brilliant at it. I find it incredibly easy. I drift through it." Meanwhile, the guitarist will be honored for his charity work with a Stevie Ray Vaughan Award next month. The guitarist will be presented the award by Bruce Springsteen at a special benefit concert in New York on May 28. Townshend will also perform live at the event, with Joan Jett, Billy Idol and Foreigner's Mick Jones also set to appear. - New Musical Express, 4/30/15...... In related news, KISS principals Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley were honored with an ASCAP Founders Award at the ASCAP Pop Music Awards in Hollywood on Apr. 29, with Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl doing the presentation. Grohl delivered a personal homage to the two that began from his own childhood days as a proud cadet in the KISS army. Accepting the award, Simmons declared that "Dave Grohl and the Foo Fighters are carrying the flag that we hope will inspire the next generation of young kids." - Billboard, 4/30/15...... Paul McCartney returned to the hallowed Nippon Budokan venue, where the Beatles performed nearly 49 years agon in June and July 1966, on Apr. 28 for the last show on the Japan leg of his 2015 "Out There" tour. Sir Paul's current Japan shows, which also included a stop at the 40,000-seat Kyocera Dome in Osaka and three nights at the 55,000-seat Tokyo Dome, are makeup concerts for a tour in November of last year that was canceled due to his health. Notably, Macca performed the Help! track "Another Girl" live for the first time ever during the Budokan show (the Fab Four never performed the song in concert). Speaking about the gig, McCartney commented: "It was sensational and quite emotional remembering the first time and then experiencing this fantastic audience tonight. It was thrilling for us and we think it was probably the best show we did in Japan and it was great to be doing the Budokan 49 years later. It was crazy. We loved it." - Billboard/NME, 4/29/15...... Police in Memphis, Tenn., have recovered a pair of Elton John's heart-shaped glasses after they were stolen from the Rock 'n' Soul Museum there on Apr. 21. After an employee discovered the glasses, which are valued at more than $2,000, had been taken out of a display case during business hours, an investigator lifted prints and matched them to a suspect identified as 26-year-old Matthew Colvin of Southaven, Miss. Police there retrieved the glasses, and an arrest warrant for theft was issued for Colvin. The glasses went back on display on Apr. 29. In other Elton news, Nile Rodgers of Chic has revealed that John will contribute to the new Chic album. The LP is expected to be released this summer. - Billboard, 4/28/15...... Queen guitarist Brian May has clarified his political views in a new interview, saying he's "not anti-Tory but anti-David Cameron." May, who recently backed Green Party MP Caroline Lucas for re-election, is also urging people to vote "colourblind" at the upcoming General Election, which he described as "very crucial." May is a staunch animal rights campaigner, having protested against the badger cull, as well as the Tories' attempts to bring back fox hunting. "[Prime Minister Cameron] stands for privilege, for the continuation and acceleration in the difference between the extremely rich and extremely poor," May said. "I find that iniquitous and almost beyond belief... If the outcome is another David Cameron-led government then we're back in the saltmines. Like many people, anything but that would be good." - New Musical Express, 4/30/15...... Reps for Joni Mitchell are denying Internet rumours and a report on TMZ.com that the folk-rock legend is in a coma nearly a month after she was admitted to a Los Angeles hospital. "Contrary to rumors circulating on the Internet today, Joni is not in a coma," a post on JoniMitchell.com was published on Apr. 28. "Joni is still in the hospital -- but she comprehends, she's alert, and she has her full senses. A full recovery is expected," it continues. On Apr. 3, a post on the site said that "Joni is currently in intensive care in an L.A. area hospital but is awake and in good spirits.... Joni remains under observation in the hospital and is resting comfortably. We are encouraged by her progress and she continues to improve and get stronger each day." The latest post added that "Joni is a strong-willed woman and is nowhere near giving up the fight. Please continue to keep Joni in your thoughts. You may add your well wishes for her at the website WeLoveYouJoni.com." However, according to TMZ, Mitchell's prognosis has seemingly changed, and multiple sources claim that her condition was far worse than the public was led to believe, with one insider alleging, "It's very serious." Prior to her recent hospitalization, Mitchell spoke publicly about suffering from Morgellons Disease, a rare skin condition which she described as "this weird, incurable disease that seems like it's from outer space." Morgellons is controversial in the medical community, with many doctors denying it even exists. - Billboard, 4/28/15...... Black Sabbath frontman Ozzy Osbourne has given an update on the forthcoming Sabbath farewell album and tour. Speaking at a presser in Sao Paulo, Brazil, before he performed at the Monsters of Rock festival there, Osbourne said that "we are going to do another tour together... The plan is that next year [we'll do] the final Black Sabbath tour and album." On Apr. 9, a rep from Sabbath told Billboard, "There have been ongoing discussions about a Sabbath farewell tour, though nothing has been officially confirmed by the band." That same day, a version of Black Sabbath without drummer Bill Ward backed out of a November headlining appearance at Ozzfest Japan. They were replaced by an Ozzy Osbourne solo set. "Some want to work, some don't," Ozzy said in Sao Paulo, an apparent jab at Ward, who earlier in April wrote n his official Facebook page that he would not rejoin Sabbath without an apology from Osbourne for "often inaccurate statements" and a "signable" contract. Meanwhile, a planned reboot of Osbourne's MTV reality series The Osbournes won't be coming back after all, according to an exec with VH1. "We are no longer talking to the Osbournes about a series; that's not going to happen," Susan Levison, exec vp original programming and production at VH1. "We wish we could have worked it out, but it just didn't come together for us. The family has been absolutely lovely and we wish them the best. We'd love to figure out a way to work with them at some point in the future." VH1's plan to revive the series came 10 years after the show signed off at its sibling network, where its initial run was MTV's most-viewed series at that point. - Billboard/The Hollywood Reporter, 4/28/15...... The managers of Elvis Presley's Graceland mansion in Memphis, Tenn., released a statement on Apr. 26 stating Presley's Lisa Marie and the Hound Dog II custom-designed airplanes will permanently remain at the Memphis tourist attraction centered on the life and career of the late singer. The announcement ends confusion about the future of the airplanes, which had been owned by a company named OKC Partnership after Presley died in August 1977. On Apr. 21, OKC Partnership had received approval from the Memphis City Council to move the airplanes to another location just down the street from Graceland. Presley's daughter, Lisa Marie Presley, posted on Twitter that Graceland now owns the planes and they will remain at Graceland "4 ever." She did not elaborate. In other Elvis-related news, songwriter Sid Tepper, who penned such tunes for Presley as "The Lady Loves Me," "G.I. Blues," "Red Roses For A Blue Lady," and "Don't Come Running Back To Me," died on Apr. 24 at his home in Miami Beach, Fla., of natural causes. He was 96. In addition to Mr. Tepper's 45 songs for Elvis, he also wrote tracks for other artists including Frank Sinatra, Jeff Beck, The Beatles, Perry Como, Andy Williams, Ray Charles, Louie Armstrong, Wayne Newton, Robert Goulet and Nancy Wilson, among others. Mr. Tepper won a Country Music Award for Eddie Arnold's version of "Red Roses For A Blue Lady." In 2002, he was honored in Memphis for his work with Presley. - AP, 4/26/15...... Heart singer Ann Wilson became a bride for the first time ever over the last weekend of April. Wilson, 64, wed her boyfriend Dean Wetter, according to a report on People magazine's site. "Dean and I first met in the '80s and went on a date where we both got smashed and I tried to seduce him," Wilson sweetly told the magazine. "Like the gentleman he is, he declined. Years passed, we got back in touch after we had both grown up, and Pow!... It worked! Did it ever!," she added. During the 1970s, Wilson was famously in a relationship with Heart's then manager, Mike Fisher. - Billboard, 4/28/15...... David Bowie has announced plans to re-release his No. 1 1975 single "Fame" to mark its 40th anniversary. "Fame," co-written by John Lennon and featured on the glam-rocker's Young Americans album which dropped on July 25, 1975, will now be reissued as a limited-edition picture disc on July 24, backed by an alternate mix of it fellow Young Americans track "Right." Bowie also recently revealed he is working on a new stage show based on his 1976 film The Man Who Fell To Earth. - NME, 4/27/15..... Former UFO and Scorpions guitarist Michael Schenker will embark on a 2016 nationwide UK tour starting at the Bilston Robin in January 2016. Schenker will perform tracks from his current studio album Spirit On A Mission which features the singles "Vigilante Man" and "Live and Let Live" plus all the UFO, Scorpions and MSG rock classics. The 9-date tour gets underway on Jan. 20 at Bilston Robin and will run through Jan. 30 with a show at the Islington Assembly Hall. - Noble PR, 4/27/15...... Cable channels History/A&E/Lifetime have greenlighted a new Roots miniseries to be simulcast on all three channels. Roots, which in its original version premiered to huge ratings in 1976, is a historical portrait of American slavery recounting the journey of one family's will to survive, endure and ultimately carry on their legacy despite enormous hardship and inhumanity. Mark Wolper will serve as executive producer for the new miniseries, which will also be co-executive produced by original Roots star, LeVar Burton....... A new museum dedicated to late country music legend George Jones opened to the public on Apr. 24 in Nashville. Huge crowds were in attendance at the George Jones Museum, which features many mementos from Jones's career, including a jacket worn by the singer during his stint in the United States Marines, a letter and Bible given to him by his mother not long before her death in 1974, and a pair of boxing gloves autographed by George Foreman after the video shoot for "I Don't Need Your Rockin' Chair" in 1992. "I'm just so happy that everyone is here," Jones's widow (and museum organizer) Nancy said. "It's an honor to show everyone what we've done. I loved my husband so much. I started in the '50s and went to 2000. I can't wait for everyone to see it." - Billboard, 4/27/15...... In other country music news, Merle Haggard, whose awards include a slew of Grammys, ACM Awards, and even a Kennedy Center Honor for "lifetime achievement," has just been presented with a high school diploma from his old high school, Kern High in Bakersfield, Cal. Haggard's elementary school friend Don Hemingway had petitioned the school to give his old pal a diploma for several years, and Kern High principal David Reese obligned prior to Haggard's show on Apr. 25 at Bakersfield's Fox Theater. "But I was only (in high school) nine days," said Haggard, who was described as bing "pleased but seemingly mystified." Haggard already has an honorary doctorate from Cal State Bakersfield. - Billboard, 4/29/15...... Actress Suzanne Crough, best known as tambourine-shaking daughter Tracy Partridge on the 1970-74 ABC sitcom The Partridge Family, died suddenly of undisclosed causes on at her home in Laughlin, near Las Vegas, Nev., on Apr. 27. She was 52. The child actress was also featured in TV commercials, and as an adult, she continued to work in movies for television and had a starring role in the film Teenage Father. The film won director Taylor Hackford an Oscar for best live action short film in 1979, and Crough was thanked in his acceptance speech. Las Vegas police said they believe Crough suffered a medical episode and that the circumstances of her death are not suspicious. Her husband, William Condray, said his wife was "a patient and loving wife, mother and grandmother." - AP, 4/28/15...... Singer Jack Ely, co-founder of the '60s band The Kingsmen and best known for his 1963 rendition of "Louie, Louie," died at home in Redmond, Ore., on Apr. 28, after a long illness. He was 71. Despite being one of the most famous songs of the 20th century, Ely's incoherent singing made the 1963 hit version of "Louie Louie" also one of the most misunderstood. The FBI was so mystified by the hard-to-understand lyrics that it conducted an investigation into whether the song was obscene. Ely had a falling out with the band shortly after the song was recorded. He later trained horses in Central Oregon. - AP, 4/28/15...... Comedian/actress Jayne Meadows, a longtime panelist on the classic CBS game show I've Got A Secret and the wife of former The Tonight Show host Steve Allen, died Apr. 26 of natural causes at her home in Encino, Cal. She was 95. Ms. Meadows' many film credits include Enchantment with Gregory Peck, The Thin Man with William Powell and Myrna Loy, and on TV she appeared on all the Golden Age drama series, including Hallmark Hall of Fame, Studio One and G.E. Theatre. She also appeared on the several long-running series -- from Hawaii Five-O and Adam-12 to The Love Boat and Fantasy Island. She appeared with her sister, Audrey Meadows, on NBC's dramatic series Sisters. - Deadline.com, 4/27/15.
Elton John is praising '70s Olympic champion and reality TV star Bruce Jenner for his "bravery" in deciding to discuss his reported transition from male to female during an interview with ABC's Diane Sawyer on Apr. 24. "It's an incredibly brave thing to do, especially when you're older," Sir Elton told the Access Hollywood show on Apr. 23. "I admire him for doing it and I support him 100 percent." Jenner's two-hour interview proved to be ratings gold for ABC, scoring an impressive 5.2/17 among adults 18-49, with 16.9 million total viewers in the time period. - Billboard/Deadline.com, 4/25/15...... Electric Light Orchestra mastermind Jeff Lynne was honored with his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame during a ceremony on Apr. 23. Lynne's friends and fellow famous musicians Joe Walsh and Tom Petty were on hand to sing the praises of Lynne, with Walsh calling him "a true musical genius" and "one of the greatest stars rock has ever produced," and Petty gushing that Lynne was "the best overall musician I've ever met" and "the single greatest record producer I've ever encountered." "Let's put it this way," Petty said, "it says a lot when the Beatles get back together and George Martin can't make it, they get Jeff Lynne." "It was just so thrilling to think of all that and then having Tom and Joe say all those lovely things, it was very moving to me," Lynne told Billboard after the event. "You just think you're doing your bit and you don't realize that it's appreciated that much." Last September, the Birmingham, U.K. native made a triumphant return to the stage headlining a Hyde Park show for 50,000 fans, followed by a Grammy appearance in early 2015. Lynne has announced he has the first new ELO album since 2001's Zoom nearly completed, and will tour behind the new LP. - Billboard, 4/24/15...... As the Grateful Dead prepares for five "Fare Thee Well" shows in Santa Clara, Calif., and Chicago, Ill., in late June and early July, there are reports that the legendary San Francisco band is planning a fall tour with Grammy-winning singer-guitarist John Mayer in tow. The trek is reportedly due to kick off in October, with Mayer having already begun to jam in a rehearsal-like setting with select members of the group, chief among them Bob Weir, who is said to be very keen about the prospect. However, a rep for the band says that it's "premature" to suggest a Dead/Mayer tour is in the works. On Apr. 22, concert promoter Live Alliance announced that it will prduce a worldwide pay-per-view TV/Internet broadcast of the Fare Thee Well shows. Hosted by CNBC reporter Steve Liesman, the Fare Thee Well: Celebrating 50 Years of Grateful Dead broadcast will will feature the four original members of the Dead, and the intermission will feature taped interviews with special guests, live fan interviews and aerial shots from Soldier Field, and a short documentary. - Billboard, 4/24/15...... Billy Joel has announced he'll play the final concert at Long Island's Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Aug. 4, before it is scheduled to be closed while undergoing renovation. Joel, a Long Island native, last played Memorial Coliseum in 1998, when he sold out nine shows at the arena. Following Joel's August performance, which will be his 32nd concert there, the Coliseum is scheduled to reopen as a sports and entertainment arena in Dec. 2016. Joel's 2015 U.S. tour, which is now in progress, will next take him to Kansas City's Sprint Center on May 1. He is also confirmed to headline the final night of the Bonnaroo Music Festival in Manchester, Tenn., on June 14. - Billboard, 4/24/15...... Alice Cooper says his new Hollywood Vampires album, a tribute to the social group that he partied with in the 1970s, is "done... mixed, ready to go and I'm very, very happy with it." Cooper says the LP is dedicated to his old drinking buddies, which included John Lennon, Keith Moon, Harry Nilsson and Ringo Starr. "[Paul] McCartney's on it. [Ringo Starr's drummer son] Zak [Starkey]'s on it. Dave Grohl is on it, [AC/DC frontman] Brian Johnson -- and in places where you wouldn't expect them to be, that's the cool thing." The Hollywood Vampires supergroup are due to play the Rock in Rio festival in September -- though it is unlikely that McCartney will join them on tour. - NME, 4/21/15...... Paul McCartney announced on Apr. 25 that he'll play an arena show at Philadelphia's Wells Fargo Center on June 21, his first appearance in the city since 2010. Sir Paul is also set to play at Firefly festival on June 19, and the Lollapalooza fest on July 31. On Apr. 21, the Beatles legend was mobbed by fans in Osaka, Japan as he arrived in the country to play a string of five tour dates. The singer, who is in Japan to perform rescheduled gigs which were called off in 2014 after he became ill, was greeted by over 500 fans at Osaka Airport. On Apr. 22, McCartney used the Earth Day observation to promote his global "Meat Free Monday" initiative, stating on Twitter that, "eating less meat is a real way to help." A day later, Macca was also revealed to be the richest musician in the UK according to London's Sunday Times. Data from the paper's annual rundown of the wealthiest figures in the British industry shows McCartney (plus wife Nancy Shevell, whose stake in a trucking business is said to be worth $225 million) placed at the top of the U.K. Music Rich List with an estimated fortune of $1.1 billion. Other '70s artists making the list include Elton John ($406 million), Mick Jagger ($338 million), Keith Richards ($315 million), Ringo Starr ($270 million), Sting ($270 million), and Roger Waters ($240 million). - New Musical Express, 4/25/15...... A John Lennon vinyl box set of the late musician's eight studio album is due on June 9, with the individual albums following separately on Aug. 21. The collection, titled simply Lennon, will feature the LPs John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band, Imagine, Some Time in New York City, Mind Games, Walls and Bridges, Rock 'n' Roll, Double Fantasy and Milk And Honey, all remastered. The remastered albums were previously released on CD and digital formats in 2010 as the John Lennon Signature Box. Speaking of the remastered LPs to Rolling Stone recently, Lennon's widow Yoko Ono said: "I thought it was going to be fine -- listening to John's songs has been a routine thing for me for the last 30 years. But this time, maybe because I listened to all of them, it was very hard, emotionally hard. 'I'm Losing You' -- that really hit me." - NME, 4/22/15...... One-time American Idol contestant Adam Lambert has recruited Queen guitarist Brian May to contribute to his next album. Lambert, who wrapped a UK arena tour fronting Queen in January, will release his LP The Original High via Warner Music on June 12, and Brian May described Lambert as the only performer the band had found capable of filling the shoes of iconic frontman Freddie Mercury. "Adam is the first person we've encountered who can do all the Queen catalogue without blinking," said May. "He is a gift from God." Queen drummer Roger Taylor had similar praise, adding: "He's incredibly musical, and we certainly take anything he says quite seriously." Lambert released the first single from the new LP, "Ghost Town," via YouTube on Apr. 22. - NME, 4/23/15...... Neil Young has revealed details about his upcoming new studio album, The Monsanto Years, which he is collaborating on with Willie Nelson's sons Lukas and Micah Nelson. Young says he will release a documentary film about the making of the record alongside the LP, which features protest songs against controversial agricultural company Monsanto, a company that Young has been publicly battling against for years. The Monsanto Years is due June 16. Young and the Nelsons will kick off a North American tour behind the new album in July, with support at select shows coming from Band Of Horses. - NME, 4/23/15...... Hall & Oates member John Oates has signed a deal with St. Martin's Press for a memoir to be published in late 2016, it was announced on Apr. 23. The yet to be titled book will draw upon Oates's "pretty detailed" journals to tell an "intimate and fascinating" story about his life and career, the publisher says. Hall & Oates were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2014. - AP, 4/23/15...... Former AC/DC drummer Phil Rudd pleaded guilty to threatening to kill and possession of meth and marijuana in New Zealand's Tauranga District Court on Apr. 21. Rudd had pleaded not guilty to these charges in Dec. 2014, when it was alleged he had threatened to kill a man who had been in his employment for three years. The maximum sentence for threatening to kill is seven years in jail. The case has been adjourned until June 26. Rudd's lawyer, Craig Tuck, says he will apply for a discharge without conviction for his client. - Billboard, 4/20/15...... Veteran country music singer Charley Pride will launch his first UK tour in three years on Apr. 29 at Manchester's Bridgewater Hall. Pride, one of the few African-American country musicians to experience massive-market commercial success in the country music industry and one of the few African-American singers to be inducted into the Grand Ole Opry, will also perform in London (5/2), Southend Cliffs (5/3), Birmingham (5/4) and Glasgow (5/6). To coincide with the start of the tour, Pride will be interviewed on BBC Breakfast News (BBC One) on Apr. 29. - Noble PR, 4/21/15...... A new Elvis Presley exhibition dubbed "Graceland Presents Elvis: The Exhibition - The Show - The Experience" opened at the Westgate Las Vegas hotel and casino on Apr. 23, the same casino where Elvis performed several hundred shows when it was the Las Vegas Hilton and The International. The exhibit, chapel and show are the first permanent presentations from Graceland and Elvis Presley Enterprises outside of the performer's Tennessee home, launching 59 years to the day that Elvis first performed in Las Vegas. The grand opening included an appearance by Presley's daughter, Lisa Marie Presley. - AP, 4/23/15...... Ronnie Carroll, a UK crooner who won two consecutive Eurovision song contests in 1962, died on Apr. 13 after a short illness. Carroll's biggest hit was in 1962 with a cover of Bobby Vinton's "Roses Are Red," which outsold Vinton's version in the UK and reached No. 2 there.
Ringo Starr was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a solo artist on Apr. 18 by his former Beatles bandmate Paul McCartney in a star-studded ceremony that also honored Lou Reed, Bill Withers, Joan Jett, Green Day, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble, the Paul Butterfield Blues Band and The "5" Royales. Starr, already inducted in 1988 as a member of the Beatles, made a speech before a short performance. "I want to thank Paul for all the great things you told us some of them are true. You know, it's a great honor to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I was doing the press and they're all saying, 'Well, why did you wait so long?' It has nothing to do with me. You have to be invited. But anyway, apparently I'm invited and I love it." The 74-year-old stickman continued: "I've finally been invited and I love it. I got lucky and it was actually in Cleveland," he said to enormous applause. Introducing Ringo, McCartney recalled the first time Ringo sat in with the Beatles. "[We] were on the front line singing, and now behind us we had this guy we'd never played with before, and I remember the moment when he started to play -- I think it was Ray Charles, 'What'd I Say', and most of the drummers couldn't nail the drum part. It was a little difficult to do, but Ringo nailed it." John Lennon's widow Yoko Ono, also on hand to honor Ringo, spoke breifly backstage: "It's just sad John and George [Harrison] aren't here." Bill Withers, who was introduced by John Legend with a performance of Withers' "Use Me" backed by Stevie Wonder, called being inducted by Wonder "A lion holding the door for a kitty cat." The trio then jammed on a rendition of Withers' smash "Lean on Me." Joan Jett, who was inducted by Miley Cyrus, joined her band the Blackhearts and Foo Fighters' Dave Grohl for a mini-set of her rockers including "Bad Reputation," the Runaways' "Cherry Bomb" and "Crimson and Clover," the Tommy James & the Shondelles cover that Jett took to No. 1. Lou Reed was paid a moving tribute by his friend Patti Smith and Reed's widow, musician Laurie Anderson, who shared the three rules for life that they came up with: "One: don't be afraid of anyone; Two: get a really good bullshit detector and learn how to use it; Three: be really, really tender." The ceremony closed with a rousing version of the Lennon-McCartney-penned "I Want to Be Your Man," with all the inductees and presenters participating. - Billboard, 4/19/15.
Neil Young surprised fans with an intimate performance at the SLO Brewing Co. in San Luis Obispo, Cal., on Apr. 17. Taking the stage at 9:00 p.m. for a three-hour show, Young was backed by Willie Nelson's sons Lukas and Micah Nelson on guitars, plus members of their band Lukas' Promise of the Real on bass and drums. Young's set was comprised of mosty new material, although he did perform several classic tunes, including a near-10 minute extended version of "Down By The River" plus "Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere" and "Walk On." Earlier in 2015, Young confirmed that he was recording a new album with the Nelson brothers tentatively titled The Monsanto Years. - New Musical Express, 4/20/15...... Wisconsin-based outdoor apparel retailer Duluth Trading Co. has settled a lawsuit from founding Eagles member Don Henley alleging trademark infringement. Henley filed suit in federal court in October after the company used the pun "Don a Henley and Take it easy" in an ad selling a shirt style known as a "henley" -- a play on Henley's name and a title of a popular song by the classic rock band. The Belleville, Wisc.-based company agreed to never again use or imply Henley's name when selling the style of shirt. Duluth Trading Co. also issued an apology to Henley on its website, saying it was inappropriate to use his name and the song title. It also made an undisclosed contribution to a nonprofit Henley founded. - AP, 4/17/15...... Paul Simon has scored his first U.K. number one album in 25 years with his new U.K. greatest hits compilation, The Ultimate Collection. Simon, who last topped the charts in Britain in 1990 with his The Rhythm of the Saints LP, is also touring the U.K. with Sting. - NME, 4/19/15...... Vinyl LP sales in the U.S. are up over 50 percent for the first quarter of 2015, according to new research published by the Nielsen Co. Between January and March of 2015, sales were 53% higher than during the comparable period last year, driven largely by solid gains in catalog album sales. Current releases in the format are also performing well,up by 37% in the first three months compared with the corresponding period last time. Topping the vinyl chart is the Beatles' classic 1969 release Abbey Road, which has been the best-selling vinyl album since 2010 and moved 172,000 units in the first quarter. Other '70s acts making the top 10 include Pink Floyd (Dark Side of the Moon, No. 6 with 87,000 units sold) and Bob Marley & The Wailers (Legend, No. 7 with 83,000 units sold). In the U.K., the industry's official charts compiler OCC has just launched vinyl sales charts (singles and albums) which the OCC says reflects Britain's "renewed interest in music on vinyl." - Billboard, 4/17/15...... Paul McCartney has been confirmed as one of the headliners for the 2015 Lollapalooza music festival, set for July 31-Aug. 2 at Chicago's Grant Park. Also on the bill are Metallica, Florence + the Machine, Sam Smith, Alabama Shakes, A$AP Rocky and Tame Impala, among others. - The Chicago Tribune, 3/25/15...... Former Rolling Stones bassist has announced he'll release his first solo album in 33 years on June 23. Titled Back to Basics, the album will be the follow-up to Wyman's 1982 self-titled set Bill Wyman, and is described as "a meld of styles and genres... uplifting in a jaunty, dancey way and pensive in a bluesy, narrative way" and inspired by such artists as Tom Waits, Leonard Cohen and JJ Cale. Speaking about the release, Wyman comments: "Initially I thought 'I'm a bit old for this' but then I thought all the old blues musicians played till they dropped so why don't I give it a go." The album is made up of eight new tracks and five songs reworked from old demos. Wyman, a member of the Stones from 1962 until 1993, declared in 2013 that he would "never" play live with the band again. A year earlier, he did join the band onstage for their 50th anniversary gigs at London's O2 Arena in Nov. 2012, but then said that he would not be interested in rejoining the group on a permanent basis because he has "better things to do." - New Musical Express, 4/17/15...... A new musical featuring songs by '70s reggae legend Bob Marley will make its world premier at the Center Stage theater in Baltimore, Md., on May 7. "Marley," written and directed by award-winning British playwright Kwame Kwei-Armah ("Elmina's Kitchen"), tells the pivotal moment in Marley's life when he returned to Jamaica after two years of self-imposed exile in London following an assassination attempt. The show uses events surrounding that homecoming to chronicle the musician's transformation into a 20th century cultural icon. The title role will be played by Mitchell Brunings, who became a YouTube sensation after performing Marley's songs on the Dutch version of The Voice. The project marks the first time that Marley's songs have been featured onstage in a biographical context. - Billboard, 4/16/15...... AC/DC performed "Baptism By Fire," a track from their 2014 album Rock or Bust, on Apr. 10 during their headlining set at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio, Cal. The Aussie headbangers' show also included their iconic tracks 'Back In Black," "You Shook Me All Night Long," "Have A Drink On Me," "Hells Bells," "TNT," "and "Whole Lotta Rosie," which saw the group performing alongside a giant inflatable woman. The show was AC/DC's first full gig in almost five years, and their first full live performance by their new line-up, which includes drummer Chris Slade replacing former drummer Phil Rudd, following a brief, two-song appearance at the Grammy Awards in February. - Billboard, 4/17/15...... In other Heavy Metal news, Ozzy Osbourne has responded to former Black Sabbath drummer Bill Ward after Ward posted a nearly 700-word rant on Facebook about his beef with the band on Apr. 15, which included a demand for an apology from Osbourne. Ozzy shot back the next day with his own Facebook post, but it certainly wasn't an apology. Osbourne questioned many of Ward's claims and telling his side of the ongoing saga. "Stop playing the victim and be honest with yourself and our fans," Osbourne posted. "Bill, we go back a long way, let's stop this now before it gets out of hand." - Billboard, 4/16/15...... Legendary '70s disco producer Giorgio Moroder has revealed the title and track list for his twenty-first studio album, dubbed Deja Vu. Due June 12 and featuring contributions from the likes of Britney Spears, Kylie Minogue, Sia, Charli XCX, Kelis and Foxes, the 11-track LP features such songs as "Right Here Right Now" and the aptly named "74 is the New 24," which are already available for individual download now. - Billboard, 4/16/15...... The Grateful Dead's three-night "farewell" concert run set for Chicago's Soldier Field on July 3, 4 and 5 will be simulcast live in select theaters across the U.S. Nightly five-hour screenings of Fare Thee Well: Celebrating 50 Years of Grateful Dead will start at 8 p.m. EDT/7 p.m. CDT/6 p.m. MDT/5 p.m. PDT. The Grateful Dead performances, featuring surviving founding members Mickey Hart, Phil Lesh, Bob Weir and Bill Kreutzmann, are taking place nearly 20 years to the day of the last Dead concert with late frontman Jerry Garcia. Trey Anastasio, Bruce Horrnsby and Weir associate Jeff Chimenti will be joining the band for the three shows. - Billboard, 4/16/15...... "And now for something completely different" -- Professor Stephen Hawking has covered Monty Python's "Galaxy Song" for Record Store Day on Apr. 18. The track, a facts-and-figures journey through the cosmos, was originally written by Eric Idle and John Du Prez and performed by Idle in the1983 comedy Monty Python's The Meaning Of Life. For the special elease "Stephen Hawking Sings Monty Python... Galaxy Song," the Cambridge University professor narrates the Python classic in his familiar synthesized tones (he lost his ability to speak in 1985 due to degenerative motor neuron disease). The track has been released as a limited edition 7" single for Record Store Day, and must surely rank as one of the unusual exclusives in the eight-year history of the event. - Billboard, 4/16/15...... Actor Ben Powers, known for his role in the 1970s CBS television sitcom Good Times, died on Apr. 6 in New Bedford, Mass., of undisclosed causes. He was 64. Powers played football player Keith Anderson, the husband of Thelma Evans (played by Bern Nadette Stanis) in Good Times, a Norman Lear hit about a black family in inner-city Chicago. Powers also appeared as Moochie in the 1980s CBS series Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer with Stacey Keach, and had guest roles on other TV shows including Gimmie a Break, Flamingo Road, The Greatest American Hero, The New Odd Couple, and Laverne & Shirley. He also acted in several 1980s movies including Cheech & Chong's Next Movie, Things Are Tough All Over and The Man Who Loved Women. - AP, 4/19/15.
Patti Smith will be among the headliners at the 2015 Glastonbury Festival in Somerset, south west England, it was announced on Apr. 14. Set for June 24-28 and again held at Worthy Farm, the festival had already confirmed Foo Fighters, Kanye West and Florence + The Machine to the 2015 bill. Also appearing will be Motorhead, Mary J. Blige and the Chemical Brothers, among many others. Meanwhile in other Patti Smith news, the punk poetess has announced she'll publish a sequel to her heartbreakingly beautiful 2010 memoir, Just Kids. Due in the fall, M Train will cover the second half of Smith's life, including her reflections on the loss of her husband, Fred "Sonic" Smith, of the legendary MC5. Just Kids, which was honored with the 2010 National Book Award for Non-Fiction, covered the first half of Smith's life, in particular her releationship with controversial photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. - Billboard, 4/13/15...... After a 22-year absence on the Billboard charts, the Nile Rodgers-led Chic has returned with its new single, "I'll Be There." The song debuted at No. 40 on the Dance Club Songs chart for the week ending Apr. 25. It marks Chic's first visit to any of Billboard's US charts since Oct. 3, 1992, when "Your Love" last charted on the Dance Club Songs chart. Credited to "Chic featuring Nile Rodgers," "I'll Be There" is the first single from Chic's forthcoming studio LP, It's About Time, which is due in June via Warner Bros. - Billboard, 4/13/15...... A benefit concert in Chicago on May 14 will feature Pete Townshend of The Who performing with Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder on vocals. The musicians, which also include The Who's touring musicians Simon Townshend, Zak Starkey, Pino Palladino and John Corey, will run through The Who's back catalogue at the Rosemont Theatre on behalf of Teen Cancer America -- the US equivalent of the Teenage Cancer Trust which was founded in 2012 Townshend and The Who frontman Roger Daltrey. The Who is currently in the midst of their "The Who Hits 50" anniversary jaunt, which stretches throughout 2015, and in March played Teenage Cancer Trust benefit gigs at London's Royal Albert Hall. - New Musical Express, 4/14/15...... Cher, who has often been outspoken when it comes to national politics, is endorsing a candidate closer to home -- a contender for the West Hollywood City Council named Heidi Shink. "West Hollywood has a very special place in my heart. I began my career here, playing at places like the Whisky a Go Go and the Troubadour, and I have many friends and fans who call West Hollywood home... It is so crucial to me who is on the West Hollywood City Council and that's why this June election is so vital. I urge everyone to vote for Heidi," the singer-actress said in a recent interview. Cher also will be hosting a fundraiser for Shink on the evening of Apr. 18, and her son, Chaz, also has voiced his support for Shink. - The Hollywood Reporter, 4/14/15...... A representative for Billy Joel said on Apr. 14 that the 65-year-old singer-songwriter and his 33-year-old girlfriend Alexis Roderick are expecting their first child. Joel, also the father of budding musician Alexa Ray Joel from his first marriage to Christie Brinkley, has been dating Roderick since 2009. The statement from Joel's representative said the couple "opted to keep any further details of her pregnancy under wraps until their new addition makes an official debut." Joel is currently completing a month-to-month residency at Madison Square Garden in New York City, with his next show scheduled for May 28. - AP, 4/14/15...... Iconic musician-composer Quincy Jones participated in Loyola Marymount University's Hollywood Masters lecture series on Apr. 8, and told students that he "freaked out" when he learned of Michael Jackson's death in June 2009. Jones said he was in London and had just learned that two other stars had died -- Farrah Fawcett and Ed McMahon -- when he was told about Jackson. "I freaked out," he said. "You know, I couldn't believe it. No, it was heavy. Really heavy. Because, boy, the relationship with a producer and an artist is really special. And there's no room for BS at all. It's got to be pure." Jones, 79, also said he listened to 800 songs before choosing the ones for Jackson's 1982 pop masterpiece Thriller, and then recalled shooting the now-celebrated video for the title track in gang-infested territory. "Michael had no idea what we were doing there, man, with Thriller," he said. "You know, with Vincent Price there and Edgar Allan Poe narration, and stuff like that. There's crazy stuff on there. And people didn't get it until, I'd say, eight months later." The university's Hollywood Masters series, sponsored by its School of Film & TV, has also included Clint Eastwood, Sean Penn, Ethan Hawke and Ken Burns this season. It is scheduled to resume in the fall. - The Hollywood Reporter, 4/14/15...... Former Talking Heads frontman David Byrne has revealed he will bring a new stage musical to London in 2016. Byrne, who previously collaborated with Norman Cook on a musical about the life of former Philippines First Lady Emelda Marcos, says that he's "got another one." "The entire thing's written, and probably some songs will get rearranged or rewritten or whatever. So I'm talking to producers [in London] about bringing it here, I don't know, in a year or so or something like that," said Byrne, who is in London to curate the 2015 Meltdown Festival. Pressed on the subject of his latest musical, Byrne would only say that "it's about another woman, whose life is in the historical record." - New Musical Express, 4/15/15...... On the subject of musicals, the Kinks-inspired production "Sunny Afternoon" was the big winner at the Oliver Awards in London on Apr. 12. The show, written by Joe Penhall, picked up four awards, including Best New Musical, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor and Outstanding Achievement in Music. Stars John Dagleish and George Macguire, who play brothers Ray and Dave Davies, were awarded Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor in the musical category respectively. Earlier in 2015, the Davies brothers revealed that they have put their animosity behind them and are beginning to work on new material. - NME, 4/13/15...... Speaking in Brighton, UK on Apr. 13, Queen guitarist Brian May urged his fellow citizens to vote "colourblind" at the General Election on May 7. "It's politics without colour. It's colour-blind politics. What we are saying is do not assume that your vote will be wasted, get up off your ass and vote," said May, who runs the Common Decency project and campaign. "I think this is a very crucial election. I think it's different to anyone that's been before because for the first time the internet is all-powerful. It's much harder for politicians to get away with the deceits that they used to get away with," he added. May is a staunch animal rights campaigner, having protested against the badger cull, as well as the Tories' attempts to bring back fox hunting. - NME, 4/14/15...... Meanwhile another animal rights advocate, Paul McCartney, has marked the opening of Canada's seal hunting season by urging officials to make this the last year of the annual cull. Sir Paul has written an open letter opposing Canada's bloodiest bloodsport. "Canada's brutal commercial seal hunt has begun, and once again thousands of baby seals will be shot and bludgeoned to make fur products that nobody wants or needs," wrote Paul, who joined activists at Humane Society International (HSI) on the ice in 2006 to protest the slaughter, and is doing it again this year. The European Union's trade ban on commercial seal hunt products has already helped save more than one million baby seals from a horrible fate, but we need to ensure the EU keeps this strong ban intact. That's why my friends at Humane Society International are once again setting out for the ice flows for the grim task of catching this horror on film," he added. He went on to say that "videos of the bloody seal slaughter provide the only vital evidence to demonstrate year after year that these seals are dying a horrible death for their fur" and said that he wishes them well and "hopes that this will be the last year that Canada's ice turns red." - WENN.com, 4/13/15...... Organizers of the Rewind 80's Festivals in the UK have announced that three festivals are scheduled for 2015: Rewind Scotland will return for its fifth year at Scone Palace, Perth on July 24-26 and feature headline performances from Thompson Twins' Tom Bailey and performances from Bananarama, Howard Jones, Kim Wilde, Sister Sledge, Nik Kershaw and Belinda Carlisle. Rewind North returns to the North of England at Capesthorne Hall, Cheshire from Aug. 7-9. Headline performances include Human League, plus appearances from The Boomtown Rats, Heather Small, The Sugarhill Gang and ABC. Rewind South at Temple Island Meadows, Henley-on-Thames returns for its seventh year on Aug. 21-23 with headliners OMD and Human League, plus 80s stars Billy Ocean, T'Pau, Midge Ure, Kim Wilde, Hot Chocolate, Belinda Carlisle, Dave Edmunds and Slim Jim Phantom from The Stray Cats. Tickets for all three festivals are on sale now via the official website rewindfestival.com. - Noble PR, 4/14/15...... Dave Ball, a former member of Procul Harum, died on Apr. 1 in Australia after a battle with bowel cancer. He was 65. Ball joined Procul Harum, best known for the song "A Whiter Shade of Pale," in 1971, and played on one of its most successful tracks -- "Conquistador." He left the band in 1972 to join the army and left the world of rock and roll behind him. He later took on jobs in banking and computer software before, in 2000, he decided to return to his passion of making music and writing. After living around the world, he returned to the UK in 2010 and continued to write and sing. He continued to play music live but it was in 2012 when he noticed that he might be ill. Procul Harum frontman Gary Brooker said he was sad to hear that Ball had "moved on": "As a Procolite he made a great contribution during the early 70s and the band today, with the Geoffs, Matt, Josh and Chris, have spent happy days with him whenever and wherever he came to see us, which was often."...... Soul singer Percy Sledge, whose signature song "When a Man Loves a Woman" became a No. 1 smash in 1966, died on the morning of Apr. 14 in his Baton Rouge, La. home after a long battle with cancer. He was 74. During the mid-sixties, Sledge worked as a hospital nurse while touring to get his music career off the ground. "When a Man Loves a Woman," his first song recorded under contract, was co-written by Calvin Lewis and Andrew Wright, his bandmates in a group called The Esquires Combo. It was the only song the duo wrote together, and the first Muscle Shoals single to hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. It went on to feature in films such as The Rose (when it was covered by Bette Midler), The Big Chill and The Crying Game. In 1987 it was used in a Levi's ad in England and again hit the charts there, rising to No. 2, and a cover by Michael Bolton topped the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart in the US in 1991. While Sledge's chart success stalled in the '70s, he continued to successfully tour the world and experienced a late career reappraisal when new generations discovered "When a Man Loves a Woman." The Alabama-born Sledge had been diagnosed with liver cancer in 2014. Steve Green from talent agency Artists International Management Inc. paid tribute to his client in a comment given to the BBC: "He was one of my first acts, he was a terrific person and you don't find that in this business very often... He was truly a standout." Sledge, who was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2005, is survived by his wife and children. - Billboard/Sky News/NME, 4/14/15...... Keith McCormack, who co-wrote the 1963 No. 1 hit "Sugar Shack," died on Apr. 10 in Springfield, Mo. He was 74. Raised in Plainview, Tex., McCormack and his childhood friend Aubrey deCordova were the founding members of The String-A-Longs, who had a No. 2 hit with "Wheels." After his composition "Sugar Shack," which he co-wrote with his aunt Faye Voss, was recorded by Jimmy Gilmer and The Fireballs, the song sold over one million copies in the US in 1963, spending nearly a month at No. 1 on Billboard's Hot 100 singles chart. McCormack stayed with music for many years to come, but also pursued many other interests in his life, including becoming a pilot and aviation instructor. McCormack also had just finished writing a fiction book, which was being edited to be published. - MyPlainvew.com, 4/13/15...... Bill Arhos, known as the "father of the Austin City Limits TV program," passed away on Apr. 11 in Austin, Tex. He was 80. Mr. Arhos worked for nearly 40 years as an executive at the Austin PBS station KLRU TV, beginning in 1961 with the station's launch and including a run from 1986 until his retirement in 1999 as president and general manager. He was executive producer of Austin City Limits from its start in 1974 up through 1999. He also served on the boards of PBS and the Country Music Association. - Billboard, 4/14/15.
AC/DC announced on Apr. 10 that they'll play five of the largest cities in their native Australia and two in New Zealand, starting with a Nov. 4 show in Sydney's ANZ Stadium. The homecoming lap of outdoor stadiums will continue on Nov. 12 at Brisbane, then hit Adelaide (11/21), Perth (11/27), Melbourne (12/6) and Auckland, N.Z. (12/15), before wrapping in Wellington, N.Z. on Dec. 18. It will be AC/DC's first tour Down Under since their Black Ice Tour in 2009. The rock titans' Rock or Bust World Tour kicks off May 5 in the Netherlands and continues across Europe through July. AC/DC is also set to headline the Coachella Music & Arts Festival in Indio, Calif., which runs from Apr. 10-17. - Billboard, 4/10/15...... The Shelby County Land Use Control Board in Memphis, Tenn., approved a proposal on Apr. 9 to move two airplanes once owned by Elvis Presley, the "Lisa Marie" and the Hound Dog II," from Presley's Graceland mansion on Elvis Presley Boulevard to a location down the street. The planes have been situated at Graceland since the mid-1980s, where they are a popular tourist draw. They had been sold after Presley's death and were eventually purchased by OKC Partnership in Memphis, which will relocate the aircraft on a lot just steps from the Graceland property. The plan still requires approval from the Memphis City Council, and if the planes are moved to the new location, they would be part of an outdoor display and museum for tourists to visit. - AP, 4/9/15...... On a late night post on their official Facebook page on Apr. 8, Black Sabbath announced they won't be playing a Nov. 22 show at the 2015 Ozzfest Japan, which was reported to be the heavy metal icons' last show ever. Instead, the concert will be a solo performance by Sabbath frontman Ozzy Osbourne. "Despite previous reports, Black Sabbath will not appear on this year's Ozzfest Japan, the show will instead feature the festival's namesake, Ozzy Osbourne (and friends)," they wrote on Facebook. Ozzfest Japan, which still lists Black Sabbath as the Nov. 22 headliner on its official website, is scheduled for Nov. 21 and 22, at the Makuhari Messe venue, located outside Tokyo. Korn is listed as the Nov. 21 headliner. Meanwhile, Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi has responded to rumours that he is suffering from a cancer relapse. Posting on his Facebook page on Apr. 9, Iommi wrote: "Thank you for all the enquiries about my health, very kind. I'm not sure how the rumour of my being unwell started as I was away on holiday! Once you've had something like lymphoma the fear that it will return never leaves, all I can say is that right now I'm fine and have regular blood tests." Iommi was diagnosed with lymphoma in early 2012, undergoing successful treatment for the illness in Jan. 2013. He was expected to complete treatment and get the all clear during 2014. Fans began to speculate on his health again after Sabbath pulled out of the Ozzfest "farewell" show. However, Iommi has denied that this has any relation to his well being. The current line up of the band sees Iommi and Osbourne joined by third original member Geezer Butler on bass. - Billboard/New Musical Express, 4/9/15...... The Rolling Stones announced on Apr. 8 that they'll be among the headliners at the 11-day Quebec Fest music festival in Quebec City, Canada, which is set for July 9-19. Also on the bill will be such artists as Deep Purple, the Doobie Brothers, Keith Urban, Nickelback and Skrillex. Performances at the 47-year-old festival will take place indoors and outdoors, and will range from pop and rock to jazz and electronica. In other Stones news, Keith Richards has just backed Mick Jagger's plan to record a new Stones album. Speaking to Rolling Stone, Richards confirmed that the group are discussing the "idea" of recording their first album since 2005's A Bigger Bang. "We're talking about doing some recording after this tour, but there's nothing definite," he said. "We just threw out the idea. I'd like to get the boys back in the studio again." Also talking to Rolling Stone, Jagger said that he is not considering retirement. "Nah, not in the moment," he said. "I'm thinking about what the next tour is. I'm not thinking about retirement. I'm planning the next set of tours, so the answer is really, 'No, not really.'" The Stones announced on Mar. 31 that they will head out on the road in the US this May, June and July, beginning with a May 24 show in San Diego. - AP/New Musical Express, 4/8/15...... Ahead of his Apr. 18 induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Oh., as a solo artist, Ringo Starr told Billboard that he'll definitely be performing during the ceremony, but as far as details, "I'm not telling you 'cause there goes the surprise." "We have several guests who are coming along to play with me, and some of them will be very surprising," Ringo said. Likely candidates appear to be Paul McCartney, who will be making the induction speech, Ringo's son Zak Starkey, who has a night off from "The Who Hits 50!" tour of North America, and Ringo's brother-in-law, Joe Walsh of the Eagles. Starr has also announced he will take his All-Starr Band troupe on the road again this fall, starting Oct. 1 in San Francisco. - Billboard, 4/8/15...... People magazine is reporting that Barry Manilow secretly married his manager, Garry Kief, in a private ceremony in 2014. According to People's source, Barry and Garry invited "20 to 30 guests" to Manilow's Palm Springs house under the guise of a luncheon, which turned out to be a wedding ceremony. The magazine said Manilow and Kief did not sign any paperwork but are wearing wedding bands. The story was first broke by The National Enquirer. Earlier in 2015, Manilow revealed that his current world tour wouild be his last one. "It doesn't mean I'm retiring or anything. I'll do shows and I'll promote albums if I make any more, but no more big tours," Manilow said. "That's it. It's too much packing. It's 40 years -- more than that, really -- of packing and waiting for room service. People think it's glamorous, but glamorous is the last word I would use for this job. You don't see anything; you see the inside of your hotel room." - Billboard, 4/8/15...... Elton John and former R.E.M. frontman Michael Stipe are calling for the equal rights of transgender inmates following claims that a transgender woman was mistreated at a Georgia prison earlier in 2015. "Transgender women in male prisons have an equal right to protection from violence and abuse in prison, and yet they continue to face horrific injustices," the two musicians wrote in a joint statement on Apr. 7. In early April, the Justice Department said prison officials must treat an inmate's gender identity condition just as they would treat any other medical or mental health condition following a February lawsuit from the Southern Poverty Law Center filed against Georgia Department of Corrections officials on behalf of Ashley Diamond, a transgender woman. "More often than not, assaults in part go unreported because the perpetrators are prison guards, wardens and staff," said Stipe and John, who founded the Elton John AIDS Foundation. "This is outrageous, and the message it sends is horrific: that violence against and discrimination of trans people is not only allowed, but sanctioned." - AP, 4/7/15...... Pres. Barack Obama, who became the first U.S. president to visit Jamaica in three decades when he arrived in Kingston on Apr. 8, made a late evening visit to a museum dedicated to the island's favorite son, reggae legend Bob Marley. In shirt sleeves, Obama toured the museum as Marley's hit "One Love" played through the sound system. One of the rooms he explored held the late reggae star's platinum records and a Grammy award. "What a wonderful tour," he said after visiting the museum. The president is attempting to rekindle an enthusiasm that has waned amid a perceived lack of attention from America's head of state. When he was first elected president in 2008, calypso and reggae songs were written in his honor, the French Caribbean island of Martinique named a road after him, and Antigua's highest mountain officially became "Mount Obama" as the small country saluted him as a symbol of black achievement. - AP, 4/9/15...... Some of the biggest hit songwriters in country music will be honored at the City Winery in Nashville, Tenn., in the coming months, beginning on Apr. 14 with Mac Davis, Tom Douglas and Allen Shamblin. "I'm always excited to work with Allen," Mac Davis told Billboard. "He's one of my best friends here. I don't know Tom Douglas well at all, but he's a great songwriter. It's always fun to work with these guys. I love the format of sitting in a couple of folding chairs and having a guitar pull, as we used to call it. I'm looking forward to it, and it's for a good cause." Though Davis, whose songs for such artists as Elvis Presley, Kenny Rogers & the First Edition and Bobby Golsboro made him one of the most successful composers of the late 1960s/early 1970s, hasn't been onstage much since the 1990s, he says his guitar has never been far away. "I've got it in my lap two or three times a day," he says. "I play golf, come home, put my guitar in my lap and start working on something." Those successes led to his own recording contract with Columbia and hit singles such as "Stop and Smell the Roses," "Baby, Don't Get Hooked on Me" and "I Believe in Music." - Billboard, 4/7/15...... In an interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal, former Van Halen singer Sammy Hagar gave his thoughts on the new live offering from Van Halen, Tokyo Dome Live in Concert, which finds David Lee Roth (1974-1985, 2007-present) on the mic. "I'm trying to tread lightly on the whole thing," Hagar told the paper. "[But] they've got some pretty rough vocals. I try to stay away from criticism, but here I am, already starting this interview with it. It's impossible. It's impossible to stay away from. Standing back, I'm just going, 'What the [expletive] are these guys thinking?'" Hagar currently leads a band called the Circle, which includes classic Van Halen bassist Michael Anthony, Jason Bonham on drums and guitarist Vic Johnson. - Billboard, 4/7/15...... Legendary blues guitarist B.B. King was rushed to a Las Vegas hospital over the first weekend of April, according to the celebrity gossip site TMZ.com. King, 89, was reportedly treated for diabetes-related symptons and dehydration. On Apr. 7, King assured fans that his condition is improving and that he's leaving the hospital. "I want to thank everyone for their concern and good wishes. I'm feeling much better & am leaving the hospital today," he said via Facebook. King, a tireless road veteran, canceled all upcoming tour dates in late 2014 due to health issues. - Billboard, 4/7/15...... Veteran prog-rockers Yes will embark on a five-week co-headlining tour with Toto starting on Aug. 7. The 26-date trek begins at Foxwoods Casino's Grand Theater in Mashantucket, Conn., then winds across the United States with stops at the Borgata Hotel & Casino Event Center in Atlantic City (8/9), the Barclays Center in Brooklyn (8/11), the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines (8/18), and the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles (9/6) before ending at the Hard Rock Casino in Vancouver on Sept. 12. "Yes are childhood heroes of ours, so this pairing is a dream come true," said Toto guitarist Steve Lukather. "Plus, maybe we'll win over some new fans, because we've always had a prog-y edge to us." - Billboard, 4/6/15...... Saturday Night Fever star and longterm Scientologist John Travolta is speaking out to defend the religion in the wake of a new controversial HBO documentary. Travolta, a member of the church for 40 years, admitted he has not watched the show, titled Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief, but is adamant Scientology is not dangerous. "I've been so happy with my experience in the last 40 years that I really don't have anything to say that would shed light on (a film) so decidedly negative," the actor told the Tampa Bay Times. He also praised church members for helping him to deal with his grief following the death of his 16-year-old son Jett in 2009, adding, "Oh, my God, I wouldn't have made it -- honestly... I've helped so many people through hard times. Loss of children, loved ones, physical illnesses. Through many tough, tough life situations I've used the technology to support them and help them. It's always worked... So, why would I even approach a negative perspective? That would be a crime to me, personally, to do that." Going Clear debuted in the U.S. in March and made several criticisms of the church and the treatment of its members. - WENN.com, 4/7/15...... Soul singer Billy Butler, creator of an exuberant 1960s Chicago soul sound whose compositions were recorded by Al Green, Isaac Hayes and Bobby "Blue" Bland, died of cancer Mar. 31 at a Chicago nursing home. He was 69. A recording artist, songwriter, musician, arranger and producer, Billy wasn't as well-known as his brother, Jerry "Iceman" Butler, as bad luck and timing made stardom elusive. "Billy was the guy who would have a hit record just as the record company went out of business," said Jerry Butler, a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee. Billy Butler wrote "Bless Our Love," a song recorded by "Duke of Earl" Gene Chandler, and the Butler brothers co-wrote "I Stand Accused," a single by Isaac Hayes. Butler also formed another group, Infinity, and in his later years, he wrote many gospel songs and hoped to release a CD of those works, said his daughter, Yolanda Goff....... Actor James Best, best known for his portrayal of bumbling sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane on the 1979-1985 CBS series The Dukes of Hazzard, died on Apr. 6 at a hospice in Hickory, N.C., of complications from pneumonia. He was 88. Although Mr. Best had been a busy actor for decades in theater and in Hollywood, appearing on scores of TV shows including The Andy Griffith Show, The Twilight Zone, Bonanza and Gunsmoke, he didn't become famous until 1979, when The Dukes of Hazzard's cornpone charms began beaming into millions of American homes almost every Friday night. For seven seasons, Best's Rosco P. Coltrane chased the moonshine-running Duke boys back and forth across the back roads of fictitious Hazzard County, Georgia, although his "hot pursuit" usually ended with him crashing his patrol car. Although Rosco was slow-witted and corrupt, Best gave him a childlike enthusiasm that got laughs and made him endearing. His character became known for his distinctive "kew-kew-kew" chuckle and for goofy catchphrases such as "cuff 'em and stuff 'em!" upon making an arrest. Among the most popular shows on TV in the early '80s, The Dukes of Hazzard ran until 1985 and spawned TV movies, an animated series and video games. Mr. Best later appeared in a handful of Burt Reynolds' movies, including Hooper and The End. - CNN, 4/7/15...... Actor Geoffrey Lewis, who appeared in several Clint Eastwood movies and made guest appearances on dozens of TV shows in the '60s through '80s, died on Apr. 7 in Woodland Hills, Calif. of natural causes, according to a family friend. He was 79. The character actor, who often appeared in Westerns, was the father of actress Juliette Lewis. He had roles in Eastwood's High Plains Drifter, Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, Every Which Way But Loose and Any Which Way You Can as well as in Bronco Billy, Pink Cadillac and Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. He received a Golden Globe nomination for his performance on the 1980 series Flo, and appeared in numerous other shows including Barnaby Jones, Hawaii Five-O, Lou Grant, Little House on the Prairie, Falcon Crest, Lou Grant and Murder, She Wrote. - Variety, 4/8/15...... Stan Freberg an acclaimed satirist whose freewheeling career in advertising garnered him worldwide fame, died of natural causes at a Santa Monica, Cal., hospital on Apr. 7. He was 88. The godfather of humorous and irreverent commercials, Mr. Freberg lampooned cultural institutions and described himself as a "guerrilla satirist." In the pre-rock 'n' roll era, 10 of Mr. Freberg's parody records reached the top 30, with "St. George and the Dragonet" hitting No. 1 for four weeks in 1953. His recordings were so popular that he landed his own radio program in 1954, "That's Rich." In 1957, he presented "The Stan Freberg Show" on CBS Radio, where he regularly mocked commercials by advertising bogus products. - The Hollywood Reporter, 4/7/15.
The lyrics to Don McLean's famed 1971 opus "American Pie," one of the most dissected and argued-about songs in the pop music canon, sold for $1.2 million on the morning of Apr. 7 to an anonymous bidder during an auction conducted by Christie's. Tom Lecky, a spokesman for the auction house, noted the lyrics, which were sold along with the original manuscript and accompanying notes, "achieved the 3rd highest auction price for an American literary manuscript, a fitting tribute to one the foremost singer-songwriters of his generation." In an interview with Rollling Stone magazine in February, the singer said it was time to part with the manuscript. "I'm going to be 70 this year. I have two children and a wife, and none of them seem to have the mercantile instinct. I want to get the best deal that I can for them. It's time," he said. The New Rochelle-born singer/songwriter has always admitted that the opening lines were inspired by the Feb. 3, 1959 death of Buddy Holly in a plane crash, but after that, it's all been conjecture, and the 8-minute, 33-second song has been analyzed endlessly by those trying to parse its cryptic symbols -- with some contending the "jester" is Bob Dylan and the "girl who sang the blues" is Janis Joplin. "Over the years I've dealt with all these stupid questions of 'Who's that?' and 'Who's that?'" McLean said. "These are things I never had in my head for a second when I wrote the song. I was trying to capture something very ephemeral and I did, but it took a long time." First entering the American Top 40 on Dec. 4, 1971, the song soared to number one in early 1972, despite its length. (The 45-rpm single split the song in half on its A and B sides.) The draft that was auctioned is 16 pages: 237 lines of manuscript and 26 lines of typed text, according to Christie's. It includes lines that didn't make the final version as well as extensive notes -- all of which "should be revealing," McLean said. The record for a popular music manuscript is held by Bob Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone," which sold for $2 million in June 2014. - CNN, 4/7/15.
Midwest prog-rock legends Kansas "and Toto too" have returned to the Billboard Hot 200 albums chart for the week ending Mar. 29. Kansas' new Miracles Out of Nowhere, which doubles as the soundtrack to a new documentary about the band with the same name, bowed at No. 61 on the chart, while Toto's Toto XIV bowed at No. 98. Kansas last visited the Hot 200 chart in 1988 with Spirit of Things, which peaked at No. 114, and Toto last charted in the Hot 200 with their 1990 greatest-hits compilation Past to Present 1977-1990, which reached No. 153 in 1990. Kansas' best charting LP ever was 1978's Point of Know Return, while Toto also reached No. 4 with its 1982 smash Toto IV, which also won a Grammy for Album of the Year. - Billboard, 4/3/15...... An update on Joni Mitchell's official website on Apr. 3 says the Canadian folk/rock legend is getting "stronger each day" after being rushed to the hospital on Mar. 31. Mitchell, 71, was found unconscious in her Los Angeles home, and was reportedly alert on her way to the hospital. "Joni has been hospitalized. We are awaiting official word on her condition and will post it here as soon as we know," her website first informed fans on Mar. 31. She has long suffered from a little-understood condition called Morgellons disease, which is characterized by an array of skin symptoms, including sores, a crawling sensation either on or under the skin, and what the Mayo Clinic describes as "fiber-like filaments emerging from the sores." Her site now says that she "remains under observation in the hospital and is resting comfortably... We are encouraged by her progress and she continues to improve and get stronger each day." "In America, the Morgellons is always diagnosed as 'delusion of parasites,' and they send you to a psychiatrist," Mitchell wrote in her autobiography Joni Mitchell: In Her Own Words. "I'm actually trying to get out of the music business to battle for Morgellons sufferers to receive the credibility that's owed to them." - Billboard/HuffingtonPost.com, 4/4/15...... Carlos Santana will be among two honorees at the Billboard Latin Music Awards, which is set for Apr. 30 at the University of Miami in Florida. Santana, who will be given the Spirit of Hope Award for his philanthropic and humanitarian contributions beyond his musical work, will also perform live at the ceremony, along with his fellow 2015 BLMA honoree, Brazilian singer/songwriter Roberto Carlos, who will receive a Lifetime Achievement Award. The Spirit of Hope Award was created in honor of the late Selena. The show will also be telecast live on Telemundo beginning at 7 p.m. ET/6 p.m. CDT. - Billboard, 4/3/15...... Kiss and the Doobie Brothers will be among those honored at the upcoming 32nd Annual ASCAP Pop Music Awards on Apr. 29 at Loews Hollywood Hotel. Kiss will be presented with the ASCAP Founders Award, while the Doobie Brothers will be awarded the ASCAP Voice of Music Award for giving voice to the spirit of a generation. Kiss, who were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2013, are continuing their 40th anniversary world tour, and the Doobies' 2014 album Southbound features their best-loved songs in duet with such country acts as Brad Paisley, Blake Shelton and Toby Keith, among other country artists. - The Hollywood Reporter, 4/2/15...... In Bruce Springsteen lore, the fabled Asbury Park, N.J. club The Upstage is the equivalent of the Beatles' Cavern Club or the Sun Studios in Memphis, Tenn., where Elvis Presley first recorded. But a crowdfunding attempt to save The Upstage with a $3 million renovation has been a disappointment, as fans of The Boss have only contributed $500 so far over a 14-month period to save the club from the wrecking ball, and the property will likely turned into condominiums. The Upstage, which was shuttered in 1971 but still largely intact, is now up for sale, and Sirius E Street Radio contributer Kevin Farrell says that from 1969-71 it "was a place where Bruce, Southside Johnny, Little Steven Van Zandt and others all got their start... They would jam until the wee early hours of the morning." The building is currently owned by Richard Yorkowitz, who purchased the Cookman Ave. building for $1 million at a public auction. Additionally, a petition -- signed by notable supporters like photographer Eric Meola, known for his photos of Springsteen, including the iconic Born to Run cover art -- is circulating to save the venue from extinction. The petition can be signed at Change.org. - Billboard, 4/3/15...... The Rolling Stones say they're considering playing their classic 1971 album Sticky Finger in its entirety on their upcoming 15-date "Zip Code Tour" of North America. In an interview with Rolling Stone, frontman Mick Jagger says the band is "floating the idea of playing the whole album... At the very least, we'll play the songs we don't normally play." A deluxe expanded version of Sticky Fingers will drop May 26 in North America (a day earlier in the rest of the world) and contain an alternative version of "Brown Sugar" featuring Eric Clapton, unreleased interpretations of "Bitch," "Can't You Hear Me Knocking" and "Dead Flowers" as well as five tracks recorded live at London's The Roundhouse in 1971 including "Honky Tonk Women" and "Midnight Rambler." Ahead of the release, the Stones have issued a previously unrelased acoustic version of "Wild Horses." The Stones kick off their summer Zip Code Tour on May 24 in San Diego with tickets going on general sale April 13. - Billboard, 4/2/15...... As The Who prepare to kick off the U.S. leg of their "Who Hits 50" anniversary tour later in April, a new documentary profiling the two men who guided their career between 1965 and 1975 -- Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp -- is hitting US theaters this spring. Directed by James D. Cooper, Lambert + Stamp focuses on the two men's personalities and their unlikely pairing. Lambert was gay, cultured and educated; Stamp's a working-class East Ender, and in the Who, they saw a unique union of two working-class rockers (Roger Daltrey and John Entwhistle), an off-kilter personality (Keith Moon) and an art school student (Pete Townshend). Lambert + Stamp opened Apr. 3 in L.A. and New York, and will roll out through the country in later in April and May. - Billboard, 4/1/15...... David Bowie will bring the main character from his 1976 cult British sci-fi film The Man Who Fell to Earth to off-Broadway's New York Theater Workshop as part of its 2015-16 season. Bowie has written new songs for the world premiere project, titled "Lazarus," as well as new arrangements of previously recorded material. The musical inspired by the 1963 novel by Walter Tevis was turned into a film version by director Nicolas Roeg, in which Bowie portrayed an extraterrestrial who crash-lands on Earth while seeking water to save his drought-stricken planet. Bowie, who is writing the score with Irish playwright Edna Walsh, is not expected to appear in the stage production. - The Hollywood Reporter, 4/3/15...... Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and Yoko Ono have remembered John Lennon's ex-wife Cynthia Lennon with posts to their respective websites and on Twitter. "The news of Cynthia's passing is very sad," McCartney wrote on his website. "She was a lovely lady who I've known since our early days together in Liverpool. She was a good mother to Julian and will be missed by us all, but I will always have great memories of our times together." "Peace and love to Julian Lennon God bless Cynthia love Ringo and Barbaraxx," Ringo tweeted on Apr. 1. Yoko Ono -- who married John Lennon in 1969, the year after his divorce from Cynthia -- shared a lovely statement about Cynthia's "strong zest for life" on her site ImaginePeace.com. "[She] was a great person and a wonderful mother to Julian. She had such a strong zest for life and I felt proud how we two women stood firm in the Beatles family. Please join me in sending love and support to Julian at this very sad time." Cynthia died on Apr. 1 after a brief battle with cancer. - Billboard, 4/1/15...... Meanwhile, Paul McCartney recently told the UK's Q magazine that he often finds inspiration for new songs on the toilet. "The trick is to go off on your own and finish it," Sir Paul said. "Go into the toilet -- toilets are good. Separate yourself." McCartney also revealed that he still feels "shy" and "embarrassed" when playing a new song to someone for the first time. He also added that he thought his recent collaborator Kayne West's performance of "All Day" at this year's Brit Awards "was great." "If you're gonna work with Kanye you have to accept who he is. Whether you like what Kanye does or you don't, he an artist and it's his prerogative," Macca said. - NME, 4/1/15...... It's been more than 50 years since Ringo Starr declared himself a fan of Beethoven -- "especially his poems." But all that time, he's reigned as one of rock & roll's most beloved sages. Postcards From Paradise, his 18th solo effort, is a masterful summary of Ringo-ness: his cheer, his cheek, his wisdom. He gets a little help from old friends like Joe Walsh (who also happens to be his brother-in-law) and Todd Rundgren -- and builds the title tune out of Beatles quips: "It's like I said the night before/I'll love you when you're 64." Best of all is "Rory and the Hurricanes," celebrating his pre-Beatles band -- the one that made Ringo a star in Liverpool when the other three Fabs were nobodies. - Rolling Stone, 4/9/15...... Brian Wilson's latest solo LP, No Pier Pressure, began as songs for the Beach Boys' followup to their 2012 intermittenly great reunion LP, That's Why God Made the Radio. But when the group ran aground once more, Wilson called in a quirky mixtape's worth of young collaborators, and it became something else: the sound of a famously cloistered artist finally leaving his room. The highlights aren't mere vocal cameos but writing collaborations, including "Guess You Had to Be There," a wry comment on Sixties nostalgia that was penned with country "It girl" Kacey Musgraves. There are a few too many retreads (the "Sloop John B"-ish "Sail Away"), but it adds up to Wilson's most forward-looking solo LP, 2004's Brian Wilson Presents Smile notwithstanding. - Rolling Stone, 4/9/15...... Frank Zappa is thought to have recorded 100 albums throughout his career, and the final one, Dance Me This, is set to be released this summer. Prior to his passing in Dec. 1993 of cancer at age 52, Zappa told Guitarist magazine that he was working on "a Synclavier album called Dance Me This, which is designed to be used by modern dance groups." He had initially planned to release it the following year. Now the album has a confirmed release date of June 1. - NME, 4/4/15.... Rather than just bring in a few glossy names to decorate his greatest hits, Van Morrison digs up deep cuts from mostly overlooked albums on his latest, Duets: Re-Working the Catalogue. And his partners range from grizzled vets -- Steve Winwood, Mavis Staples, Taj Mahal -- to surprise guests like Natalie Cole, Mark Knopfler and Michael Bublé. Even if the artists probably figured they were signing on for "Into the Mystic" or "Tupelo Honey" karaoke, they rise to the Van challenge, helping him rescue songs like 1991's "Some Peace of Mind" and 1970's "Lord, If I Ever Needed Someone" that only die-hards know. - Rolling Stone, 4/9/15...... British heavy metal legends Judas Priest have announced it will release its own brand of "British Steel" coffee. The "ultimate hesher" blend has been produced by Chicago-based Dark Matter Coffee to mark the 35th anniversary of Priest's British Steel album and goes on sale Apr. 14 via DarkMatter.com's website and its three Chicago coffee shops. "Instantly recognizable for their peerless attack, the fuel for this inexorable juggernaut must be both ebullient and unremitting. The brewed crude sparkles cup after cup, sin after sin. Death to False Coffee," gushes the press release. Priced $18.00, each 12 oz. bag will come with a cassette single containing two of the band's songs -- "Grinder" and "Snakebite." - Billboard, 4/1/15...... After a planned reboot of Ozzy Osbourne and his family's reality show The Osbournes was announced by VH1 in March, Osbourne's son Jack Osbourne has filed several lawsuits against several companies, including some he partially owns, charging one is trying to unjustly claim revenue for upcoming episodes of the show. JOKS, the production company behind the 2002-05 MTV series, claims Schweet Entertainment, which Jack Osbourne owns with producing partners Rob Worsoff and Brian Wendel, contends it has a 55 percent interest in any upcoming episodes of The Osbournes. JOKS claims to be the exclusive owner of interest in the show. The Osbournes reboot featuring the Black Sabbath frontman, his wife Sharon Osbourne, his daughter (and recently exited Fashion Police host) Kelly and son Jack is expected to air later in 2015. - The Hollywood Reporter, 4/3/15...... Robert Burns Jr., the former drummer on one of the co-founders of Southern rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd, died in a car crash near Cartersville, Ga., on Apr. 4. He was 64. According to the Georgia State Patrol, Burns' went off a curve in a road just before midnight on Apr. 4, striking a mailbox and a tree. Burns was killed in the wreck, and the single-vehicle accident remains under investigation. Burns was with Lynyrd Skynyrd as it recorded some of its biggest hits, including "Sweet Home Alabama," ''Gimme Three Steps," and "Free Bird." He left the band in 1974. - AP, 4/4/15...... Gary Ross Dahl, best known for creating the wildly popular 1970s fad "The Pet Rock," died on Mar. 23 of obstructive pulmonary disease in the southern Oregon town of Jacksonville. He was 78. Born Dec. 18, 1936, in Bottineau, N.D., Dahl was raised in Spokane, Wash. In 1975, he was a Los Gatos, Cal., advertising executive when he came up with the Pet Rock idea. The smooth stones came packed in a cardboard box containing a tongue-in-cheek instruction pamphlet for "care and feeding." Dahl estimated he had sold 1.5 million Pet Rocks, which required no work and no time commitment, at roughly $4 each by the time the fad fizzled. The Pet Rock craze "was great fun when it happened," Dahl's wife Marguerite recalled in a telephone interview. Over time, however, "people would come to him with weird ideas, expecting him to do for them what he had done for himself. And a lot of times they were really, really stupid ideas." By 1988, Dahl told The Associated Press he had avoided interviews for years because of what he called "a bunch of wackos" appearing out of nowhere with threats and lawsuits. Of the little rock that became a household word, he said, "Sometimes I look back and wonder if my life wouldn't have been simpler if I hadn't done it." Dahl also the author of a "for Dummies" series book, Advertising for Dummies. He and his wife retired and moved to Jacksonville in 2006, and were avid sailors on San Francisco Bay, where she says she plans to sprinkle his ashes in May. - AP, 4/1/15.
Cynthia Lennon, the former wife of John Lennon and mother of their son Julian Lennon, passed away at her home in Mallorca, Spain, on Apr. 1. Cynthia, 75, had been battling cancer and died with Julian by her side. Born Cynthia Powell in 1939, she met John Lennon in a calligraphy class at the Liverpool College of Art in 1957. Although engaged at the time, she broke up the relationship to date the future Beatle. Upon learning that she was pregnant in 1962, the couple married on Aug. 23 of that year followed by a lunch with George Harrison and Paul McCartney at a nearby restaurant, and later that evening John and the Beatles, who would gain international superstardom the following year, performed live. Julian Lennon was born on Apr. 8, 1963, and Beatles manager Brian Epstein urged the couple to keep their marriage secret as he felt it would affect the group's image. John Lennon reportedly had multiple affairs during the course of their marriage, and they divorced in Nov. 1968, after Cynthia discovered Lennon's relationship with his future second wife, Yoko Ono. In early 1970 Cynthia married an Italian hotelier named Roberto Bessanini, which ended in divorce in 1973. She later married an engineer named John Twist, but they ended their marriage in 1983. In 2002, she married a nightclub owner named Noel Charles and stayed with him until his death. Cynthia wrote two books about her life, A Twist of Lennon (1978) and John, which was published in 2005. Julian Lennon reported the news of her death on his website and also posted a video tribute to his mom that he created. It shows black-and-white pictures of Cynthia throughout her life, set to his 2011 song "Beautiful." - Rolling Stone, 4/1/15.
Danny Collins, a new film starring Al Pacino that was inspired by a letter written by John Lennon and Yoko Ono to a budding musician in 1971, is hitting US theaters in late March and early April. John and Yoko wrote the letter to young folk musician Steve Tilston after reading an interview with him in ZigZag magazine. Tilston was concerned about getting too popular and how wealth changes a person for the worse, and Lennon was reaching out with advice. But unfortunately, the letter didn't reach him until 2005. Using this story as inspiration, screenwriter/director Dan Fogelman started penning the script and wrote in scenes with Lennon originals accompanying them. He hoped he'd be able to clear one or two original Lennon songs for use. "I didn't have a back-up plan," he says. To the delight of Fogelman and Jessie Nelson, one of the film's producers who happened to know Ono, Yoko granted permission for nine Lennon masters to be used in the film, including "Imagine," "Working Class Hero," and "Beautiful Boy." The filmmakers say they think one reason they succeeded is that Lennon's music dominates the film. "The process would have been harder if it was a Lennon song amidst a bunch of other tracks," says Fogelman. "It was a story with a clear point of view." Nelson adds it's likely the theme of Danny Collins -- about an aging rock star trying to redeem himself from a self-indulgent past -- was also a catalyst for Ono's approval. "Yoko really wants to feel that a movie has a message of peace," she says. Meanwhile in other Lennon-Ono news, Japanese photographer Kishin Shinoyama and Ono are releasing a book of photo essays titled Double Fantasy that features many photographs never before shown publicly. In September of 1980, just three months before Lennon's death, Shinoyama spent two days in New York with the couple as they collaborated on their Double Fantasy LP. Over the course of those two days, Shinoyama captured approximately 800 photographs, capturing what, according to the artist, was "a moment of unclouded happiness for John and Yoko." The book, released in a limited edition of 1,980 copies -- a subtle ode to 1980 -- captures the many moments, both mundane and miraculous, that formulate two people in love. Releasing the book now was Yoko's idea. "There were many pictures that Yoko had never seen for over 30 years," Shinoyama explains. "She said to me, 'Thank you for taking images of my happiest time. How about making a photo book with these pictures?'" - The Wall Street Journal/HuffingtonPost.com, 3/27/15.
The Sunset Strip on L.A.'s Hollywood Boulevard was shut down on Mar. 30 as Van Halen performed a 3-song set for a performance on ABC's Jimmy Kimmel Live, eleven days after the band announced it would kick off a 3-month summer tour on July 5 in Seattle. Fronted by "Diamond" David Lee Roth who sported a bandage across his nose after hurting it with a microphone a few minutes into the show, the band performed "Panama," "Runnin' with the Devil," and "Dance the Night Away." "I got a hottie right here who's been dancing all night... Get her up here!," Roth said after the third number. " After she was pulled up onstage, the show abruptly came to a close. Van Halen is set to play the Apr. 6 episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live as well, and its first official concert album with Roth, the 2-CD Tokyo Dome Live in Concert, hit stores on Mar. 31. They're also gearing up for a North American tour later in 2015. - Billboard, 3/31/15...... After hinting they planned to tour the US for many months in 2015, the Rolling Stones announced on Mar. 31 that they'll kick off a 15-city North American "Zip Code Tour" of second-tier cities like Dallas, Kansas City, Buffalo and Orlando with a San Diego performance on May 24. This time, the tour will pass over major markets the band hit on its 2012 "50th anniversary" and 2013 "50 and Counting" tours, and wraps on July 15 in Quebec. Tickets go on sale Apr. 13, although they will be available to American Express card members before the general public, beginning Apr. 8. "We are excited to be back in North America playing stadiums this summer!" frontman Mick Jagger enthused in a press release. "We are looking forward to being back on stage and playing your favorite songs." While the Stones played 22 arena dates across the U.S. and Canada in 2012 and 2013, the "Zip Code Tour" tour marks the first time the group has played North American stadiums since 2005-2007's "Bigger Bang Tour." In addition to the above mentioned cities, the band will also hit Columbus, Oh., Minneapolis, Atlanta, Nashville, Pittsburgh, Milwaukee, Raleigh, Indianapolis, and Detroit. On May 26, two days after the tour's launch, the group will release a deluxe edition of its classic 1971 LP Sticky Fingers with a "generous selection" of previously unreleased studio outtakes from the album's sprawling sessions (which spanned from 1968 through 1970) as well as live material from the era, likely in the same vein as its Exile on Main Street reissue in 2010. - Billboard, 5/31/15...... As a new Bob Dylan DVD dubbed Roads Rapidly Changing -- In & Out of the Folk Revival 1961-1965 is set to drop on May 5, Dylan has reportedly approved another DVD of footage from his Feb. 6 MusiCares Person of the Year concert that included performances by Bruce Springsteen, Alanis Morissette and Jack White. It is unclear whether his notorious 35-minute acceptance speech as he picked up the award, which alternated between thankful and hostile, will be part of the package. - Billboard, 3/30/15...... In a new interview with Rolling Stone magazine, The Who's Roger Daltrey claims his bandmate Pete Townshend wants to record another Who album, which would be the follow-up to 2006's Endless Wire. "He's just talking about it. I've heard a couple of tracks, which are great," Daltrey said. "There are loads of things we can do in the future, but we can't keep doing this sort of tour. This bit of our career is closed, but maybe two more doors open up. Pete is an incredibly vibrant musician. I could see us playing acoustically in some ways." The band is currently in the midst of its "Who Hits 50" tour, which will continue throughout most of 2015 and include a show at London's Hyde Park on June 26. Although the Who hinted it would be their last tour ever, Daltrey has stated that he would be open to more shows. "If people want to add shows and we still feel great, then it will go for a while longer, but not that much longer. It might last two years," he said. On Mar. 26, the band brought the tour to London's Royal Albert Hall as part of the Teenage Cancer Trust Concert gigs, performing a two-hour set of deep album cuts and hit singles spanning their entire career. - New Musical Express, 3/27/15...... Although new rumors have popped up that actor/comedian Sacha Baron Cohen will play Freddie Mercury in an upcoming biopic of the late Queen frontman, Queen guitarist Brian May posted on his blog on Mar. 28 that Queen's manager Jim Beach wasn't serious when he reportedly said on Mar. 26 that "an important breakthrough is that we have now managed to persuade Sacha Baron Cohen to write, produce and direct this movie, and he has also agreed to star" during the Artist & Management Awards in London. "I'm afraid some folks might have taken it seriously," May wrote. Looks like another Queen rumor bites the dust. - Billboard, 3/29/15...... The promoter of Ozzy Osbourne's Ozzfiesta tour announced on Mar. 28 that the Mexican leg of Ozzfiesta will be canceled as Osbourne will undergo an unspecified surgery. The Black Sabbath frontman had been scheduled to perform at the Hard Rock Hotel in Riviera Maya from May 27-31, a four-day festival was scheduled to include an acoustic set by Zakk Wylde, a concert by Black Label Society, a headlining performance by Osbourne, and much more, but now promoter Cool Breeze Concerts says that "Ozzy is having surgery, scheduled for May, following his South American tour. He requires at least four weeks of recovery time. We are very disappointed that we need to cancel." The promoter is offering refunds to people who purchased tickets to the event. Osbourne will undergo surgery following shows in South America, which begin April 25. Black Sabbath previously announced it will play its "farewell concert" on Nov. 22, 2015, as it headlines the second day of Ozzfest at Japan's Makuhari Messe venue, outside Tokyo. - Billboard, 3/28/15...... Country/pop legend and well known marijuana proponent Willie Nelson announced on Mar. 27 that he and his family are launching a new brand of marijuana and pot stores called Willie's Reserve, which the budding company's spokesperson Michael Bowman says will be a "Whole Foods for weed." Bowman says the shops will include signature strains of pot as well as others' strains that are grown to meet quality standards."Let's just call it the anti-Walmart model," he told DailyBeast.com. "Personally, internally, that's what we call it. A certain standard by which growers have to account for carbon and such, in a way that empowers small growers who are doing the right thing." Bowman said Willie's Reserve is looking to 2016 to open shops in states where voters have legalized marijuana, such as Colorado, Washington and Alaska. This is a culmination of Willie's vision and his whole life," Bowman said. "I'm not sure any of us could have predicted how fast the dominoes would start falling once they started falling (as far as legalization). And you have the men like Willie who's been out there getting arrested, standing up saying what's right and not wavering from that core." - Billboard, 3/27/15...... Gene Simmons of Kiss will partner with professional wrestling's WWE on three-picture deal under the banner of Erebus Pictures to finance three new horror films. The films, starring Temple and written by Matt Savelloni, will follow a team of operatives trapped inside an isolated military compound after its artificial intelligence shuts down. While investigating the source of the malfunction, the crew experiences strange phenomena as they attempt to uncover who or what killed the team previously stationed at the compound. WWE Studios plans to use its platforms -- weekly TV shows such as Monday Night Raw and SmackDown and the WWE Network -- to market its titles. "The horror genre continues to fascinate me as it proves to be endlessly thrilling and engaging for audiences," Gene Simmons said in a statement. Erebus Pictures is named after the Greek primordial deity that personifies darkness. - Billboard, 3/27/15...... As Ringo Starr releases his new studio album Postcards From Paradise on Mar. 31, the Beatles legend has revealed he originally wrote the LP's new songs on drums alone, before inviting other musicians to record their various parts. "It's just the way I do it," Ringo says. "I start off on my own. I play drums and nobody's there, we have no song and I'm saying 'Oh, there's a verse... and chorus... and the end'. So far it's worked." Produced by Starr and recorded at his home studio in Los Angeles, Postcards From Paradise features contributions from such guest musicians as Joe Walsh, Peter Frampton, Benmont Tench, Dave Stewart, Ann Marie Simpson, Richard Marx, Amy Keys, Nathan East and Glen Ballard. On Apr. 18, Starr will be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame as a one-off Award For Musical Excellence, with Paul McCartney handling the honor. New Musical Express, 3/31/15...... Meanwhile, Ringo's fellow 2015 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Bill Withers has told Rolling Stone that he's a big fan of Taylor Swift and Katy Perry. "I can actually deal with Taylor Swift because she's clever. Being a songwriter, I can appreciate her wit. She deserves all of her success," Withers told the mag. "But I do like Katy Perry? Look, I don't think there's a lot of 76-year-old people hanging on Katy Perry's every word. I'm not against it, but it doesn't come and get me," he added. Withers also said that "asking me about today's pop music would be like asking me who the national marbles champion is." "I just don't care," he said. "If music gets me, I'll come and listen to it." - NME, 3/27/15...... A Kickstarter.com campaign has been started to raise funds to publish an "illustrated scrapbook" that will document the making of the 1979 Tom Waits short film Tom Waits For No One. The film, which was animated by John Lamb using rotoscoping, has been labelled as one of the first music videos of its kind, and includes a video of Waits singing "The One That Got Away." Tom Waits For No One: The Illustrated Scrapbook will be 160 pages of "animation cels, rotoscope drawings, character studies and backgrounds... documenting the artwork and inspiration behind Tom Waits For No One according to the campaign, and the book will be limited to 250 copies. So far, the campaign has raised $3,964 of its $8,250 goal. - NME, 3/30/15...... In a new interview with the UK's The Guardian paper, actor Russell Crowe claims that Michael Jackson used to prank call him after Jackson found out what secret name Crowe used to book hotel rooms. "For two or three f---ng years, I never met him, never shook his hand, but he found out the name I stayed in hotels under, so it didn't matter where I was, he'd ring up do this kind of thing, like you did when you were 10, you know," Crowe said. "'Is Mr. Wall there? Is Mrs. Wall there? Are there any Walls there? Then what's holding the roof up? Ha ha.' You're supposed to grow out of doing that, right?," he added. - NME, 3/30/15...... Actor Harrison Ford of Star Wars fame has reportedly been released from UCLA Medical Center following his dramatic plane crash earlier in March. Ford was spotted driving in Los Angeles on Mar. 28, according to People magazine. On Mar. 5, the 72-year-old actor was forced to make an emergency landing on a California golf course after experiencing a mechanical issue while flying a two-seater vintage fighter plane, and is said to have undergone surgery to treat his injuries. - WENN.com, 3/30/15...... Lawyers representing the late Robin Williams' wife and children are appeared before a San Francisco probate judge on Mar. 30 to argue over who should get clothes and other personal items the actor kept at one of his Northern California homes. In papers filed in December, Williams' wife, Susan, says some of the late actor's personal items were taken without her permission, and she has asked the court to exclude the contents of the San Francisco Bay Area home she shared with Williams from the items the actor said the children should have. Williams' children, Zachary, Zelda and Cody, said in response that Susan Williams is "adding insult to a terrible injury" by trying to change the trust agreement and rob them of the late actor's belongings, including jewelry and memorabilia. The two sides also disagree over items put in storage, watches Williams owned and his memorabilia. Robin Williams died at his home in Tiburon, north of San Francisco, in August. The coroner ruled his death a suicide that resulted from asphyxia caused by hanging. - AP, 3/30/15...... Singer-songwriter Norman Greenbaum, best known for his 1969 hit "Spirit in the Sky," was critically injured in an automobile accident in Santa Rosa, Calif., on Mar. 29 that also killed a motorcyclist. According to the California Highway Patrol, longtime Santa Rosa resident Greenbaum was the passenger of a Subaru Outback that turned left, crossing into the path of 20-year-old motorcycle rider Ihab Usama Halaweh. Halaweh died at the scene, and his passenger was also critically injured. According to the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, Greenbaum and the motorcycle passenger are being treated at a local hospital, and the car's driver was not injured. Police say that alcohol was not a factor in the crash. Originally written and recorded by Greenbaum, "Spirit in the Sky" was a No. 3 hit in the US in March 1970, and it topped the charts in the UK. It has been featured in some 50 movies and several TV shows, and was later covered by the likes of Bauhaus, Doctor and the Medics and Gareth Gates, the latter two versions also topping the UK singles chart in 1986 and 2003 respectively. - AP, 3/29/15...... Patricia Hearst, who was infamously kidnapped and brainwashed in 1974 by the Symbionese Liberation Army, is lashing out at her newest biographer, CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, calling him an "emotional rapist" and says that she has no interest in reading Toobin's latest book about her, or seeing a movie version of the book. "I'm tired of being a cash cow for hack writers like Jeffrey Toobin," Hearst told PageSix.com. "He is an emotional rapist." Toobin's book, title unknown, won't be published by Doubleday until 2016, but it has already been optioned by Fox 2000, with Big Eyes screenwriters Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski signed for the screenplay. Current A-list actress Jennifer Lawrence has reportedly been connected to play Hearst in the movie, but Hearst says that she "couldn't care less who plays me... I don't have anything to do with it and neither do any of my friends." In 1988, Hearst released her own book, Patty Hearst: Her Own Story, that detailed how she was locked in a closet for 57 days, threatened with death and raped before she joined her captors in robbing banks, for which she served 22 months behind bars. "This didn't define her. It was 40 years ago," said one friend. "She's had a great marriage, two beautiful children, grandchildren.... It was just one chapter in her life." - PageSix.com, 3/27/15.
Former White Stripes frontman Jack White was joined by former Led Zeppelin singer Robert Plant onstage in Argentina on Mar. 21 when Plant made a surprise appearance to jam with White on Zeppelin's "The Lemon Song" during White's Lollapalooza Argentina headlining show. White has long been a fan of "The Lemon Song" and performed it when he headlined Bonnaroo in 2014 and has covered it during his Lazaretto tour. It was the first time Plant has performed "The Lemon Song" live since he and Jimmy Page played it in Norway in 1995. Plant has also expressed a desire to record with White, posting several months ago on his Facebook Q&A page that he'd be "happy to make a single with him," possibly a remake of the 1958 The Phantom single, "Love Me." Plant was also on the bill for the Lollapalooza Argentina concert. - The Huffington Post, 3/22/15...... Country music's Oak Ridge Boys, who kicked off a 15-year period in 1977 with their hit "Y'all Come Back Saloon" that would see the vocal group become one of the most-successful acts on country radio, will be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, it was announced on Mar. 25 in Nashville. The Oak Ridge Boys scored a total of 16 chart-toppers on Billboard's Country Singles Chart, including "Leaving Louisiana in the Broad Daylight," "I Guess It Never Hurts To Hurt Sometimes," and their most famous single, a 1981 remake of Dallas Frazier's 1960's song, "Elvira." Also up for induction in 2015 are Jim Ed Brown and The Browns and legendary musician Grady Martin. - Billboard, 3/25/15...... In other country music news, the legendary Ray Stevens of "Ahab the Arab," "Guitarzan" and "The Streak" fame is back with yet another funny tune, this one about contemporary pop sensation Taylor Swift. "Taylor Swift Is Stalkin' Me," from his just released album Here We Go Again, is pretty self-explanatory, and Stevens says the idea for a Taylor Swift song came from his collaborator, Chuck Redden, with input on lyrics from Buddy Kalb. "It turned out to be a three-writer song, but Chuck had the idea," Stevens says. "I thought it was an attention grabber and wanted to see if we could make something out of it." "Taylor Swift Is Stalkin' Me" has indeed caught the attention of many, especially through the viral ranks. But has Swift and her camp heard the song yet? "I think they have," Stevens says. "I haven't heard any direct feedback from them -- pro or con, but I can't imagine that anybody would take offense. It's all in fun." Stevens, who also had huge hits with "Everything Is Beautiful" and "Mr. Businessman," says humor is only an "element" of what he does, but comedy is what he is largely recognized for."I'm just a guy who loves music and to have fun," he says. "When I get on stage, I'll tell a joke and sing a funny song." Stevens, who says he has several projects on tap and is working on building a performance venue in Nashville, has no plans to retire yet. "I've seen guys retire. They don't last long. Something about it just clicks a switch off in your brain and you just say 'The funeral isn't far off.'' I don't want to do that." - Billboard, 3/24/15...... David Crosby made two panicked calls to 911 emergency dispatchers on Mar. 21 after he accidently hit a jogger as he was driving near his Santa Barbara County home. "He's on foot and he's hurt and we need an ambulance here right now," Crosby told the dispatcher. "I'm worried about him a lot," he can be overheard telling someone next to him. After a dispatcher assured him an ambulance is on the way and tells him to stay in place, Crosby hung up, but than calls back and asks "if the ambulance is on its way, and how fast will it be here?... I think this guy really needs an ambulance right now." Crosby said the the sun was in his eyes and he couldn't see 46-year-old Jose Jimenez jogging on the same side of the road as his car. Jimenez, who was hospitalized with broken bones, cuts and bruises, is expected to survive. Crosby was not hurt. Authorities say the 73-year-old Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member was cooperative and neither drugs nor alcohol were involved in the crash. - AP, 3/25/15...... A new documentary on influential New Wave singer Grace Jones will be produced by the film arm of the British Broadcasting Co., the BBC announced on Mar. 25. Directed by Sophie Fiennes, Grace Jones -- The Musical Of My Life has been in the works for seven years, and is being co-financed by BFI Film Fund and the Irish Film Board. Jones, a former model who became a sensation with hits such as "Pull Up to the Bumper," "Slave to the Rhythm" and "Private Life," has long been seen as a musical and fashion influence on scores of female singers. Her last album was 2008's Hurricane, and she contributed the track "Original Beast" to the Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 soundtrack in 2014. Jones also has a June 21 concert set with Kylie Minogue in London. Sophie Fiennes is the sister of actors Ralph and Joseph Fiennes. - Billboard, 3/25/15...... Bonnie Raitt will be featured on a new Boz Scaggs song called "Hell to Pay," which will be featured on Scaggs' forthcoming studio LP, A Fool to Care. Raitt, who contributes vocals and also plays slide guitar on the track, says she's "so glad to finally get to play and sing with Boz, who's always been a favorite... The song was so cool lyrically and musically and it seems like a perfect fit." Scaggs, who admits he "was scared to call Bonnie... I'm sort of in awe of her," says Raitt is "just a really strong musician, a remarkable woman. That's special to me." A Fool to Care will drop Mar. 31. - Billboard, 3/25/15...... In an interview with Australia's News.com.au, Gene Simmons of Kiss criticizes both the Rolling Stones and U2 for using "backing tracks" during their live shows. "I have a problem when you charge $100 to see a live show and the artist uses backing tracks," Simmons said. "It's like the ingredients in food, if the first ingredient on the label is sugar thats at least honest." The bassist/vocalist, whose band released their latest album Monster in 2012, added: "It should be on every ticket that you're paying $100, 30 to 50 per cent of the show is [on] backing tracks and they'll sing sometimes, sometimes they'll lip synch. At least be honest. It's not about backing tracks, it's about dishonesty." Simmons says that there are "no synthesizers, samples of drums, nothing" during Kiss concerts. "There's very few bands who do that now -- AC/DC, Metallica, us. I can't even say that about U2 or the Stones. There's very few bands who don't use [backing] tracks." - New Musical Express, 3/26/15...... The Doors's classic 1967 debut album The Doors, Joan Baez's 1960 debut LP Joan Baez, the Righteous Brothers' classic 1964 single "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'," and Ben E. King's 1961 often-covered hit "Stand By Me" are among the recordings to be inducted into the Library of Congress National Recording Registry, it was announced on Mar. 25. Comedian/actor Steve Martin's 1978 album A Wild and Crazy Guy and Sly and the Family Stone's 1969 LP Stand! were also among the 25 recordings selected for induction in 2015. The U.S. Librarian of Congress each year selects 25 recordings that are "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant" and at least 10 years old, and the Library's National Recording Preservation Board, which is comprised of leaders in the fields of music, recorded sound and preservation, suggest the nominations, with input from the public. The latest inductions brings the total number of registry recordings to 425. - Billboard, 3/25/15...... A 50th anniversary Grateful Dead memorabilia auction of more than 700 items from the legendary band's long career is set for Apr. 11 and 12 in Union, Ill., about 50 miles northwest of the location of the band's "Fare Thee Well" shows in July. Conducted by Donley Auction Services, the auction will handle items ranging from artist Stanley Mouse's original 1966 artwork for the Grateful Dead Fan Club poster to concert T-shirts. Also up for sale will be "unusual personal stuff" by band members including late frontman Jerry Garcia's kitchen table where he often sat in the Grateful Dead's office. Bidding for that item starts at $1,000. The auction will be held live starting at noon central on both days with online and phone bidding. - Billboard, 3/24/15...... Van Halen announced on Mar. 19 it will kick off a massive three-month summer tour of North America beginning on July 5 in Seattle, Wash. With David Lee Roth fronting the band, VH will hit nearly 40 cities during the tour, including Portland, Ore. (7/7), San Bernadino, Cal. (7/11), Irvine, Cal. (7/14), Salt Lake City, Ut. (7/18), Kansas City, Mo. (7/22), Chicago, Ill. (7/24), and Boston, Mass. (8/1) before wrapping at L.A.'s Hollywood Bowl on Oct. 2. Van Halen will also be featured on ABC's Jimmy Kimmel Live! for a performance on Hollywood Boulevard that will be broadcast over two nights, Mar. 30 and 31. It will mark the group's first U.S. television appearance with Roth, its original singer. It was previously announced that classic albums from the band's catalog will be remastered and released in 2015, starting with Van Halen and 1984 on Mar. 31. Tickets for the tour go on sale April 4. - Billboard, 3/24/15...... In other tour news, John Fogerty will expand his forthcoming "1969" summer tour, which celebrates the year his band Creedence Clearwater Revival released three hit albums. The "1969" dates start May 2 at the Beale Street Music Festival in Memphis and are currently booked to Aug. 9, including a July 15 stop at the Hollywood Bowl. The tour will wrap on Aug. 9 in Albuquerque, N.M. Fogerty has also announced he'll publish his autobiography, Fortunate Son: My Life, My Music, on Oct. 6 via LittleBrown, and the book will be as frank and forthright as the song it's named after. "I'm just being brutally honest," he says. "I'm not trying to shock or surprise anybody; really, I'm just being honest.... In the end, human beings, we are what we are. I'm not running for president or anything, so I'm not white-washing the life that I lived." Fogerty's "1969" trek recently played to rave reviews in Canada, and a retrospective Fogerty box set is also expected to be released in 2015. - Billboard, 3/23/15...... Also announcing a new autobiography for 2015 is British singer-songwriter Elvis Costello, who will release Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink through Penguin Books later in 2015. The 352-page tome has a street date of Oct. 15 and will be "rich with anecdotes about family and fellow musicians, introspective about the creation of his famous songs," according to a press release from the publisher. - Billboard, 3/24/15.... Elton John has signed on to be among the headliners at the Outside Lands foodie music festival, which will take place at San Francisco's Golden Gate Park on Aug. 7-9. Outside Lands is known for marrying music with gourmet food, including a stage dedicated to "culinary entertainment," and also on the bill are Kendrick Lamar and Sam Smith. - AP, 3/24/15...... Brian Wilson says that Lana Del Ray and Frank Ocean will not appear on his upcoming studio album No Pier Pressure, despite previous reports that those two artists will contribute to the LP. "Well, Frank Ocean didnt want to do the song. He wanted to do rap, so we cancelled him," Wilson told Vulture.com. "Lana Del Rey, uh, she just cancelled out on us." Wilson recently unveiled a series of live dates in the UK for September, including Liverpool, Cardiff, London, Birmingham, Nottingham, Leeds, Manchester and Glasgow. He will be supported on the tour by Edwyn Collins and America. - New Musical Express, 3/26/15...... Former Roxy Music guitarist/songwriter Phil Manzanera says he's owed "six figures" worth of income by rappers Kayne West and Jay-Z after they sampled a long-lost track of his that dates back to 1978. West and Jay-Z sampled Manzanera's song "K-Scope" on their Watch The Throne collaborative track "No Church In The Wild" in 2011. However, Manzanera claims to have not been paid yet. "I'm owed six figures," he told Britain's The Independent. "Six figures plus, which is more than I've made in the past 15 years with Roxy. I haven't got paid yet but it really reassured me about all of my beliefs, why I'm doing what I'm doing and the power of music. Things come and go " fame, fortune -- I'm not interested in that. I just do what I do because I love music but it felt like someone, somewhere up there in the ether, has said: 'You know what? You've been doing stuff for ages, had ups and downs -- you can have that now.'" - NME, 3/24/15...... Former Talking Heads frontman David Byrne crashed his own tribute concert at New York City's Carnegie Hall on Mar. 23, leading a marching band down the aisle and, eventually, to an onstage dance party to the tune of "Uptown Funk." Byrne showed up at the end of an annual tribute that benefits music education, an unusual sight since past musicians whose work was celebrated -- like Paul Simon and Prince -- did not appear. Byrne's entrance came after CeeLo Green brought the tribute to a close by singing the Talking Heads smash hit of Al Green's "Take Me to the River." Also performing that evening were Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top and Steve Earle. - AP, 3/24/15....... Legendary soul diva Patti LaBelle brought down the house on the talent TV show Dancing With the Stars on Mar. 23 with her pick for the show's "My Jam Monday" episode. The 70-year-old LaBelle chose to dance to 50 Cent's 2003's hit single "In Da Club," and overcame a recent knee injury to perform the song in a salsa routine with dance partner Artem Chigvintsev. - Billboard, 3/24/15...... Black Sabbath have reportedly invited their founding drummer Bill Ward to rejoin the band for their "farewell" gig, which will take place at the Tokyo leg of Ozzfest on Nov. 22. Black Sabbath frontman Ozzy Osbourne's wife Sharon Osbourne made the announcement on YouTube on Mar. 23. Ward did not record with the band when they returned with latest album 13 in 2013, with Osbourne claiming that the drummer was overweight and unable to contribute to the band's recording and live plans. It was additionally claimed that the band could not come to a financial agreement with Ward, who was arrested following a bar brawl in Death Valley, Calif., on Jan. 27 of 2015 and charged with misdemeanour assault, public intoxication and vandalism. Black Sabbath has also announced it will release one final album in 2015, the follow-up to 13. - NME, 3/24/15...... Rod Stewart's son Sean Stewart was reportedly arrested on Mar. 22 at Miami International Airport in Florida for "riding" the luggage conveyor belt into a restricted area. Sean Stewart, who was travelling to a charity event in Haiti when he allegedly took a ride on the luggage carousel, was detained by airport police and later freed on bail. His mother is American former actress/model Alana Stewart, and he is believed to be plotting a new reality TV venture with his sister Kimberley. - WENN.com 3/23/15...... British singer-songwriter Jackie Trent, who composed for such artists as Frank Sinatra, Petula Clark, Shirley Bassey, Jack Jones, Nancy Wilson, Vikki Carr and Dean Martin among some 400 others, died at a hospital in Menorca on Mar. 21 after a long illness. She was 74. Trent reportedly scored her first recording contract in the early 1960s and topped the UK charts in 1965 with "Where Are You Now (My Love)." - Billboard, 3/22/15...... Guitarist-songwriter John Renbourn, a former member of the British folk-rock band Pentangle, died at his home in Hawick in the Scottish Borders on Mar. 27. He was 70. In 1967, Renbourn founded influential folk group Pentangle in 1967. The original Pentangle line-up released six albums, before disbanding 1973. He continued his solo career and also made music with The John Renbourn Group. Renborn was found at his home after he failed to turn up for a gig at the Ferry in Glasgow, according to the Guardian newspaper. - NME, 3/26/15...... Miriam Bienstock, who helped found Atlantic Records with her then-husband Herb Abramson and Ahmet Ertegun and became a theater investor later in life, died Mar. 21 at her home in New York City. She was 92. Ertegun once credited Ms. Bienstock as being the one who "first played me Ray Charles' SwingTime records" before Charles was signed to Atlantic, and added that "the company would have folded" without her help in running the office. Most recently, Ms. Bienstock was an investor in the Broadway produciton "Beautiful: The Carole King Musical," which won two Tony Awards in 2014. - Billboard, 3/24/15.
What are being described as the master tapes of the Beatles' 1962 live performances in Hamburg, Germany, will be offered for auction by London's Ted Owen & Co. auction house with a starting bid of about $300,000. The tape, made in Hamburg's "red light district" Star Club not long before the Beatles shot to international fame, included nearly five hours of live performances of 33 songs, and were recorded by the Star Club's stage manager, Adrian Barber, who had been asked to document the band's live show by another Liverpool musician, Ted "King Size" Taylor. Much of the material on the tapes was released in 1977 as a two-LP set titled The Beatles: Live at the Star Club in Hamburg, Germany -- 1962, which the Beatles tried unsuccessfully to block. Those recordings have since been widely bootlegged. "These tapes are of considerable historical and cultural value, but they are not a Holy Grail for serious students of the Beatles," Beatles scholar and Beatles music/film reissue producer Martin Lewis said. "They hold some interest because they give us a tantalizing aural snapshot of the primitive visceral power of their live performances in those early Beatles days. But the technical limitations of the tapes means that we hear more of their youthful swagger than the proficiency and creativity that would later enchant the world," he added. The tapes, which are currently owned by onetime Andy Warhol and Muhammad Ali business manager Larry Grossberg, reportedly were once offered to Beatles manager Brian Epstein at a price of £100,000, prompting Epstein to make a counteroffer of £20 based on the inferior sound quality. The auction includes the master tapes for the 26-song album as well as stereo mixes created from the original monaural recording and the 7-inch reel safety master from the original unedited tape that Barber made. - The L.A. Times, 3/19/15...... Meanwhile, "Strawberry Fields Forever" has just been named as the greatest Beatles song ever in a new poll of some of music's biggest names, including Beatles producer George Martin, Pete Townshend, Brian Wilson, Dave Grohl and Nile Rodgers. Coming in behind the 1967 chart-topping hit in the poll conducted by Britain's New Musical Express were "A Day in the Life," "I Want to Hold Your Hand," "Here Comes the Sun," and "Blackbird." - NME, 3/18/15...... In other Beatles news, it was announced on Mar. 18 that Paul McCartney will present Ringo Starr with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's one-off Award For Musical Excellence during the 2015 induction ceremony on Apr. 18 at Cleveland's public hall, making Ringo the final member of the group to be honored as a solo artists. Other presenters include Stevie Wonder, who will do the honors for '70s hitmaker Bill Withers, and Pattie Smith, who will induct the late Lou Reed. - Billboard, 3/18/15...... Barry Manilow is donating a piano to the Uniondale school district on Long Island in New York as part of the singer's Manilow Music Project. Manilow says he started the project to help public schools with depleted music programs, and is urging others to also donate musical instruments for schoolchildren to play. The 71-year-old crooner performed at the Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale on March 20, and announced he'd be giving free tickets to anyone who donates a new or gently used musical instrument. "Music is a vital part of a child's education," Manilow said. - AP, 3/21/15...... Organizers of a proposed Jimi Hendrix park in Seattle, Wash., announced on Mar. 20 that they've picked a developer to build a 2.5 acre Jimi Hendrix Park in the city's Central District, adjacent to the Northwest African American Museum. Construction, which is being handled by ERRG, Inc., is expected to begin in April, with phase one projected to open this fall. The non-profit groups Jimi Hendrix Park Foundation and the Friends of Jimi Hendrix Park have raised more than $1.4 million for the project since 2012. "It is our hope that for generations, [the park] will exist as more than an attraction or point of interest, but a place of homage to one of Seattle's own," said Janie Hendrix, the legendary guitarist's sister and director of the Jimi Hendrix Park Foundation. "The landscaping, the artistic design, and the ambience all mimic the vibe of the persona of Jimi, whom this park honors." Phase one of the park -- dubbed "Little Wing" -- will include an entrance at 25th and Massachusetts, a pathway with a timeline of the Seattle native's life and career, rain infiltration gardens and a central plaza for performances, among other features. Phase two, which is still in the fundraising stages, will add the park's centerpiece, a so-called "shadow wave wall" depicting silhouette images of Hendrix. Hendrix died in London on Sept. 18, 1970, at age 27. - Billboard, 3/20/15...... A planned Janis Joplin biopic starring Hollywood A-lister Amy Adams has been halted, at least temporarily, by a new lawsuit that claims writer-producer Ron Terry and an investor breached an exclusive option agreement by owned by producers for the script about the hard-living rock and roll queen. LKL Productions and Swiss production company Silver Reel claim they paid $117,000 for the exclusive rights in August 2014 to the script Get It While You Can, which Terry wrote with his wife Teresa Kounin-Terry. Silver Reel and LKL's option is set to expire at the end of March, and they have equested the judge extend the option agreement until the lawsuit's resolution, and want an injunction preventing the defendants from shopping the screenplay to any third party. - The Hollywood Reporter, 3/18/15...... With its release held up for seven years because of rights issues, Danny Tedesco's illuminating documentary The Wrecking Crew about the unsung L.A. session musicians who provided the backbeat for some of the greatest songs from the '50s through the '80s can now be seen in selected theaters in the US. The wait was worth it. Hal Blaine, Earl Palmer, Carol Kaye, and the director's dad, Tommy Tedisco, are finally allowed to step out of the shadows and take a belated bow. - Entertainment Weekly, 3/20/15...... Neil Young made a surprise appearance at the South by Southwest Film Conference and Festival in Austin, Tex., on Mar. 19, attending a Q&A session following a special screening of his 1982 film Human Highway. "It has a life of it's own. It refuses to die - we tried to kill it a couple of times," said Young of the surreal movie, which was shown in a newly re-cut and re-mastered format. "It was never satisfying to look at, because I knew there was more than what we were seeing... I always wanted to make it what it could be." Human Highway is set at a roadside diner near a nuclear power plant and stars the singer-songwriter, who also wrote and directed the film under the pseudonym Bernard Shakey. It also features the band Devo as power plant workers and also sees the band jamming with Young on a version of his track "Hey Hey My My (Out Of The Blue)." "They're geniuses -- they had something that was totally unique," said Young of the Ohio-based Nw Wave band. "When I met them I freaked out." He added that the new version of the movie, which includes previously unseen footage, will be touring film festivals throughout the year, before getting a DVD release. - New Musical Express, 3/20/15...... Meanwhile, late Small Faces and Faces keyboardist Ian McLagan was remembered at the Austin Music Awards on Mar. 18 with an hour-long tribute by an all-star group of musicians, including Steven Van Zandt, Patty Griffin and Alejandro Escovedo. McLagan, an Austin transplant who died on Dec. 3 at the age of 69, had also been named best keyboardist in a poll conducted by the Austin Chronicle. The award was accepted by his son Lee McLagan, who'd flown over from England and received a standing ovation from the crowd. "He loved this place with all his heart. I hope he gave you a good time, 'cause you gave him a home," McLagan said. - Billboard, 3/19/15...... Fleetwood Mac has rescheduled their tour of Australasia for later in 2015 after previous dates in late 2013 were called off when bassist John McVie diagnosed with cancer (he sought treatment and returned to the stage in late December of that year). The classic Fleetwood Mac lineup of McVie, Mick Fleetwood, Lindsey Buckingham, Stevie Nicks and Christine McVie will play 10 shows in Australia and New Zealand in the fall, beginning with shows on Oct. 22 and 24 in Sydney. The band will also visit Perth, Melbourne, Geelong, Brisbane, Hunter Valley, and Dunedin before wrapping on Nov. 21 in Auckland. Fleetwood Mac was last Down Under for the 2009 Unleashed Tour, and they've not toured as a five-piece since 1998. - Billboard, 3/20/15...... Former Chic principal Nile Rodgers has weighed in on the recent controversial verdict concerning the Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke song "Blurred Lines," which has been ruled as copying Marvin Gaye's "Got to Give it Up." "Compositionally, purely compositionally, I don't think they should have lost that case," said Rodgers, who has worked alongside Williams in Daft Punk's smash hit "Get Lucky." "'Got to Give it Up' is clearly a blues structure, ('Blurred Lines') isn't at all....they don't really sound alike." On Mar. 18, Gaye's children wrote an open letter in hopes to "set the record straight on a few misconceptions" surrounding their winning case against Thicke and Williams. The siblings said that they were "forced into court" by a lawsuit brought by Thicke and Williams' attorneys, and that the lawsuit could have easily been avoided had the pair acknowledged their infringement and approached the family in advance and come to a deal on the song -- something they "would have welcomed." - AP/Billboard, 3/19/15...... Auctioneers Julien's have announced an auction of Elvis Presley items at the Hard Rock Cafe in New York on May 16 will include the King of Rock & Roll's TCB (Taking Care of Business) bus was owned by Elvis' backup band, The TCB Band, and purchased with money provided by Elvis. The bus, which features the TCB initials and lighting bolt logo throughout, has been fully restored. It features bunks for nine, old-fashioned tube TVs and classic '70s decor. And Elvis drove it himself sometimes. The estimated selling price is $100,000-$200,000. Also up for sale is Presley's 1971 two-seat Stutz Blackhawk car, which featured the best audio system of the day and was delivered to Elvis at his Beverly Hills home on Sept. 9 1971. The pre-sale estimate is $400,000-$600,000, along with Elvis' army winter dress uniform ($20,000-$40,000), Las Vegas "penguin suit" ($60,000-$80,000), marriage certificate to Priscilla Presley, black Gibson J-200 he played in Vegas, and the contract he signed to play the Louisiana Hayride early in his career. - The Hollywood Reporter, 3/17/15...... The Crawford, Colorado home of late British-born rocker Joe Cocker is back on the market again, after being taken off the market after the the singer's death. The nearly 16,000-square-foot Tudor-style mansion was on the market fully furnished for $7.9 million last year, before Cocker's death, but has now been relisted again, fully furnished, for $7 million. It has eight bedrooms and nine bathrooms and sits on 243 acres. The home is about a two-hour drive from the resort areas of Aspen and Telluride. - AP, 3/16/15...... Johnny Cash's acclaimed Rick Rubin-produced American Recordings I-VI will be released as a special vinyl box set on March 23. Recorded in the final decade of Cash's life with guidance from Rubin, the American Recordings led to a resurgence for the late-country singer. Four of the six albums were released during his life. The final two were issued posthumously. Pressed onto 180-gram audiophile vinyl, the records were cut from original masters under supervision from Rubin. - NME, 3/18/15...... Robin Trower has just released a video for the title track of his new album, Something's About to Change, which hit stores on March 9 via Manhaton/V12 Records. Released on Trower's 70th birthday, Something's About to Change marks Trower's first album since 2013's critically acclaimed Roots And Branches, and dovetails his 17-date UK tour with special guest Joanne Shaw Taylor starting March 26. Trower's tour kicks off in Lincoln, and also visits cities including Birmingham, Salford, Gateshead, Glasgow, York, Sheffield, London, Exeter and Salibury before wrapping at the Milton Keynes Stables on April 17. - Noble PR, 3/17/15...... Cabaret star Liza Minnelli has reportedly checked into a rehab center for substance abuse in Malibu, Calif. "Liza Minnelli has valiantly battled substance abuse over the years and whenever she has needed to seek treatment she has done so. She is currently making excellent progress at an undisclosed facility," a rep for the singer said. Minnelli's mother, Judy Garland, died in 1969 from an overdose of barbiturates. This past winter, Minnelli teamed up with jazz legend Wynton Marsalis for a new song called "Until the End" that was featured in the documentary film Garnet's Gold. - Billboard, 3/18/15...... With contemporary bands like War on Drugs refracting Dire Straits' honeyed 1980s guitar sound, it's surprising that frontman Mark Knopfler hasn't rebooted his old band lately. Instead, he's been unpacking his influences on modest, multifaceted rock LPs like his latest, Tracker. Opening on a vamp recalling Dave Brubeck's "Take Five," then veering into Celtic folk, "Laughs and Jokes and Drinks and Smokes" sets the tone for this burnished set about days past. Other highlights of his eighth solo effort include "Basil," a nod to his youth in Northumbria, and "Skydiver," which echoes Seventies Grateful Dead. The Mar. 31 Verve release includes a bonus DVD containing exclusive video and interviews, numbered art print, and six photographic prints. - Rolling Stone, 3/26/15...... Andy Fraser, the former bassist for the Classic Rock band Free, died on Mar. 16 at his home in California. He was 62. The cause of Fraser's death has yet to be announced, however he had been battling both cancer and AIDS. Fraser was a member of John Mayall's Bluesbreakers before co-founding Free with Paul Rodgers in 1968 when he was just 15. He co-wrote the band's 1970 hit "All Right Now" but left the group in 1972 to form Sharks with guitarist Chris Spedding. He then formed the Andy Fraser Band before moving to California and going on to write for artists such as Robert Palmer, Joe Cocker and Rod Stewart. - NME, 3/17/15...... Songwriter/keyboardist Michael Brown, a former member of the '60s group The Left Banke, died of heart failure on Mar. 19 at his home in Englewood, N.J. He was 65. Born Michael Lookofsky, Brown grew up in Brooklyn and co-wrote "Walk Away Renee," which rose to No. 14 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and composed "Pretty Ballerina," which rose to No. 15. - AP, 3/20/15...... 'Ib Melchior, a screenwriter and director who took two classics of literature and set them in the future for the 1960s sci-fi films Robinson Crusoe on Mars and The Time Travelers, has died at age 97. Mr. Melchior, who claimed he was the one who came up with the ideas for TV's Lost in Space and Star Trek, died on Mar. 14 of natural causes at his home in West Hollywood, according to his son, Leif. - The Hollywood Reporter, 3/19/15.
Paul McCartney has made chart history once again, this time for having two simultaneous Top 15 hits for the first time since 1982 as his latest collaboration with rapper Kayne West, "All Day," has cracked the Billboard Hot 100 at No. 15, along with a previous McCartney, West and Rihanna collaboration, "FourFiveSeconds," which sits at No. 5. McCartney previously earned the honor multiple times with the Beatles, or as a soloist and with the Fab Four, last on May 22, 1982. That week, his own "Ebony and Ivory," with Stevie Wonder, topped the chart, and the group's "The Beatles' Movie Medley" remained at its No. 12 peak. - Billboard, 3/13/15...... In other Macca news, Paul's ex-wife Heather Mills went to town on her former husband on an Irish TV show called The Late Show on Mar. 14, suggesting that Paul is finding it hard to stay "relevant" in the modern music industry, stating that he only collaborated with Rihanna and Kanye West "so people remember him." Mills, a former ski racer and environmental activist, who was married to the former Beatle between 2002 and 2008, seemed to become agitated with host Ryan Tubridy mentioned McCartney's name. Mills added: "If I go down the street all I get is kids coming up to me - half of them don't even know who he is.... he is just someone I fell in love with, who to me was a normal guy that happened to write a few cool songs in the '60s -- and a few in the '70s. It was just someone I fell in love with... You fall in love, get married, you sometimes then go, 'Oh my god, this was completely wrong', and you wake up and you move on." - New Musical Express, 3/16/15...... Elsewhere on the Fab Four front, Ringo Starr has been forced to postpone two All Starr Band concerts set for Mar. 12 and 13 in San Francisco due to an unspecified illness, according to a tweet from the venue. The city's The Masonic posted that the Mar. 13 concert has been rescheduled for Oct. 1, 2015. Ringo's new solo album, Postcards From Paradise, is due Mar. 31. His current All Starr Band features Gregg Rolie, Todd Rundgren and other notable artists. - Billboard, 3/13/15...... Eric Clapton announced on Mar. 12 that he'll celebrate his milestone 70th birthday on Mar. 30 with two shows at New York's Madison Square Garden on May 1 and 2. The concerts will also commemorate another anniversary: the 46th anniversary of his first peformance at the venue with Cream, which christened the "new" MSG in 1968. Clapton ahs since appeared at the arena more than 45 times -- more than any other place in the U.S. General public tickets go on sale Mar. 20, and the opening act will be Andy Fairweather Low and the Low Riders. - Billboard, 3/12/15...... The Eagles announced on Mar. 13 that they'll take their History of the Eagles Tour on the road again in 2015 beginning with a May 19 performance at the Frank Erwin Center in Austin, Tex. The iconic country-rock band will play relatively smaller markets on the 24-date tour, including Bakersfield, Calif., Sioux Falls, S.D., Eugene, Ore., and Dayton, Ohio, before wrapping in Bossier City, La., on July 29. The previous leg of their HOTE tour raked in more than $145 million in 2013-14, playing for 1.1 million fans. - Billboard, 3/13/15...... Robert Plant has announced a series of live North American dates, some of which will see the alternative band the Pixies providing support. Plant will tour North America during May and June, with Frank Black & Co. opening for the musician in Chicago, Philadelphia, Toronto, Rochester Hills and Raleigh. Singer-songwriter JD McPherson will open on the remaining dates. Full dates can be found at Plant's official website. - New Musical Express, 3/16/15...... Ann Wilson of Heart says her band is planning on multi-tasking during its upcoming tour by not only preparing, but also recording significant portions of its next album while on the road. "We're touring and recording at the same time," Wilsonsays. "We're actually recording off the stage in sound checks and the shows, so if we're doing a song you're not familiar with at a show this year, you can be sure we're recording it to be worked on later. We're going to take the tracks and mess with them towards making a new record. You can get the spark of the live performance in the basic track, which is something which is really hard to do in the studio." Wilson added Heart currently has four new songs ready to play, which are "sounding very multi-dimensional, just real different from stuff we've done before." Heart will kick of its latest tour on Mar. 18 in Mankato, Minn., and hopes to finish recording the album -- the follow-up to 2012's Fanatic -- during the fall, with an early 2016 release. - Billboard, 3/12/15...... Elton John is among the voices calling for a boycott of fashion designers Dolce & Gabbana after the pair expressed skepticism about the use of in vitro fertilization and surrogate mothers to create families in a recent interview with an Italian magazine. "How dare you refer to my beautiful children as "synthetic," Sir Elton posted on his official site on Mar. 14. He added: "And shame on you for wagging your judgemental little fingers at IVF -- a miracle that has allowed legions of loving people, both straight and gay, to fulfil their dream of having children. Your archaic thinking is out of step with the times, just like your fashions. I shall never wear Dolce and Gabbana ever again." The designers, under growing social media pressure, issued a statement on Mar. 14 saying their comments supporting traditional families with a mother and a father "weren't intended to judge the choices made by others." The designers, who are gay and formerly were a couple, have put the traditional family at the center of their last two collections, sending a pregnant model and models with their own children down the runway to celebrate motherhood. - AP, 3/16/15...... Stevie Wonder will serve as an executive producer on Freedom Run, a proposed NBC show about the Underground Railroad. The mini-series will be based on Betty DeRamus' book Forbidden Fruit: Love Stories From the Underground Railroad. The show is indicative of the networks' desire to satisfy the audience's thirst for more diverse programming after the success of such diverse hits as Empire, How to Get Away With Murder and Fresh Off the Boat. Wonder is also writing a musical version of Freedom Run to be staged on Broadway. - Entertainment Weekly, 3/13/15...... Comedian/actor Eddie Murphy is in talks to portray Richard Pryor's dad in an upcoming Pryor biopic that Lee Daniels is directing for The Weinstein Co. Mike Epps will star as the controversial '70s comedian who pushed the boundaries of race and mined his own gritty experiences, becoming one of the most influential acts of all time. Murphy will play the father, LeRoy Pryor, and Kate Hudson will play Pryor's fourth wife, Jennifer Lee Pryor, who was married to Pryor in 1981-82, and then became his seventh wife after the couple remarried in 2001. - The Hollywood Reporter, 3/13/15...... In one of the most unlikely career moves in recent times, Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler has recently relocated to Nashville and begun collaborating with local songwriters for a new album of country music, after first announcing his intention to record a country LP last October. Tyler is expected to sign with Big Machine Label Group very soon, and has reportedly already begun work on the album. On the Mar. 11 episode of American Idol, Tyler joined country stars Tim McGraw, Reba McEntire and The Band Perry in a taped segment, all of whom are signed to BMLG imprints, in praising Big Machine executive Scott Borchetta. Taylor Swift is the label's biggest act. A release date for Tyler's album could come as early as November, though a 2016 release is more likely. No producer has been confirmed for the project. - Billboard, 3/13/15...... Mike Porcaro, a longtime bassist for the Grammy-winning band Toto, died on Mar. 15 after a long battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease), according to a Facebook post by his brother, Toto keyboardist Steve Porcaro. He was 59. "My brother Mike Porcaro is now now at peace. I will miss him more than I could ever put into words. My deepest love to the family. God Bless," Toto guitarist/singer Steve Lukather tweeted on Mar. 15. Porcaro, the son of the jazz percussionist Joe Porcaro, joined the Grammy-winning rockers Toto in 1982 and was with the band for their most successful album, Toto IV, which featured the hit singles "Africa" and "Rosanna." He appeared on many more Toto albums before retiring from the band in 2007 due to complications from ALS. Toto is set to tour Europe this spring in support of their new album, Toto XIV. - Billboard, 3/15/15...... Lew Soloff, a jazz trumpeter who reached a broader audience with the jazz-rock band Blood, Sweat and Tears, especially with a memorable solo on the original version of the 1969 hit "Spinning Wheel," died of a heart attack on Mar. 8 in Brooklyn. He was 71. Soloff was a session musician for such artists as Barbra Streisand, Frank Sinatra and Lou Reed; he was the lead trumpeter of both the Carnegie Hall Jazz Band and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra; and tackled Bach as a member of the quintet Manhattan Brass. Soloff toured the world with Blood, Sweat and Tears, and in 1970 the band played before 14,500 fans at Madison Square Garden; their opening act was a sextet led by Miles Davis But he left the band in 1973, seeking new musical challenges, and released eight albums as a leader and performed or recorded with Gil Evans, Paul Simon, Dizzy Gillespie and many others....... Three Dog Night keyboardist Jimmy Greenspoon died of etastatic melanoma in Gaithersberg, Md., on Mar. 11. He was 67. Greenspoon's organ and electric piano on hits such as "Easy to be Hard" and "Joy to the World" defined the band on par with its three lead vocalists, Danny Hutton, Chuck Negron and Cory Wells. "We are very saddened at the passing of our dear friend and longtime band mate, Jimmy Greenspoon. Jimmy died peacefully at home today surrounded by his family. Please keep him and his loved ones in your prayers and your hearts," Three Dog Night posted on its official website. Greenspoon, an L.A. native whose mother had been in silent films, recorded with his surf group the New Dimensions while in junior high and high school. After attending the Los Angeles Conservatory of Music, he became a fixture at Sunset Strip clubs, playing with a host of bands. For a brief time he lived in Denver, where he was a member of the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band. Throughout his career, Greenspoon performed and recorded with such acts as America, The Beach Boys, Beck, Bogert & Appice, Nils Lofgren, Lowell George, Donovan, Eric Clapton, and many others. Greenspoon published his autobiography in 1991, titled One Is The Loneliest Number - On The Road And Behind The Scenes With Legendary Rock Band Three Dog Night. Since Greenspoon announced his cancer diagnosis five months ago, he used a crowd-funding page at GoFundMe.com to help pay medical bills. He is survived by his wife, Susie. - Billboard, 3/12/15...... Soft Machine and Gong co-founder Daevid Allen, a psychedelic rock legend, passed away on Mar. 12 after a battle with cancer. He was 77. The Australia-born Allen co-founded the immensely influential British psych-jazz band Soft Machine in 1966, which produced the self-titled underground classic The Soft Machine in 1968. He also co-founded the British-French experimental band Gong in 1968. - Billboard, 3/13/15...... Comic Gene Patton, better known as "Gene Gene the Dancing Machine" from his many appearances on the wacky daytime NBC series The Gong Show, died on Mar. 13 in Pasadena, Calif., after a battle with diabetes. He was 82. At a random moment during the 1976-78 game show, host Chuck Barris Barris would introduce Mr. Patton, and the curtain would part, bringing the shuffling stagehand with the painter's cap onstage to the sounds of "Jumpin' at the Woodside," a jazz tune made popular by Count Basie. His dance sent everyone on the set -- Barris, the judges, the cameramen, the audience -- into an uncontrollable boogie. A native of Berkeley, Calif., Mr. Patton also appeared as Gene in The Gong Show Movie (1980) and as himself in the film Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, George Clooney and Charlie Kaufman's surreal 2002 adaptation that starred Sam Rockwell as Barris. By then, Mr. Patton had lost both his legs to diabetes. - The Hollywood Reporter, 3/13/15.
A superior court in Jesup, Georgia ruled on Mar. 10 that the first assistant director of the ill-fated Greg Allman biopic Midnight Rider was guilty of involuntary manslaughter and criminal trespass. Hillary Schwartz was sentenced to 10 years' probation and a $5,000 fine. Under the terms of her probation, Schwartz cannot serve as a director, producer, first A.D. or any department head responsible for crew safety on any film or TV production. Schwartz, after pleading not guilty when she was indicted in Sept. 2014, waived her right to a jury and received a bench trial. Schwartz was the fourth defendant in the criminal case over the Feb. 2014 train collision that killed camera assistant Sarah Jones during the Midnight Rider shoot and the safety protocols Schwartz and other crew members should have followed. The other three defendants -- director Randall Miller, his producer and wife, Jody Savin, and executive producer Jay Sedrish -- faced the same charges. Miller was previously sentenced to two years in jail, a $20,000 fine and 360 community service hours. Sedrish received 10 years' probation and a $10,000 fine. Charges agains Savin were dropped. Until recently, Schwartz was part of their case, but her case was separated from theirs in February. - The Hollywood Reporter, 3/10/15...... A Los Angeles jury ruled on Mar. 10 that singers Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams' runaway 2013 hit "Blurred Lines" copied Marvin Gaye's 1977 single "Got to Give It Up," and ordered the pair to pay $4.8 million to Gaye's family. The suit was brought by Gaye's children Nona, Frankie and Marvin Gaye III, who inherited the copyright to the soul legend's music following his death in 1984. Nona, who wept as the verdict was read, said: "Right now, I feel free. Free from... Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke's chains and what they tried to keep on us and the lies that were told." The trial in L.A. US District Court came as a result of a pre-emptive August 2013 lawsuit filed by Thicke and Williams who, fearing the Gayes would be litigious, sought to affirm that "Blurred Lines" is "strikingly different" to "Got to Give It Up." US District Judge John Kronstadt denied their request and said a jury must decide "the intrinsic similarity of the works." Robin Thicke performed a medley of songs in court as evidence that many tracks share similar chords and melodies without necessarily copying one another. His performance included tracks by artists including U2, Bob Marley and the Beatles. "While we respect the judicial process, we are extremely disappointed in the ruling made today, which sets a horrible precedent for music and creativity going forward," said Thicke and Williams' lawyer, Howard E. King. "We are reviewing the decision, considering our options and you will hear more from us soon about this matter." It is estimated that Pharrell and Thicke have earned over $3 million each from the profits of the Grammy-winning single. - New Musical Express, 3/11/15...... AC/DC has released a video for "Rock the Blues Away," their third single from their most recent studio album, Rock or Bust. Directed by David Mallet, the clip shows the Aussie headbangers rocking out in a small, sweaty club in Los Angeles. "Rock the Blues Away" follows clips for "Play Ball" and the title track of Rock or Bust, which has sold nearly 2.8 million copies since its Nov. 2014 release. AC/DC's 2015 world tour behind Rock or Bust kicks off May 5 in Holland, and wraps on Sept. 28 in Los Angeles at Dodger Stadium. The band has also been confirmed as headliners at this year's Coachella Music & Arts Festival, which runs from Apr. 10-17. - Billboard, 3/10/15..... Kraftwerk co-founder and frontman Ralf Huëtter filed a trademark infringement lawsuit on Mar. 9 against eZelleron Inc., the makers of an energy supply unit for mobile electronic devices. The Dresdon-based eZelleron has been taking advantage of fuel cell technology to raise more than $1.5 million on Kickstarter.com for a portable power plant that it says can be recharged within seconds and provide weeks of charge for iPhones, tablets and GoPro cameras. Written up in many tech publications, the tech product is called "Kraftwerk." Huëtter, whose band owns a trademark registration on "Kraftwerk" that covers quite a bit of territory, claims that "consumers are likely to assume that there is a connection, association, or relationship between the famous electronic Music band and a charger for portable musical-playing devices." Kraftwerk was honored with a Grammy lifetime achievement award in 2014. - The Hollywood Reporter, 3/9/15...... Jackson Browne made a surprise appearance during Crosby, Stills & Nash's World Tour 2015 on Mar. 5 in Tokyo, Japan, jamming with the famous folk-rock trio on "Crow on the Cradle," the b-side to Browne's 1982 hit single "Somebody's Baby." Opening with "Carry On," CSN and their backing band played to a packed crowd of 5,200 in Hall A of Tokyo's Forum, also treating fans to such chestnuts as "Our House," "Long Time Gone," "Helplessly Hoping," "Guinevere," Almost Cut My Hair," and "Wooden Ships." CSN's 41-date tour will also hit The Philippines, Singapore, the US, the UK and eight continental European countries. Browne, in the midst of his own world tour, also played two dates in Tokyo on Mar. 11 and 12. - Billboard, 3/9/15...... Singer/songwriter Emmylou Harris will be among the 2015 recipients of Sweden's prestigious Polar Music Prize during a ceremony set for Stockholm on June 9. Harris, who started performing in Scandinavia early in her career, said she loved to travel and was looking forward to a trip to Sweden but "I just hate packing and flights." The Polar Music Prize was founded in 1989 by Stig "Stikkan" Anderson, the manager and music publisher of Abba. A well-known lyricist, he also was the co-writer on many early Abba hits. - Billboard, 3/10/15...... Seventies artists Rod Stewart and Yoko Ono were among those tweeting their support for International Women's Day on Mar. 8. "Women worldwide walk miles everyday to get water. Let us walk in solidarity this week for #InternationalWomensDay," Stewart tweeted that day, while Ono posted "Inspiring Change for #InternationalWomensDay." The annual event champions equal rights for women and celebrates advocates of the cause, with marathons and marches staged around the world. - Billboard, 3/8/15...... Paul McCartney has added a second London date to his upcoming May tour of the UK. After tickets for shows in London (5/23) and Liverpool (5/28) went on sale on Mar. 9 and sold out within an hour, a second show at the O2 in London was scheduled for May 24. McCartney will also play Birmingham on May 27. He last performed at The O2 in Dec. 2011, and the upcoming O2 show will coincide with the 50th anniversary of "Yesterday." "'Yesterday' feels like it has taken on a life of its own over the years," Sir Paul said of the landmark tune. "The song still is and always has been an important part of our live show. It's always very emotional for me to hear crowds singing it so loudly at my concerts and I'm looking forward to singing it along with the audience at the O2 in May." - NME, 3/9/15...... Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page has prevailed over singer Robbie Williams in the pair's feud over Williams' plans to develop his mansion, which is next door to Page's west London home. Williams has now withdrawn plans to develop his mansion, which Page said he feared would "have an effect on decorative finishes of my house." At least one other neighbour is believed to have also objected to Williams renovation proposal. A spokesperson for Williams declined to comment. - NME, 3/8/15...... The New York metal band Tragedy: All Metal Tribute to the Bee Gees & Beyond has released a headbanging cover of John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John's 1978 No. 1 hit "You're the One that I Want" from their movie smash Grease. The result is hilarious and arguably even more heartwarming than the original, not least for the visual pun unleashed on the line "it's electrifying." - Billboard, 3/8/15...... Albert Maysles, an Oscar-nominated director and cinematographer best known for helming the troubling 1970 concert documentary Gimme Shelter which chronicled a fan being killed by a Hells Angels security man during a Rolling Stones performance, died on Mar. 5 of natural causes at his home in Manhattan. He was 88. Mr. Maysles and his brother David Maysles also directed Grey Gardens, a profile of Jacqueline Onassis' eccentric cousins "Big Edie" and "Little Edie" Bouvier, which was remade as a Tony-winning Broadway play and as an award-winning 2009 HBO drama that starred Drew Barrymore and Jessica Lange. Just prior to Gimme Shelter, they filmed Salesman (1969), which covered six weeks in the lives of four door-to-door Bible salesmen, and also collaborated on such direct cinemas as What's Happening! The Beatles in the U.S.A. (1964), With Love From Truman (1966) and Meet Marlon Brando (1966), which premiered at the New York Film Festival. In 1968, they made Vladimir Horowitz: The Last Romantic, and the following year, they shot Horowitz Plays Mozart, also for TV. Gimme Shelter stood as a stark and more enduring counterpoint to the documentary Woodstock, a depiction of the glorified 1969 free concert whose own dark side was left out in its preconceived, celebratory style. Mr. Maysles, who was also the choreographer on D.A. Pennebaker's Monterey Pop documentary, won three Emmys, two for his work with his brother on The Last Romantic and Soldiers of Music (1991) and one for Abortion: Desperate Choices (1991). Mr. Maysles had reportedly been battling cancer. - The Hollywood Reporter, 3/6/15.
Paul McCartney has reportedly contributed vocals to an LP by a new "supergroup" comprised of shock-rocker Alice Cooper, Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry, and actor/musician Johnny Depp called Hollywood Vampires. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Perry said Macca and his drummer, Abe Laboriel Jr., dropped into the L.A. studio where the Hollywood Vampires, who were assembled in 2014 and named after the notorious mid-'70s partying gang that included Cooper, John Lennon, Ringo Starr, Keith Moon and Harry Nilsson, among others, to split lead vocals with Cooper on the McCartney-penned Badfinger hit "Come and Get It." "He knew all the chords, the lyrics, everything," Perry says. "He didn't have any cheat sheets. It was like he'd been playing it his whole life. Me and Alice and Johnny were standing there and looking at each other and I tell you -- if there's any ego-leveler in a room, it's Paul. It doesn't matter who you are or what you've done. If Paul's in the room, he's there. It was hard to focus on playing." Paul reportedly chose the song as a tribute to Badfinger's Pete Ham and Tom Evans, who took their own lives. The upcoming Holllywood Vampires LP, produced by Cooper's longtime producer Bob Ezrin, is being dedicated to "all the friends we've lost to drugs and alcohol over the years and getting people to come in and cover the songs their friends wrote," according to Perry. The Hollywood Vampires has confirmed just the one live date, at the Rock in Rio festival this September, though Perry says more dates will likely be added that month. It's unlikely McCartney will join the band on the road, though there's a chance he'll be joined with his mates on stage sometime this year. He's just extended his own touring itinerary with three shows this May at London's O2 (5/23), Birmingham (5/27) and his hometown of Liverpool (5/28). The London arena show will coincide with the 50th anniversary of his song "Yesterday," and they mark his first concerts in his homeland since he played the Royal Albert Hall in 2012. - Billboard, 3/6/15.
Brian Wilson has announced a new North American tour this summer in support of his new solo album No Pier Pressure. The Beach Boys legend, supported by his former bandmate Al Jardine and BB lieutenant Blondie Chaplin, will launch the tour on June 18 in Saratoga, Calif. Other major markets on the 17-city tour include San Diego, Los Angeles, Dallas, Atlanta, Nashville, Philadelphia, Boston, Toronto, Detroit, Chicago, Denver, Las Vegas, and Seattle. No Pier Pressure, due in April, will be Wilson's 11th solo studio album, and in March a new Brian Wilson biopic, Love & Mercy, will premiere at the SXSW film festival in Texas on Mar. 15. On Mar. 30, Wilson will be honored with an all-star "Brian-Fest" benefit tribute concert at the Fonda Theatre in Los Angeles. Al Jardine, Heart's Ann Wilson, Norah Jones, Boz Scaggs and Wilson Phillips will be among the headliners at the event, which will benefit the Sweet Relief Musicians Fund. - Billboard, 3/5/15...... In other touring news, Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour announced he'll tour the U.K. and Europe this September behind his upcoming, as yet-untitled fourth solo studio album. Kicking off at the historic Pula arena Roman ampitheatre in Croatia on Sept. 12, Gilmour's six-city tour also includes stops in such exquisite venues as Italy's Verona arena (9/14), Italy's Florence Teatro Le Mulina (9/15), France's Orange Theatre Antique (9/17), and Germany's Oberhausen Konig-Pilsener-arena (9/19), before wrapping with a three-night stand at the UK's Royal Albert Hall on Sept. 23, 24 and 25. Gilmour's new set follows the release of the well-received final Pnk Floyd LP, The Endless River, in 2014. His previous three solo efforts include a 1978 self-titled debut, 1984's About Face, and 2006's On an Island. Gilmour hasn't toured since. - Billboard, 3/5/15...... As the condition of Grammy-winning country/pop star Glen Campbell continues to deteriorate, his two oldest children are attempting to wrest control of his medical and financial decisions away from his wife of 32 years, Kim Campbell. Debby Campbell-Cloyd and Travis Campbell claim their stepmom is keeping their father "secluded from the rest of the family" which has been "prohibited from participating in his care and/or treatment," according to a petition filed in a Nashville court in January. The petition asks a judge to appoint conservators and a guardian to protect Glen Campbell's interest. Campbell, 78, is in the late stages of Alzheimer's disease and living at a Nashville long-term care facility. Campbell revealed he had Alzheimer's disease in 2011, but he went on to record two albums and play more than 150 concerts. - AP, 3/4/15...... Officials in Chicago have ruled that Grateful Dead fans won't be allowed to camp out during three 50th anniversary "farewell" concerts this summer scheduled over the Fourth of July weekend at Soldier Field. A spokesman for the venue, Luca Serra, told the Chicago Tribune that safety was a top consideration in the decision not to grant permits to fans requesting overnight permits to camp out in parking lots surrounding Soldier Field. Roughly 60,000 to 70,000 people are expected to attend each sold-out concert. Soldier Field doesn't usually have events later than 11 p.m., after which tailgating isn't allowed, and Serra says there will be increased security with police and fire crews for traffic management. Tickets for the "Fare Thee Well" series of shows sold out in minutes on Mar. 1, but Deadheads with deep pockets can score tickets from such outlets as Stubhub for anywhere from $1,350 to a whoppiing $116,000 for premium seats. The shows will feature Phish guitarist Trey Anastasio joining original members of the Grateful Dead -- the "core four" of Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, Mickey Hart, and Bill Kreutzmann. - AP/Billboard, 3/3/15...... As Crosby, Stills & Nash kick off a tour of Asia on Mar. 5, David Crosby has been very active on Twitter in recent days, replying to fans' questions, theories and remembrances with honest responses delivered in marathon online sessions. Among the 73-year-old folk-rocker's frank opinions are that rapper Kayne West is "an idiot and a poser...has not talent at all" and the Beach Boys' Mike Love "quite possibly the biggest jerk in rock 'n' roll." Crosby, who is approaching 7,000 tweets and 35,000 followers, adds that things he loves include Bonnie Raitt, Little Feat, Jimmy Page, Stevie Wonder and Neil Young's new Pono music service. His dislikes include Punk Rock, Phish, Jim Morrison, Terry Melcher and fried eggs on hamburgers. - Billboard, 3/5/15...... A feature-length Led Zeppelin film of classic live footage from the band's '70s glory years will be screened in select U.S. theaters for one night only on Mar. 30. Fathom Events Classic Music Series presents Led Zeppelin, a 105-minute collection of Zeppelin performances, will premiere at 7:30 p.m. (local time) throughout the U.S. on March 30 in a multitude of cities, from New York to Fargo, N.D., to Fairbanks, Alaska. The show contains footage from a Jan. 1970 at London's Royal Albert Hall, a July 1973 at New York's Madison Square Garden, a May 1975 show at London's Earl's Court, and a 1979 concert at England's Knebworth festival. Meanwhile in other Zeppelin-related news, Jimmy Page is ramping up his feud with one of his west London neighbors, singer Robbie Williams, who has been planning to make changes to the garden and the layout of his house, as well as replacing the roof of its glass studio. As a result, Page hired architects, structural engineers and town planners to put together reports arguing why the renovation should not go ahead. "Similar schemes have been carried out on other properties in the area locally and each time the level of vibration during the works has caused concern about the effect on decorative finishes of [my] house," Page reportedly told the Kensington And Chelsea Council in a letter. "The work now proposed is much nearer than other major excavations carried out so far and the consequences for the building fabric and decorative finishes... may well be catastrophic if this project is allowed to proceed," he added. Williams bought his £17.5 million mansion next to Page, previously owned by late director Michael Winner, in 2013. - Billboard/New Musical Express, 3/2/15...... As the vinyl LP format continues its rebirth among younger generations of music fans, Universal Music has announced it will roll out vinyl albums of three popular movies of the '70s -- Boogie Nights, Car Wash and Animal House --- on Apr. 14. It will be the first-ever LP release for Boogie Nights, and other movie soundtracks being released by Universal include a picture disc of O Brother, Where Art Thou?, Little Shop of Horrors and Silence of the Lambs. - Billboard, 3/3/15...... Singer-songwriter Victor Willis of the Village People has finally prevailed in his legal battle to remove a formerly credited French songwriter named Henri Belolo from many of the '70s disco troupe's most famous songs written by Willis and Jacques Morali, including "Y.M.C.A." On Mar. 5, a California jury decided that Belolo's name should be removed from 13 Village People songs, which will for a royalty bump up from a 12-20 percent rate. As a co-owner, he also enjoys licensing rights on the songs. The case had been closely followed in the music industry because it dealt with a portion of copyright law passed in the mid-1970s that allows authors to terminate copyright grants. "I'm excited that the world will now know that 'Y.M.C.A.' is all-American, not French," Willis said after the ruling. - The Hollywood Reporter, 3/5/15...... Rock & Roll Hall of Fame members Hall & Oates have filed a lawsuit against a Brooklyn granola company named Early Bird Foods for calling one of their hipster-friendly products "Haulin' Oats." The name and mark Haulin' Oats is an obvious play upon Plaintiff's well-known Hall & Oates mark, and was selected by defendant in an effort to trade off of the fame and notoriety associated with the artist's and plaintiff's well-known marks," the "Rich Girl" duo's suit states. The Red Hook-based company was founded by a former manager of Brooklyn's renowned Franny's restaurant, and promises customers superior granola products. Hall & Oates are demanding Early Bird stop using the "Haulin' Oats" name and are also seeking damages. - Pagesix.com, 3/4/15...... A rotating display of Elvis Presley memorabilia and artifacts rarely seen outside his famed Memphis, Tenn., Graceland mansion will open this summer at the Westgate hotel-casino in Las Vegas, where the King of Rock & Roll first played almost 59 years ago and spent months performing in the 1970's. The very showroom where Presley performed several hundred sold-out shows when the hotel was first known as The International, and later as the Las Vegas Hilton, will be revamped to look much like it did when Elvis performed there -- complete with semi-circular booths. The exhibit -- all 28,000 square feet -- will be the largest Presley display outside Memphis. - AP, 3/1/15...... A plane piloted by actor and aviation enthusiast Harrison Ford crash-landed at a Los Angeles golf course on Mar. 5, with Ford sustaining head injuries and cuts. Patrick Butler of the Los Angeles Fire Department said the patient, whom he did not identify, was "alert, conscious and breathing." and in "fair to moderate" condition after being transported to a local hospital. Ford's son Ben Ford, an L.A. chef, later tweeted that he was at the hospital with his father. "Dad is ok. Battered, but ok! He is every bit the man you would think he is. He is an incredibly strong man," he wrote. He added: "Thank you all for your thoughts and good vibes for my dad." Ford, 72, was piloting a World War II-era single-engine training plane when it crashed west of the airport shortly after it took off from Santa Monica Airport, a Federal Aviation Administration spokesperson said. The Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark star is expected to recover fully from his injuries. - The Hollywood Reporter, 3/5/15...... Actor Sylvester Stallone reportedly broke up an unscripted fight on the set of his upcoming Rocky spin-off, Creed, on Mar. 1 when the film was shooting in Aston, Penn. Actor/boxer Tony Bellew, who plays a character called Pretty Ricky, reportedly left the ring in the middle of filming, and lunged at the actor portraying his corner coach in the movie, throwing punches at him. Stallone was among those who jumped in to break up the fight, and it is unclear what started the confrontation. In Creed, Stallone's Rocky Balboa is a trainer and mentor to the grandson of his former rival Apollo Creed. - WENN.com, 3/2/15...... Chris Rainbow, a singer whose credits include a string of hit albums with the Alan Parsons Project and a stint in Camel, has died. He was 68. "It was with great sadness that I read today of the passing of Chris Rainbow. He was an amazing talent and an integral part of the Project sound," Alan Parsons posted on his website. "[Keyboardist and co-writer] Eric [Woolfson] and I used to call him the 'One Man Beach Boys.' I will always remember his funny stories, his mimicking ability and his hilarious catch phrases. Sessions with him were always filled with laughter. I will miss him greatly," Parsons added. Rainbow began working with the Alan Parsons Project on 1979's Eve, and although he usually sang lead on only one song per album, he was frequently called upon to provide multitracked background vocals in the studio until Parsons dissolved the group after 1987's Gaudi. The cause of Rainbow's death has not been revealed at this point.
The first trailer for the new Brian Wilson biopic Love & Mercy with Paul Dano starring the Beach Boys leader has hit the Internet. John Cusack plays Wilson later in life, with Elizabeth Banks playing Wilson's wife Melinda Ledbetter, and Paul Giamatti as Dr. Eugene Landy, a scheming psychologist who pulled Wilson into his orbit during the '80s. According to the trailer, Love & Mercy will hit the big screen in June. In real life, Wilson is also working on a new album, No Pier Pressure, which is due in April. - Billboard, 2/26/15...... Aretha Franklin will be joining American Idol's live Motown-themed episodes in Detroit in early March as a guest menter, it was announced on Feb. 26. The shows, which will air on Mar 4 and 5, will have the cast whittled down to the top 16, performing at the Fillmore theater. The Queen of Soul will also perform on the show, having previously appeared on it via satellite during its season 12 finale. - Billboard, 2/26/15...... Led Zeppelin are on track to top the UK's Offical Album chart with their latest release, a deluxe reissue of their 1975 double-LP Physical Graffiti. Hitting stores on Feb. 23 to celebrate its 40th anniversary, Physical Graffiti has been remastered by Jimmy Page and features a bonus disc of seven previously unreleased tracks, which include rough mixes of the songs "In My Time Of Dying" and "Houses Of The Holy." Meanwhile in the US, Stevie Wonder has returned to the Top 40 of Billboard's Hot 200 albums chart following his Feb. 16 televised Grammy salute, Songs In the Key Of Life - An All-Star Grammy Salute. The greatest hits set zoomed back onto the Hot 200 with 11,000 units (up 205 percent), and it sold nearly 7,000 copies for the week (up 260 percent). Wonder's last appearance on the Top 40 was in November 2005 with his last studio LP, A Time to Love. - New Musical Express/Billboard, 2/26/15...... In other Billboard chart action, it appears rapper Drake is on the verge of breaking a record set by the Beatles 51 years ago with the Fab Four placed 14 songs simultaniously on Billboard's Hot 100 singles chart. With his surprise album If You're Reading This It's Too Late, which debut at No. 1 for the week of Feb. 28, Drake has charted 14 songs simultaneously on the chart, equaling the 14 titles that the Beatles placed on the Hot 100 dated April 11, 1964. - Billboard, 2/27/15...... In other Beatles-related news, Paul McCartney will be headlining the 2015 Firefly Music Festival in its fourth consecutive year at Dover, Del.'s International Speedway on June 18-21. General Admission passes go on sale March 2 via Firefly's official site, fireflyfestival.com. Meanwhile, Sir Paul's childhood home in Liverpool has sold for £150,000 at auction in Liverpool. Paul moved to the three-bedroom terraced house on Western Avenue with his parents at age four in 1947, and the family lived there for six years. The house was purchased for £50,000 more than its guide price by an anonymous bidder during an auction at the historic Cavern Club, which played host to some early Beatles gigs. "We are delighted to have sold such an iconic piece of The Beatles' and Liverpool's history," Andrew Brown, manager of Countrywide Property Auctions, said. Paul Beesley, a Beatles guide, says the house is important in Beatle lore because "it's where Paul spent his formative schoolboy years... He was exposed to music from an early age and his dad had a jazz band... Paul's first instrument was the trumpet." - NME, 2/27/15...... Elsewhere on the Fab Four front, a George Harrison memorial tree has been planted in a Los Angeles park to replace one that was killed by a beetle infestation in 2014. A yew pine honoring the late Beatles guitarist was planted on Feb. 25 in Griffith Park on what would have been Harrison's 72nd birthday. It was placed near the Griffith Observatory and replaces a Canary Island pine that was planted in 2004. A plaque near the tree site says it honors "a great humanitarian who touched the world as an artist, a musician and gardener." Harrison died in 2001. - AP, 2/26/15...... Yoko Ono, who recently celebrated her 82nd birthday by releasing two 10-inch vinyl records called "Antony & Yoko" and "Yoko Ono & John Zorn," has posted a letter on her website imaginepeace.com asking critics to "let me be free" and "please don't create another old person." "At my age I should be in a certain way. Please don't stop me being the way I am," Ono wrote. "I don't want to be old and sick like many others of my age. Please don't create another old person... Go to a classical concert, if you want to hear a "trained" voice. What I escaped from when I was very, very young. I created my own niche. If I tried to present you classic music it won't be what I created," she added. Ono's birthday also saw the release of a new book by Bob Gruen and Judy Denberg called See Hear Yoko. It includes black and white photos of the singer, as well as 25 years' worth of interviews. - NME, 2/24/15...... A UK court sentenced '70s glam-rock singer Gary Glitter to 16 years in prison on Feb. 27 after he was convicted of sexually abusing three young girls in the 1970s. The 70-year-old Glitter, whose real name is Paul Gadd, showed no response after the verdict was handed down. He had been found guilty earlier in February of one count of attempted rape, four counts of indecent assault and one count of sexual intercourse with a girl under the age of 13. Glitter was arrested in October 2012 under Operation Yewtree, the national investigation British police launched in the wake of a child abuse scandal surrounding the late BBC entertainer Jimmy Savile. Glitter is best known for the hit "Rock & Roll (Part 2)," but he fell into disgrace after being convicted on child abuse charges in Vietnam. - AP, 2/27/15...... In related news, an investigation of veteran English pop singer Cliff Richard relating to claims of sexual assault has "increased significantly in size," a British lawmaker said on Feb. 25. In Aug. 2014, police questioned the 74-year-old Richard and searched one of his homes after receiving what they called "an allegation of a sexual nature." Richard, a fixture on the British pop scene since the late 1950s, has not been arrested or charged. He recorded hit singles in the pre-Beatles era and has been popular ever since, receiving a knighthood in 1995. Richard issued a statement on Feb. 25 calling the allegations "absurd and untrue." "I have never, in my life, assaulted anyone and I remain confident that the truth will prevail," he said, adding that he had cooperated fully with police. - AP, 2/25/15...... Veteran country music singer Charley Pride will launch his first UK tour in three years on Apr. 29 at Manchester's Bridgewater Hall. Pride, one of the few African-American country musicians to experience massive-market commercial success in the country music industry and one of the few African-American singers to be inducted into the Grand Ole Opry, will also perform in London (5/2), Southend Cliffs (5/3), Birmingham (5/4) and Glasgow (5/6). - Noble PR, 2/25/15...... Classic Rock icons Whitesnake have announced they'll release their 12th studio album, The Purple Album, on May 19 via Fronteirs Music SRL. The Purple Album is a re-imagination of classic songs from frontman David Coverdale's time as the lead singer for Deep Purple's "Mark 3" and "Mark 4" studio albums. "It's a tribute. A homage. It's a huge thank you from me to Deep Purple for the opportunity I was given over 40 years ago," says Coverdale. "As I said to Richie [Blackmore], you guys set me on an incredible journey that continues today and I couldn't have asked for better teachers. The University of Deep Purple is an extraordinary, amazing school to learn from. We can't wait to play these songs in concert." Whitesnake will tour the US behind The Purple Album beginning on May 28 at the Quest Casino in Airway Heights, Wash. The will play 18 more American dates before wrapping on July 18 at the Star Plaza in Merrillville, Indiana. - Noble PR, 2/25/15...... Country musician and songwriter Bobby Emmons, who wrote hits for Waylon Jennings and George Strait and played on more than 100 chart hits as a session musician, died on Feb. 23 in a Nashville hospital, while being treated for an undisclosed illness. He was 72. The Mississippi-native was a mostly self-taught organ player and keyboardist who became a staple of the Memphis music scene and played on about 120 of chart hits between 1962 and 1972. Emmons' band's hit records included Elvis Presley's "Suspicious Minds," Dusty Springfield's "Son of a Preacher Man," Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline," Merrilee Rush's "Angel of the Morning," B.J. Thomas' "Hooked on a Feeling," Joe Tex's "I Gotcha," Bobby Womack's "Fly Me To The Moon," and many more. As a songwriter, he had a number of successful tunes to his credit as well, for acts including Waylon Jennings ("Luckenbach, Texas," "Women Do Know How to Carry On" and "Wurlitzer Prize") George Strait ("So Much Like My Dad"), Tanya Tucker ("Love Me Like You Used To") and B.J. Thomas ("Help Me Make It to My Rockin' Chair"). - Billboard, 2/27/15..... Actor Leonard Nimoy, best known for his role as Mr. Spock in the Star Trek franchise, died at his home in the Bel Air neighborhood of Los Angeles on Feb. 27. He was 83. Mr. Nimoy was a heavy smoker earlier in his life, and his wife said his death was due to end-stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The star had been open about his condition, and spoke publicly about it in 2014. "Just can't walk distances. Love my life, family, friends and followers," he wrote on Twitter a week after announcing his diagnosis. Mr. Nimoy portrayed Mr. Spock for 40 years, reprising the role in 1979's Star Trek: The Motion Picture, 2009's Star Trek and 2013's Star Trek Into Darkness. Aside from his work as Spock, Nimoy sat in the director's chair, helming 3 Men And A Baby and Star Trek films like The Search For Spock and The Voyage Home. He was also an accomplished voice actor, and can be heard in two episodes of The Simpsons, Atlantis: The Lost Empire, Transformers: The Movie, The Pagemaster, and dozens of other projects, including video games. More recently, he had a recurring role on the series, Fringe, as William Bell. Mr. Nimoy also released five albums via Dot Records, one of which borrowed from his days as Spock: Leonard Nimoy Presents Mr. Spock's Music From Outer Space. Mr. Nimoy had been hospitalized a few days before his death, and many of his former Star Trek co-stars, including George Takei, sent public well wishes. He had become active on Twitter in recent years, and wrote his last message on Feb. 23: "A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP" He is survived by his wife, two children from his first marriage to actress Sandra Zober, his stepson and grandchildren. - The Huffington Post, 2/27/15.
Cable news channel CNN announced on Feb. 22 it had picked up domestic broadcast rights to the recent Glen Campbell documentary, Glen Campbell: I'll Be Me. CNN says it will premiere the film in June, with an encore in November. Directed by James Keach, I'll Be Me was nominated for an Oscar for Best Original Song for "I'm Not Gonna Miss You," which was performed during the Feb. 22 Oscars ceremony by Tim McGraw and won a Grammy earlier in February for best country song. "This partnership will guarantee that millions of people will have the opportunity to see our movie and understand just how important it is to both raise awareness -- and find an end -- to Alzheimer's disease," said I'll Be Me producer Trevor Albert. Campbell, 78, was diagnosed with Alzheimer's four years ago and recently admitted to a long-term care facility in Nashville, and now his wife Kim says his condition has declined. "He has lost most of his ability to communicate, but he can say short phrases like, 'I love you,'" Kim says. "He likes to strum on the guitar a bit, and he still prays -- He's got a heart of gratitude and a positive attitude... He's cheerful and content." - The Hollywood Reporter/Billboard, 2/22/15...... The heirs of '70s reggae legend Bob Marley have scored a victory in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in their lawsuit against merchandisers who they say are confusing consumers about who was endorsing Marley T-shirts. Marley's heirs are behind a company called Fifty-Six Hope Road Music, which controls Marley's likeness for licensing endeavors. In 2008, Fifty-Six sued A.V.E.L.A. and others for using Marley photographs in merchandise sold at Target, Walmart and other large retailers. The company was ordered to pay more than 750,000 in profits in 2011, and an additional $300,000 in damages for interfering with the official licensing of Marley merchandise as well as attorney's fees. - Billboard, 2/20/15...... Fleetwood Mac's On With the Show tour has topped the Billboard Hot Tours chart for the week of Feb. 11-17, with shows at three arenas in Michigan, Quebec and Connecticut bringing in $3.8 million in sales from the veteran rock band's 2015 winter trek. The tour will continue its North American schedule of more than 80 concerts through April 14, wrapping in the Los Angeles market at the Forum in Inglewood. Fleetwood Mac will follow that with a two-night stand at London's O2 Arena on May 27. - Billboard, 2/20/15...... Brian Wilson has unveiled a new video for a song called "The Right Time" from his forthcoming LP No Pier Pressure. The clip was filmed in-studio during the track's recording and includes the song's lyrics. Cofounding BB member Al Jardine handles lead vocals, and the song also features a guitar contribution from early band member David Marks. The 13-track album is due for release on Apr. 7. - New Musical Express, 2/22/15...... Hall & Oates will premiere a their new live DVD Recorded Live from Dublin on Feb. 19 with a one-night-only theatrical screening on Feb. 19, with a DVD and Blu-ray release following on Mar. 31. The show was recorded at Dublin's Olympia Theatre, and Hall says there was "something about the room that was at that time very magical to me and very special." Hall & Oates have six spread-out live dates on their calendar for 2015, starting Feb. 26 in Bethlehem, Pa. Theater locations and other details for the screening of Recorded Live from Dublin can be found at FathomEvents.com. - Billboard, 2/18/15...... Longtime jazz musician Clark Terry has died at the age of 94. A native of St. Louis, Mr. Terry rose to fame as a sideman for two legends of swing/big band music, first performing with Count Basie between 1948-1951 and then Duke Ellington from 1951-1959, holding the distinction of being one of few who played in both bands. He made an even bigger impact in the 1960s as the first-ever African-American staff musician at NBC, where he spent 12 years as a featured horn player in NBC's The Tonight Show band. He released more than 80 albums as a bandleader and hundreds more as a sideman to jazz greats including Dizzy Gillespie, Charles Mingus, Clifford Brown, Milt Jackson and Quincy Jones. Mr. Terry, who was admitted into hospice care earlier in Febrary, also organized countless camps and clinics. "Teaching jazz allows me to play a part in making dreams come true for aspiring musicians," he posted on his website. - The Hollywood Reporter, 2/22/15.
Neil Young is teaming up with Supreme, a US clothing company known for skateboarding and street attire, to promote their clothing line. Young is featured in a new ad campaign for the 20-year-old streetwear company, who has partnered with the likes of Lou Reed and Shane McGowan in the past. Supreme are also selling a Neil Young T-shirt which is currently available on their website. - New Musical Express, 2/18/15......Alice Cooper has signed on to perform at the 2015 Rock in Rio festival in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, this September with a backing back that will include Aerosmith's Joe Perry and actor Johnny Depp. The group will perform under the name Hollywood Vampires, which takes its name from infamous group of heavy-drinking rock stars that Cooper formed in the 1970s alongside John Lennon, Ringo Starr, Bernie Taupin, Harry Nilsson, Keith Moon and Micky Dolenz. Cooper has recently been serving as he opening act for veteran "hair band" Motley Crue, who are currently in the middle of an 18-month farewell tour that will mark the end of the group after 24 years. Cooper has offered to "kill them onstage" during their final gig on New Year's Eve with one of the infamous guillotines in his live shows. - NME, 2/15/15...... Van Morrison announced on Feb. 17 he'll releasing a new album, Duets: Re-Working the Catalogue, on Mar. 24 via RCA Records that sees the Celtic crooner returning to some of the songs he made famous with the help of classic and contemporary artists. Morrison will rework such tracks as "Wild Honey" with Joss Stone, "Some Peace of Mind" with Bobby Womack, "Higher Than the World" with George Benson, and "Irish Heartbeat" with Mark Knopfler. Recorded in Belfast and London over the past year, the 16-track album was produced by Morrison, Don Was and Bob Rock, and finds the rock icon "deliberately steering away from his more well-known classics." Duets's first single, a new version of 1990's "Real Real Gone" featuring Michael Bublé, is already available. Duets will be Morrison's follow-up to 2012's Born to Sing: Plan B. - Billboard, 2/17/15...... Paul McCartney gave a Valentine's Day present to fans in New York City on Feb. 14 when he performed a semi-private show in an Irving Plaza hall holding barely more than a thousand people for a $40 admission fee. Paul played a mix of Beatles and Wings favorites, including "Matchbox," "Eight Days a Week," "All My Loving," "I've Just Seen a Face," and "Jet," as well as a recent composition, the lovely minor-key ballad "My Valentine." The following day, Macca participated in an all-star afterparty jam for the 40th anniversary celebration of NBC's Saturday Night Live with such stars as Taylor Swift, Prince, Bill Murray, Martin Short and Dan Aykroyd, among others. The set notably included Swift's "Shake It Off" and the Beatles'"I Saw Her Standing There." The massive three and a half hour event included more than 100 guests, and became the most tweeted TV show in history. - The Hollywood Reporter/Billboard, 2/15/15...... In other Beatles-related news, it was announced on Feb. 16 that the historic Abbey Road Studios in northwest London are set for a multi-million pound renovation, in order to bring in more pop stars and also help with the creation of film scores. The studios will boast brand new, state-of-the-art equipment including a Dolby Atmos system, a surround sound system set to be used in the making of film soundtracks. The work is scheduled to be completed in 2016. - NME, 2/16/15...... Elsewhere on the Fab Four front, a new photo exhibit by Pattie Boyd, the former wife of George Harrison and Eric Clapton, went on display at the San Francisco Art Exchange on Feb. 17. Boyd, 69, took many photos of some of the era's biggest rock stars including Harrison, Clapton, and the Beatles during their 1968 visit to India. "I feel very lucky that I was part of that whole scene in the '60s and '70s," Boyd says. "I love ooking at the photographs because everyone was young, and they were so gorgeous to look at." Boyd was married to Harrison from 1966 to 1977 and Clapton from 1979 to 1989. The photos will remain on exhibit until Mar. 15. - CNN, 2/12/15...... Jimmy Page was honored with a Rock'N'Soul award during the New Musical Express Awards ceremony at London's O2 Academy Brixton on Feb. 17. Page was on hand to accept the award handed out by NME Best New Band honoree Royal Blood and give an acceptance speech. "Thanks so much for this award, NME. It's a real honour to get it, [but] as far as whatever I've managed to do in music, I've learned from records and my heroes. I'm only just passing on the baton. I got the music and passed it on. There it is, for everyone," the guitarist said. Page recently oversaw a remastered deluxe reissue of Led Zeppelin's 1975 double LP, Physical Graffiti. - NME, 2/18/15...... In other award show news, late Grateful Dead frontman Jerry Garcia will be among the class of 2015 inductees into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in June, it was announced on Feb. 18. The SHOF's 46th Annual Induction and Awards Dinner will take place at the Marriott Marquis in New York City. - AP/Billboard, 2/18/15...... '60s teen singer/songwriter Lesley Gore, known for such epic songs of teen angst including "It's My Party," "Judy's Turn to Cry" and "You Don't Own Me," died of lung cancer on Feb. 16 at New York-Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan. She was 68. Brooklyn-born and New Jersey-raised, Gore was discovered by Quincy Jones as a teenager and signed to Mercury Records. Her other hits include "She's A Fool," "That's the Way Boys Are" and "Maybe I Know, and she co-wrote with her brother, Michael, the Academy Award-nominated "Out Here On My Own" from the film Fame. Gore also played Catwoman's sidekick in the cult '60s TV comedy Batman. She officially came out to the public when she hosted several episodes of the PBS series, In The Life, which dealt with gay and lesbian issues. During the 2012 presidential campaign, she turned "You Don't Own Me" into an online video public service announcement demanding reproductive rights, and had been working on a stage version of her life when she died. - AP, 2/16/15...... Radio, TV and voiceover performer Gary Owens, best known as the announcer on NBC's Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In from 1968 to 1973, died on Feb. 12 at his home in the Encino neighborhood of Los Angeles. He was 80. Mr. Owens, who had been diabetic since the age of 8, also lent his voice to more than 3,000 cartoons, providing the voice of cartoon character Space Ghost as well as Blue Falcon, Roger Ramjet, Powdered Toast Man and even Batman. Mr. Owens' possessed a baritone voice with impeccable nuanced timing, and he was equally adept at comedy or deadpan delivery. He was also the announcer on Sesame Street since its inception in 1969, and was one of the original contributors to PBS series The Electric Company. - Variety, 2/13/15.
Bob Dylan announced a 19-city US trek on Feb. 12 that begins on Apr. 10 in Atlantic City, N.J., and hitting other mid-sized markets including Baltimore (4/11), Richmond, Va. (4/12), Savannah, Ga. (4/14), Montgomery, Ala. (4/15), North Charlston, S.C. (4/17) and St. Augustine, Fla. (4/18). Dylan will wrap the tour in San Antonio, Tex., on May 7. Dylan's 36th studio album, Shadows in the Night, has moved 50,000 units in its first week of release, giving it the No. 1 spot on Billboard Top Rock Albums chart. Shadows also scored a No. 7 position on the Hot 200 albums chart, some 50 years after he first reached the Hot 200 Top 10 with Bringing It All Back Home on May 29, 1965. Meanwhile, ELO's 1976 hit "Evil Woman" benefited from Jeff Lynne's performance of the song on the Grammy Awards show on Feb. 8. The song soared on the Rock Digital Songs chart by 958 percent to 6,000 sold. The other track that the Jeff Lynne-led band performed, "Mr. Blue Sky" (from 1978), surged by 822 percent to 5,000. - Billboard, 2/12/15...... Jimmy Buffett has added a handful of summer dates to his 2015 Workin' 'n Playin' tour, which gets underway on Apr. 1 in Key West, Fla. Buffett and his Coral Reefer Band will play St. Louis, Bristol, Va., Cincinnati, and Chicago during June, before wrapping in Camden, N.J., on Aug. 20. Other dates include West Palm Beach, Fla., Orlando, Fla., Tampa, Fla., New Orleans and Houston, Tex. - Billboard, 2/13/15...... Neil Diamond will kick off a 63-date North American tour on Feb. 27 in Allentown, Pa., and is promising fans can expect to be treated to many of his biggest hits along with selections from his latest album, Melody Road. "There's always a lot of songs in a show people know," Diamond says. "I can't leave them out, so the shows get bigger and bigger. This show will probably have more songs in it than any show I've ever done because I don't want to take out 'I Am I Said' or 'Sweet Caroline' or 'Holly Holy.' And there are 15 or 20 like those, and I also want to make sure I do a fair share of the new songs and keep the audience involved in every way. It's going to have a lot of songs, and it's gonna be a big show." The 74-year-old singer added that he's also "anxious" to share newer songs from his last two Rick Rubin-produced LPs because they "work very well." Diamond will be on the road through May 31. - Billboard, 2/13/15...... '70s disco icon Giorgio Moroder will support current pop sensation Kylie Minogue on her 5-date Australian arena tour, which begins Mar. 14 at Perth Arena and will run through Mar. 21 at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre. Moroder, who has produced '70s stars including Donna Summer, David Bowie, Blondie and Freddie Mercury, will play a DJ set at each Kylie show on the tour. - Billboard, 2/13/15...... Former Genesis member Mike Rutherford has just released a memoir, The Living Years: The First Genesis Memoir, in the US after becoming a best-seller in his native Britain in 2014. The Living Years is dominated by Rutherford's life with Genesis, and he credits the book with helping to bring the five key members of the group together for group interview segments seen in the documentary Sum of the Parts that aired on Showtime (and the BBC) during October and was released on DVD in January. Rutherford says there's "nothing planned" for a Genesis reunion. "We've done an awful lot recently. But it's been nice, and I do treasure the fact that we're still sort of friends. That's good." Instead, his main focus now is his spinoff band Mike + The Mechanics, which he reactivated in 2010 with vocalists Tom Howard and Andrew Roachford and recorded a new album, The Road, that came out in 2011. Rutherford is bringing the group across the pond for its first North American tour since 1989, starting February 26-27 in Alexandria, Va., followed by a European trek during April and May. - Billboard, 2/12/15...... Paul McCartney's new collaboration with Kanye West and Rihanna, "FourFiveSeconds," has just topped Billboard's Top Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, giving the former Beatle a new chart record: he now has the longest span between No. 1 songs in the history of that particular Billboard chart. McCartney first topped the chart in 1983 with "The Girl Is Mine," his duet with Michael Jackson, and now "FourFiveSeconds" gives him a 32-year span on the chart. The record was previously held by Ray Charles, for "Let's Go Get Stoned" in 1966 through 1990's "I'll Be Good To You." - Billboard, 2/12/15...... In other Beatles-related news, Yoko Ono will release two 10-inch vinyls on Feb. 18 to mark her 82nd birthday called "Antony & Yoko" and "Yoko Ono & John Zorn." On "Antony & Yoko," Ono and Antony Zorn perform a vocal duet over piano on song "I Love You Earth," while "Yoko Ono & John Zorn" features "intense and imaginative" improvisations on song "Blink" from Ono and John Zorn. Ono's birthday will also see the release of a new photo book by Bob Gruen and Judy Denberg called See Hear Yoko. It will include black and white photos of the singer, as well as 25 years' worth of interviews. Meanwhile, John Lennon's sister Julia Baird narrates a new documentary called Come Together which features a handful of the world's estimated 8,000 Beatles cover bands as they set out to pay homage to the most influential band of all time during the annual "International Beatleweek" in Liverpool. The film, which was released digitally on Feb. 3, takes place in a variety of Beatle-friendly haunts, including the famed Cavern Club, which launched the four mop-top Brits into international superstars. - New Musical Express/Billboard, 2/9/15...... Elsewhere on the Fab Four front, Ringo Starr has announced that his 18th studio album, Postcards From Paradise, will drop on Mar. 30. The 11-track album will feature original tracks from Ringo, with such guest contributors as Joe Walsh, Benmont Tench, Dave Stewart, Ann Marie Simpson, Richard Marx, Amy Keys, Peter Frampton, Nathan East and Glen Ballard. Starr will be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Oh., in its "Award For Musical Excellence" category, on Apr. 18. - NME, 2/11/15...... Def Leppard has announced a 48-date summer concert tour with Styx and Tesla that will launch June 23 in Tampa, Fla., and run through Oct. 4 in Bismarck, N.D. "We've toured with both of these bands before," band frontman Joe Elliott says. "Styx is a great bunch of guys and as American as mom's apple pie all the way through. And we had Tesla on board when we did the Hysteria tour back in '87; they were out for at least six or seven months with us before they went off to do their own thing. So it'll be a great time on stage and backstage, I think." - Billboard, 2/12/15...... Eddie Van Halen traveled to Washington, D.C., on Feb. 12 to donate some of his instruments to the National Museum of American History and discuss making music and his innovative guitar and amp designs, some of which he holds patents on. Van Halen says he considers his most important innovation with his guitar was "combining a Gibson (guitar) with a Fender." "There was no Fender or a Stratocaster-style guitar with a humbucker in it," he says. "After that, every company on the planet made a guitar like that." Van Halen recently announced they will release a 25-track live album, its first with founding singer David Lee Roth, and it's waiting for a release date. - AP, 2/11/15...... Rolling Stones guitarist Ron Wood says the Stones are planning a summer tour of North America in 2015. "Yeah, we had a meeting in New York with the boys and we're gonna come [to] North America again in the summer," Wood says. Wood offered no details about when those dates will take place or where else the band might play during the year, but in 2014 fellow guitarist Keith Richards mentioned the possibility of South America. The North American tour, if it happens, would be the Stones' first North American dates in decades without saxophonist Bobby Keys, who died Dec. 2 after skipping the Australia and New Zealand dates due to his declining health. Meanwhile, Wood is prepping for the May release of a diary he wrote in 1965 about the year he spent playing in his first band, the Birds, titled How Can It Be? A Rock & Roll Diary, via Britain's Genesis Publications. The book replicates his handwritten pages and adds some new commentary and sketches. - Billboard, 2/11/15...... On Feb. 11 AC/DC announced formal plans for a late summer North American tour, named the Rock or Bust Tour (after their 2014 album). The 13-date trek will kick off on Aug. 22 in Foxboro, Mass., and hit venues in East Rutherford, N.J. (8/26), Montreal (8/31), Ottawa (9/3), Detroit (9/8), Toronto (9/10), Chicago (9/15), Vancouver, B.C. (9/22) and San Francisco (9/25) before wrapping in Los Angeles on Sept. 28. The tour will follow a string of European dates which begins on May 5 and runs through late July. The dates will include replacement drummer Chris Slade, who performed with the band on Feb. 8 at the Grammys. AC/DC last toured the world 2008 through 2010 on the Black Ice World Tour. - Billboard, 2/11/15...... Barry Manilow kicked off what he promises will be his "last big tour" on Feb. 11 in Omaha, Neb. The crooner's final tour will include 27 dates before wrapping up June 17 in his hometown of Brooklyn, N.Y. "It doesn't mean I'm retiring or anything. I'll do shows and I'll promote albums if I make any more, but no more big tours," Manilow says. "That's it. It's too much packing. It's 40 years -- more than that, really -- of packing and waiting for room service. People think it's glamorous, but glamorous is the last word I would use for this job. You don't see anything; you see the inside of your hotel room, you see the inside of a car, you see the inside of your dressing room and then you're gone. I haven't gone sightseeing, ever. It's a job." Manilow's One Last Time! Tour also coincides with the 40th anniversary of "Mandy," his first No. 1 hit and a song that launched a string of 16 top 10 hits between 1974 and 1981. "I'm trying to do as many of the well-known songs as I can, hardly any album cuts this time," he adds. - Billboard, 2/11/15...... Chic featuring Nile Rodgers have announced a March 2015 UK tour in support of "I'll Be There," their first single in 23 years. "I'll Be There" will be released on Mar. 20, coinciding with a UK tour, while their new album will be out later in 2015 after it was announced that they had signed to Warner Bros Records. The group will play London (3/20), Leeds (3/22), Glasgow (3/23), Manchester (3/24), Birmingham (3/25) and London (6/21). - New Musical Express, 2/9/15...... On Feb. 10 a federal appeals court revived a copyright lawsuit against Frankie Valli and fellow Four Seasons band member Robert Gaudio over "Jersey Boys," the popular musical about the band. Donna Corbello, the widow of Four Seasons band member Thomas DeVito, sued Valli and Gaudio in 2011 for copyright infringement, claiming the musical was based in part on an unpublished autobiography that her late husband ghost-wrote. DeVito maintains she is entitled to share in the profits from the musical's success. Daniel Mayeda, an attorney for Valli and Gaudio, said he was disappointed in the ruling, but he had not yet decided whether he would appeal. Corbello is also suing DeVito. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that DeVito had transferred his copyright in the autobiography to Valli and Gaudio, and therefore had to account to Corbello for any profits he obtained from it. - AP, 2/10/15...... It has come to light that last November Donny Osmond personally called a lifelong fan who is dying of cancer and was in hospice care until her impending death. The woman, unable to walk and ravaged by brain cancer, was in her mid 50's and a loyal fan of Osmond's. The woman's husband, not knowing how to get in touch with Osmond, or knowing anyone in show business at all, sent a message through Osmond's website, basically a "Hail Mary" pass, explaining the situation and that there wasn't much time, and asked if there was some way for the busy entertainer to please get in touch with his wife and provide a few words of cheer. Four days later, the entertainer personally called the woman to ask how she was doing and thank her for her support all these years....... In other '70s teen heartthrob news, David Cassidy filed for bankruptcy protection on Feb. 11. Cassidy, 64, reportedly owes hundreds of thousands to creditors, with debts to companies such as Wells Fargo ($292,598), American Express ($21,952), and Citi ($17,150). Cassidy's financial troubles are in addition to his brushes with the law recently for drunk driving arrests. He was arrested for DUI for the third time in Jan. 2014, after having been previously arrested for drunk driving in Aug. 2013 and Nov. 2010. In Feb. 2014, Cassidy's wife Sue filed for divorce after 23 years of marriage. "This has been looming for some time," Sue told TMZ.com of the breakup. "I am truly heartbroken that our marriage is ending." - US Weekly, 2/12/15...... Joe Maudlin, the bassist for Buddy Holly and the Crickets, died on the morning of Feb. 7 in Nashville. He was 74. The Lubbock, Tex.-born Maudlin replaced Crickets bassist Larry Welborn in 1957, and over the next two years the band scored a string of Top 10 pop hits, including "That'll Be the Day," "Maybe Baby," "Oh Boy!," "Rave On" and "Heartbeat." Holly's dream came to an end on Feb. 3, 1959 when he, Richie Valens and J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson were killed in a light plane accident outside of Clear Lake, Iowa. Mauldin left the Crickets in 1965 and moved into sound engineering, doing much of his work at Gold Star Studios in Los Angeles. He also occasionally reunited with drummer Jerry Allison as the Crickets over the decades. The Crickets, including Mauldin, were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012 in a special committee vote that was meant to right the mistakes made in the past of inducting lead singers without their backing bands. He is also a member of the West Texas Walk of Fame in Lubbock and the Musicians Hall of Fame in Nashville. 2/8/15...... Actress Lizabeth Scott, whose sultry looks and smoky voice led many a man astray in 1940s and '50s film noir, died of congestive heart failure on Jan. 31 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. She was 92. Scott aspired to be a stage actress but was stereotyped as the femme fatale in the hard-boiled, film noir world of crime, tough talk and dark secrets. - L.A. Times, 2/2/15.
One night in the Seventies, music-biz executive Russ Regan had a strange dream. "I saw Japanese planes flying ot Pearl Harbor with 'Here Comes the Sun" playing," he says. "I thought, 'Wow.'" That vision paved the way for one of the oddest rock movies ever, All This and World War II, which paired covers of Beatles songs with footage from newsreels and movies: Tina Turner singing "Come Together" to images of Japanese soldiers, Rod Stewart doing "Get Back" to marching Nazi troops, the Bee Gees' "Golden Slumbers" to the bombing of London. "It was sometimes a bit of a reach," admits director Susan Winslow, "but there had to be some connection." The movie -- a flop when it was released in 1976 -- remains in the can, but its soundtrack (which also includes Fab Four remakes by Elton John, Keith Moon, Bryan Ferry and more) has just been reissued by Culture Factory USA. "The interpretations are compelling," says the label's Rory MacPherson. Regan, who's still proud of the project, knows it remains controversial: "At the time, I said, 'There might be a lot of people out there who don't understand what we're doing here,' and I was right. But there will never be anything like it. It's one of the first music videos." - Rolling Stone, 2/12/15.
John Lennon's son Sean Lennon is being sued by the parents of actress Marisa Tomei who claim the roots from a tree in the yard of his Manhattan brownstone are destroying their Greenwich Village home on West 13th Street. Gary and Addie Tomei say they contacted Lennon a year ago about removing the 60-foot-high ailanthus tree, which they say has warped their foundation and compromised basement walls, but he is "always traveling" and never responded. Now the Tomeis have filed a $10 million lawsuit against the musician. Lennon purchased his home six years ago for $9.5 million. He has focused on remodeling the ritzy residence since then and has yet to respond to this lawsuit, though his lawyer says he was shocked when he learned just how much the Tomeis are looking for in damages. The ailanthus is an invasive tree species that was introduced to the United States through China and grows new roots constantly as it tries to steal from the supply of other plants. - The Daily Mail UK, 2/4/15...... Van Halen announced on Feb. 7 that they will release their first concert album with original vocalist David Lee Roth. The 25-track Tokyo Dome Live in Concert was recorded on June 21, 2013, in Japan and will drop as a 2-CD set, a 4-LP set on 180-gram vinyl, and digitally. Highlights include such hits as their Roy Orbison cover "(Oh) Pretty Woman," "Hot for Teacher," and the finale, "Jump," along with such rarities as "Ice Cream Man" and "Hear About It Later." In 1993, the band released their first live set, Right Here, Right Now with replacement singer Sammy Hagar. VH also announced they will release newly remastered editions of their 1978 eponymous debut album and 1984's 1984 on the same day as the live album. Re-releases of the Roth-era records Diver Down, Women and Children First, Van Halen II and Fair Warning will drop at a later date. The San Francisco-based band has sold over 80 million albums since forming in 1972. - Billboard, 2/7/15...... After a two-week trial, a British jury on Feb. 5 convicted former glam rock singer Gary Glitter of a string of sex crimes against three young girls in the 1970s. Glitter, 70, was found guilty of one count of attempted rape, four counts of indecent assault, and one count of sexual intercourse with a girl under the age of 13. Det. Chief Insp. Michael Orchard said that Glitter, whose real name is Paul Gadd, "has shown himself to be a habitual sexual predator who took advantage of the star status afforded to him by targeting young girls who trusted him and were in awe of his fame" and that Glitter's lack of remorse and defense that the victims were lying makes his crimes all the more indefensible." Glitter reportedly blew kisses to a public gallery full of reporters as he was remanded in custody to await sentencing on Feb. 27. The maximum sentence in Britain for unlawful sex with a minor is life imprisonment. Best known for Rock & Roll (Part 2)," a hit in both the U.S. and Britain, Glitter fell into disgrace after being convicted and imprisoned on child abuse charges in Vietnam. - AP, 2/5/15...... In related news, folk singer Roy Harper, a hugely influential musician during the '70s who Provided lead vocals on Pink Floyd's 1975 track "Have a Cigar," while Led Zeppelin named their 1970 track "Hats Off to (Roy) Harper" in his honor, was acquitted of two sex offenses in Worcester on Feb. 5. The jury deliberated for over 13 hours over two indecent assault charges one of assaulting a 16-year-old girl in 1980 as well as an 11-year-old in the mid-1970s. It failed to come to a majority verdict on two more accounts of indecent assault as well as two of indecency with a child, and one of sex with a child. Harper released his debut album, Sophisticated Beggar, in 1966, and released his 22nd album, Man and Myth, in September 2014. - New Musical Express, 2/6/15...... Journey guitarist Neal Schon filed a federal lawsuit against the city of San Francisco on Feb. 6, alleging the city overcharged him to use the Palace of Fine Arts for his lavish Dec. 2013 wedding to former reality TV star Michaele Salahi of Real Housewives of D.C. Schon's suit claims San Francisco officials overcharged him for use of the venue and an adjacent building after learning the wedding would be broadcast as a pay-per-view television show. Schon, who says he initially agreed to pay $58,000 to use the facilities and that city officials unfairly hiked the cost of the permit less than a week before the wedding, is seeking unspecified damages. City officials have yet to respond to the lawsuit. - AP, 2/6/15...... Bob Dylan delivered a bold and lenthy 40-minute speech at the annual MusiCares gala at the Los Angeles Convention center on Feb. 6, where he was honored as MusiCares Person of the Year. After being introduced by former president Jimmy Carter, who praised the musician for his words that "are more precise... and permanent than anything said by a president of the United States," Dylan admitted that "right from the start, my songs were divisive," and named several artists who supported him early in his career, including songwriter Doc Pomus, Sun Records label owner Sam Phillips, and country stars Buck Owens and Kris Kristofferson. He also expressed appreciation for former Columbia Records president John Hammond, who signed him to the label, and those artists who have covered his songs, including Peter, Paul & Mary, the Turtles, the Byrds, Sonny and Cher, Jimi Hendrix, Johnny Cash and Joan Baez. Such artists as Beck, Jackson Browne, John Mellencamp, Tom Jones, Jack White, Bonnie Raitt, Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young and Sheryl Crow performed some of Dylan's most famous songs, and the audience included Lady Gaga, Tony Bennett, Jeff Bridges, Ric Ocasek, Mickie Hart and John Densmore. The event raised a record-breaking $7 million for the MusiCares charity that assists musicians in need. Dylan released his latest album, the Frank Sinatra covers LP Shadows in the Night, on Feb. 3. - Billboard, 2/7/15...... In related news, former Arista Records president Clive Davis was among those honored at the 46th NAACP Image Awards in Los Angeles on Feb. 6. Davis, who nurtured the careers of artists including Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin and Alicia Keys, received the Vanguard Award, which recognizes work that increases understanding of racial and social issues. Davis said he was proud to be honored for his efforts to help black artists reach their full potential. - Billboard, 2/7/15...... Guitarist Brian May of Queen is apparently considering running as an independent member of the British Parliament in the general election. His agent, Phil Symes, says the 67-year-old musician is "frustrated at a system that he sees as failing the electorate," and that he could run under his Common Decency project banner -- which aims "to re-establish common decency in our lives, work and Parliament." May has previously said CD aims to "get rid of the current government" and the MPs who were in Parliament for reasons other than "representing our interests." May, who has also been active in campaigning for animal rights including protesting the country's annual badger cull and the Tories' attempts to bring back fox hunting, is currently touring Europe with Queen. - New Musical Express, 2/4/15...... Heartland prog-rockers Kansas premiered their new documentary Miracles Out of Nowhere on Feb. 2 at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival. The film traces Kansas's rise from a local band in Topeka to an unlikely deal with the late Don Kirshner's record company and international stardom with enduring hits such as "Carry On Wayward Son" and "Dust in the Wind. The Charley Randazzo-directed documentary deals with the first six years and five albums in the group's history, and Kansas will release an accompanying Miracles Out of Nowhere DVD/CD on Mar. 24. - Billboard, 2/5/15...... During a listening playback for the remastered companion disc to the upcoming Led Zeppelin reissue Physical Graffiti, Jimmy Page hinted that he will return to live performing, saying he's "getting match fit" to perform again and that he's currently "warming up on the touchlines." "How it starts off is that you have to play guitar and get match fit, so currently I'm sort of in the process of doing that but I'm also in process of doing this [reissue series] too," Page said. "[Live shows] would more or less be closer to the end of the year rather than next month. But you know, I'm definitely warming up on the touchlines, let's put it that way," he added. The guitarist's latest comment follow reports in Sept. 2014 that Page expressed a desire to start a new group to play career-spanning tracks from his former band. Page also stated that he's not holding anything back" when clearing the vaults for the current reissue series, adding that he "still has a few surprises to come." The Physical Graffiti re-release, out Feb. 24, follows similar reissues in 2014 of the band's first three albums, as well as Led Zeppelin IV and Houses Of The Holy. - NME, 2/3/15...... The US premiere of Love & Mercy, the biography of Brian Wilson as founder of the Beach Boys and during his dark years under the care of Eugene Landy; a film on former Doors and Ramones manager Danny Fields; and a rarely seen film focused on Leon Russell's Oklahoma years in the early 1970s are among the selections this year at the South by Southwest Film Conference and Festival. The 2015 SXSW Festival is set for March 13-21 in Austin, Tex. - Billboard, 2/3/15...... In a recent interview with the California radio show Frame, Neil Young said their was no legitimate reason for music lovers to buy vinyl in 2015, and that vinyl is "nothing but a fashion statement" because "all new products on vinyl are actually CD masters." "A lot of people that buy vinyl today don't realise that they're listening to CD masters on vinyl and that's because the record companies have figured out that people want vinyl," said Young, who launched his own Pono digital music player earlier in the year. "And they're only making CD masters in digital, so all the new products that come out on vinyl are actually CDs on vinyl, which is really nothing but a fashion statement." In the US, the vinyl format saw a 49 per cent increase in 2014, with almost 8 million sales. In the UK, vinyl sales passed the one million mark in 2014 for the first time since 1997. Young's Pono offers high-quality audio and is capable of storing up to 2,000 high resolution songs. "(Pono) doesn't create an analog sound; it creates the best digital sound. It's capable of creating the best sounds that people can create in the digital realm in the recording studios," Young said. - NME, 2/3/15...... After former AC/DC drummer Chris Slade was spotted with the band during preparations for their upcoming appearance on the Grammy Awards, their are rumours that Slade may be rejoining the band, at least temporarily. Slade is rumoured to be standing in for estranged drummer Phil Rudd, who is at home in New Zealand awaiting trial on on charges of threatening to kill and possession of methamphetamine and cannabis, for the band's performance at the annual awards ceremony on Feb. 8. Slade was also photographed alongside the rest of the band at a charity signing event on Feb. 6 in Los Angeles. Slade was a member of AC/DC between 1989-1994 and played on the album The Razor's Edge. He was replaced by returning drummer Phil Rudd. In January, AC/DC said they have yet to "resolve" whether Rudd is still a member of AC/DC, and suggested Rudd would not performing on the 2015 tour. On Feb. 5, Rudd's appearance in court in New Zealand to face his charges was delayed until April due to a change in lawyers. He was due to appear in the Tauranga District Court on Feb. 10. - NME, 2/7/15...... "Orphan," the first single from Toto's upcoming album Toto XIV, is available to view now on YouTube. Toto XIV will hit stores in North America on Mar. 24, and a day earlier in the UK. The album will be released on CD, with a Deluxe Edition available featuring a "Making Of" documentary on DVD, as well as a 2-LP vinyl set. - Noble PR, 2/6/15...... A UK paper is reporting that a local Santa Barbara, Calif., businessman has bid $40 million for Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch with the intent to transform it into a place where young victims of sexual abuse can seek help. "His goal is for the place to be used to help children in a serene setting recover from the trauma of sex abuse," a source said. The California property is up for sale by the hedge fund that currently owns it, and proposals for using the 2,700 acre property are also said to include a shrine to the late pop star, who died in 2009, and a state park. Jackson was previously accused of child sexual abuse charges but was acquitted in 2005. He lived in the sprawling property in Santa Barbara County, Calif., from 1988 until his death. In 2014, fresh allegations of child abuse were made against Jackson, five years after his death. - NME, 2/3/15...... The children and wife of late actor and comedian Robin Williams have gone to court in a fight over his estate. In papers filed in December in San Francisco Superior Court, Williams' wife, Susan, says some of the late actor's personal items were taken without her permission and asks the court to exclude the contents of the Tiburon home that she shared with Williams from the jewelry, memorabilia and other items Williams said the children should have. The children, Zachary, Zelda and Cody, counter that Susan Williams is "adding insult to a terrible injury" by trying to change the trust agreement and rob them of the late actor's clothing and other personal items. Williams died at his Tiburon home in August. The coroner ruled his death a suicide that resulted from asphyxia caused by hanging. - AP, 2/2/15...... R&B singer/songwriter Don Covay, who wrote songs popularized by Aretha Franklin ("Chain of Fools"), the Rolling Stones ("Mercy Mercy") and Little Richard, died in his sleep on the morning of Jan. 31 after a two-decade long battle with debilitating illness resulting from a massive stroke in 1992. His age was widely reported as 76 at his death, however, Eurweb.com cites Covay's publicist saying he was 78. Through the 1960s, Covay worked as a musician and songwriter, including a job with the famed Brill Building in New York that included credits on hits such as Solomon Burke's "I'm Hanging Up My Heart for You," Gladys Knight & the Pips' "Letter Full of Tears" and Wilson Pickett's first single on Atlantic "I'm Gonna Cry." In 2000, Covay released his final album, Adlib, which featured contributions by Paul Rodgers, Wilson Pickett and Paul Shaffer, among others. - Billboard, 2/3/15.
Paul McCartney and his recent collaborator Kayne West will be among the musical stars helping NBC's Saturday Night Live celebrate its 40th anniversary during a three-hour special set for Feb. 15. Other music acts, including Paul Simon, Justin Timberlake and Taylor Swift, will join past and present SNL "Not Ready for Prime-Time Players" and show hosts including Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Steve Martin, Tom Hanks, Alec Baldwin, Eddie Murray and Christopher Walken on the program, which begins at 8:00 p.m. EST. McCartney and West's most recent collaboration, a Rhianna single called "FourFiveSeconds" from Rhianna's upcoming studio album, has entered the Billboard Hot 11 at No. 54 following its release on Jan. 24. - Billboard, 2/2/15...... In other Beatles-related news, a recently uncovered collection of rare and intimate images of the Fab Four and the Rolling Stones taken by the bands' former tour manager Bon Bonis, has been made available to purchase via eBay. Bonis, the groups' tour manager from 1964-1966, is making the photos available to purchase over the next two years in limited edition prints beginning at $175. Once an edition sells out, it will never be reprinted. They include what are said to be the only close up photos of the Beatles taken during their 1965 stadium performance in Minnesota, and a never-before-seen Stones recording session at Chess Records Studio in Chicago. - New Musial Express, 2/2/15...... Founding Black Sabbath bassist Geezer Butler was arrested after a drunken altercation at a bar in Death Valley National Park in California on Jan. 27. The British-born Butler, 65, was charged with misdemeanor assault, public intoxication and vandalism after, according to witnesses, a fight flared up which resulted in an individual "being struck," and a window broken. Butler was released after "detox and citation," according to a statement issued by local police. On Jan. 29, Butler tweeted that the brawl was an "unfortunate altercation" and thanked his fans for their support following the arrest. "Thx for your messages & support following the unfortunate altercation that occurred," he posted. Black Sabbath, which was formed by Butler, singer Ozzy Osbourne, guitarist Tony Iommi and drummer Bill Ward in 1968, released its latest album 13 in 2013 and have said they intend to reunite for one more album, which is expected to be their last ever record. The current line up includes Osbourne, Iommi, and Butler. - Billboard, 1/29/15...... In other heavy metal news, Alice Cooper offered to theatrically chop off the heads of hard rockers Motley Crue during the final show of Motley Crue's 18-month farewell tour at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on New Year's Eve 2015. "They finish up in the United States on New Year's, and that's their last gig," the 66-year-old Cooper said during an interview with an Australian classic rock station. "I told them, 'Why don't you let me kill you onstage? That finishes everything.' Four guillotines, floomp! Done!," added Cooper, who has been known to include guillotines in his live shows. - New Musial Express, 1/31/15...... Country star Tim McGraw will perform a tribute to Grammy winner and Oscar-nominee Glen Campbell during the 87th Oscars awards show on Feb. 22. McGraw will sing Campbell's "I'm Not Gonna Miss You," which is featured in the Campbell documentary I'll Be Me, a film about the pop/country superstar as he struggles with Alzheimer's. Since his diagnosis, Campbell has been the subject of a CMAs tribute by Keith Urban, Brad Paisley and Vince Gill and the Grammys, where Blake Shelton and The Band Perry performed his songs. "I'm Not Gonna Miss You" is nominated in the Best Original Song category, where it will compete against songs from The Lego Movie, Selma, Beyond the Lights and Begin Again. - Billboard, 1/29/15...... Beach Boys mastermind Brian Wilson will release his 11th solo album, No Pier Pressure, in April. The LP will be Wilson's first studio album of original material since 2008, and feature appearances by She & Him (Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward), Kacey Musgraves, fun.'s Nate Ruess and Capital Cities' Sebu Simonian. The 13-track set will also boast contributions from many of Wilson's Beach Boys pals, including Al Jardine and David Marks, along with work by session players Jim Keltner, Don Was, Dean Parks and Kenny Aronoff. Wilson's latest projects include a George Gershwin covers album, a Disney covers album, and a remaster of the long-bootlegged tapes of the Beach Boys' unreleased masterpiece SMiLE. - Billboard, 1/29/15...... '70s songstress Melissa Manchester will release her first new album in a decade, You Gotta Love the Life, on Feb. 10. Al Jarreau, Dionne Warwick and Keb' Mo' are among the contributors to new LP, while Stevie Wonder contributes some of his famous harmonica work on the album's first single, "Your Love Is Where I Live." The "Midnight Blue" singer will be hitting the road on Feb. 15 for a quick eight-date tour behind the new set, and more shows are also in the works. - Billboard, 1/30/15...... Speaking of Stevie Wonder, the Motown icon will be the subject of an all-star Grammy tribute during Grammy week on Feb. 10 in Los Angeles. "Stevie Wonder: Songs in the Key of Life - An All-Star Grammy Salute" will feature Wonder salutes by such artists as The Band Perry, Usher and Chris Martin during the concert, which will be held at the Nokia Theatre L.A. LIVE. It will take place two days after the 57th annual Grammy Awards, and the show will air as a two-hour special on CBS on Feb. 16. - AP, 1/30/15...... Chic have announced they will release their first album in 23 years this June via a new record deal with Warner Bros. The first single from the album, the follow-up to 1992's Chic-Ism, will arrive on Mar. 20. Chic were founded in the mid-seventies by guitarist Nile Rodgers and bassist Bernard Edwards, who passed away in 1996, and the act shot to the top of the charts in 1979 with "La Freak." - Spin/NME, 2/2/15...... Rod McKuen, a Grammy-winning poet and songwriter sometimes known as the "King of Kitsch," died on Jan. 29 at rehabilitation center in Beverly Hills, Calif., where he had been treated for pneumonia. He was 81. The husky-voiced Mr. McKuen, whose music, verse and spoken-word recordings in the 1960s and '70s won him an Oscar nomination and made him one of the best-selling poets in history, was an astonishingly successful and prolific force in popular culture, turning out hundreds of songs and poems and records, including the Academy Award-nominated song "Jean" for the 1969 film The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. Mr. McKuen's best-known songs, some written with the Belgian composer Jacques Brel, include "Birthday Boy," ''A Man Alone," ''If You Go Away" and "Seasons in the Sun," a chart-topper in 1974 for Terry Jacks. He was nominated for an Oscar for "Jean" and for "A Boy Named Charlie Brown," the title track for the beloved Peanuts movie. Mr. McKuen honed his hushed, throaty style after an early life as a rock singer which cracked his natural tenor, and his material was covered by such artists as Frank Sinatra, Dolly Parton, Madonna and Chet Baker. Mr. McKuen had been ill for several weeks and was unable to digest food, according to a family member. - AP, 1/29/15.
A source close to Paul McCartney says rumours that the former Beatle will be co-producing Kayne West's new album are "not true" after a second collaboration between Sir Paul and West, "FourFiveSeconds," was unveiled over the fourth weekend of January. Numerous reports that McCartney will work on West's Yeezus follow-up emerged on social media, citing comments made by West's longtime friend and barber Ibn Jasper on Instagram. McCartney also contributed backing vocals to a previously released collaboration with West, "Only One." In other McCartney news, Paul's ex-wife Heather Mills tells Britain's Event magazine in a new interview that her divorce from the rock legend was "a more traumatic experience than losing her leg in a motorcycle accident." The British model-turning-professional skier was married to McCartney for four years before their acrimonious split in 2006 and they subsequently faced off against each other in a bitter and highly-publicized divorce trial. Mills was awarded a $38.9 million settlement in 2008, and now seven years later, says she is still struggling to bounce back from the divorce drama. "It's very hard to be married to a Beatle. (McCartney's first wife) Linda had it tough, Yoko (Ono) had it tough and what happened to me after the divorce... losing my leg was easier to cope with... I felt I lost everything. I spent my whole life raising money for charities and I was asked to leave every charity because I became poison... Everything I had been was taken away." Mills, who has an 11-year-old daughter named Beatrice with Paul, says the experience has turned her against marriage in the future. "Never, never, never... I'm single, I want to have fun but I don't want to be married. It's one thing I'm absolutely sure about." She lost her left leg below the knee in a motorcycle crash in 1993. - NME/WENN.com, 1/26/15...... Tom Petty has been given a songwriting credit for Sam Smith's hit song "Stay With Me" after Petty's camp noticed a likeness between the song and Petty's 1989 hit "I Won't Back Down," on which he collaborated with the song's producer, Jeff Lynne of ELO. Smith's representatives reportedly settled the matter "amicably" after agreeing with Petty's team that there were similarities between the two tunes, although the writes of "Stay With Me" maintain they were "not previously familiar" with "I Won't Back Down." Now both Petty and Lynne will receive royalties. "Although the likeness was a complete coincidence, all involved came to an immediate and amicable agreement in which Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne are now credited as co-writers of 'Stay With Me' along with Sam Smith, James Napier and William Phillips," a representative for Smith says. Smith is currently in the running for six Grammy Awards, including song of the year for "Stay With Me." That particular category recognizes the songwriters of a track. Petty and Lynne are not expected to be included in the Grammy consideration, however, since they "didn't do any new writing for this work," according to the Recording Academy. The awards will be given out in Los Angeles on Feb. 8, where Sam Smith is scheduled to perform during the show's CBS broadcast. - The Hollywood Reporter/Billboard, 1/26/15...... A U.S. judge has ruled that Jack Utsick, a former promoter who produced shows for acts such as the Rolling Stones, Elton John and Aerosmith, will be denied bail in a $300 million criminal fraud case. U.S. Magistrate Judge Edwin Torres said on Jan. 28 that there was ample evidence 72-year-old Utsick might attempt to flee prosecution. Authorities say Utsick took off for Brazil in 2007 amid investigations by the FBI and Securities and Exchange Commission into his Worldwide Entertainment Inc. promotion company. Authorities say his concert business was actually a Ponzi scheme, with older investors being paid with money from newer ones. An estimated 3,300 investors were defrauded out of nearly $300 million. An attorney for Utsick, who was extradited to the US in 2014, say he will plead not guilty to mail fraud charges. - AP, 1/28/15...... What is described as Bruce Springsteen's "greatest offical bootleg ever" is now available on Springsteen's official site, Brucespringsteen.net. The Agora, Cleveland 1978 is from Aug. 18, 1978, a highlight performance from Springsteen's Darkness on the Edge of Town tour. Springsteen burns through classics like "Rosalita" (with a snippet of the Village People's "Macho Man"), castoff gems like "Fire" and covers from "Summertime Blues" to "Twist and Shout." He peaks with a 10-minute "Prove It All Night," featuring a long, moody guitar-piano intro. - Rolling Stone, 1/29/15...... '70s funk legend Sly Stone of Sly and the Family Stone was awarded $5 million by a Los Angeles Superior Court jury on Jan. 27 in a breach-of-contract lawsuit that claimed his business partners and his own company cheated him out of royalties. The jury ruled in favor of the 71-year-old Stone, who has fallen on hard times since his '70s heyday and at one point was even homeless, in his action against his ex-manager Gerald Goldstein, attorney Glenn Stone and Even St. Productions Ltd. Stone, whose real name is Sylvester Stewart, led Sly and the Family Stone to a string of hits in the 1960s and early '70s including "Everyday People," "Dance To The Music," "Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)" and "Family Affair." But heavy drug use began to take a toll. His attorneys say his career had been long eclipsed and that he was destitute when Goldstein and Glenn Stone convinced him to become an employee of and co-owner of Even St. Productions with them in 1989. Stone assigned royalty rights to the company and was supposed to receive some of the money it collected for him but Goldstein and Glenn Stone arranged to get it through shady accounting, his attorney Nicholas Hornberger argued. "It's a good day for Sly, it's a good day for entertainers in general," said Hornberger. "This was an important verdict for people that are artists, entertainers, music composers, etc." Jurors assessed $2.5 million in damages against Even St. Productions, $2.45 million against Goldstein and $50,000 against Glenn Stone. An attorney for Goldstein and Stone said the award will be challenged. - AP, 1/28/15...... ZZ Top performed three songs on the late-night talk show Jimmy Kimmel Live! on Jan. 26 as the show temporarily switched to Houston, Tex., from its normal location in Los Angeles. Band members Billy Gibbons, Frank Beard and Dusty Hill first performed a newer song from their 2012 LP La Futura, "I Gotsta Get Paid," then ran through the hard rock riffs of their 1975 classic "Tush" and then their 1973 hit "La Grange," extending the latter to over double its original time with a lengthy jam. - Billboard, 1/27/15...... The Doobie Brothers will be honored with one of the top awards in the music industry, the Chairman Award from the Music Biz Association, during the annual MBA convention on May 12-14 in Nashville. The award recognizes artists who have achieve significant and sustained success in their career, and MBA chairman Fred Beteille said in a statement that the Doobies "have achieved incredible success over the years, selling an astonishing number of records and maintaining a regular presence on the Billboard charts" and that the band, who on their latest LP Southbound re-recorded their hits with a host of current country artists, "has revealed new dimensions to songs that millions of people know by heart." - Billboard, 1/26/15...... Almost 500 items that put the famous Caribou Ranch recording studio on the rock and roll map, including an antique mahogany Steinway & Sons grand piano used by Elton John and a Gibson bass guitar said to have been played by Terry Kath of Chicago, were sold at auction on Jan. 24 at the studio located near Nederland, Colorado. Chicago's former producer, James Guercio, turned the ranch into a major recording studio in the 1970s, and a fire damaged the control room in 1985. The 1,600-acre ranch, which includes a converted barn studio and cabins named for Native American chiefs, was sold last year, setting the stage for the auction. - AP, 1/25/15...... In related news, one of the nine Mosrites guitars once owned by Johnny Ramone was sold at auction on Jan. 22 for $71,875, Boston-based auction RR Auction announced. The auction notes that the guitar features several modifications made by Ramone, including the replacement of the tremolo system with a stop bar tailpiece and installation of a DiMarzio FS-1 bridge pickup, as well as a tortoiseshell pick guard. It states this was Ramone's favorite guitar for TV appearances. A number of Ramones items have been auctioned off over the past years, including Joey Ramone's record collection and clothes in 2013. - Billboard, 1/23/15...... Veteran actor James Caan filed for divorce from his wife Linda on Jan. 26, for the third time in their 19-year marriage. The Godfather star wed Linda Stokes in 1996, but their relationship hit a rough patch in 2005, when Caan initially moved to end the union. They reconciled, only for the actor to again file for divorce in 2009. Now Caan has filed court papers once more, and he is seeking joint custody of the couple's youngest son, 16-year-old Jacob. Caan, 74, also has three other children from previous unions, including Hawaii Five-0 actor Scott Caan, from his second marriage to Sheila Marie Ryan. Caan and his current wife also have a 19-year-old son, James. - WENN.com, 1/26/15...... David Bowie has announced he'll release a French-language version of his 1977 hit "Heroes" on limited edition blue vinyl and his 2008 compilation album i Select on red vinyl. The 7-inch French edition of "Heroes" will be backed with a live version of the song recorded during Bowie's Serious Moonlight Tour in 1983. The vinyl is limited to 2000 copies and only available in France, but US and UK fans have the chance to win copies via Bowie's website. The pair of vinyl releases coincide with the opening of the "David Bowie Is" retrospective exhibition at the Philharmonie de Paris. The exhibition features more than 300 objects from the rocker's 50-year-career, including handwritten lyrics, original costumes, film, set designs and Bowie's own instruments. Originally presented in London, it has also travelled to Toronto, Chicago, Sao Paulo and Berlin. After Paris, it will head to the Netherlands and Australia. Bowie is also set to release an English language 7" vinyl picture disc of "Young Americans" on Feb 24 for its 40th anniversary, after having released similar 7-inchers of Knock on Wood - Live and Diamond Dogs. - New Musical Express, 1/27/15...... Edgar Froese, a pioneering German electronic musician and founding member of Tangerine Dream, died on Jan. 20. He was 70. Froese founded Tangerine Dream in 1967 Berlin and was the group's most consistent member through a number of lineup changes over the decades. Tangerine Dream's electronic music was less about mimicking the rhythms of urban landscapes and more about evoking cosmic, spacey landscapes, and their 1974 Phaedra and 1975 Rubycon albums are considered essential works from the electronic "Krautrock" music genre. The band's unique sonic soundscape also captured the attention of The Exorcist director William Friedkin, who tapped them to score his 1977 film Sorcerer. During the 1980's, the band would go on to craft iconic musical scores for Thief and Risky Business, adapting those scores from parts of their 1979 album Force Majeure. In recent years, Tangerine Dream contributed music to the Grand Theft Auto series. - Billboard, 1/23/15...... Greek singer Demis Roussos, whose often high-pitched pop serenades won him household recognition in the 1970s and 1980s across Europe and beyond and who sold more than 60 million records, died in Athens on Jan. 26 following a lengthy hospitalization for undisclosed causes. He was 68. Roussos was once dubbed the Kaftan King -- and rotund, bearded appearance, he enjoyed the respect of his colleagues and a steady global following. In 1985, Roussos was among 153 people taken hostage when two Shiite Muslim militiamen hijacked a TWA Boeing 727 on a flight from Athens to Rome, and he spent his 39th birthday on the plane. He was released unharmed five days later, and at a press conference thanked his captors for giving him a birthday cake. "He had a superb voice, he traveled in the world... he loved what he was doing," singer Nana Mouskouri told French radio RTL in a tribute. "He was an artist, a friend. I hope he is in a better world." - AP, 1/26/15.
Two of the '70s most famous singer/songwriters, James Taylor and Paul Simon, paid tribute to late jazz great Michael Brecker on Jan. 20 in New York City with performances and kind words at a cancer benefit for their friend who died in 2007. Taylor, who Brecker's widow said had the flu, performed "Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight" -- the first song he played with the jazz saxophonist -- while Simon performed "Still Crazy After All These Years" and "The Boxer," songs he said he "closely associates" with Brecker. "I miss him all the time," Taylor said after the performance. "Michael saved my life and probably a lot of other people. He led me to freedom, really from addiction, and showed a number of us the way." Taylor joined forces with Simon, Dianne Reeves and Bobby McFerrin to close the 90-minute show with "Shower the People." Brecker, who died of a form of bone marrow cancer at age 57, won more than a dozen Grammy Awards and played with a number of iconic artists, including Simon, Taylor, Elton John and Joni Mitchell. - AP, 1/21/15...... Jazz greats Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea, who last toured together 37 years ago when Pres. Jimmy Carter was in the White House, have announced a 19-city world tour of duo piano concerts that will launch in Seattle on Mar. 14. Corea and Hancock, who both were members of Miles Davis' bands of the 1960s and contributed to his groundbreaking jazz-fusion albums In a Silent Way and Bitches Brew, will also hit such cities as Vancouver, Denver, San Diego, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, Boston and Chicago before wrapping the North American leg in Carmel, Indiana, on Apr. 18. After a break, the duo will perform in Asia, Australia, New Zealand and Europe. - AP, 1/23/15...... Bob Dylan is making headlines for being featured on the cover of the Feb./Mar. issue of AARP magazine, and in the interview the 73-year-old rock legend revealed that "if I had to do it all over again, I'd be a schoolteacher," and adding that he "probably" would have taught Roman history or theology. On Feb. 3, the musician will release Shadows in the Night, an all-Frank Sinatra covers album of songs from the 1920s to the 1960s, including standards like "Autumn Leaves," "That Lucky Old Sun" and "Stay With Me." The new album was hinted at as early as last May, when Dylan released album artwork and a cover of another Sinatra favorite, "Full Moon And Empty Arms." Dylan is giving 50,000 AARP magazine readers a free copy of his album, and his "Stay With Me" cover is currently streaming for free via NPR.com. In February, former U.S. president Jimmy Carter will present Dylan with the 2015 MusiCares Person of the Year honor next month in Los Angeles. - AP/Billboard, 1/22/15...... Lawyers representing Michael Jackson's mother Katherine Jackson argued before a panel of appellate justices on Jan. 22 that a new trial against concert promoter AEG Live LLC should be allowed, but the justices instead focused on the relationship between Jackson, AEG and Dr. Conrad Murray, who was convicted of involuntary manslaughter for giving the singer a lethal dose of the anesthetic propofol. Katherine Jackson's lawyers contend that the trial court judge incorrectly dismissed negligence and employment claims before the original 2013 trial, and jurors were given an improper verdict form and instructions. The panel noted that Dr. Murray treated Jackson before the concerts were planned and questioned whether the doctor's fee would be reimbursed by Jackson after the shows, and two of the justices questioned how AEG could have known that Murray was giving Jackson treatments of propofol. The justices did not state when they would issue a ruling for a possible new trial, and two of them must agree on the decision. - AP, 1/22/2015...... Upcoming Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee Joan Jett was among the friends and family of Kim Fowley paying their respects to the late music impressario at his funeral at Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Los Angeles on Jan. 22. Jett, whose early band The Runaways Fowley is credited with discovering in the late 1970s, delivered a heartfelt speech, while Fowley's longtime friend, musician Michael Des Barres, delivered the eulogy and later tweeted that the ceremony was "transcendent." Fowley, a colorful and sometimes controversial character, died Jan. 15 of bladder cancer at age 75. It was reported that he had expressed a dying wish to be featured on the cover of Girls and Corpses magazine, but publication's publisher reportedly passed on the request. A photo of Fowley's grave, however, was posted on Twitter soon after the funeral wrapped. - Billboard, 1/22/15...... Another famous music impressario, former Arista Records president Clive Davis, has been tapped to receive the famous Harvard Hasty Pudding Award at a gala in New York City on Apr. 13. The Order of the Golden Sphinx, which recognized extraordinary contributions to the performing arts, is the highest honor awarded by Harvard University's Hasty Pudding Institute of 1770. A five-time Grammy winner and a 2000 inductee of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in the Non-Performer category, Davis has worked with a wide range of artists, from Janis Joplin and Billy Joel to Whitney Houston and Alicia Keys. - AP, 1/22/15...... The BBC is now streaming for free a new The Clash documentary featuring previously unseen footage. The Clash: New Year's Day '77 is both an excellently raw portrait of a band on the brink of fame and a wide-lens look at the political and cultural chaos that birthed them. - Entertainment Weekly, 1/23/15...... Rush announced a 34-city 40th Anniversary tour on Jan. 23 that will probably be the last of its kind for some time. "This will most likely be their last major tour of this magnitude," Rush's press release noted about the tour, which will kick off May 8 in Tulsa, Okla., and wrap on Aug. 1 in Los Angeles. The Toronto-based rockers will visit a mix of large and medium-sized markets, including Lincoln, Neb.; St. Paul, Minn., St. Louis, Mo.; Dallas, Tex.; New Orleans, La.; and Bristow, Va. Rush formed in 1968, so the 40th anniversary technically commemorates drummer Neil Peart joining the band (which actually happened in 1974). For the upcoming tour, the band is expected to play much more of their '70s material, which was mostly avoided when they toured behind 2012's Clockwork Angels. - Billboard, 1/23/15...... Elton John's New Year's Eve performance at Brooklyn's Barclays Center before 16,470 fans sold over $3 million worth of tickets, earning the Rocket Man the top slot in Billboard's weekly Hot Tours chart for the week of Jan. 14-20. John's show, his first ever in New York City on New Year's Eve, closed out a year of touring in North America and Europe in support of the 40th-anniversary reissue of his 1973 Goodbye Yellow Brick Road album. Following its launch last March, the tour hit 21 markets in the U.S. and Canada in two legs and also played 42 cities in 16 European countries during treks in the summer and fall. Meanwhile, Fleetwood Mac's show at Houston's Toyota Center on Dec. 15, with ticket sales of $1,837,886, was good for the No. 2 spot. Ranking at No. 9 and 10 were shows by Gregg Allman and Foreigner. - Billboard, 1/22/15...... Speaking of Fleetwood Mac, the band was forced to cut a Nebraska concert about an hour short on Jan. 17 after drummer Mick Fleetwood became ill. Stevie Nicks told the crowd of roughly 14,000 at Lincoln's Pinnacle Bank Arena that Fleetwood was throwing up backstage before the end of the 90-minute show. The band continued its itinerary on Jan. 20 in Grand Rapids, Mich. - AP, 1/18/15...... Late '70s comedian Richard Prior's widow Jennifer Lee Pryor has filed a lawsuit against T-shirt designer FretShirt.com over a design that depicts an image of Pryor superimposed with the word "swag." Jennifer Pryor's suit alleges FretShirt has infringed her rights to the likeness of her late husband, who "created a general acceptance and good will for his name and likeness among the public," and that the shirt violates a California civil code statute that requires consent from the rightsholder of a deceased person's likeness for the commercial use of the likeness. She is seeking $5 million that she claims represents FretShirt's profits from the shirt in addition to $1 million in compensatory damages, as well as an injunction against the sale of the shirt. Jennifer Pryor previously executive produced a documentary on his life, Richard Pryor: Omit the Logic, and is executive producing a Weinstein Co. biopic in the works. - The Hollywood Reporter, 1/21/15...... Barbra Streisand has set another music industry record after her latest album Partners was certified platinum, giving the diva the most platinum album certifications for a woman in RIAA history. Partners is Streisand's 31st album to ship more than 1,000,000 copies in the U.S. Her closest competition, Reba McEntire, has 19 platinum-certified albums. Partners debuted at the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Hot 200 in Sept. 2014. It was her 10th album to top that chart, making her the only act to notch a No. 1 album in each of the last six decades. - Billboard, 1/20/15...... Mick Jagger is honoring his late girlfriend, fashion designer L'Wren Scott, by establishing a scholarship for fashion students in her name. The Rolling Stones frontman's grant will be given to one masters student annually (through the 2017 school term) at the prestigious Central Saint Martins design college in London; it will cover that pupil's entire tuition, plus some living expenses. Scott, a self-taught designer, did not attend the school but had a close friendship with the university's longtime M.A. course director, Louise Wilson. Scott (born Laura Bambrough in Salt Lake City, Utah) was a celebrated clothing designer whose sophisticated, red carpet-ready dresses outfitted many A-list stars, including Angelina Jolie and Sarah Jessica Parker. After her death, Jagger released a statement saying that he was "still struggling to understand how my lover and best friend could end her life in this tragic way" and that "I will never forget her." - Billboard, 1/18/15...... After controversial rocker Ted Nugent uploaded a photograph of Kid Rock to his Facebook page which shows Rock posing with a dead couger, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is criticizing Rock for apparently taking part in a hunting expedition. "Hail my MotorCity boy Kid Rock for saving all those muledeer elk and livestock by whacking this magnificent mountain lion," Nugent said in an accompanying caption. "I can hear the braindead squawkers already with their obscene denial that killing lions is wrong. It's legal, it's necessary, it's good, it's beneficial, it's a damn riot!" PETA's U.S. Senior International Media Director, Ben Williamson, said that "only the very smallest percentage of people find it acceptable in any way to support blood sports like trophy hunting." - WENN.com, 1/20/15...... Former Crosby, Stills & Nash drummer Dallas Taylor died on Jan. 18 of as yet undisclosed causes, according to his wife Patti McGovern-Taylor. He was 66. A native of Denver, Col., Taylor cut his teeth as a session musician in the early 1960s, soon joining the psychedelic rock band Clear Light. After the group achieved modest fame with the single "Black Roses" in 1967, he was recruited into Crosby, Stills and Nash. He performed on CSN's breakthrough self-titled debut album, released in 1969, and their following album, Déjà Vu (with another new member, Neil Young, in 1970). Taylor performed with CSN&Y at Woodstock in 1969 and with Van Morrison at the 1974 Montreux Jazz Festival. After leaving music, he worked as a drug and alcohol interventionist in Los Angeles. "(Dallas) came into my life almost 18 years ago and saved me as much as I may have saved him. To me he was just a good man, a good friend, a good father, a good grandfather or Pop Pop, a great drummer and much beloved by many," his wife posted on her Facebook page. - Billboard, 1/18/15...... Stan Irwin, a Las Vegas producer and manager who persuaded the Beatles and several other top artists to play Vegas in the 1960s, died on Jan. 21 of natural causes in Los Angeles. He was 94. Mr. Irwin guided the careers of such celebs as Johnny Carson, Don Rickles, Buddy Hackett and Pearl Bailey, and served as executive producer of The Tonight Show in 1962, which was the first year of Carson's tenure. He also voiced the Lou Costello character in Hanna-Barbera's The Abbott and Costello Cartoon Show in the 1960s. - AP, 1/23/15.
An investigation by the UK Department of Transport's Air Accidents agency has found that the pilot of a helicopter carrying Paul McCartney and his wife Nancy Shevell missed two urgent warnings that their aircraft was seconds from crashing as the couple were being transported to their home in East Sussex in May 2012 after attending a book launch by Paul's eldest daughter, Mary McCartney, in London. The chartered Sikorsky S-76C avoided hitting treetops near the couple's home by just 2 feet, according to the investigation, and the pilot, who had become "spatially disorientated," dramatically swung the helicopter to safety with seconds to spare. In treacherous weather, the pilot was attempting a night landing on a helipad encircled by woodland, and the AAIB found that neither the pilot or the co-pilot heard two audio warnings. The report also revealed the terror in the cockpit before the second of two aborted landings, and that the co-pilot was convinced they'd crash and "momentarily" lost ability to speak. - The Daily Mail UK, 1/17/15...... Bruce Springsteen made a "surprise" appearance at the 15th anniversary of the Light of Day 2015 Winterfest at the Paramount Theater in Asbury Park, N.J., on Jan. 17. The party was The Boss's 11th appearance at the Light of Day show, a birthday benefit supporting artist manager and LOD Foundation organizer Bob Benjamin. Benjamin, who was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease in 1996, was honored with the Humanitarian Award at the 2014 Billboard Touring Conference and Awards in November. "(Having all of) these musicians in a room like this is a wonderful thing," the 65-year-old Springsteen told the sold-out crowd of 1,600 music fans as he stood alongside Benjamin. "Bobby, it's a gift you give us every year." His appearance was an open secret, as the New Jersey rock star showed up for an early sound check with Pittsburgh rocker Joe Grushecky about two-and-a-half-hours before the show began at 7 p.m. Highlights included a fierce version of "Adam Raised a Cain" (from Darkness on the Edge of Town) "From Small Things (Big Things Come One Day," a potent "Darkness on the Edge of Town," "Frankie Fell in Love," and a dramatic and gut-wrenching "Because the Night." Springsteen closed the evening with an introspective version of "Thunder Road," but in what looked like an onstage audible, decided to go out on an energetic note, leading the ensemble with "The Promised Land." - Billboard, 1/18/15...... Former Dire Straits frontman Mark Knopfler unveiled his latest song, "Beryl," via his official Twitter account on Jan. 17. Knopfler says the track was inspired by British novelist Beryl Bainbridge, and the song will be featured on the musician's forthcoming eighth studio album, Tracker, which is due on Mar. 16. "The album title 'Tracker' arrived out of me trying to find my way over the decades," said Knopfler in a statement. "Out of me tracking time -- looking at people, places and things from my past, and out of the process of tracking as in recording tracks in the studio." Tracker will arrive on CD, double vinyl, and deluxe CD editions, as well as a lush box that features the record on both CD and vinyl with a bonus disc of six extra tracks, and a DVD featuring an exclusive short film directed by Henrik Hansen. - New Musical Express, 1/18/15...... Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters are among the bands confirmed for the 11th annual Mountain Jam festival in Hunter Mountain, N.Y., which is set for June 4-7. Also on the bill are the Black Keys, Gov't Mule, Alabama Shakes, The Wailers, Grace Potter and Nocturnals and moe. - Billboard, 1/14/15...... In other Led Zeppelin-related news, guitarist Jimmy Page has reportedly tried to block his West London neighbor, singer Robbie Williams, from renovating his home. According to The Daily Telegraph, Page has written to borough planning chiefs voicing concerns that Williams' plans could damage his own house, and that Williams' property will overlook his when proposed work is complete. "I am extremely concerned that this work will cause vibrations and possible structural damage with my house," Page wrote. "It appears the proposed new window is at a height that will overlook the side of my house as well as the garden at the rear of my property, thus having a significant impact on the amenity of the house and its garden." Page has resided in his mansion since 1972, and Williams bought his own £17 million mansion, previously owned by late director Michael Winner, in 2013. - NME, 1/15/15...... U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry brought along a fellow Bay Stater, James Taylor, to help him pay respect on Jan. 16 to the victims of the recent terrorist attacks in Paris in a show of American solidarity with the French people. At a ceremony at the Hotel de Ville, the city hall of Paris, Kerry called the attacks a "living nightmare" but one that would unite rather than divide the people of France and the world. "I represent a nation grateful each day that France is our oldest ally," he said before introducing his friend James Taylor, who performed his hit "You've Got a Friend," starting with several bars of the French national anthem. The event was called an "Homage de John Kerry a Paris." Kerry's visit came amid lingering criticism in the United States of the Obama administration's failure to send a Cabinet-level official to Paris for the Jan. 11 unity march that attracted some 40 world leaders and more than a million demonstrators. - AP, 1/16/15...... An album of Latin music versions of Michael Jackson biggest hits called Unity: The Latin Tribute to Michael Jackson is set for release on Universal Music Classics in April. Unity's tracks include hits from throughout the King of Pop's career, with "Billie Jean," "I Want You Back" and "Man in the Mirror" among them. Well-known tropical artists including Tito Nieves, Obie Bermudez, India and Michael Stuart perform on the LP, supported by an old-school Latin big band. "Smooth Criminal," the first single from the project, is now out with vocals by Puerto Rican singer Jean Rodriguez. The Unity project started in 2011 as a (successful) $10,000 Kickstarter campaign by Tony Succar, a young Peruvian-American percussionist (and major Jackson fan) from Miami. - Billboard, 1/15/15...... In a new interview with GQ magazine, Nick Mason of Pink Floyd says he is annoyed that Apple got away "scot free" following the controversial release of U2's latest album, Songs of Innocence, on iTunes. The album was automatically downloaded onto all Apple subscribers' iTunes accounts when it was released last September, and Mason says that it has "made everyone think again about how they want their music delivered, given or sold." "It highlights a vital aspect to the whole idea of music in the 21st century," Mason said. 'What's also interesting is that Apple seem to have got off scot-free. No-one's blaming them. Apple has done great things, but it has also contributed to the devaluation process." Mason also has reservations about Spotify and streaming services in general. "iTunes is already beginning to look rather pass, and instead it's Spotify that looks like the future. What we need is another two or three billion people using it, then it would make more sense for musicians. At the moment, the pay-out, particularly for unknowns and only slightly-knowns is pathetic," he added. - NME, 1/15/15...... Billboard is reporting that the four living original members of the Grateful Dead will perform three farewell 50th anniversary shows on July 3-5, 2015, at Soldier Field in Chicago, with Phish guitarist Trey Anastasio accompanying them. The Grateful Dead's last performance with Jerry Garcia, who died in Aug. 1995, was at the same 55,000-seat capacity venue on July 9, 1995. The show will likely be the finale for the "core four," as the surviving members are now known: Bob Weir, 67; Phil Lesh, 74; Mickey Hart, 71; and Bill Kreutzmann, 68. "These will be the last shows with the four of us together," Weir says. The four, along with Anastasio, are set to take the stage, along with keyboardist Bruce Hornsby, a frequent player with the Dead during the '80s and into the '90s, and Jeff Chimenti, who plays keys with Weir's side project, RatDog. Tickets for the shows -- named "Fare Thee Well" for a lyric in the Garcia/Robert Hunter song "Brokedown Palace" -- will be available to fan club members on a first-come, first-served basis from Feb. 9 to 11. A local public presale will occur Feb. 12-13; a general public on-sale starts Feb. 14. In 2014, it was announced that the Dead are planning a Martin Scorsese-produced documentary film this year to mark their 50th anniversary. - Billboard, 1/16/15...... Australian pop singer Rick Springfield, who released his debut album in 1974 before rising to fame in the early 1980s, has been cleared in an injury lawsuit brought by a 45-year-old New York woman who claims she suffered serious injuries when Springfield fell into her during a 2004 concert in suburban Syracuse. Vicki Calcagno of Liverpool, N.Y., says Springfield's buttocks hit her head, causing lasting injuries. The "Jessie's Girl" singer testified he didn't fall on Calcagno, and his lawyer said in closing arguments before the New York State Supreme Court that there were no witnesses, photos or video to support Calcagno's claim. Calcagno sued in 2007 and there was an earlier mistrial in 2013. Springfield said he is relieved by the verdict. - AP, 1/16/15...... NBC Entertainment announced on Jan. 16 that the network just closed a deal to develop a series of TV movies based on Dolly Parton's songs, stories and life. Parton will produce. NBC Entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt noted that Parton could have an on-screen role and the movies will likely stand on their own and not be a series of films. "We're going to try and create uplifting movies the entire family can enjoy together," Greenblatt told reporters at the Television Critics Association's winter press tour. "We want to create projects for NBC that are both fun and inspirational with a family audience in mind," Dolly Parton said in a statement. - The Hollywood Reporter, 1/16/15.
Record producer/manager/impresario Kim Fowley, best known for his work with the '70s all-female teen band the Runaways, died on Jan. 15 after a long battle with bladder cancer. He was 75. Throughout his career, Fowley stepped in and out of popular music's limelight, yet remains best known for his work with the Runaways, whose Fowley-engineered aggressive sexuality and sound were unprecedented in the mid-'70s, and which spawned the careers of Joan Jett, Lita Ford and Cherie Currie. The group's history has been documented in biographies and the 2010 biopic The Runaways, directed by Floria Sigismondi and starring Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning as Jett and Currie. Michael Shannon, later of Boardwalk Empire fame, portrayed Fowley in the film. Tall, gaunt and wraithlike, with piercing blue eyes, Fowley was a widely recognized figure on the Los Angeles rock scene for decades. He began his music business career in the late 1950s, working in various capacities with Motown founder Berry Gordy and legendary, ultimately disgraced DJ Alan Freed, and crossed paths with luminaries-to-be like Phil Spector and Beach Boys producer Nik Venet. Fowley made a name for himself in the early 1960s as a co-producer/co-publisher on a string of successful records, such as the chart-topping novelty song "Alley Oop" and Paul Revere & the Raiders' instrumental "Like, Long Hair." He went on to work in various capacities with acts including The Murmaids, Gene Vincent, KISS, Alice Cooper, Leon Russell and Kris Kristofferson, and released a series of solo albums in the late 1960s and early 1970s that met with limited success. In 1975, Fowley helped form the Runaways, with whom he worked until 1977 when the group severed ties, due in large part to his rough work methods, mistreatment and verbal assaults. The group garnered scads of press, influenced countless female rockers, however were underrated as band. He later tried a similar template with an all-girl group called the Orchids, to lesser success. Fowley released solo albums into the 1980s, but gradually faded from the limelight. "I am so blessed that I got to get to know you again Kim.. really get to know you on a personal level and that we became friends. Mostly that you spent time here at my home. It's a time I will never forget," Cherie Currie posted on her Facebook page after learning of Fowley's death. - Billboard, 1/15/15.
An attorney for filmmaker Hillary Schwartz, who is among those charged with crimes in a fatal train collision during shooting of the Gregg Allman biopic Midnight Rider, filed court documents on Jan. 12 asking a judge to dismiss the charges against her. Schwartz's lawyers say prosecutors got her to talk by assuring her she was a witness, not a suspect. Less than two months after she gave authorities an interview, Schwartz was indicted. Schwartz was working as an assistant director on the ill-fated Midnight Rider movie on Feb. 20, 2014, when a freight train plowed into the crew on a railroad bridge spanning the Altamaha River in rural Wayne County. The crash killed Sarah Elizabeth Jones, a 27-year-old camera assistant from Atlanta, and injured six other crewmembers. A March 9 trial has been scheduled for Schwartz; the movie's director, Randall Miller; his wife and business partner, Jody Savin; and executive producer Jay Sedrish. CSX Transportation, which owns the railroad trestle, has said in previous court filings that it twice denied the filmmakers permission to shoot on its tracks, each time in writing. Sheriff's investigators have said the crew had permission to be on property surrounding the tracks that is owned by forest products company Rayonier. Production on the movie was halted after the accident. - AP, 1/14/15...... Jimmy Page is reportedly dating an actress who is 46 years his junior. According to a story in the British tabloid The Sun, the 71-year-old Led Zeppelin mastermind has been spotted out for dinner with Scarlett Sabet, 25, twice in January, and the couple were pictured holding hands. A source close to Page, who divorced his second wife in 2008, says the guitarist is "leading a very conventional life by the looks of things, not very rock 'n' roll... His new girlfriend seems a very normal kind of girl." - WENN.com, 1/12/15...... John Lennon's inspirational 1971 song "Imagine" was sang at a Unity rally in Paris at the Place de la Nation (Nation square) on Jan. 11 in tribute to the victims of a three-day killing spree by Islamist extremists. The rallies of national unity were organized to honor the 17 victims of two terrorist attacks, one on the weekly satire magazine Charlie Hebdo. The Paris rally saw up to two million people taking to the streets, as well as more than 40 world leaders. In total, 3.7 million people joined public demonstrations across France. - The Hollywood Reporter, 1/13/15...... In other Beatles-related news, Paul McCartney's latest single, "Hope for the Future," was released on vinyl on Jan. 13. The song, which originally appeared in the first-person shooter video game Destiny, has been pressed as a 12-inch on 180-gram vinyl and features four new remixes, including a "Jaded Mix" and "Thrash Mix," which has been reworked by Madonna producer Mirwais. A download card is also included. The Activision game was released in Sept. 2014 and features a mostly orchestral soundtrack composed by Michael Salvatori, C Paul Johnson and others, with contributions from McCartney. - New Musical Express, 1/10/15...... Elsewhere on the Fab Four front, McCartney is reportedly very keen to get the Beatles' catalog on the new Pono music store, which is sponsored by Neil Young and was launched earlier in January with a library of 2 million-plus songs from the three major labels. Pono used the high-quality FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec) format as its standard, and musician/producer will.i.am says that the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper album "will blow your mind" after hearing the 1967 album in that format. - Billboard, 1/12/15...... Beach Boys legend Brian Wilson has lent vocals to a new track by the L.A. band Mini Mansions. Bassist Zach Dawes of the band says that "as they got into harmonies Brian's name came up kind of as a pie-in-the-sky idea. I followed up with him and sent him a rough cut of the song. Then that rare moment occurred where the idealised version of something becomes a reality." The song will be featured on the band's forthcoming album, The Great Pretender, which is due Mar. 23 through T Bone Burnett's Electromagnetic Recordings label. Meanwhile, the Beach Boys are set to launch a UK tour in May and June, playing dates in Manchester (5/27), London (5/31), Brighton (6/3) and Cardiff (6/4). The band last toured the UK in 2012, during which Mike Love issued a statement effectively sacking founding members Brian Wilson and Al Jardine. - New Musical Express, 1/13/15...... Billy Joel will be among the headliners at the 2015 Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester, Tenn., this June, organizers announced on Jan. 12. Other big names set to appear at the 13th annual Bonnaroo fest include Robert Plant and his band Sensational Space Shifters, My Morning Jacket, Mumford & Suns, Deadmau5, Kendrick Lamar, Florence and the Machine, Alabama Shakes, Slayer, Spoon, Ben Folds and Earth, Wind & Fire. A total lineup of 98 acts are scheduled to perform at the event, which in 2014 hosted such artists as Elton John, Kanye West, Skrillex and Jack White. - Billboard, 1/13/15...... Attorneys representing both parties in a lawsuit involving Van Halen and drummer Alex Van Halen's ex-wife Kelly Van Halen have settled the case in which Kelly Van Halen was accused of diluting the band's name. On Jan. 5, the attorneys informed a judge that a lawsuit filed in Oct. 2013 should be dismissed, after three years of fighting at the U.S. Trademark Office and another 15 months in a California federal courtroom. After divorcing from Alex, Kelly Van Halen named her construction and interior design company after herself and attempted to register a trademark on her own name for products like chairs, children's blankets, bathing suits, building construction, interior design services and more. The band claimed that Kelly's trademarks were confusingly similar to their own and that she was diluting Van Halen, passing off Van Halen and committing unfair competition for Van Halen. But now the case won't get to jury after being "amicably resolved," and Kelly will be allowed to use her full name for her businesses, but has agreed to stay away from any music-related services that might tread upon the band's ground. - The Hollywood Reporter, 1/9/15...... Former U.F.O. and Scorpions guitarist Michael Schenker will release a new studio album entitled Spirit On A Mission in the UK on Mar. 23, and a day later in the US. The 12-track album of all-new materal features Schenker's Temple of Rock band including ex-Scorpions Herman Rarebell (drums) and Francis Buchholz (bass), ex-Rainbow's Doogie White (vocals) and Wayne Findlay (guitar, keyboards). The album will be released on CD, Deluxe Edition (CD+DVD), Deluxe 180 gram vinyl (special DMM-Cut), and digital download. The first single from the album, "Vigilante Man," will be available on Jan. 19. - Noble PR, 1/12/15...... Disgraced '70s glam-rocker Gary Glitter appeared in a London court on Jan. 12 to face 10 charges relating to historic sex abuse crimes committed in the '70s and early '80s. However the case against the 70-year-old Glitter, whose real name is Paul Gadd, was adjourned. Glitter is accused of four counts of indecent assault involving one complainant between Jan. 31 and May 31, 1977. The complainant was aged 12 or 13 at the time. The former pop star is also accused of "administering a drug or other thing in order to facilitate sexual intercourse" and one count of sexual intercourse with a girl under 13 between the same dates. Glitter was convicted in 1999 of possession of child pornography and served four months in prison. After his release he relocated to Vietnam, where he was subsequently convicted of a string of child sexual abuse offenses. Glitter rose to prominence in the '70s with a string of UK No. 1 hits including "I'm the Leader of the Gang (I Am)," "I Love You Love Me Love," and "Always Yours." In the US, he charted two Top 40 hits, "Rock and Roll Part 2" (No. 7), and "I Didn't Know I Love You (Till I Saw You Rock and Roll)" (No. 35). - NME, 1/13/15...... Former Neil Young and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young bassist Tim Drummond died of unspecified causes on Jan. 10 in St. Louis County, Mo. He was 74. Known for an understated, restrained style of playing, Drummond performed and recorded with country and R&B stars, including Conway Twitty and James Brown, in the 1960s in South Carolina, Illinois and, later in the decade, Cincinnati, Ohio. Drummond contributed to Neil Young's classic 1972 set Harvest, and recorded and toured with Young and concerts that did not involve his primary backing band Crazy Horse. He also toured with Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young as well as record and tour with CSN and the duo of Crosby and Nash. Moving to California led to Drummond becoming one of the most in-demand session bassists, often paired with drummer Jim Keltner. Together they were the rhythm section on CSNY's 1974 tour, during which time Drummond met Bob Dylan. Drummond later joined Dylan's band during the singer's "Christian gospel" phase, and co-wrote "Saved" with Dylan. He also appears on multiple albums by J.J. Cale, Ry Cooder and Graham Nash, and played on hit records by Don Henley, Bette Midler, Paula Abdul and Jewel. - Billboard, 1/12/15...... Longtime Kool & the Gang trombonist Clifford Adams died on Jan. 12 in Trenton, N.J., after a battle with liver cancer. He was 62. Adams reportedly had no heath insurance to cover medical expenses during his year-long cancer struggle, and his fellow musicians, family and friends attempted to raise money through fundraisers in Trenton for a liver transplant prior to his death. "Clifford was powered by family values and he was one of the baddest trombone players in all the planet," said his longtime friend and fellow Kool & the Gang musician Michael Ray. - Billboard, 1/12/15...... Actress Anita Ekberg, a striking blonde Swedish beauty best known for playing opposite Marcello Mastroianni in Federico Fellini's 1960 film La Dolce Vita" (The Sweet Life), died on Jan. 11 in a Rome clinic after a two-year illness. She was 83. Ms. Ekberg's career began after she was crowned Miss Sweden in the early 1950s, and she shot to global fame after playing the capricious actress Sylvia in La Dolce Vita. Her scene wading into a foutain ina strapless black dress, calling to Mastroianni in English, "Marcello! Come here. Hurry up," is one of the most famous in the history of cinema, and made her a sex symbol for a generation. A funeral has been planned in Rome the following week, her body will be cremated, and her ashes sent to Sweden, according to her lawyer.
An acetate recording of "My Happiness," the first song Elvis Presley ever recorded, sold at auction for $300,000 on Jan. 8, what would have been the late singer's 80th birthday. An 18-year-old Presley recorded the song for a $4 fee in 1953 at Sun Records, the Memphis studio operated by Sam Phillips. According to legend, Presley then left the studio and went to the home of friend Ed Leek to listen to it as his family didn't have a record player. Presley ended up leaving the record behind, and it remained in Leek's and later his niece's possession until she contacted Graceland -- Presley's former home and now a museum and tourist attraction -- and it was offered for auction, with the bidding starting at $50,000. Other items on sale at the Graceland auction included an autographed copy of "That's All Right," a custom designed watch, Presley's first driver's license, and the jacket he wore in his iconic 1964 film Viva Las Vegas. To mark Presley's 80th birthday, hundreds of fans joined the Presley family in Memphis, Tennessee, to slice an eight-tier cake in celebration. Sony/Legacy Recordings have also planned a yearlong celebration of Presley's music, which includes releasing the singer's The Complete '60s Albums Collection Vol. 1 onto iTunes. Also, a new website called ElvisTheMusic.com was launched the same day, featuring a comprehensive online database of the singer. In December, the largest Elvis retrospective ever mounted in Europe, "Elvis At The O2: The Exhibition Of His Life," opened in London. It showcases over 300 artifacts from the Presley family's treasured Graceland Archives, and is open for nine months. Meanwhile, Julien's auctions has announced two jets formerly owned by Elvis are going on their auction block. The company that operates the Graceland has told the current owners of the plane "Lisa Marie," and another plane called the "Hound Dog II," that it wants the planes removed from Graceland by late Apr. 2015, or shortly afterward. Although the planes are not airworthy, their interiors have been preserved and were on display at Graceland until recently. Julien's is accepting bids on the planes until Feb. 2. - NME/Billboard, 1/9/15.
Led Zeppelin announced on Jan. 8 that they will release a Super Deluxe Edition of their 1975 double-LP Physical Graffiti on Feb. 23, one day before the 40th anniversary of the album's Feb. 24, 1975, release. Remastered by Jimmy Page and featuring a companion disc of seven previously unreleased tracks (including rough mixes of the songs "In My Time Of Dying" and "Houses Of The Holy"), the reissue also features different takes on classic hits, including an early mix of "Trampled Under Foot" called "Brandy & Coke," and the Sunset Sound mix of "Boogie With Stu" and "Driving Through Kashmir." The deluxe album will be available from Feb. 23 via Atlantic/Swan Song in CD, Vinyl and digital formats. Zeppelin reissued their first five albums in 2014, making the Top 10 charts in several countries around the world. - New Musical Express, 1/8/15...... The unlikely pairing of hip-hop star Kayne West and rock legend Paul McCartney on West's new single "Only One" has bowed at No. 35 in the Billboard Hot 100 pop chart, giving the former Beatle his first appearance in the Top 40 after a 25-year break. The touching ballad, a tribute to West's late mother, Dr. Donda West, sold 125,000 downloads in the week ending Jan. 4, according to Nielsen Music, and bowed at No. 10 on Digital Songs. It serves as the first single from West's upcoming studio album, and, according to Def Jam Records, is the first of further West/McCartney collaboarations. Sir Paul last reached the Top 40 more than 25 years ago, when "My Brave Face" rose to No. 25 in July 1989. The song is also McCartney's second to reach a Billboard chart in the past month. His "Hope for the Future" spent a week at No. 44 on the Hot Rock Songs chart dated Dec. 27. The song accompanies the online first-person shooter game Destiny. - Billboard, 1/9/15...... The Recording Academy has announced that former U.S. Pres. Jimmy Carter will present Bob Dylan with the 2015 MusiCares Person of the Year honor during a pre-Grammy ceremony on Feb. 6 at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Dylan's accolade was announced in Sept. 2014, with MusiCares Foundation CEO Neil Portnow saying "Dylan's body of creative work has contributed to America's culture, as well as that of the entire world, in genuinely deep and lasting ways." Performing at the show will be Bruce Springsteen, Willie Nelson, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Bonnie Raitt, Tom Jones and John Mellencamp, among others. Proceeds from the event, which is in its 25th year, will support MusiCares, which provides financial and medical help to musicians in need. - AP/Billboard, 1/6/15...... The copyright infringement trial brought by the family of Marvin Gaye against Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke over the controversial creation of the mega-hit song, "Blurred Lines," is scheduled to get underway in federal court in California on Feb. 10. In trial that will surely be an historic one for the music industry, both sides have submitted memos that outline their key arguments and evidence over whether "Blurred Lines" is or isn't a copyright infringement of Gaye's 1977 chart-topper "Got to Give It Up." As the Gaye family seeks compensation from Williams and Thicke's profits from "Blurred Lines" as well as statutory damages, Williams and Thicke hope to limit potential damages to the value of the license fee they would have paid for the Gaye songs. - The Hollywood Reporter, 1/6/15...... In related news, Daryl Hall has sued the Rural Media Group, which broadcasts his web show Live From Daryl's House, for expenses related to his appearance in last year's Rose Parade that he was allegedly promised would be reimbursed. The Hall & Oates singer appeared in a float called "You Make My Dreams Come True" in the 2014 New Year's Day parade in Pasadena, racking up more than $87,000 he claims to be owed. According to TMZ.com, Rural Media Group has been selling a Rose Parade DVD for $29.99 that includes Hall's photo on the cover and features his songs. - Billboard, 1/6/15...... Neil Young has revealed to Rolling Stone magazine that he's working on a new album with Willie Nelson's sons, Lukas and Micah Nelson. "I'm working on another album now that I'm going to be doing with Willie Nelson's sons. It's an upbeat review of the situation," Young said, adding that the working title is The Monsanto Years. Monsanto is the agriculture company Young has been publicly battling for years. The singer boycotted Starbucks last year over the coffee company's involvement with Monsanto in a lawsuit against the state of Vermont's new requirements to label genetically modified ingredients. Meanwhile, on Jan. 7 Young launched his much-hyped Pono music player. The device, which according to Young offers high-quality audio and will be capable of storing 1-2,000 high resolution songs, is now available for order online for a price of $260 and will be delivered to customers in February. "This is all about making music sound as good as it can," Young said of the Pono player. "Music is about having a good time feeling in your soul, whether it makes you laugh or it makes you cry. The mission of Pono is to make you feel as much as you can." - NME, 1/9/15...... AC/DC will be among the headliners at the Coachella 2015 festival, which is set for Indio, Calif., this spring. The Aussie head-bangers will perform on Apr. 10 & 17 during the two-weekend fest. Other headliners include Jack White, Drake, Steely Dan, Florence + the Machine and Tame Impala. - Billboard, 1/6/15...... The producers behing the Sting-penned Broadway musical "The Last Ship" announced on Jan. 6 that the production will close on Jan. 24 due to poor attendance. The show reportedly cost $15 million to produce with $625,000 or more weekly running costs, and producers said in the end they couldn't make the numbers work. News of the closure comes despite Sting joining the cast in Dec. 2014 in a late effort to boost flagging ticket sales and drum up much needed publicity. The musical was Sting's first to hit Broadway, and the early reviews were mixed at best, with the former Police frontman's score garnering critical praise and the book receiving less positive notices upon the show opening in October. - The Hollywood Reporter, 1/6/15...... The first ever academic conference on German electronic pioneers Kraftwerk will take place in the UK at Aston University in Birmingham on Jan. 20-21. "Volksmusik for the Twenty-First Century: Kraftwerk And The Birth Of Electronic Music In Germany" will feature former Kraftwerk member Wolfgang Flur will also read extracts from his memoir Kraftwerk: I Was A Robot and take part in a Q&A session. Kraftwerk, along with the Beatles, will receive a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2015 Grammy Awards, set for Jan. 26 at the Staples Center in L.A. - New Musical Express, 1/8/15...... British Classic Rockers Status Quo have spent a landmark 500 weeks in the UK charts, after their latest album Aquostic (Stripped Bare) currently at Number 34, has been in the charts for 11 weeks. Status Quo joins the likes of only 50 other artists, including Queen, the Beatles and Elvis Presley, who have been in the album charts for 500 weeks over their career. Queen, who have spent 1,457 weeks in the album charts, have spent the most weeks in the UK chart, which is compiled by the Official Charts Company. Status Quo will launch a 7-city UK tour at Glasgow's Royal Concert Hall on Apr. 20. - NME, 1/5/15...... Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler's daughter, actress Liv Tyler, has sparked speculation she is engaged to David Beckham's close pal Dave Gardner by sporting a ring on her left hand. In September, Tyler confirmed she is pregnant with her second child, one month after going public with her romance with sports agent Gardner amid rumours they had been dating for months. Tyler has a 10-year-old son, Milo, from a previous relationship with British musician Royston Langdon. - WENN.com 1/5/15...... Fleetwood Mac drummer Mick Fleetwood already chronicled his band's notorious, coke-fueled Seventies excesses in his first memoir, 1990's Fleetwood. But his new book, Play On: Now, Then, and Fleetwood Mac, brings his and the band's story up to date, breezes over the same material (with fewer lurid stories) and adds behind-the-curtain tidbits about the Mac's later years. But only Mac die-hards will want to read about the collapse of Fleetwood's third marriage. - Rolling Stone, 1/15/15...... Olivia Newton-John and actress Didi Conn, who played memorable best friends and cousins Sandy and Frenchy in the 1978 classic movie Grease, reunited for a performance of the film's song "Summer Nights" at Las Vegas' Flamingo Hotel & Casino on Jan. 3 during Newton-John's show. Wearing black and pink jackets in tribute to their high school greaser girl and Pink Ladies roles, the two sang the famous "Summer Nights" track for the audience. "The Olivia Newton-John: Summer Nights" show features an eight-piece band and includes numerous Grease throwbacks, including "Hopelessly Devoted to You" and "You're the One That I Want," as well as Newton-John's 1980 single "Physical." - The Hollywood Reporter, 1/5/15...... Author David Ritz's new Aretha Franklin biography Respect delves into the Queen of Soul's dark side: her early drinking problems, her "gentleman pimp" first husband, her testy working relationships with producers like Luther Vandross and Jerry Wexler, and her deeply competitive streak, which she once unleashed on Whitney Houston while recording a duet. Ritz's writing can be choppy and indulgent, but his research is solid, and he vividly expresses what made her voice and albums so monumental in the Sixties. - Rolling Stone, 1/15/15...... Classic rockers Toto will release Toto XIV, their first studio album in ten years, on Mar. 24 in the US and a day earlier in the UK. Toto XIV is the band's first album of new material since 2006's Falling In Between. However, the band personally considers the new album to be the true follow-up to Toto IV, which made the band global superstars. "This is opposite of going through the motions," says keyboardist Steve Porcaro. "We just want to be the best version of ourselves that we can be. Be true to ourselves and make the best music we can. Entertain people which is what we were put on this earth for." Configurations include CD, with a Deluxe Edition available featuring a "Making of" Documentary on DVD. Additionally Toto XIV will be available as a 2LP vinyl set, and a Super Deluxe limited edition which includes the Deluxe CD/DVD edition, 2LP vinyl, an exclusive poster, t-shirt, and lithograph. Toto will kick off a world tour behind the album in Glasgow on May 21, 2015. - Noble PR, 1/8/15...... Iconic band Spain, featuring singer/bassist Josh Haden, have announced a 6-week tour from Jan. 28 - Mar. 11. Kicking off in Boston, Mass., the band then plays Lincoln Center in NYC, before club shows in Philly, D.C. and Brooklyn. The brief Northeast swing will see the band perform as a trio (bass, guitar, drums) and will mark the band's first East coast shows in 15 years. The multi-continent tour, which includes thirty shows in Europe, will support Spain's latest release, 2014's Sargent Place, which achieved glowing 4-star reviews from several music mags and newspapers. - 1888 Media, 1/7/15...... Ray McFall, a former owner of the famous Cavern Club in Liverpool where the Beatles played almost 300 times over a two-and-a-half year period, has died at the age of 88. Mr. McFall owned the club in the 1960s, changing it from a jazz venue to a rock 'n' roll club and booking Merseybeat bands like the Beatles. The Fab Four went on to play at the legendary basement venue 292 times. "It was Ray who opened it up to those early Merseybeat sessions, which led to the whole Merseybeat explosion," said Jon Keats, a director of the Cavern. "It was completely his vision that moved the club forward, with what turned into the huge Merseybeat explosion and the Beatles' success and Gerry and the Pacemakers and all the main bands." The venue also hosted gigs by the Rolling Stones, The Yardbirds, John Lee Hooker and Howlin' Wolf. But in 1966, McFall was declared bankrupt and the Cavern Club was forced to close. In 1973, the cellar was filled in but the club was rebuilt near the original site and opened again in 1984. - The BBC, 1/8/15..... Famed rock concert promoter and music impresario Bill Graham will get his first ever museum retrospective when a "Bill Graham and the Rock & Roll Revolution" exhibit opens at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles starting May 7. The exhibit will feature never before seen photos and artifacts on loan from the Graham family, including the original artwork of several iconic Fillmore concert posters, along with archival concert footage, historical and new video interviews and psychedelic art related to Graham, who was godfather of the San Francisco concert scene and one ofthe most influential concert promoters in history. The Berlin-born Graham, who died in a helicopter crash in 1991 at the age of 60, was known for working with such major rock acts as the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Santana, Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones, among many others. The exhibition, which will run through Oct. 11, coincides with two 50th anniversaries: Graham's first concert and the Grateful Dead's live debut. - Billboard, 1/9/15...... Acclaimed gospel artist Andra Crouch, a seven-time Grammy-winning singer, songwriter, arranger, producer and pastor, died at Northridge Hospital Medical Center in Los Angeles on Jan. 3 after suffering a heart attack. He was 72. Crouch, who penned several popular gospel songs such as "The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power," also directed the choirs that sang on Michael Jackson's "Man in the Mirror" and Madonna's "Like a Prayer." He was often praised for bridging the gap between popular music and gospel, bringing a contemporary pop and R&B sensibility to his music. He also served as a pastor alongside his sister at the New Christ Memorial Church in San Fernando, Calif. - Billboard, 1/8/15...... Actor Rod Taylor, known for his leading roles in such films as The Birds and The Time Machine, died on Jan. 8 at his home in Los Angeles. He was two days shy of turning 85. Mr. Taylor big breakthrough came with his starring turn in The Time Machine, director George Pal's 1960 adaptation of the H. G. Wells 1895 sci-fi classic. He also played the heroic Mitch Brenner in Alfred Hitchcock's 1963 classic The Birds, coming to the aid of Tippi Hedren. His dozens of other movie credits include Giant (1956), The V.I.Ps (1963), Sunday in New York (1963), Do Not Disturb (1965) and The Glass Bottom Boat (1966). Most recently, the suave native of Sydney, Australia, played Winston Churchill in director Quentin Tarantino's Inglorious Basterds (2009). His TV credits include Hong Kong, Bearcats!, The Oregon Trail, Outlaws and Falcon Crest. - The Hollywood Reporter, 1/8/2015...... Irwin Steinberg, a co-founder of Mercury Records, passed away at his home in Brattleboro, Vermont, on Dec. 29. He was 94. Before entering the music business, Mr. Steinberg studied at the University of Chicago, gained a Masters from the University of California and served in the AirCorps. After leaving Mercury Records in 1968, he went on to become chairman and CEO of Polygram Records, where he worked for over 30 years. - NME, 1/4/15.
The death of British rocker Joe Cocker on Dec. 22 after battle with small cell lung cancer has spurred his fans to celebrate the rock legend's music in droves. Cocker's catalog of albums saw a 2,319 percent sales gain in the week ending Dec. 28, according to Nielsen Music, rising to 22,000 sold (up from 1,000 the week before). His biggest seller for the week was The Best of Joe Cocker: 20th Century Masters the Millennium Collection (released in 2000), which sold 7,000 (up 4,878 percent), good for a No. 75 debut on the Billboard Hot 200 album chart. It was the singer's first appearance on the chart since 2007. Meanwhile, Cocker's songs sold a combined 121,000 downloads in the week ending Dec. 28, a 3,630 percent surge. His best-selling tune during the week was his iconic cover of the Beatles' "With a Little Help From My Friends," which moved 32,000 downloads (up 5,090 percent). It debuted at No. 6 on Rock Digital Songs, and No. 8 on the overall Hot Rock Songs chart (which measures sales, airplay and streaming). Cocker's 1972 track "Feeling Alright," also bowed on Hot Rock Songs, at No. 22, selling 13,000 downloads for the week (up 2,734 percent). Overall streams of Cocker's songs grew to 3.87 million for the week, a 1,241 percent blast. His top-streamed song in the week ending Dec. 28 was "With a Little Help From My Friends" with 1.3 million (up 1,716 percent). Finally, Cocker debuted at No. 84 on the Billboard Artist 100 chart, which ranks most popular acts across Billboard's most influential charts, including the Hot 100, Top Album Sales and the Social 50. - Billboard, 1/2/15...... In an op-ed published by Wired.com, Peter Gabriel is advocating the use of unbiased video evidence in the United States' legal system. "How is it that despite compelling video evidence, justice can be so elusive for the victims of police brutality?" the former Genesis frontman ask in the piece titled "Tech Can Make Video Evidence a Cornerstone of Justice." Gabriel contends evidence in courtrooms is often based on our "fallible memories, spoken evidence produced long after the event" -- that is proved to be unreliable and often reimagined. "Justice flourishes in the light, in openness and transparency, in which the defense and prosecution are seen to be treated fairly and given equal opportunity," he said, and also encouraged tech companies to create a "proof mode" on video evidence so that investigators, journalists and audiences to know whether a piece of media has been tampered with at all. - Billboard, 12/30/14...... Mega-selling hip-hop star Kayne West has released his latest single, "Only One," online with Paul McCartney on organ. Instead of the rapper's usual bombast, the song boasts a spare arrangement with West tenderly singing from the perspective of his late mother as she looks down from the heavens and addresses him. "Hello my only one, just like the morning sun/ You'll keep on rising till the sky knows your name," the song's chorus goes. It's possible that West and the famous former Beatle will collaborate again, as the New York Post reported in 2014 that the pair were working on a song called "Piss On My Grave." Aside from West's "Only One" track (now available on iTunes), McCartney's most-recent work is the song "Hope For The Future," his song featured on the soundtrack of video game Destiny. - New Musical Express, 1/1/15...... In an interview with the New York Times promoting his new book Sound Man, engineer and record producer Glyn Johns describes the Beatles' original Phil Spector-produced LP Let It Be as "a bunch of garbage." "I was disappointed that Lennon got away with giving it to Spector, and even more disappointed with what Spector did to it," Johns told the paper. "It has nothing to do with the Beatles at all. Let It Be is a bunch of garbage. As I say in the book, he puked all over it. I've never listened to the whole thing, I've only listened to the first few bars of some things and said, 'Oh, forget it.' It was ridiculously, disgustingly syrupy." In the book, Johns also claims that Bob Dylan enquired about the possibility of making an album with the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. "He asked me if I would find out whether the others would be interested," Johns says, however Paul McCartney and Mick Jagger brushed off that idea. - NME, 1/2/15...... According to Nielsen Music, vinyl LP sales hit another historic high in 2014. The '70s favorite music format grew by 52 percent in 2014 to 9.2 million copies (up from 6.1 million in 2013). For the seventh straight year, more vinyl albums were sold than in any other year since Nielsen started tracking music sales in 1991. Notably, there were 94 albums that sold at least 10,000 copies on vinyl in 2014 -- up tremendously from 46 titles in 2013. Nielsen says 3.6 percent of all albums sold in 2014 were on vinyl. To compare, 10 years ago in 2004, just 0.2 percent of all albums sold were on vinyl (1.2 million of 681.4 million). - Billboard, 12/31/14...... In a new interview with the PBS television network, Fleetwood Mac's Lindsey Buckingham hints that the band may be entering into their final years together, describing their forthcoming world tour as the "last act" for the group. Discussing the possibility of hearing new music from the band, as well as their live plans, Buckingham said: "We're going to continue working on the new album, and the solo stuff will take a back seat for a year or two. A beautiful way to wrap up this last act." Fleetwood Mac are set to kick off a tour of the UK in 2015 playing multiple shows in London in May, then visiting Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow and Dublin in June before wrapping with two shows in Leeds on June 30 and July 5. They'll also headline The Isle Of Wight Festival in June, their only UK festival appearance of 2015. - NME, 1/3/15...... Grand Ole Opry cast member Little Jimmy Dickens, known for such humorous country hits as "May The Bird of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose," "Take An Old Cold Tater (And Wait)" and "A-Sleeping At The Foot Of The Bed," died on Jan. 2 in Nashville due to cardiac arrest. He was 94. Mr. Dickens came to prominence in country music in the late 1940s, during the time of Hank Williams and Eddy Arnold, and became the last man standing from that era -- continuing to entertain fans at the Grand Ole Opry less than two weeks ago. Born Dec. 19, 1920 in Bolt, W.Va., Mr. Dickens became a member of the WSM's Grand Ole Opry Radio show in Aug. 1948, and signed with Columbia the next month. The following year, he scored four Top 10 records on the country chart, and became one of the genre's biggest stars in the early 1950s, thanks to continued success with singles such as "I'm Little But I'm Loud," "Hillbilly Fever," and "Out Behind The Barn." In 1965, the singer recorded his biggest hit with "May The Bird of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose," which became his only No. 1 country hit. It also marked his lone appearance on the Billboard Hot 100 pop chart, peaking at No.15. In 1983, Mr. Dickens achieved the pinnacle of his career with his induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame, and continued to tour through the years, but became known as one of the symbols of the Opry during his later years. He often introduced many newcomers to the stage, and also extended invitations to many to become members, such as the Oak Ridge Boys and Trace Adkins. Mr. Dickens turned 94 on Dec. 19, and made his final appearance on the Opry stage the next night. He was admitted to the hospital on Christmas Day. - Billboard, 1/2/15...... Tony award-winning stage and screen actor Edward Herrmann, who portrayed Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1976 TV movie Eleanor and Franklin and charmed audiences as the stuffy dad on TV's Gilmore Girls, died on Dec. 31 at Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital of brain cancer. He was 71. Herrmann also appeared in a 1977 sequel to the Roosevelt biopic, Eleanor and Franklin: The White House Years, and in the 1982 movie musical Annie. In 2014, he also provided the voice for FDR in Ken Burns' PBS documentary series The Roosevelts: An Intimate History, while his urbane tones were heard on a variety of other documentaries and on hundreds of audio books including Laura Hillenbrand's Unbroken. He had recently narrated a documentary on cancer, according to his son Rory Herrman. His other major film credits includie "Reds and The Wolf of Wall Street, and he was an acclaimed stage actor whose Tony-winning performance came in 1976 for a revival of "Mrs. Warren's Profession" opposite Lynn Redgrave. - AP, 12/31/14...... Actress Donna Douglas, best known as the buxom tomboy Elly May Clampett on the hit 1960s sitcom The Beverly Hillbillies, died on Jan. 1 in Baton Rouge, La., near her hometown of Zachary, after a battle with pancreatic cancer. She was 82. Chosen for the role of Elly May from more than 500 other actresses, Ms. Douglas said she felt at ease playing the role because, like her character, she grew up a poor Southern tomboy. Her childhood in Pride, Louisiana, came in handy when she was asked during her audition to milk a goat. "I had milked cows before," she recalled in a 2009 interview with AP. "I figured they were equipped the same, so I just went on over and did it." The series, which ran from 1962 to 1971, also starred the late Buddy Ebsen and Irene Ryan as well as Max Baer Jr., who turned 77 on Jan. 4. Ms. Douglas' career began with beauty pageants -- she was Miss Baton Rouge and named Miss New Orleans in 1957 -- followed by a trip to New York to pursue a career in entertainment. After appearances on The Perry Como Show and The Steve Allen Show, she landed a featured role in the 1959 film Career, starring Dean Martin and Shirley MacLaine, and a bit part in the film musical Li'l Abner. She also had small roles as Tony Randall's secretary in the 1961 Doris Day/Rock Hudsonromantic comedy Lover Come Back, and in the memorable Twilight Zone episode "The Eye of the Beholder" in 1962. After The Beverly Hillbillies, Ms. Douglas worked in real estate, recorded country and gospel music albums and wrote a book for children that drew on biblical themes. Ms. Douglas was married twice, to Roland John Bourgeois, Jr. until 1954, and then to Beverly Hillbillies director Robert M. Leeds. They divorced in 1980 after nine years of marriage. Survivors include her son, Danny P. Bourgeois. - AP, 1/2/15...... Jazz guitarist Jeff Golub, who played alongside such artists as Rod Stewart and Billy Squier, died on Jan. 1 of an as yet undisclosed cause, however he had been battling a rare brain disease called Progressive Supranuclear Pals that caused him to inexplicably lose his eyesight in 2011. He was 59. Golub released 12 solo albums and three more as the leader of the instrumental band, Avenue Blue. He played alongside Stewart from 1988-1995, on four albums and five world tours. He also did session work for such pop and jazz acts as Tina Turner, Vanessa Williams, Peter Wolf and Bill Evans, releasing a number of his own albums over the years. - Billboard, 1/2/15...... Frankie Randall, a vocalist, pianist, actor and pal of Frank Sinatra who performed the theme song for the 1960s NBC adventure series Flipper, died of lung cancer at JFK Medical Center in Indio, Calif., on Dec. 28. He was 76. Randall toured in nightclubs around the country, was a regular on Dean Martin's 1966 summer variety series for NBC and appeared in the 1973 film The Day of the Wolves. He met Frank Sinatra while playing Jilly's bar in New York and often accompanied him as his pianist. He also served as entertainment director for The Golden Nugget in Atlantic City and later became a vice president at the Bally's casino. - The Hollywood Reporter, 12/31/14.
Singer Ashlee Simpson and her husband, actor Evan Ross, have legally changed their names to honor Ross's mother, Motown great Diana Ross. Following their wedding in August, impson took her husband's legal last name -- Naess -- which is his father's. But now that the couple is expecting its first child, together they want to change their last names to Ross-Naess in honor of the Supremes icon. Evan Ross's movie credits include Crazy Sexy Cool: The TLC Story and Jeff, Who Lives at Home, among other film projects. In 2015, he will co-star in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay -- Part 1, the third installment of the blockbuster franchise. Simpson's last album, Bittersweet World, was released in 2008. - Billboard/TMZ.com, 12/29/14...... Ringo Starr announced on his YouTube page on Dec. 28 that he plans on releasing a new album in 2015 and mounting a tour behind it. In the video, the drummer said he's finished his new studio LP, and that it will be released via Universal Records. He also thanked his fans for supporting his many 2014 All Starr Band tour and alluded to more touring in February and March as well. "It's all my pals, really. We just get together," Starr said in an interview this summer. "It's a mixed bag, as my records always are. We have the reggae track and we have the rock track and that's how it is. It's pop, rock, reggae." Ringo added that he was taking the production reins on his own this time after working with Bruce Sugar his last two album's, Ringo 2112 and 2010's Y Not. The new album will feature such musicians as Toto guitarist and current All-Starr Band member Steve Lukather, along with Peter Frampton, Richard Marx, Dave Stewart and Nashville songwriter Gary Nicholson. - Billboard, 12/29/14...... In other Beatles-related news, Paul McCartney said in a recent written Q&A with fans that college courses focusing on legendary artists like the Fab Four as a means of learning pop music is "ridiculous." "For me it's ridiculous, and yet very flattering," McCartney wrote in response to one student who is studying for an MA in popular music. "Ridiculous because we never studied anything, we just loved our popular music: Elvis, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Fats Domino, etc. And it wasn't a case of 'studying' it. I think for us, we'd have felt it would have ruined it to study it." Sir Paul added however that he's not against learning about popular music -- simply that he doesn't think you can learn to make great music from a college course. "I don't think that by studying popular music you can become a great popular musician; it may be that you use it to teach other people about the history, that's all valuable. But to think that you can go to a college and come out like Bob Dylan? Someone like Bob Dylan, you can't make -- You can't tell [people] how to become a Bob Dylan or a John Lennon, because you know, nobody knows how that happens." - Billboard, 12/29/14...... Kiss announced on Dec. 28 it plans on performing its classic 1975 live album, Alive!, in its entirety during its Kiss Kruise V in 2015. "What better way to celebrate the rise of these rock legends than to watch Kiss perform the very live album that launched them into greatness 40 years ago," the statement on the official Kiss website reads. "Get ready to rock out to Kiss playing their first gold album Alive! in its entirety. You read it right. Kiss is playing Alive! from front to back during The Kiss Kruise V indoor show." Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley & Co. haven't yet announced which other acts will perform during the cruise, but promises they'll be inviting some of their favorite bands for the adventure at sea. The 2014 lineup included Cheap Trick frontman Robin Zander and Pat Travers. The cruise sets sail from Miami to Jamaica beginning Oct. 30 -- Nov. 3, 2015, on the Norwegian Pearl. - Billboard, 12/28/14...... Renowned jazz clarinetist Buddy DeFranco -- who collaborated with Frank Sinatra, Billie Holiday and other top singers and musicians of his era -- died on Dec. 27 at a Panama City hospital. He was 91. Mr.DeFranco, a member of the American Jazz Hall of Fame, performed at venues around the world for 75 years and recorded with musicians including Sinatra, Holliday, Art Tatum, Ella Fitzgerald and Tony Bennett. He conducted the Glenn Miller Orchestra for eight years from 1966 to 1974. Mr. DeFranco was named a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master and later named a Living Jazz Legend in a Kennedy Center ceremony, and also was recognized 16 times with the Playboy All-Star award for top jazz clarinetist in the world. His wife, Joyce, said he had been in declining health in recent years. The couple lived in Panama City. - AP, 12/26/14...... Alberta Adams one of the last of the great post-World War II era blues singers, passed away on early Christmas morning in Detroit after a long period of failing health. She was 97. Ms. Adams, known for decades as Detroit's "Queen of the Blues," recorded with Chicago's Chess Records during the 1950s and was a member of the Bluesettes, a vocal group that performed with Tiny Bradshaw and his big band. She also recorded for New Jersey-based Savoy Records and toured nationally, eventually beginning a long association with the late Detroit guitarist Johnnie Bassett and his band. - Billboard, 12/26/14.
After embracing recent changes in U.K. law and becoming married on Dec. 21, Elton John and his partner David Furnish shared a picture of themselves on Instagram.com as they tied the knot, adding the caption "That's the legal bit done. Now on to the ceremony! Share the love." The couple reportedly celebrated the union with a reception at their estate in Windsor, England with guests including model/actress Elizabeth Hurley, who tweeted a picture of herself on the way to the event. Elton received many well-wishes from his friends, and posted an Instagram shot of all the cards. One of them was a classy handwritten message from multi-platinum selling singer Adele, who apologized for missing the wedding. "Biggest congratulations my loves. Have a wonderful day. I'm sorry we are not there. See you in 2015. Love Adele, Simon and Angelo. x," she wrote. - WENN.com/Billboard, 12/22/14...... Paul McCartney has reacted to the news of the passing of his "good mate" Joe Cocker on Dec. 22, saying it was a "mind-blowing" experience the first time he heard Cocker's rendition of the Beatles' song "With a Little Help From My Friends." "He was a lovely northern lad who I loved a lot and like many people I loved his singing," McCartney said. "I was especially pleased when he decided to cover 'With A Little Help From My Friends' and I remember him and Denny Cordell coming round to the studio in Saville Row and playing me what they'd recorded and it was just mind blowing, totally turned the song into a soul anthem and I was forever grateful for him for doing that." Also in his statement, Sir Paul said that it was "sad to hear that he had been ill" and that Cocker "was a great guy, a lovely guy who brought so much to the world and we'll all miss him." Meanwhile, Paul said in a recent interview that he's attempting a song about the controversial police killings in Ferguson, Missouri, and New York City. "I was thinking recently about all these protests in New York and around the country. I thought it would be great to put something down about that, just to add my voice to the thousands of people walking in the streets," he said. "I thought it through and it just didn't come easily. I'm not giving up on it, but it didn't come easily, whereas some other emotions might come easily to me." - Billboard/AP, 12/23/14...... In other Beatles-related news, a new documentary from Sacred Goose Productions that asks musicians, actors, comedians and an assortment of other celebrities to choose which side of the John Lennon and Paul McCartney songwriting duo they prefer was posted online in early December. Pete Townshend, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, John Lydon and Arctic Monkeys frontman Alex Turner are among over 550 famous celebs that were queried over a 10-year period for the 35-minute film. - New Musical Express, 12/22/14...... A new legal group representing around 40 artists including the Eagles, John Lennon, Smokey Robinson, Pharrell Williams and Chris Cornell are demanding that the popular online video site YouTube.com remove around 20,000 videos that are currently streaming online. Eagles manager Irving Azoff, who recently founded Global Music Rights, says that although YouTube may have negotiated deals with the record labels, they didn't do so with the artists themselves. Azoff says that his clients want to pursue YouTube, as opposed to other sharing sites, because they have been "least cooperative and the company and our clients feel are the worst offenders." Google, which is planning to launch Music Key -- its own subscription music service to rival Spotify and Pandora -- in 2015, has maintained that YouTube does have the performance rights due to prior deals, however Global Music counters that the service has not provided details of any prior agreements. "Without providing a shred of documentation, you blithely proffer that YouTube can ignore the Notices because it operates under blanket licenses from performing rights organizations other than Global," a lawyer for the group says. - New Musical Express, 12/23/14...... Former Pink Floyd principal Roger Waters says in an op-ed for Britain's Daily Mail newspapaper that there's "no place in the legal system" for the "institutionalized brutality" of Guantanamo Bay and called for a judge-led inquiry into Britain's role in the detention and alleged torture of British prisoner Shaker Aamer. Waters discussed recent revelations about the CIA's torture program and raised concerns about "the mounting evidence that our own [Britain's] intelligence and security agencies may have colluded with the CIA" in the rendition and torture of terror suspects. He focused on the case of Aamer, a 46-year-old Londoner who was seized by the US and rendered to Guantanamo while working in Afghanistan 13 years ago. "During Mr. Aamer's long spell of incarceration, he has never been put on trial or even had any charges leveled against him," Waters wrote. "No human being should be subjected to such monstrous and prolonged treatment " 13 years, with no evidence produced to suggest a crime!" Waters explained that he became involved in the case after it was brought to his attention by Aamer's laywer Clive Stafford Smith, who received a letter from Aamer that included the opening lyrics to Pink Floyd 1979 song "Hey You." In November, Pink Floyd scored their first U.K. No. 1 album since 1995 with their new and purportedlly final LP, The Endless River. - New Musical Express, 12/23/14...... Speaking of YouTube, the Rolling Stones posted a short video to the site on Dec. 21 thanking fans for their support in 2014. "We've had a fabulous time on the '14 On Fire' tour this year," said frontman Mick Jagger in the likely scripted piece that featured a pantomime-esque back and forth with guitarist Keith Richards. "Thanks for coming out to see us and maybe we'll see you in 2015," Jagger added. The Stones performed in 19 countries in 2014 as part of their "14 On Fire" tour which, according to the video, equated to playing to 1,159,882 people. - NME, 12/21/14...... In an interview with New Zealand's One News on Dec. 22, longtime AC/DC drummer Phil Rudd, who's been estranged from the band since being hit with charges of threatening to kill a man in Rudd's employ for three years, says that "I want my job back." "I'm going back to work with AC/DC and I don't care who likes it or who doesn't," Rudd said. "I want my job back and I want my reputation back." Rudd pleaded not guilty to charges of threatening to kill one of his bodyguards earlier in December, which also included a charge of drug possession. Rudd drummed for AC/DC from 1975-1983, and then rejoined them in 1994. AC/DC's new album Rock or Bust, which features Rudd's playing, debuted on the Billboard Hot 200 at No. 3. - Billboard, 12/22/14...... Speaking to Japan's Universal Music, Queen guitarist Brian May says their current vocalist, season-eight American Idol star Adam Lambert, can even sing higher than their original frontman, Freddie Mercury. "They're difficult songs to sing, Queen songs. There's too much range," May said. "So many people can't sing them in the original key -- even if they are good singers, Adam comes along, [and] he can do it easy. He can do it in his sleep! He can sing higher than even Freddie could in a live situation. So I think Freddie would look at this guy and think, 'Hmm| Yeah. Okay.' There would be a kind of, 'Hmm ... You bastard. You can do this.'" May also remarked on Lambert's showmanship: "He doesn't have to try. He is a natural, in the same way that Freddie was," he said, adding, "We didn't look for this guy, [but] suddenly he's there, and he can sing all of those lines. ... He doesn't imitate; he just does his own thing." Freddie Mercury died in 1991 of bronchopneumonia brought on by AIDS. Lambert has collaborated with members May and drummer Roger Taylor since 2011. The Queen + Adam Lambert troupe are set to play a New Year's Eve gig at Central Hall Westminster in London, which will be broadcast on BBC One, before touring other cities in Europe in 2015. - The Hollywood Reporter, 12/22/14...... Donny and Marie Osmond have just extended their run at Las Vegas' Flamingo Hotel & Casino at least through the end of 2015. The sibling singers are still performing more than six years after they committed to six weeks of shows starting in September 2008, and their 90-minute variety show is scheduled to have performance dates every month in 2015 except in March, July, August and December. - AP, 12/22/14...... After a lengthy legal battle, the body of legendary radio and TV personality Casey Kasem was finally laid to rest on Dec. 16, approximately six months after his death, however questions about the cause of his death remain. According to celebrity gossip site TMZ.com, Kasem's body was buried at Norway's Vestre Gravlund Cemetery. Kasem's own children were not at the ceremony and reportedly did not know it took place until Dec. 22. Kasem died June 15 at the age of 82, his wife, actress Jean Kasem and daughter Kerri Kasem sparred over the burial. Along with fellow siblings Mike and Julie, Kerri filed a police report with the LAPD claiming their stepmother contributed to their father's death. The elder abuse investigation examined whether a multi-state car trip Jean took Kasem on led to his fatal infection. Kasem's cause of death was first reported as "complications from dementia." In the months leading up to Kasem's death, Kerri accused Jean of torturing her father, which included allegedly denying him necessary treatment for his illnesses. Jean maintained she intended to have Kasem interred in Norway, because of her own Norwegian heritage, and because her plans to relocate there would allow her to visit him. - Billboard, 12/22/14...... The son of former Roxy Music frontman Bryan Ferry was involved in a car accident in England near Cressage, Shropshire on Dec. 22. Merlin Ferry was reportedly in "critical condition" following a "head on collision," and he was trapped in the car for an hour following the crash. Another of Ferry's sons, Otis Ferry took to Twitter to thank firefighters from Wellington fire station, after they tweeted an image of wreckage from the crash. Otis wrote: "Thank you for extracting my Brother alive from what looks like a mangled box of tin. We are all continuing to pray." Bryan Ferry released his latest solo album, Avonmore, in November, with the likes of Johnny Marr and Nile Rodgers appearing on the LP. - NME, 12/24/14...... Dirty Harry actor Clint Eastwood is now officially single after a judge in California signed off on his divorce from now-ex-wife Dina. The divorce documents were filed in Monterey County Superior Court on Dec. 22, terminating the marriage. Eastwood and his wife separated in June 2012, and Dina filed for divorce a year ago. Details of the settlement are not yet available. - WENN.com, 12/23/14...... Lynyrd Skynyrd have announced they'll play their first two classic '70s albums -- Pronounced 'Leh-nerd Skin-nerd and Second Helping -- in their entirety in back-to-back shows at the Florida Theatre in their hometown of Jacksonville on Feb. 12 and 13. They will perform their debut on Feb. 12, with the follow-up LP being played the following night. Both shows, which will also feature a selection of other hits, are to be recorded and will be released on DVD. "We've been wanting to go back and recreate these live records for a long time," lead singer Johnny Van Zant told The Florida Times-Union. "We decided to come back to our hometown, Jacksonville, and play at the legendary Florida Theatre. Can't wait to rock it." The two albums are among 15 studio LPs released by the legendary Southern rockers, who were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006. - NME, 12/21/14...... Singer/songwriter Larry Henley, whose raucous falsetto on "Bread and Butter" gave The Newbeats their biggest pop hit in the 1960s and who later co-wrote "Wind Beneath My Wings," died Dec. 18 in Nashville. He was 77. The Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, which inducted him in 2012, announced the death but did not cite a cause. "Bread and Butter," which features with the lyrics "I like bread and butter, I like toast and jam, that's what my baby feeds me, I'm her loving man" -- climbed to No. 2 on the U.S. pop charts. It continued to resonate through commercials, notably for Sunbeam bread, and its use in films as varied as 9 1/2 Weeks (1986) and Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004). "The Wind Beneath My Wings," from the soundtrack of the 1988 film Beaches became a No.1 pop hit and won the 1989 Grammy Award for song of the year. Over time, it became a contemporary standard used both at public events and in more intimate settings, often in the context of an apology set to music. After The Newbeats went their separate ways in the '70s, Henley continued a solo career while deepening an interest in songwriting. He co-wrote "Till I Get It Right," which became a No.1 country hit for Tammy Wynette in 1973, and "Lizzie & the Rainman," which Tanya Tucker propelled to No. 1 in 1975....... Producer/engineer and Ardent Records and Ardent Studios founder John Fry died in Memphis, Tenn., on on Dec. 18. He was 69. Ardent Studioes hosted sessions by the likes of Led Zeppelin, Bob Dylan, James Taylor, ZZ Top, R.E.M., Stevie Ray Vaughan, Al Green, the Allman Brothers Band, B.B. King, the White Stripes, the Replacements, as well as scores of Stax Records artists and, of course, the acclaimed '70s power pop band Big Star, who Fry mentored and made three albums with. All told, more than 70 gold and platinum singles and albums were recorded at Ardent. Fry, who was inducted into the Memphis Music Hall of Fame on Nov. 6, had been diagnosed with cancer earlier this year and had gone through chemotherapy. - Billboard, 12/18/14...... Udo Juergens, an Austrian-born star who dominated pop music in the German-speaking world and sold more than 100 million records in a career spanning five decades, died on Dec. 21 after collapsing unconscious during a walk in Gottlieben, a town on Lake Constance north of Zurich, Switzerland. He was 80. "Warum nur, warum" became a No. 1 hit for Mr. Juergens in France, and Walk Away," and an English-language version sung by Matt Monroe went to No. 1 in Britain and No. 2 in the United States, selling 1.5 million records. - AP, 12/21/14...... Joseph Sargent, the director of the 1974 film The Taking of Pelham One Two Three and winner of four Emmys and four DGA Awards, died on Dec. 22 at his home in Malibu of complications from heart disease. He was 89. His credits also included Something The Lord Made, Warm Springs, MacArthur, The Incident, Playing For Time, Miss Rose White, Miss Evers' Boys and Love Is Never Silent. - Variety, 12/23/14.
Joe Cocker, a Grammy-winning rock icon best known for his cover of the Beatles' "With a Little Help from My Friends" and for fronting the legendary 1970 Mad Dogs & Englishmen tour which became a hit double-LP, died on Dec. 22 at his home in Crawford, Col., after a hard fought battle with small cell lung cancer. He was 70. Born in Sheffield, Great Britain in May 1944, the gravely voiced soul, blues and rock singer released his eponymous debut album in 1969 which featured covers of songs by Bob Dylan. He performed at the Woodstock Festival in 1969 (as well as the Woodstock '94 anniversary festival) and scored 19 charting hits on the Billboard Hot 100, including 1968's "With a Little Help From My Friends," which later became the theme song for the hit 1980s TV show The Wonder Years. In 1982, he had a No. 1 hit with "Up Where We Belong," a duet with Jennifer Warnes, from the film An Officer and a Gentleman. The song also won him his only Grammy Award, for best pop performance by a duo or group with vocal. He also charted Top 40 hits with "You Are So Beautiful" (No. 5), "The Letter" (with Leon Russell and The Shelter People, No. 7), "When the Night Comes" (No. 11) and "Feeling Alright" (No. 33). Another famed Cocker track, the Randy Newman-penned "You Can Leave Your Hat On," became a hit in 1986 after it was used in the film 9 1/2 Weeks. The song reached No. 35 on the Mainstream Rock Songs chart. He released 22 solo albums, the last being Fire It Up in 2012. During a recent concert in New York, his friend Billy Joel told the crowd that Cocker was not well, and urged that Cocker be inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. A statement released by his record label Sony, reads: "John Robert Cocker, known to family, friends, his community and fans around the world as Joe Cocker, passed away on December 22, 2014 after a hard fought battle with small cell lung cancer. Mr Cocker was 70 years old. Joe Cocker was born 5/20/1944 in Sheffield, England where he lived until his early 20's. In 2007 he was awarded the OBE by the Queen of England. His international success as a blues/rock singer began in 1964 and continues till this day. Joe created nearly 40 albums and toured extensively around the globe." Cocker's agent Barrie Marshall released a statement regarding his death, saying: "it will be impossible to fill the space he leaves in our hearts." Although Cocker was reportedly battling lung cancer, Marshall said that he passed away of "an undisclosed illness." Cocker's passing also drew condolences on Twitter.com from such fellow famous musicians as Ringo Starr, Tom Morello, Peter Frampton, Bryan Adams, Steven Tyler, Bette Midler, Arlo Guthrie, Lenny Kravitz and Bootsy Collins.. - Billboard/New Musical Express, 12/22/14.
Just two seasons in, the Thursday night CBS sitcom Mom has proven itself to be a primetime series that doesn't shy away from often dark subject matter, tackling such controversial issues as alcoholism, gambling, homelessness, cancer, and teen pregnancy. "I didn't see any point in doing another sitcom and not expanding the language a little bit," says cocreator and executive producer Chuck Lorre. "It seemed to me that the genre doesn't really deal with reality." Mom has been compared by critics to producer Norman Lear's 1970s sitcoms, such as All in the Family, Good Times, and Maude, all of which reflected the issues of that era, and Lorre says that while he's not comparing his show to All in the Family, "I thought this was a chance to go back to Lear's work... he saw opportunity in telling stories about what was really happening in people's lives." Coincidentally, Lear recently revealed that he and Sony Pictures are discussing an All in the Family revival for 2015. Lear says that, like the original, the reboot would be about "what you and your family are living through. They're the same problems we had 30 years ago. They're just not being addressed as often." Why does Lear think more shows don't touch the issues, as he did? "The answer lies in what the networks and buyers insist on," Lear says. "They don't want the problems that the sponsors and executives at the networks didn't want all those years ago. There are writers everywhere who would be eager to write about everything they're facing." - TV Guide, 12/21/14.
The Who have been forced to cancel two London dates on Dec. 17 and 18 that would have finished their UK "Who Hits 50" tour as singer Roger Daltrey recovers from a throat infection. The pair of gigs have been rescheduled for March 22 and 23, 2015, as Daltrey rests his voice on doctor's orders. "The band and their management wish to sincerely apologise to all ticket holders for the inconvenience and disappointment this has caused," The Who said in a statement. The UK tour began in November as the band announced they have begun to consider their retirement from music. Following the March gigs, the band is scheduled to headline London's Hyde Park festival in the summer of 2015. - New Musical Express, 12/16/14...... Tickets for AC/DC's upcoming gig at London's Wembley Stadium on July 4 sold out in under 60 minutes after going on sale on Dec. 17. The band will play Wembley as part of three UK dates in London, Glasgow (on 6/28) and Dublin (7/1) in the summer of 2015. - New Musical Express, 12/17/14...... Yusuf (formerly known as Cat Stevens) wrapped a brief U.S. tour in Los Angeles on Dec. 14, his first American trek in 35 years. Dubbed the "Peace Train" tour, a dilapidated train station provided a fitting backdrop for Yusuf's 32-song set at the Nokia Theatre before a sold-out crowd of 7,000. Standing ovations greeted album tracks such as "Where Do the Children Play" and "Miles From Nowhere," with encores including "Gold Digger," "Peace Train," "Sad Lisa" and "Morning Has Broken." Stevens, 66, was backed by his bandmate from his heady '70s days, guitarist Alun Davies, and four young musicians. - Billboard, 12/15/14...... An episode of the Netflix series Lilyhammer featuring acting by Bruce Springsteen began airing on Nov. 21, and the director of the series, Springsteen's longtime E Street Band guitarist Steven Van Zandt, says there "was a little bit of anxiety involved." "I know we're friends for 50 years but still it meant a lot to me that he chose me and trusted me enough to direct him when literally everybody on earth's been wanting to do it ," said Van Zandt, who besides making his directoral debut also stars, writes, produces and composes music for the show. Lilyhammer is a fish out of water story about fictional New York gangster Frank "The Fixer" Tagliano (Van Zandt), who is trying to start a new life in the Norwegian city of Lillehammer. Springsteen played Frank's older brother Giuseppe -- a small role that was key to the plot, Van Zandt said. "He's really acting," says Van Zandt. "It's not some cameo. He's not playing himself. It's a real thing." Springsteen also briefly appeared in the 2000 film High Fidelity, but as himself rather than in an acting role. - AP, 12/17/14...... In a recent interview with Britain's Daily Mail newspaper, the wife of John Lennon's killer Mark David Chapman said that she and her husband have written letters to Lennon's widow Yoko Ono in a bid to salve Chapman's conscious over the shocking 1980 murder. "If Mark could say anything to John and Yoko now, he would say: 'I'm sorry I caused such pain'. He would say: 'I hope you have forgiven me'...," Gloria Chapman said. "John was a nice person but Mark wasn't thinking about that that day, and put himself first. That was his mistake," she added. She also revealed that she and Chapman have both written letters to Yoko and that she "prays for her to find Jesus Christ in her life and to find forgiveness for Mark." "He isn't angry or upset that (Yoko) has pleaded with judges not to release him. I think he understands," Gloria Chapman added, also saying she thinks that Paul McCartney should visit Chapman in prison because "Mark is a very likeable... and would welcome a visit from Mr. McCartney." Mark David Chapman was sentenced to 20 years-to-life in prison for shooting Lennon outside his home at the Dakota building in New York in December, 1980, and has been refused parole on several occasions. - WENN.com, 12/15/14...... Meanwhile in other Beatles-related news, the Recording Academy announced on Dec. 18 that beloved Fab Four legend George Harrison will be honored with a posthumous Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award during an invitation-only ceremony in Los Angeles on Feb. 7, one day before the regular Grammy Awards. Other artists receiving the award include the Bee Gees, Buddy Guy, saxophonist Wayne Shorter and the country duo The Louvin Brothers, among others. The Recording Academy also announced that an all-star Grammys tribute to Stevie Wonder's classic 1976 double-LP Songs in the Key of Life will air on CBS on Feb. 16. Stevie Wonder: Songs In The Key Of Life -- An All-Star Grammy Salute will feature 25-time Grammy-winner Wonder and contemporary artists covering his songs as well as other archival material. Presenters will also help highlight the historical impact of Wonder's songs on music and culture. - Billboard, 12/18/14...... In other Stevie Wonder news, the R&B icon became a dad for the ninth time on Dec. 17 when his girlfriend Tomeeka Robyn Bracy gave birth to a daughter named Nia. The couple reportedly chose the name because it means "purpose," which is one of the seven principles of Kwanzaa, the African-American holiday observed at the end of December. Wonder has seven other kids from previous relationships, including two sons with his second ex-wife, fashion designer Kai Millard Morris, who he divorced in 2012. - WENN.com, 12/17/14...... The Grammy Hall of Fame added 27 recordings by such diverse acts as the Sex Pistols, Neil Young, Lou Reed, Kraftwerk, The Sex Pistols and Abba on Dec. 16. A selection of both albums and singles have been included, including Kraftwerk's 1974 Autobahn LP, Bob Dylan's 1975 LP Blood On The Tracks, Abba's 1976 single "Dancing Queen," Young's 1972 LP Harvest, Chic's 1978 single "Le Freak," Sex Pistols' 1977 LP Never Mind The Bollocks, Here's The Sex Pistols, Alice Cooper's 1972 single "School's Out," Leonard Cohen's 1967 album Songs of Leonard Cohen, Otis Redding's 1966 single "Try A Little Tenderness" and Reed's 1972 single "Walk On The Wild Side." "These memorable, inspiring and iconic recordings are proudly added to our growing catalogue -- knowing that they have become a part of our musical, social, and cultural history," said Neil Portnow, President/CEO of the Recording Academy. The latest inductions bring the Grammy Hall of Fame's inductions to a total 987 recordings. - New Musical Express, 12/16/14...... The producers of the Carole King Broadway production "Beautiful - The Carole King Musical" have announced nationwide casting calls to find actors to portray King and other cast members. Auditions have been set for New York on Jan. 16; Seattle on Jan. 24; Orlando, Florida, on Feb. 7; Pittsburgh on Feb. 21; and Chicago on Feb. 28. The current King, Tony Award-winner Jessie Mueller, is leaving the show in March. In addition to the Broadway show, there's a West End production set to begin in February and a U.S. tour kicks off in Rhode Island in September. - AP, 12/17/14...... The performing rights organization BMI announced on Dec. 17 that it has renewed its long-standing partnership with the estate of Michael Jackson for representation of the late pop icon's catalog. "Since 1976, we've had the privilege of licensing his works and we're honored to continue this relationship with his estate," said BMI president Jim O'Neil. The pact, which dates back over 38 years, covers the public performances of Jackson's songs. BMI pegs its membership at over 650,000 songwriters, composers and publishers. - Billboard, 12/17/14...... Surviving members of the '70s hard rock band Iron Butterfly revealed in a recent interview with Classic Rock magazine that they are working on a new LP together and plan to play some shows in the near future. "We just reformed Iron Butterfly with some original members Ron Bushy, the original drummer and founder of the band, and myself, and Doug Ingle Jr.," said Iron Butterfly guitarist Mike Pinera. The band is perhaps best known for their 1968 track 'In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida', which was taken from the album of the same name. The record has, to date, sold over 30 million copies. - New Musical Express, 12/14/14...... RCA Records announced on Dec. 16 that it has signed Van Morrison to the label, and it will release Morrison's as-yet-untitled 35th studio album in early 2015. "We are thrilled to have Van Morrison, the iconic musical visionary and legend, join the RCA roster," RCA President and COO Tom Corson and CEO Peter Edge said in a joint statement. "He is one of the most prolific and talented songwriters and performers in music today and we are honored to have him join us at the label and work with him on his forthcoming new album." Morrison's new LP will be the follow-up to his 2012 set Born To Sing: No Plan B, which was released via Blue Note and debuted and peaked at No. 10 on the Billboard Hot 200. Morrison's new album for Sony/BMG will be his first for that company, following long a long stint with Warner Bros. in the 1970s, a 7-year run with Mercury in the 1980s and stints with Polydor, Exile, Virgin/Point Blank and Blue Note. Though he continues to tour extensively through Europe, Morrison hasn't performed in the States since a U.S. tour wrapped in Nov. 2013. - Billboard, 12/16/14...... Soul singer Wendy Rene, whose song "After Laughter, Comes Tears" was sampled by the Wu-Tang Clan on "Tearz," died on Dec. 16 in Memphis, Tenn., following a stroke. She was 67. A rarity for singers at the time, Rene only recorded songs she had written, using Booker T. and the MG's as her backing band. Her dance track "Bar-B-Q" was successful enough that she left high school to make a go of it as a performer though none of her singles ever reached a Billboard chart. Her work was also sampled by such rap/hip hop acts as Ol' Dirty Bastard, Alicia Keys and NastyNasty. - Billboard, 12/18/14...... Millie Kirkham, a backup singer for Elvis Presley whose sky-high iconic soprano helped define Presley's iconic yuletide hit "Blue Christmas," died in Nashville, Tenn., on Dec. 14 after suffering a stroke the previous week. She was 91. Singing as a sort of unofficial fifth member of The Jordanaires, Ms. Kirkham didn't just lead the "whoo-ooh-oohs" on "Blue Christmas," her first session with Elvis in 1957 -- she came up with the part. As the story goes, The King originally didn't want to record the song, but had to, and called on the singers to come up with something silly enough to keep RCA from releasing it. "I started going 'Whoo-oo-oo-oo,' " Ms. Kirkham said in a 2012 interview. "[Elvis] motioned for me to keep doing it, so I did it all the way through the whole song. When we were through, we all laughed and said 'That's one record the record company will never release.' But they did. And if I got royalties, I'd be a rich old woman." Ms. Kirkham became a regular session and stage backup vocalist for Elvis, appearing on hits like "(You're the) Devil in Disguise," gospel cuts like "Milky White Way" and versions of "Polk Salad Annie," "C.C. Rider" and "Bridge Over Troubled Waters." She also sang on classics of the '50s, '60s and '70s by many other artists, including Ferlin Husky, Brenda Lee, Patti Page, Bobby Vinton, Roy Orbison and George Jones.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announced its class of 2015 inductees on Dec. 16, with Lou Reed, Bill Withers, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble, Paul Butterfield Blues Band and Green Day making the cut for next time. In addition, the "5" Royales will receive the Early Influence Award, and Ringo Starr will be honored with the Award for Musical Excellence, which was created in 2000. With that award, Starr becomes the fourth and final former member of the Beatles, who were inducted as a group in 1988, to also be honored as individuals by the hall. Among those finally making the cut after being eligible for many years include the late Reed, who has been eligible since 1997 and appeared on the 2000 and 2001 ballots, the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, who have been eligible since 1988 and appeared on the ballot in 2006 as well as the 2013 and 2014 ballots, and Withers, who has been eligible since 1996 and made the cut as a first-time nominee. Known for such hits as "Ain't No Sunshine," "Use Me" and "Lean on Me," Withers started recording when he was 33 and left the business 15 years later. Artists also nominated this year but passed over include Chic, who hold the record of nine unsuccessful nominations, Kraftwerk, The Marvelettes, Nine Inch Nails, N.W.A., The Smiths, The Spinners, Sting and War. A voting body of more than 700 artists, historians and members of the music industry chose the 2015 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame performer inductees. To be eligible for nomination, an individual artist or band must have released its first single or album at least 25 years prior to the year of nomination. The 2015 nominees had to release their first recording no later than 1989. The 2015 induction ceremony will be held in Cleveland on Apr. 18. - Billboard, 12/16/14.
Britain's Daily Mirror newspaper is reporting that Elton John will marry his partner of 18 years, David Furnish, on Dec. 21 before a group of close friends and family at their home in Windsor, England. According to a source close to John and Furnish, the couple "have been planning this for months" and that "Elton is flamboyant but, for once, this will be a decidedly low-key affair. Only close friends and family are invited -- it's going to be a small, intimate do... It's important to David and Elton the boys play a special part." Among the invited guests are reportedly David and Victoria Beckham, Ozzy Osbourne and his wife Sharon, and actress Elizabeth Hurley, with the couple's adopted sons Zachary, three, and Elijah, one, serving as ring bearers at the nuptials. On Dec. 10, legislation was passed in the U.K. allowing couples to convert their civil partnerships into marriages. John and Furnish entered into a civil partnership in 2005. - WENN.com/The Daily Mirror, 12/12/14...... Smokey Robinson settled a legal dispute with his ex-wife Claudette Robinson on Dec. 11 over terminated song rights, with the parties telling a judge that they had reached a settlement in principle. The battle involves termination rights under the 1976 Copyright Act. The legendary Motown singer, whose songs include "My Girl" and "You've Really Got a Hold on Me," is in the process of reclaiming rights to his works. But as he was doing this Claudette Robinson, to whom he was married to between 1957 and 1986, says she put a hold on her own singing career to take care of the kids, and asserted that she deserved a 50 percent share of what he recovered. This led Smokey to file a lawsuit for declaratory relief with Claudette filing counterclaims. The dispute was closely-watched in the music community -- especially among artists reps -- with some talk about the conflict between federal copyright law and state family law and the supremacy clause of the U.S. Constitution. - The Hollywood Reporter, 12/14/14...... In other R&B news, Aretha Franklin was honored as Billboard's Women in Music Icon of the Year at the annual Women in Music event in New York on Dec. 11. Introduced by longtime collaborator and friend Clive Davis, who lauded her for topping various Billboard charts a whopping 100 separate times, Franklin took the stage and delivered a brief speech. "I don't get the opportunity to be with industry people as much as I'd like to," she said. "I want to thank Billboard and their staff personnel for this." Stevie Wonder also sent in his regards via video, singing a congratulations to the tune of his own "My Cherie Amour." - Billboard, 12/12/14...... AC/DC have confirmed they will play gigs in the U.K. as part of their European tour in the summer of 2015. The Aussie headbangers will play Glasgow's Hampden Park on June 28 and Aviva Stadium in Dublin on July 1 before headlining London's Wembley Stadium on July 4. The performance in Glasgow will mark the first time AC/DC have played the U.K. and Ireland since their Black Ice world tour in 2009. The band also recently revealed that they would be open to the idea of headlining the Glastonbury festival if asked. Meanwhile, AC/DC has scored their third No. 1 album in the U.S. on Billboard's Top Rock Albums chart with their new album Rock or Bust. The LP, which sold 172,000 copies according to Nielsen Music, also debuted at No.1 on the Hard Rock Albums chart and No. 3 on the Hot 200 chart, where it is the group's ninth Top 10 album and their 26th charting title. Rock or Bust is also the band's first new album available for purchase on the ITunes music store, after AC/DC ended its holdout from the popular digital retailer in 2012. - New Musical Express/Billboard, 12/12/14...... In other Billboard chart action, Pink Floyd's seminal 1973 space-rock album The Dark Side of the Moon has returned to the Billboard Hot 200 album chart for the week ending Dec. 12 thanks to new ultra-cheap pricing in the store (where the classic set was discounted to 99-cents in the tracking week ending Dec. 7). It moved just over 38,000 album equivalent units, comprised mostly of pure album sales (nearly 38,000; up 940 percent), which was good for a No. 13 ranking. That's the album's highest rank since the Oct. 15, 2011-dated chart, when it re-entered at No. 12 following a new deluxe reissue. With 889 weeks on the chart, Dark Side continues to rule as the album with most charted weeks in the history of the tally. Incidentally, the next-closest album, in terms of longevity, is Johnny Mathis' Johnny's Greatest Hits, with 490 weeks. - Billboard, 12/11/14...... In other Pink Floyd-related news, guitarist David Gilmour made a surprise appearance during a concert by the British band Bombay Bicycle Club on Dec. 13 at London's Earls Court Arena, the last ever concert at the venue before it is demolished and the site is redeveloped. Gilmour was introduced onto the stage by Bombay Bicycle Club guitarist Jamie MacColl. "This man gave me my first guitar and was one of the first people to play this venue and by my count has played here more than 27 times," he commented. Pink Floyd first played Earls Court Arena in 1973, on their Dark Side of the Moon tour. Gilmour playing lap steel guitar on the London's band's own song "'Rinse Me Down," before he picked up an acoustic guitar and sang Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here" from the 1975 album of the same name, much to the delight of the sold-out crowd. - New Musical Express, 12/14/14...... Billy Joel's sold-out show at Bryce Jordan Center in University Park, Pa., on Dec. 5, his first concert at the Penn State arena in 12 years, gave the Piano Man the top ranking in Billboard's Hot Tours list for the week ending Dec. 10. Joel played to a crowd of 12,077, and box office revenue totaled $1.3 million. Joel's last concert at Bryce Jordan Center was on Jan. 16, 2002, during a co-headlining trek with Elton John. That performance drew a sellout crowd of 15,030, generating $1.6 million in sales. The Penn State gig was the first of three events the pop star has scheduled for Dec. 2014. Next on the itinerary is the 12th sold-out performance of his monthly residency at New York City's Madison Square Garden on Dec. 18, and he is set to close out the year at Amway Center in Orlando on New Year's Eve. Other '70s artists ranking in the Top 10 concerts for the week included Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band for a show in Uncasville, Conn. on Dec. 6, James Taylor for a gig also in Uncasville on Dec. 4, and Bob Dylan for a show in Newark, N.J., on Nov. 26. - Billboard, 12/11/14...... Speaking of Bob Dylan, the rock bard has just announced details of his next studio album, a set of Frank Sinatra covers called Shadows in the Night. The 10-track album is due Feb. 3, 2015 via Columbia Records, songs included renditions of "Full Moon And Empty Arms," "Stay With Me" and "What I'll Do." In a press release, Dylan explained his interest in the project as well as his recording process, adding that he doesn't see his renditions as "covers." "It was a real privilege to make this album. I've wanted to do something like this for a long time but was never brave enough to approach 30-piece complicated arrangements and refine them down for a five-piece band," he said. "I don't see myself as covering these songs in any way," Dylan continued. "They've been covered enough. Buried, as a matter a fact. What me and my band are basically doing is uncovering them. Lifting them out of the grave and bringing them into the light of day." News that the LP would be released in 2015 was originally revealed in a flyer that was inserted into advance copies of Dylan's new Basement Tapes Complete boxset, which dropped in November. - NME, 12/9/14...... Former The Police frontman Sting received a standing ovation on Dec. 9 as he joined the cast of the Broadway musical "The Last Ship," which incorporates several of his songs and is a semi-autobiographical story of his own life. Sting was also presented with a bouquet of white rosts at the Neil Simon Theatre after playing the role of a foreman in the musical. He took no special bow, choosing to stay in line with the ensemble as the clapping grew deafening. "It's a play. It's supposed to be fun and it's great fun," Sting said afterward. "The audience were so with us. They were so buoyant. The cast, too. It was a wonderful experience." Sting joined the cast after the musical, which has no bankable stars until now, struggled at the box office,attributable in part to its challenging topic. Sting hopes he can help raise both awareness and the weekly take to $625,000 a week, which would put it in the black. The previous week it made only $492,000. "I had no intention of going in when I was writing it, but I wanted to help the show out. It's hard to put on a new musical on Broadway, as many shows will tell you," Sting said. "We had a secret weapon and we used it." The $15 million project began as a CD and PBS concert special before it was turned into a stage version for a pre-Broadway stop in Chicago in the summer of 2014. The cast album comes out Dec. 16. - AP, 12/10/14...... Abba co-founder Bjorn Ulvaeus once again repeated his declaration that Abba will never again reunite in a new interview with the Associated Press on Dec. 8. "We took a break in '82, and it was meant to be a break. It's still a break and will remain so," Ulvaeus said. "You'll never see us onstage again." Ulvaeus also discussed the new photo book Abba: The Official Photo Book, which was released earlier in 2014 in Europe, and just recently in the United States. "I'm not a nostalgic person, but looking at these pictures really took me back," he said of the book, which features more than 600 photos from the height of the band's career in the 1970s. - AP, 12/9/14...... Joni Mitchell, who recently released a box set of music culled from her 40-year-plus catalog called Love Has Many Faces, A Quartet, A Ballet, Waiting to Be Danced, says that she "don't miss much of anything" these days after retiring from performing due to a battle with the rare skin condition Morgellons Disease. "I've had a very full life," says the 71-year-old singer/songwriter. "I don't miss much of anything. I can't sing anymore -- don't miss it. I can't play anymore -- don't miss it. I've got all these instruments laying around and hopefully one day I'll pick them up. But I do want to start writing my short stories, that's what I want to do after I get this ballet out of the way. If it can happen, great -- if it becomes apparent it's not gonna happen, alright, I've got plenty to do. And I'll still paint." Mitchell says her next project will be a four-part ballet to be danced in early 2015 by the Alberta Ballet -- her first production since 2007's "Shine." - Billboard, 12/9/14...... Pop crooner Tom Jones responded to Welsh rugby officials who are being urged to ban the singing of his classic hit "Delilah" before matches because some claim the lyrics "trivialize the idea of murdering a woman. Speaking at the inaugural BBC Music Awards in London on Dec. 11, Jones said taking the song literally "takes the fun out of it." "If it's going to be taken literally, I think it takes the fun out of it, I think it takes the spirit out of why it's being sung at a Welsh rugby match." Jones added that the song wasn't meant to be a "political statement": "If they're looking into the lyric about a man killing a woman, it's not a political statement, it's something that happens in life. This woman was unfaithful to him and he just loses it... I wasn't thinking that I was the man that was killing the girl when I was singing the song -- I was acting out the part." He add that fans singing the song at matches made him "proud to be Welsh," commenting: "I love to hear it being sung at the Welsh games. It makes me very proud to be Welsh, that they're using one of my songs to sing at a rugby match. That's important to me." It was previously reported that Dafydd Iwan, former president of Plaid Cymru, had asked fans at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium to stop singing "Delilah" before matches because of its controversial content. The track currently acts as a second anthem for Wales, with the Rugby Union displaying the lyrics on the big screen before matches. The Welsh Rugby Union are yet to take any action over the song. - New Musical Express, 12/11/14...... Speaking before an audience of about 300 at England's Oxford University on Dec. 8, former Sex Pistols and current PiL frontman John Lydon said that all religion is "vile, poisonous and idiotic" and spoke of his exposure to paedophile priests as a young boy. "They spend all their time trying to make you believe things that can't possibly be true. Sounds a lot like the Tory party," he said. The irreverent punk rock icon, who was making his final public appearnce to promote his 2014 autobiography Anger Is An Energy: My Life Uncensored, also took a swipe at Mick Jagger for the Rolling Stones frontman's "embarrassing" performance at the Glastonbury Music Festival in 2013. "It's Mick in ladies' tights and his testicles are frocked and he's running around like a speed freak and then there's the band looking incredibly embarrassed and wearing the awful, I call them Tommy Hilfiger kind of colours, like Cliff Richard-on-holiday wear. And if I turn into that... then you're all welcome," he said. As for his musical future, Lydon said he'd give up music "only if I got bored with it, and as long as there's human being in the world, I'm not going to get bored." He said message of his autobiography is "self pity is for arseholes." - NME, 12/11/14...... Music engineer and Island Records co-founder Graeme Goodall, a pivotal figure in the development of Jamaica's music industry, died of natural causes at his Atlanta home on Dec. 4. He was 82. Born in Melbourne, Australia, in 1932, Mr. Goodall worked for several AM radio stations down under as an audio engineer before traveling to London in the mid-'50s where he trained (as an engineer) at the International Broadcasting Company (IBC), then Britain's largest independent recording studio. In the mid-1950's, he relocated to Jamaica after bieng offered a three-year contract to help design and install the first commercial FM service on the island. Shortly after his arrival in the capital, Kingston, Goodall (affectionately known as Mr. Goody) became involved in Jamaica's fledgling recording industry helping to build what is said to be Kingston's first recording studio-in the back of a downtown furniture store-owned by Ken "Papa Khou" Khouri, where some of the earliest recordings of mento (a Jamaican folk music, akin to calypso) were done. Mr. Goodall worked with the top Jamaican producers of the 1960s including Sir Clement "Coxsone" Dodd, Arthur "Duke" Reid and Cecil Bustamante Campbell a.k.a. Prince Buster. Mr. Goodall was responsible for the recording sessions of some of the most influential artists to emerge from Jamaica throughout the 1960s including The Skatalites, Bob Andy, Jimmy Cliff and The Wailers. (In the 1980s the family of Bob Marley purchased Federal Studios and it is now home to the world renowned Tuff Gong Studios). Mr. Goodall remained in Jamaica until the 1970s and eventually moved to the US where he worked for Sony's pro-audio division. He is survived by his Jamaica born wife Fay, whom he married in 1961, and their two children. - Billboard, 12/12/14....... Actress/model Mary Ann Mobley, a go-to guest star on many TV series of the '60s, '70s and '80s including The Love Boat, Perry Mason, Fantasy Island and Diff'rent Strokes, died on Dec. 9. She was 77. Mobley won the Miss American crown in 1959, and was married to actor/talk-show host Gary Collins for 45 years. Her big screen credits include one of Elvis Presley's love interests in the 1965 film Girl Happy. - TV Guide, 12/22/14.
Paul McCartney appears as a hologram in a new video for "Hope For The Future," his song written specifically written for the video game Destiny. In the clip, Sir Paul sings to blue and green aliens about building bridges to the sky, as warriors walk around deserts with guns and spaceships fly over barren landscapes, among other sci-fi happenings happen. "Hope For The Future" was released with a variety of different mixes on Dec. 8, and McCartney was reportedly paid nothing for his participation in the Destiny project -- only taking part in it just for the sake of creativity. "I was intrigued by the intricacy of the music because in a game if you go one route a certain piece of the music plays," Macca told New Musical Express. "I know from my kids and my grandkids, they just bury themselves in a game and I don't think they've got time to listen to my music. Their agenda is pretty full with all the other stuff, you know, so I like the idea of infiltrating into their agenda." Asked whether or not he's played the hot first-person shooter game, McCartney responded: "I'm not very good at games. I've got so much else to be getting on with; I can't have my face in a screen, you know, bopping along in a game. I had a go and it was great, but I got mashed almost instantly. The aliens mashed me." After its release earlier in 2014, Destiny is on track to become one of the highest-selling video game franchises of all time. Meanwhile, Dec. 8 marked the 34th anniversary of the tragic loss of Paul's former bandmate John Lennon, and McCartney appeared on The Jonathan Ross Show on that date to reflect on John's death. "It was so horrific and I couldn't take it in...For days, you just couldn't think he was gone," he remembered, adding that he received the bad news via an early morning phone call at his home. He also said he believed Mark David Chapman's act was not politically motivated -- a "total random thing" -- and called Chapman" the jerk of all jerks." In other Beatles-related news, the Fab Four has topped Billboard's Vinyl Albums chart for the fifth time with "Long Tall Sally," a Black Friday Record Store Day exclusive. The limited-edition four-song 7" reissue also starts at No. 22 on Top Rock Albums, selling 6,000 copies (all on vinyl) in the week ending Nov. 30, according to Nielsen Music. - New Musical Express/Billboard, 12/9/14.
Founding Creedence Clearwater Revival members Doug Clifford, Stu Cook and Tom Fogerty's wife Patricia Fogerty have filed a new lawsuit over CCR frontman John Fogerty over the use of the band's name. The long festering dispute stretches back to 1996 when Fogerty was the plaintiff in a lawsuit that alleged Clifford and Cook were the ones misusing trademarks through the "Creedence Clearwater Revisited" tour. According to the trio's new suit, it was John Fogerty who withdrew his objection to Creedence Clearwater Revisited in return for payment for uses of the "Revisited" name. The latest lawsuit points out that after the settlement, Fogerty gave interviews where he continued to slam use of the "Creedence Clearwater Revisited" name. "Using the name is sort of a sacrilege," John Fogerty told one publication. Now with Fogerty said to be threatening litigation again over money, the other Creedence parties are going to court first. They not only allege that Fogerty has breached the settlement agreement by publicly condemning use of "Revisited," but that Fogerty himself is now violating the band's trademarks. - The Hollywood Reporter, 12/8/14...... Motown icons The Temptations and The Four Tops, who still tour often and appeared on Broadway in 1986, will renew heir rivalry when they perform on Broadway again this winter for a seven-concert stand between Dec. 29-Jan. 4 at the Palace Theatre. The Four Tops' Abdul "Duke" Fakir and The Temptations' Otis Williams, the only surviving original members of their groups, admit they "still have love for each other" despite the rivalry. "We're very competitive," says Fakir. "That's the way Motown was built. Basically we competed all the while. But we competed in a wonderful way -- brother against brother." Their concerts are part nostalgia and part education, reminding the audience of the Motown sound and celebrating such songwriters as Lamont Dozier and the team of brothers (Brian) Holland and (Eddie) Holland. "I never would have imagined that I'd still be here singing songs that are half my age," says Williams, 73. "Those songs feel fantastic even if it is 60 years later." - AP, 12/9/14...... Jack Utsick, a former music promoter who produced events for top-name acts such as the Rolling Stones, Elton John and Aerosmith, has been extradited to the U.S. from Brazil to face charges in a $300 million fraud case. Utsick, 72, fled to Brazil in 2006 during investigations by the FBI and Securities and Exchange Commission. After a lengthy court battle, Brazil ordered his extradition in August and he was flown to Miami on Dec. 6. Authorities say he operated his Worldwide Entertainment Inc. promotion company as a Ponzi scheme, repaying older investors with money from newer ones. The scheme defrauded an estimated 3,300 investors out of nearly $300 million. He is charged with eight counts of mail fraud, each carrying a maximum 20-year prison sentence. Utsick has not yet entered a plea. - AP, 12/8/14...... David Bowie will face a host of newcomers including Ed Sheeran, Elbow, Jungle, Royal Blood and Sam Smith for the title of "British Artist of the Year" at the inaugural BBC Music Awards on Dec. 11. The BBC Music Awards will take place before an audience of 13,500 at London's Earls Court. Despite his nomination, Bowie has in 2014 only released two new tracks and hits compilation Nothing Has Changed. - New Musical Express, 12/8/14...... The lyrics of two early unrecorded Bob Dylan songs from the early 1960s failed to sell at an auction conducted by Christie's in New York on Dec. 4. The typed lyrics, including handwritten annotations, were of the original 1962 "Talkin Folklore Center," which was expected to fetch $40,000 to $60,000, while Dylan's "Go Away You Bomb" lyrics from 1963 were estimated to bring $30,000 to $50,000. The consignor has yet to announce what he now plans to do with the lyrics. - AP, 12/4/14...... Elton John took an embarrassing tumble out of his chair during he Mylan World Team charity tennis tournament in London on Dec. 7. The Rocket Man was serving as team captain against a group led by his good friend and former women's tennis champion Billie Jean King as his director's chair folded when he climbed into it, causing him to fall backwards towards the ground, taking two more chairs with him. To make matters worse, Sir Elton's team -- comprised of tennis icons Andy Roddick, John McEnroe, Martina Hingis and Heather Watson -- lost out to King and her pros, including Tim Henman, Sabine Lisicki and Jamie Murray. Proceeds from the tournament will go towards the Elton John AIDS Foundation. Meanwhile, Elton is among the confirmed performers at the upcoming Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve with Ryan Seacrest 2015, which takes place at New York's Times Square on Dec. 31. John will perform his anthem "I'm Still Standing" on the telecast, which gets underway at 8:00 p.m. on Dec. 31 and broadcast on ABC. - WENN.com/Billboard, 12/8/14...... In a brief one-page "summary of facts," prosecutors in the threatening-to-kill case against AC/DC drummer Phil Rudd released details of their case against the musician on Dec. 6. The New Zealand prosecutors say that on Sept. 26, Rudd first called a business associate and talked about "what he wanted done" to the man, before calling the man and making the threats. Prosecutors said the man worked for Rudd under a contract arrangement. According to prosecutors, Rudd told police he didn't make the alleged phone calls and had not threatened to kill anyone. Prosecutors said police on Nov. 6 searched Rudd's home in the small city of Tauranga and found 130 grams (4.6 ounces) of marijuana and 0.7 grams (0.02 ounces) of methamphetamine. They said Rudd did acknowledge possessing a small amount of marijuana. Rudd's future with AC/DC, who on Dec. 2 released their latest album Rock Or Bust, remains uncertain. The LP bowed at No. 1 on the charts in their native Australia, and at No. 3 in the U.K. - AP, 12/7/14......In other news Down Under, the Rolling Stones wrapped the final leg of their 14 On Fire tour through seven cities in Australia and New Zealand with a sold out performance at Auckland's rugby venue, Mt Smart Stadium, on Nov. 22. The tour ended with ticket sales topping $165.1 million from 25 sold-out shows at 22 venues in Europe, Asia and Oceania. From the Feb. 21, 2014, launch in Abu Dhabi through the finale in New Zealand, the final sold ticket count totaled 862,900, and their three shows at the Japan's Tokyo Dome on Feb. 26, March 4 and 6, grossed $27.9 million. It was not only the Stones tour's top gross, but also the highest-grossing concert stand in 2014 by any touring artist. - Billboard, 12/5/14...... Soul great Al Green and former Police frontman Sting were among the five honorees at the prestigious Kennedy Center Honors at the White House in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 7. Pres. Barack Obama saluted the honorees, which also included actors Tom Hanks and Lily Tomlin prima ballerina Patricia McBride, at the gala which was hosted by Stephen Colbert. The event was taped and will be broadcast Dec. 30 on CBS. The Kennedy Center Honors are the nation's highest award for influencing American culture through the arts. - AP, 12/7/14...... Queen guitarist Brian May, also a noted astrophysicist, has joined a group of astronomers, scientists and other artists to raise awareness about the threat of asteroids on our planet. The group warned during a news conference on Dec. 3 that Earth is headed for destruction if global action isn't taken. May and the other members of the group, which also includes former astronaut Ed Lu, ethologist Richard Dawkins and Bill Nye (the science guy), called for the creation of a massive asteroid detection system to "solve humanity's greatest challenges to safeguard our families and quality of life on Earth in the future." The group also advocated the adoption of an Asteroid Day to commence on June 30, 2015. The date is a reference to Earth's last major asteroid impact, which flattened 800 square miles near Tunguska, Siberia on June 30, 1908. "The more we learn about asteroid impacts, the clearer it becomes that the human race has been living on borrowed time," Dr. May said during a news conference held via satellite in London and Los Angeles. "We are currently aware of less than one percent of objects comparable to the one that impacted at Tunguska, and nobody knows when the next big one will hit. It takes just one." "If [Tunguska] had taken place 6 1/2 hours later, Berlin would have rotated into the object's path, and that would have utterly changed the course of human civilization," said Nye. - Billboard/The London Telegraph, 12/5/14...... Geoffrey "Jake" Commander, a veteran rock guitarist with ties to Jeff Lynne and the Electric Light Orchestra, was sentenced to ten days in jail on Dec. 5 at U.S. District Court in Virginia for participating in an attack carried out by the Internet hacker group Anonymous on MasterCard's website. Commander was reportedly at his home in New Hampshire on Dec. 10, 2010, when he entered an Anonymous chat room. In what he told the court was a "protest" against banks which had "brought the country to its knees," Commander found himself joining a thousand others in flooding the credit card company's site with traffic, resulting in a distributed denial of service attack (DDoS). Commander said he later regretted his "impulsive, spurious and foolish" decision to click on the links, which cost MasterCard over $1 million. The MasterCard attack was part of a larger, months-spanning action by Anonymous called "Operation Payback." His attorney said about 2,000 people took part in the operation. He was one of only 13 people charged. At sentencing, Commander said he was "mortified to have upset the government of this country, which has been my host for many years." His lawyer said that upon his release in mid-December, he will leave the country and never return. Commander replaced Jeff Lynne as guitarist in the rock legend's early band, Andicaps, and later became a tech roadie and occasional background vocalist on several ELO tours. He also sang a bit on Lynne's 1990 solo album Armchair Theatre. - Billboard, 12/8/14...... Former Genesis member Phil Collins was forced to cancel a charity performance at the Fillmore in Miami on Dec. 6 after coming down with an illness. The planned three or four-song set would have been Collins's first solo performance in several years, after he announced his retirement in 2011 to focus on being a father. The show was scheduled at the Fillmore Miami Beach to benefit his Little Dreams Foundation, presented by Collins' ex-wife Orianne Collins Mejjati and music technologist David Frangioni. Collins was on hand to break the bad news to his fundraiser audience, telling them that he had been overcome by a neurological affliction that affects him occasionally. He said he'd been working with doctors over the past two days and that sound checks had gone poorly, apologizing and thanking those in attendance. "Trust me, you wouldn't enjoy it," he said when he was encouraged to sing anyway. - Billboard, 12/7/14...... Songwriter/producer/publisher Bob Montgomery, who masterminded recording sessions for such country music icons as Mel Tillis, Marty Robbins, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard and B.J. Thomas, among many others, died on Dec. 4 at his home in Kansas City, Mo., following a long struggle with Parkinson's disease. He was 77. Born May 12, 1937, in Lampasas, Tex., Montgomery met Buddy Holly when they were both in junior high school in Lubbock. Soon after, the two young enthusiasts formed their own band, Buddy and Bob. With Holly, Montgomery co-wrote the songs "Wishing," "Heartbeat" and "Love's Made a Fool of You." They also recorded a few songs together. In the early 1960s, Montgomery formed the House of Gold music publishing company with Bobby Goldsboro. He went on to produce Goldsboro's worldwide hit, "Honey," which topped the pop, country and adult contemporary charts for weeks in 1968. They sold their publishing company to Warner Bros in 1983. House of Gold also published such high-profile hits as Charlie Rich's "Behind Closed Doors" and Gary Morris' "Wind Beneath My Wings." After selling House of Gold, Montgomery worked with Tree Music and from there moved on to manage A&R for CBS Records, where he signed such future chart-topping acts as Joe Diffie, Doug Stone and Collin Raye.
Saxophonist Bobby Keys, best known for his contributions to such classic Rolling Stones tracks as "Brown Sugar" and "Tumbling Dice" as well as touring and recording with such major rock acts as Eric Clapton, John Lennon and others, died on Dec. 2 at his home in Franklin, Tenn., after a battling cirrhosis of the liver. He was 70. Keys began his career in his teen years on tours with Buddy Holly, Bobby Vee and Dick Clark's Caravan of Stars, and in 1961 established himself with his sax solo on Dion's "The Wanderer." This led to more studio work, when he befriended the Stones' Keith Richards and he contributed to his first album by the band in 1969. In 1970, Keys toured with the legendary Mad Dogs & Englishmen entouraged fronted by Joe Cocker, and around that time was also a member of Lennon's Plastic Ono Band. Keys, having become a go-to tenor saxophonist for British rock royalty, played on all of the Stones albums from 1969's Let It Bleed to 1974's It's Only Rock 'n' Roll and performed with band on nearly every tour from 1970 forward including the recent "14 On Fire" tour until quitting the tour in October. Keys released two solo albums, a self-titled instrumental album that featured Ringo Starr, George Harrison and Clapton, and Gimme the Key, which Starr released on his Ring O'Records in 1975. Keys also recorded with the likes of Harry Nilsson, Warren Zevon, Sheryl Crow and many others, and in recent years, he led the band the Suffering Bastards with Dan Baird of Georgia Satellites and other rock veterans. In 2012, he published an autobiography, Every Night's a Saturday Night. After hearing the news of Keys' passing, the Rolling Stones tweeted that they "are devastated by the loss of their very dear friend and legendary saxophone player, Bobby Keys... Bobby made a unique musical contribution to the band since the 1960's. He will be greatly missed." Keith Richards also paid his own personal respects, posting a hand-written note which read, "I have lost the largest pal in the world and I can't express the sense of sadness I feel although Bobby would tell me to cheer up." - Billboard, 12/2/14.
Former Small Faces and later Faces keyboardist/songwriter Ian McLagan, who had stints backing Rod Stewart, the Rolling Stones and others, died in hospital in his hometown of Austin, Tex., on Dec. 3 after suffering what was described as a "massive stroke" a day earlier. He was 69. Born in 1945 in Middlesex, U.K., McLagan joined the Small Faces in 1965 and continued to play with the band after they changed their name to the Faces in 1969, when Rod Stewart and Ronnie Wood joined. McLagan co-wrote such popular Faces' tracks as "Cindy Incidentally" and "You're So Rude," but his defining moment came on their 1971 hard-charging track "Stay With Me." When the Faces split up, McLagan stayed with Stewart, playing on his first five albums, including his legendary Every Picture Tells a Story and Never a Dull Moment. The Faces split in 1975, and McLagan began work as a session musician, playing with the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Jackson Browne, Joe Cocker, Bob Dylan, Chuck Berry, Bonnie Raitt and Frank Black over the years. He also continued to record with Wood and Lane on their solo projects. McLagan hooked up with the Rolling Stones to record their classic set Some Girls in 1978, and toured with them as well. Other highlights in his career include Chuck Berry's London Sessions, Carly Simon's Spy, Bonnie Raitt's Green Light and Bruce Springsteen's Human Touch and Lucky Town. He also toured with Bob Dylan in 1984. Relocating to Austin in 1994, McLagan also performed regularly with Billy Bragg. The Faces reunited in 2010 with Simply Red's Mick Hucknall on lead vocals in place of Stewart and played a headline set at the Vintage at Goodwood Festival. The band toured in 2011. An active musician through his final years, in 2014 McLagan and his Bump Band released the album United States, he recorded with the Empty Hearts featuring Eliot Easton of the Cars and Clem Burke of Blondie and was about to tour with British pop rocker Nick Lowe on his Quality Holiday Revue. "Ian's artistry, generosity and warmth of spirit touched countless other musicians and music fans around the world. His loss will be felt by so many," his family said in a statement. - Billboard/New Musical Express, 12/3/14.
Just two days after AC/DCdrummer Phil Rudd's lawyer entered a not-guilty plea to charges of threatening to kill and possession of drugs on Rudd's behalf, the musician was brought to Tauranga District Court in New Zealand on Dec. 4 after a bizarre scuffle with an unidentified man and Rudd's own bodyguard. Police were called to a cafe in Tauranga after witnesses reported seeing the 60-year-old drummer "following a taller, bigger guy" and "trying to punch him." A third man, believed to be Rudd's bodyguard, then intervened which reportedly caused Rudd to begin to "punch and kick" him also. Appearing in court in handcuffs, Rudd was granted bail on condition he doesn't consume illicit drugs. Rudd's lawyer admitted his client had a "chance meeting" with someone he was barred from contacting under his previous bail conditions. The drummer is said to have "mumbled unintelligible responses" when the waiting media asked questions outside the court. Rudd has been in the headlines since he was charged in November with trying to procure a murder. That charge was soon dropped, but he still faces charges of threatening to kill and possession of methamphetamine and cannabis. He has been on bail since his arrest in early November in New Zealand. Judge Tom Ingram said Rudd's charges of threatening to kill and drug possession would likely be heard at a judge-alone trial in 2015. - Billboard, 12/4/14...... Cher is calling out New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie for what she says is the governor's "torture" of pigs by recently vetoing legislation outlawing pig gestation crates in his state. "IowaFarmers,WHY MUST U TORTURE PREG.PIGS? U PUT THEM IN CRATES & LOCK EM DOWN SO THEY CANT MOVE! C. CHRISTIE,UR DESPICABLE BULLY 4GET POTUS," Cher tweeted on Dec. 2. Although New Jersey has few hogs, some argue that Christie, who has been weighing a run for the Republican nomination for president in 2016, has been influenced by the early voting status of Iowa, a state that raises more than 20 million hogs annually. After Cher's postings on Dec. 2, Iowa Gov. Terry Brandstad responded by tweeting, "They know a lot about pig production out there in Hollywood." - AP, 12/3/14...... Bruce Springsteen and Chris Martin of Coldplay filled in for U2 frontman Bono during a World AIDS Day concert in New York City's Times Square on Dec. 1. Bono, who is still recovering from a nasty bike accident he suffered in Central Park in November, and the other U2 members personally invited the two rock superstars to, as the band posted on their Facebook page, "save the World AIDS Day event from cancellation." Also donating their talents for the benefit were rapper Kayne West and country star Carrie Underwood. - Billboard, 12/1/14...... Premium cable channel HBO has reportedly picked up a rock 'n' roll drama which is being exec-produced by the Rolling Stones' Mick Jagger and Martin Scorsese. Set in the 1970s, the drama -- which remains untitled -- explores the drug- and sex-fueled music business as punk and disco were breaking out, all through the eyes of a record executive trying to resurrect his label and find the next new sound. Scorsese directed the pilot and executive produces alongside Jagger, Terrence Winter, Rick Yorn, Victoria Pearman, Emma Tillinger Koskoff and Breaking Bad's George Mastras. The series will star Bobby Cannavale (Boardwalk Empire, Nurse Jackie) as a record company president, and Olivia Wilde as his wife. A premiere date has not yet been determined. - The Hollywood Reporter, 12/2/14...... According to a new survey by Wealth-X.com, Paul McCartney is the world's second-wealthiest recording artist with a net worth of $660 million, topped only by Madonna and her $800 million. However if the list is opened up to musicians as a whole, composers and theater moguls such as Andrew Lloyd Webber, a man worth around $1.2 billion, would have to be included. Elton John came in at No. 9 in the top 10 wealthiest recording stars, with a worth of $450 million, behind such artists as Dr. Dre, Diddy, Celine Dion, Bono, Mariah Carey and Jay Z. - Billboard, 12/2/14...... After wrapping a critically lauded 17-show tour of Canada on Nov. 29 in Victoria, B.C., John Fogerty says he's now looking forward to bringing the show to the U.S. in 2015. The Canadian tour was designed to commemorate the 45th anniversary of his triumphant 1969 with Creedence Clearwater Revival, a year which saw CCR score four Top 5 singles and even out-sell the Beatles during that 12-month span. The shows included the bit hits, of course -- including "Proud Mary, "Bad Moon Rising, "Green River" and "Down on the Corner"-- and also included some of his more recent solo material. Also on tap for 2015 is the publication of an autobiography that Fogerty started working on in 2013. "It's finished, but it's not done," Fogerty says. "I'm going through it and figuring out what should have more emphasis and what should have less. So right know I'm knee-deep in that process." Fogerty will also be exploring his past with a career-spanning box set that's due out in 2015 and is currently being assembled. And he says some new music is in his crosshairs, too: "Not quite specifically songs yet, but the textures of the sound of the music, and that sort of thing takes shape for me. I do practice a lot or have a guitar in my hands every day, so ideas develop from that." - Billboard,12/2/14...... Also held in New York the previous week was the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, and Kiss, who appeared in the parade, apparently didn't have a good time amongst the floats and holiday cheer. "Bluntly, We were screwed over & misled by the exec in charge of #MacysThanksgivingDayParade . We ALL deserved better. pic.twitter.com/hUVUN9gTqE," posted Kiss's Paul Stanley on Nov. 28. Stanley didn't elaborate on what he's upset about, but it could be the fact that NBC didn't put Kiss on camera until right before he first chorus of "Rock and Roll All Nite" -- or that the spotlight focused on bassist Gene Simmons during Tommy Thayer's guitar solo. - Billboard, 12/1/14...... The lyrics of two early unrecorded Bob Dylan songs are scheduled to be auctioned in New York in early December. The original 1962 "Talkin Folklore Center" manuscript could fetch $40,000 to $60,000. The "Go Away You Bomb" lyrics from 1963 could bring $30,000 to $50,000. Dylan gave the lyrics to the founder of the legendary Folklore Center in Greenwich Village. Izzy Young produced Dylan's first important concert in New York at the Carnegie Chapter Hall on Nov. 4, 1961, and Dylan wrote "Talkin" after Young asked him to write a song about the Folklore Center store. "Go Away You Bomb" was written for an unpublished book Young was compiling of anti-nuclear songs. Sale proceeds will support Young's current venture, the Folklore Centrum in Stockholm, Sweden. - AP, 12/1/14...... Neil Diamond announced on Dec. 1 that he'll mount a seven-date tour of Australia and New Zealand in October and November 2015. The tour of arenas and wineries kicks off at the Vector Arena in Auckland, New Zealand, then visits Dunedin, Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane, the Hunter Valley and wraps-up Nov. 9 at Sydney's Allphones Arena. On the trek, he'll play works from his latest studio album Melody Road, which debuted in the Top 10 in the U.S and Australia after its Oct. 21 release date. The tour has the flexibility to fit in many more shows. - Billboard, 12/1/14...... Former Commodores member and '80s superstar Lionel Richie is the first confirmed headliner at the UK's 2015 Glastonbury Festival. Richie will make his debut U.K. festival appearance in the Sunday teatime slot on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury, according to the event's website. This year's festival takes place from June 24-28 and is already sold out. The full lineup will be announced in the spring. "He's got so many amazing songs, to see him perform here on the farm is just going to be wonderful," said Glastonbury organizer Emily Eavis in a statement. Meanwhile, AC/DC's Angus Young said his band would be open to performing at the 2015 Glastonbury fest "if they ask" during a radio interview with BBC 6 on Dec. 1. - Billboard/New Musical Express, 12/2/14...... The Who's Roger Daltrey reportedly gatecrashed a wedding held at a hotel that he was staying at in Scotland on Nov. 30 and performed a rendition of the Who's "I Can't Explain." "Roger came up and he took the mic and he congratulated the bride and groom," said a member of the wedding band, The Milestone. "Because the groom had served in the parachute regiment he also mentioned them as well. Then he turned to the band and he said, 'I was through next door and I heard the band and they're brilliant, so I had to come through'." Bride Susan Smith wrote on Facebook following the event: "Absolutely overwhelming! The story we will be telling for the rest of our lives. Thank you so much x." Her new husband, Carl added: "Can't believe it happened. Feels so surreal. Thank you so much, you made our perfect day even better, a gent and a legend." In other Who news, Pete Townshend has announced details of a "classical" version of the Who's classic Quadrophenia album. The original LP was released in 1973, with an orchestral re-recording of the album coming out in 2015 to mark the influential band's 50th anniversary. The recording features the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, London's Oriana Choir, tenor Alfie Boe, conductor Robert Ziegler, singer-songwriter Rachel Fuller, plus Townshend on electric guitar. It was recorded at London's Air Studios last October. Townshend and co will perform the reworked album at the Royal Albert Hall in London on July 5, 2015. - NME, 12/2/14...... Fleetwood Mac will headline the UK's Isle of Wight Festival 2015, it was announced on Dec. 1. The band, who recently announced a string of huge UK tour dates for 2015, will perform on the Main Stage at the festival on Sunday, June 14. Fleetwood Mac signed an exclusive worldwide deal to headline the event, making it their only festival appearance of the year. "With Christine (McVie) now back in the band too, it is going to be a momentous occasion, a moment in music history," founding drummer Mick Fleetwood said in a statement. The Isle Of Wight Festival takes place between June 11-14. - NME, 12/1/14...... Robin Trower will release his latest studio album, Something's About to Change, on Mar. 9, 2015 via Manhaton/V12 Records -- the same day as his 70th birthday. The LP marks his first album since 2013's critically acclaimed Roots And Branches, and dovetails his 17-date UK tour with special guest Joanne Shaw Taylor that kicks off on Mar. 26, 2015. - Noble PR, 12/1/14...... Actor Burt Reynolds is denying reports in the media that he's broke after he announced he was selling off several articles of memorabilia from his career. The Boogie Nights star said an auction in Las Vegas later in December was "a chance to clear out some old memorabilia," including his 1998 Golden Globe and his red jacket from his smash 1977 movie Smokey and the Bandit. "I want everyone to know that contrary to what all the news outlets are saying, I am not broke," the actor said in a statement to ET Online. "I have been dealing with a business dispute for many years as well as a divorce settlement. I am simply selling some of my memorabilia that I have enjoyed for so many years but do not have use nor room for them anymore," he said. "Quite frankly, I am sick of so many pictures of myself in my own home," he added. - New York Daily News, 12/3/14...... George Berry, a music wholesaling pioneer, died due to heart failure on Nov. 27 in his home in Lafayette, La. He was 89. Berry -- who is credited with co-founding NARM, the National Assn. of Recording Merchandisers now known as the Music Business Assn. -- helped form the Modern Record Service, an early rack-jobber, where he served as a VP. In 1974, he opened Raccoon Records, an independent record store in Lafayette, which closed in 2003. - Billboard, 12/2/14.
A MusiCares Person of the Year tribute concert honoring Bruce Springsteen that was taped in Feb. 2013 and featuring artists such as Elton John, Neil Young, Patti Smith, Jackson Browne, Emmylou Harris and Tim McGraw as well as the Boss himself will premiere on PBS stations around the country on Dec. 5 at 9:00 p.m. EST. The star-studded "Tribute to Bruce Springsteen," which was held at Los Angeles' Convention Center and hosted by Jon Stewart, will be part of the network's Arts Fall Festival 2014. The concert was released on DVD, Blu-ray and digital download earlier in 2014. The MusiCares Person of the Year Award is given out annually to a musician whose career success is matched by exemplary charitable endeavors. - Billboard, 11/26/14...... In a new interview with the London Sunday Times, Joni Mitchell says she scrapped the idea of current pop sensation Taylor Swift portraying her in a movie adaptation of Girls Like Us, a book that focuses on the impact of Mitchell and two of her fellow famous female singers -- Carole King and Carly Simon. "I squelched that," Mitchell says. "I said to the producer, 'All you've got is a girl with high cheekbones.' It's just a lot of gossip, you don't have the great scenes." She also noted of the source material, "There's a lot of nonsense about me in books ... assumptions, assumptions, assumptions." - Billboard, 11/25/14...... AC/DC drummer Phil Rudd, who is facing charges of threatening to kill and drug possession in New Zealand, showed up late for his second court appearance on Nov. 26 and clowned around by jumping on the back of one of his security guards outside the courthouse. According to a local newspaper, the 60-year-old musician winked at reporters, drummed a rhythm on the dock and then sped away from the courthouse in a black sports car. Rudd did not enter a plea during his brief appearance, and he remains free on bail with his next court appearance scheduled for Dec. 2, which also happens to be the date AC/DC's new album Rock or Bust will drop. Rudd's future with the band is said to be uncertain, with guitarist Angus Young only saying that the band will definitely be touring behind the new LP, and "we'll have a good drummer in there." - AP, 11/25/14...... Bob Dylan and his band performed a concert for just one fan on Nov. 23 as part of a Swedish film series called Experiment Ensam. The lucky person, Swedish TV personality Fredrik Wikingsson, was told Dylan would play for him, but given the empty room, he was expecting "some asshole would walk onstage and just laugh" instead. But Wikingsson was pleasantly surprised when the legendary rock star took the stage with his band and played covers of old tracks from Buddy Holly, Fats Domino and Chuck Willis. Experiment Ensam aims to take activities that normally occur in a large-group setting and reduce them to single-person events. The director of Experiment Ensam is Wikingsson's pal, which is how he managed to get the gig. The show, and the others that will be part of the Experiment Ensam project, will be available to view in their entirety on YouTube.com beginning on Aug. 15, 2015. - Billboard, 11/25/14...... As the controversial court verdict in Ferguson, Mo., that let police officer Darren Wilson walk scot-free after shooting and killing unarmed civilian Michael Brown dominates the news in the United States and other countries around the world, it was inevitable that classic-rocker-turned-conservative-pundit Ted Nugent would weigh in on the case, and on Nov. 24 The Nuge did just that on his Facebook page. "Here's the lessons from Ferguson America -- Don't let your kids growup to be thugs who think they can steal, assault & attack cops as a way of life & badge of black (dis)honor. Don't preach your racist bullsh*t no justice no peace? as blabbered by Obama's racist Czar Al Not So Sharpton & their black klansmen," Nugent wrote. But he wasn't finished with his rant yet: "When a cop tells you to get out of the middle of the street, obey him & don't attack him as brainwashed by the gangsta assholes you hang with & look up to. It's that simple unless you have no brains, no soul, no sense of decency whatsoever. And don't claim that "black lives matter" when you ignore the millions you abort & slaughter each & every day by other blacks. Those of us with a soul do indeed believe black lives matter, as all lives matter. So quit killin each other you f---in idiots. Drive safely." The Ferguson decision has also drawn outrage from pop stars usually silent on political matters -- including Rihanna and Katy Perry -- who by and large have a completely opposite view on the matter from Nugent's. - Billboard, 11/25/14...... Foreigner has made the opening track of their new album The Best of 4 & More available as an instant download when fans pre-order the album digitally. The song, "Night Life," was recorded live at the Borgata Hotel's Music Box theatre in Atlantic City in October 2014. Foreigner's 4 album spent more weeks at #1 on the Billboard charts than any artist in the history of Atlantic Records, including AC/DC, The Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin, and went on to sell more than 9 million albums worldwide, propelled by such hits as "Juke Box Hero," "Urgent" and "Waiting for a Girl Like You." The Best of 4 & More will be released in the UK on Dec. 8, and on Dec. 16 in the US. - Noble PR, 11/25/14...... Speaking to Rolling Stone magazine, Ray Davies of the Kinks revealed that he has recorded new material with his brother and former bandmate Dave Davies. Ray says he and Dave had been working on demos as long ago as last year, calling his sibling "a good writer." "We actually put down a few demos last Christmas," said Davies. "He came to see me, and he played me a couple of new songs." The two have not performed together since 1996 when the Kinks split acrimoniously, and earlier in 2014 Dave nixed the chances of a reunion show, saying said he didn't want it to be "a Ray Davies show where he lets his little brother stand in the corner." Ray responded to those comments by saying that he "didn't understand what that's about...If we do a Kinks show, were the Kinks...Ray stands on the right of the stage and Dave stands on the left." Ray also said a chance of a new Kinks tour "might be difficult" and that he "can't think that far forward." - NME, 11/29/14...... Former U.F.O. and Scorpions guitarist Michael Schenker will kick off a UK tour on Dec. 10 at the Newcastle O2 Academy. Schenker, with openers Western Sand, will also visit Glasgow (12/11), Nottingham (12/12), Manchester (12/13), Leeds (12/15), Bilston (12/16), Norwich (12/17) and Bristol (12/19) before wrapping with a show in London at O2 Shepherd's Bush Empire on Dec. 20. The final show will feature Michael's son Tyson Schenker and his band, State Villains. - Noble PR, 11/26/14...... Cable TV's CNN announced on Nov. 20 that they plan on following up their successful documentary series The Sixties with an eight-part series devoted to the 1970s. The Seventies, which like The Sixties is being executive produced by Tom Hanks, Gary Goetzman and Mark Herzog, is expected to debut in the summer of 2015, according to the newtork. The network said The Seventies would launch with a one-hour episode examining the era's television programming and how it reflected new social currents. The episode will also chronicle the establishment of two big TV franchises: ABC's Monday Night Football (now on ESPN) and NBC's Saturday Night Live. Subsequent one-hour episodes will delve into everything from the Vietnam War to Watergate to the sexual revolution to the Iranian Hostage Crisis. Archival and rarely-seen film, video and photographs will provide additional documentation of the era. - Variety, 11/20/14.
Police in San Antonio, Tex., are investigating the theft of about $4,000 worth of instruments from Leon Russell's tour bus on Nov. 23, before the 2011 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee was set to play the city's Aztec Theatre. The instruments were reportedly stolen earlier that day from the vehicle's cargo hold as the band slept on the bus, which was parked in front of the theater. Russell and his band played the show that night nevertheless, using borrowed instruments. - AP, 11/25/14...... AC/DC is currently streaming "Play Ball," the first single from their new album Rock Or Bust, at iTunesRadio.com. The LP is due on Nov. 28 in the hard rockers' native Australia, and on Dec. 2 in North America. AC/DC has vowed that they'll launch a tour behind the new record in 2015, despite the recent arrest of founding drummer Phill Rudd in New Zealand for allegedly threatening murder and drug possession. - Billboard, 11/24/14...... Bob Seger and his Silver Bullet Band kicked off their latest tour behind their new LP Ride Out at the Dow Event Center in Saginaw, Mich., on Nov. 19 before a packed house of partisan home state fans. The fans braved a bitter chill and the season's first significant snowfall to see the Detroit rocker belt out a 23-song, two-hour and 10-minute show with a generous selection from the new album. Seger was reportedly in fine voice and the band sounded tight after extensive rehearsals dating back to September, when it was preparing for TV appearances around Ride Out's mid-October launch. The Ride Out tour continues into at least February 2015, with the first of 16 shows featuring the J. Geils Band as openers. More dates are expected to be announced. - Billboard, 11/20/14...... Yoko Ono has covered her slain husband John Lennon's famous yuletide song "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)" on a new Amazon.com exclusive holiday release, All Is Bright. Yoko collaborated with the Flaming Lips on the track, who in turn just devoted an entire album covering the Beatles' 1967 classic Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. - Billboard, 11/20/14...... In other Beatles news, unused photos from the band's photo shoot for their 1969 Abbey Road album sold for £180,000 at Bloomsbury Auctions in London on Nov. 23. The shots were taken on Aug. 8, 1969 by photographer Iain Macmillan, who had only 10 minutes to complete the entire shoot. Six photos were taken in all, including the photo that eventually made the final cut, as well as a scenery shot of the Abbey Road sign. The buyer, calling from overseas, made his winning bid by phone for the collection of photos, which was originally given a sales estimate of £50,000-£70,000. One professor at a UK College of Communication noted that the photos "encapsulate a significant cultural moment (with) an image that launched a notorious conspiracy theory, and clearly still provide a touchstone for fans." - New Musical Express, 11/24/14...... Meanwhile, the Beatles and Paul McCartney's former band Wings will be among the bands releasing exclusive new UK vinyl releases to independent retailers in the country during Universal's "12 Days of Christmas" promotion, which kicks off on Dec. 1. The Beatles will issue a seven-inch of "Long Tall Sally" on Dec. 2, while Wings will release a seven-inch of "Letting Go" on Dec. 11. Over 120 independent record stores will be taking part in the initiative. - NME, 11/20/14...... Elsewhere on the Fab Four front, Ringo Starr and his wife Barbara Bach have just put their swanky estate in Surrey, which features an 18,332 square foot mansion with 8 bedrooms and 7 bathrooms, up for sale for a reported asking price of around £15 million. The Starrs purchased the 201-acre spread, dubbed Rydinghurst, in 1999 for around £2 million. The couple recently told London's Sunday Times that they don't spend much time at the estate anymore and plan to make another house they own in Malibu, Calif., which they purchased in May 1991 for $3.2 million, their primary home. The couple also own a 3,200-square-foot cabin-style home near Aspen, Col., which they also picked up in 1991 for $1.164 million. They have unsuccessfuly tried to sell that home three times. - Variety, 11/21/14...... On Nov. 23 Sting confirmed rumors that he'll be joining the cast of "The Last Ship," a new Broadway musical that incorporates some of his songs and is set in his Northern English hometown. The former The Police frontman reportedly hopes his participation will help the struggling box office receipts of the $15 million production. Sting will join the production starting Dec. 9 and appearing through Jan. 10, traditionally the busiest period of the year for Broadway theatergoing. He steps into the role of shipyard foreman Jackie White, currently being played by British singer-songwriter Jimmy Nail. Audience capacity for the musical, which centers on a young man named Gideon who comes from a long line of shipbuilders, has hovered around the 60 percent mark during November. Sting last appeared on Broadway as Macheath in a 1989 production of "The Threepenny Opera." - The Hollywood Reporter, 11/23/14...... It appears the beleaguered planned Janis Joplin biopic, which has seen several directors come and go over the years, is back on track now with Hollywood A-lister Amy Adams in talks to portray the legendary female rock singer from Port Arthur, Texas. Also apparently on board are the creative team behind the recent acclaimed movie Dallas Buyers Club, which includes director Jean-Marc Vallee and screenwriters Craig Borton and Melisa Wallack. - The Hollywood Reporter, 11/21/14...... Fleetwood Mac have added a fifth London gig to their forthcoming 2015 UK and Ireland tour. The Mac are now set to play London on June 26, before their previously announced London dates of May 27 and 28, and June 22 and 24. The band will also visit Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow, Dublin before wrapping in Leeds on June 30. - NME, 11/20/14...... Lionel Richie was honored with a Legend of Live Award at the 11th annual Billboard Touring Awards on Nov. 20 at New York's Edison Ballroom. "Very few people get to be in the business for 35, 40 years and still be doing this and alive. I'm thinking back how simple it seems now, but I know people from before it all started, and that's what I want to celebrate tonight," the former The Commodores member said, adding that he has no plans to slow his roll at the age of 65. "Stay with me for the next 400 years, I promise I won't let you down." - Billboard, 11/20/14...... Cher cancelled the remaining dates on her 2014 Dressed to Kill concert tour while she recovers from an infection, according to a statement from her publicist on Nov. 20. Cher, 68, completed 49 dates since her tour began in March before taking a scheduled break in July. Shortly before returning in September, she was struck by an infection that affected kidney function. Her doctors have recommended she take more time to rest for a complete recovery, the statement said. The affected shows were scheduled through Feb. 4 in 22 cities, including Washington, D.C., New York City, Boston, Toronto and Chicago. Cher was quoted in the statement as being "totally devastated" at the cancellations, and said that she "cannot apologize enough to all the fans who bought tickets." - The Hollywood Reporter, 11/20/14...... Aretha Franklin released a statement on Nov. 24 condemning a new authorized biography about her, Respect: The Life of Aretha Franklin by David Ritz. "As many of you are aware, there is a very trashy book out there full of lies and more lies about me. ... [The writer's] actions are obviously vindictive because I edited out some crazy statements he had the gall to try and put in my book written 15 years ago," Franklin said. "Evidently, he has been carrying this hatred ever since." Ritz's book delves into the Queen of Soul's background as a teenage parent, her own parents' separation, her battle with alcohol and more. Ritz has written a number of biographies, including books on Etta James, Rick James and Ray Charles, and worked with Franklin previously on 1999's Aretha: From These Roots. Franklin's latest album, Aretha Franklin Sings the Great Diva Classics, was released on Oct. 21 and debuted at No. 3 on Billboard's Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. - AP, 11/24/14...... Southern rock legend Charlie Daniels played his annual holiday benefit concert "Christmas 4 Kids" at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tenn., on Nov. 24. Proceeds will be used to give more than 400 underprivileged children in Middle Tennessee a chance to go Christmas shopping. "It's a concert with a heart," Daniels told Billboard. "It's a very special thing. People are basically pretty doggone good and pretty charitable. Still, sometimes, people like kids are so below our radar, and we would like to do something for them at special times like Christmas, but we don't know where or how to go about it. The wonderful thing about this concert is that it gives us all a chance to do something for people that we should be glad to do something for at this time of year. We don't have to go out to search for that opportunity; it gets brought to us." Daniels noted that the Ryman, which is the former home of the Grand Ole Opry, is a venue that has a special meaning to him. "When I was in my teens, I came out to the Grand Ole Opry -- I believe it was in 1954 -- and sat out front. I never thought I would ever see the crowd from the stage myself. It seemed like a dream that was beyond my reach. Every time you walk on that stage, if you have any heart about you at all, you have to stop and think about what a legendary stage you're playing. This is the Mother Church of Country Music. It has to mean something to you." - Billboard, 11/20/14.
|News items appearing in Super Seventies RockSite!'s "Favorite Seventies Artists In The News" are compiled from numerous online and printed sources, including Yahoo News/AP, Yahoo News/Reuters, USA Today, E! Online, Entertainment Weekly, Billboard.com, Rolling Stone.com, New Musical Express, Undercover.com, Jam! Music, and Noble PR.|
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