Friday, July 31, 2009

Last Minute Concert Tickets Hot Items In Recession

Unemployment is up and consumer confidence is down, but one silver lining of the recession is that last-minute tickets to hear big acts like Coldplay and Bruce Springsteen are as little as $1.

According to eBay Inc's StubHub, the leading Internet ticket re-seller, last-minute concert ticket sales at sharply lower prices are on the rise for acts like Paul McCartney, Springsteen, Jonas Brothers, Coldplay, and U2.

"People often assume a secondary ticket site only offers inflated prices, but it's very challenging right now," said Sean Pate, a spokesman for San Francisco-based StubHub.

He said cheap prices were not showing up just for "nosebleed" seats or lawn seats, but rather in all seat locations for top performers.

"This trend of lower resale ticket pricing is very variable. It's almost like a stock market and a barometer for pricing city by city," he said.

He said fans have already purchased tickets as low as $1 for Springsteen and Coldplay, $9 for Kenny Chesney and $10 for the Jonas Brothers this season, with tickets listing for as low as $16 for upcoming McCartney shows this weekend in Maryland.

According to Pollstar, a concert industry trade magazine, the concert industry in North America is off to another record year, with the top 100 tours grossing a combined $1.6 billion for the first half of 2009, up $113.5 million or 10.8 percent over the same period in the first six months of 2008.

Indeed, the nation's leading concert promoter, Live Nation Inc, said recently that U.S. concert ticket sales this summer were surprisingly strong despite a weaker economy.

And Pollstar said the average ticket price hit $64.61 for the top 100 acts, up 4 percent or $2.54 per ticket.

But Pollstar editor Gary Bongiovanni said prices will likely be moderated in the second half due to heavy discounts on general admission amphitheater lawn seats.

Live Nation has said sales were holding very strong, helped by discounts like fee waivers it introduced as a recession-year break for customers.

Many of the big tours are reportedly sold out through vendors like Live Nation, but anywhere from 10 to 20 percent of those tickets may find their way onto the secondary market on sites like StubHub or craigslist.org, being sold by a combination of ticket brokers and ordinary fans.

In some of these cases, given the economy, the tickets are not re-selling for their face value and are therefore selling for substantial bargain prices on the secondary market, Pate said.

While average concert ticket prices on StubHub have fallen 12 percent since 2008, Pate said overall volume was up more than 50 percent and thousands of tickets for shows like the McCartney concerts have also commanded significant premiums.

Typically, sellers pay 15 percent of any completed transaction through StubHub, which also collects another 10 percent fee on transactions.

Pate said for the entirety of his tour, McCartney seats have averaged $242, with the range for the Maryland show swinging from as low as $16 to as high as $1,053 a seat.

Similarly, veteran performers like the Eagles, Elton John with Billy Joel and Eric Clapton have all fetched an average ticket price of more than $200 to date this year, he said.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Jack Bruce Claims Zeppelin Comments Provoked Death Threats

Legendary Cream bassist Jack Bruce says that he has received death threats over disparging comments he made about rock giants Led Zeppelin. The 66-year-old musician created a firestorm late last year when he called Zeppelin "lame" and labeled Jimmy Page a "crap" guitarist.

The bassist made those comments at the Classic Rock Awards, and the next day, during a radio interview, he went one step further, stating that "Jimmy Page ain't no Eric Clapton. The only decent guy in that band is dead." He laughed during that interview, adding, "you know my sense of humor."

Some - or a lot - of Led Zeppelin fans didn't find Bruce's remarks so funny, but the bassist insists that the whole thing "was just a bit of fun and it was blown out of all proportion."


Try as he might to diffuse the situation, Bruce, who lives near the Suffolk-Essex border of England, does admit that "some Led Zeppelin fans were really angry at me and I had a few death threats - they're not likely to find me out here though!"

Bruce went on to say that in this day of Twitter and YouTube, he has to watch his words carefully, and that "we always used to have a pop at other bands in the old days and that was all it was.

"It was like I had spoken out against the Queen or something," he marvels. "You obviously can't say anything against Led Zeppelin."

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Joel & John Top Latest Concert Tally

Co-headliners Billy Joel and Elton John top the Hot Tours ranking with totals from two venues on their 2009 "Face2Face" tour. Although a majority of their dates have been arena performances, a couple of stadiums were also on the schedule this summer, including a stop at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass on July 18. More than 52,000 fans filled the stadium for a sold out performance grossing over $6.2 million. A sellout at Columbus, Ohio's Nationwide Arena rounds out the duo's reported take. With shows in Buffalo (July 24) and Albany (July 27) postponed due to Joel being ill with the flu, the pair hopes to resume, and conclude, the current leg of the tour with their other stadium stop, Philadelphia's Citizen's Bank Ballpark on July 30 and August 1.

Outdoor performances in Ireland place Rod Stewart among the top-grossing touring artists with sellout crowds at two venues. Dublin's RDS Arena was the site for a July 5th performance with over 25,000 fans in attendance, and Thomond Park, a rugby stadium in Limerick hosted a sellout crowd the night before.

BBC Opens Up Its U2 Archives

BBC Worldwide Music, part of the commercial arm of U.K. broadcaster the BBC, has unveiled two major new U2 shows that it is making available for sale to international broadcasters.

The programs include the Irish band's roof-top performance on top of BBC Broadcasting House in London in February 2009.

U2=BBC: The History and U2=BBC feature exclusive material from the BBC archive and a series of extensive interviews with the band.

Around 5,000 people lined the nearby streets to watch the U2 performance, captured by aerial and rooftop camera shots, which will feature on both shows but form the basis of U2=BBC. That show - available as a 30-minute or 50-minute production - also features their live set for BBC Radio 1's Live Lounge, hosted by Jo Whiley as well as behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with the band.

U2=BBC: The History follows the band's career from their earliest days live in Belfast in 1981 to the Broadcasting House set in 2009. It draws on nearly 30 years of BBC live performances, including Top of the Pops and Whistle Test.

"We're very excited to be able to bring together a collection of some genuinely unique BBC performances from the biggest band on the planet," said Jon Mansfield, head of content development at BBC Worldwide Music, in a statement. "It has been a brilliant opportunity to work with U2 and Universal Music to utilise the strengths of the BBC Worldwide multi-platform infrastructure and reach global audiences with their best BBC performances. This continues BBC Worldwide's music content strategy, building an impressive portfolio of exclusive and unique performances from many of the world's biggest artists."

The U2 shows follow recent BBC Worldwide music specials on Oasis and Pet Shop Boys from the BBC archive.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Eddie Jobson Embarks On First Solo Tour

Eddie Jobson, who's played keyboards and violin with U.K., Roxy Music, Frank Zappa and Jethro Tull, will perform his first ever solo concerts in August with an impressive band of players to back him. Eddie Jobson’s U-Z Project is scheduled for a series of exclusive East Coast and Midwest summer dates on the Ultimate Zero Tour:

August 17 - Jammin' Java, Washington DC
August 18 - B.B. Kings, New York, NY
August 19 - Regent Theatre, Boston, MA
August 20 - North Star, Philadelphia, PA
August 21 - Beachland Ballroom, Cleveland, OH
August 22 - Martyrs, Chicago, IL

As keyboardist, electric violinist, co-founder, producer, and principal writer of U.K., a group he formed with drummer Bill Bruford (Yes, Genesis, King Crimson), singer/bassist John Wetton (King Crimson, Asia), and then-unknown guitar phenom Allan Holdsworth, Jobson's studio and live concert performances have been described as "stunning" and "dazzling.'

Jobson was previously known as the teenage rock prodigy with the early Roxy Music, and as Frank Zappa's right-hand man on both keyboards and electric violin - replacing both Jean Luc Ponty and George Duke at the age of 21.

After appearing on some 60 albums with many of the rock/fusion genre's top musicians, Jobson retired from both studio and live performance for more than 20 years until a recent unannounced appearance in Russia with King Crimson.

Now, Eddie has formed two new projects based on his original U.K. concept: UKZ, a five-piece contemporary rock band, currently receiving rave reviews for their Radiation EP and recent concert tour of Japan; and the newly-announced U-Z Project, an instrumental band of virtuosos from around the world, including Michael Jackson's former guitarist Greg Howe; stick player Michael Bernier (Stick Men); and two world renowned drummers, German drumming sensation Marco Minnemann (UKZ), and British drum legend Simon Phillips (Peter Gabriel, Jeff Beck, Mick Jagger, Toto).

Critics raved after witnessing UKZ’s “One City World Tour” debut concert in New York last January. Calling it “an auspicious beginning indeed, Daily Variety said “Jobson's crew proved to be well stocked in both the brawn and brain departments.” JazzTimes marveled at how this “chops-heavy” band “delivered the goods” with “blistering licks and well-orchestrated bombast.” Added TimeOut New York: “UKZ fuses technical flamboyance with the post-industrial crunch of Nine Inch Nails and Tool.”

Given Jobson's reputation as a musicians' musician, and the high caliber of his previous associations and collaborations (a list that includes Frank Zappa, Ian Anderson, Robert Fripp, Phil Collins, John Entwistle, Tony Levin, Bill Bruford, Terry Bozzio, Steve Hackett, Trey Gunn, Jon Anderson, Allan Holdsworth, Adrian Belew, and many others), it is not surprising that the upcoming U.S. tour would include such an impressive lineup of players. For more information, go to www.ukzband.com and www.eddiejobson.com.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Hendrix Contract Among Items In NY Sale

Rock legend Jimi Hendrix's first recording contract worth $1 and erotic audio and video tapes sent by Madonna to her old bodyguard went on sale in an online auction on Monday, July 27.

Other artists and prominent figures featured among the more than 450 items offered in the rock 'n' roll and pop art auction on www.gottahaverockandroll.com include John Lennon, Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, the Rolling Stones and Eminem. The auction will run through August 5.

Hendrix's earliest known contract for $1 dated October 15, 1965, could fetch up to $250,000, auctioneers said. It was signed by Hendrix and music producers PPX Enterprises of New York for Hendrix to play and sing exclusively for three years.

The contract -- on which Hendrix's first name is spelled "Jimmy" -- also granted him 1 percent of the retail sales from his recordings.

Two cassette tapes holding 17 minutes of messages that Madonna left in 1992 and 1993 on the answering machine of James Albright, the bodyguard who became her lover, are expected to fetch between $30,000 and $40,000.

An intimate home video sent to Albright featuring Madonna in a hotel room with castmates shot during the making of the 1993 film "Dangerous Game" has an estimate draw of $12,000 to $14,000.

Also up for sale are copies of love letters faxed to Albright by Madonna between 1992 and 1994 using the code name "Lola Montez."

The auction house described the video as "very personal and intimate" but its representatives said they were not allowed to say exactly what was on it. Neither the audio tapes nor the home video are being sold with copyright so the owner will not be able to sell the tapes to a public forum.

Another top lot is a life-size prop of Schwarzenegger's T-800 terminator used in various action sequences in the film "Terminator 2: Judgment Day" that has an estimated selling price of $150,000 to $200,000.

Also on sale are Dylan's original 1962 working lyrics for his song "A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall," jackets worn by Lennon and U.S. rapper Eminem's outfit that parodied Michael Jackson in his "Just Lose It" music video are also on sale.

Gottahaveit.com's chief executive, Peter Siegel, said he expected the auction to fetch high prices, even in tough economic times.

"These items are not really economic-centric," he said. "Pop culture is international, there is still a lot of money out there and these items are relatively still a bargain compared to pieces of art from unknown artists who may become famous."

Some of the items can be viewed in person at the Gotta Have It store in New York. The bidding will be open until August 5.

Eddie Van Halen Recovering After Hand Surgery

Eddie Van Halen is said to be on the mend after undergoing surgery to treat increasing pain in his left hand.

“During the last leg of our tour, I started developing pain in my thumb and my pinky. I didn’t think much of it at the time,” the guitarist says. “It got progressively worse to the point that about three months ago I wasn’t able to play at all. My pinky and my thumb were totally locked up and felt like there was something broken.”

Van Halen sought out specialists in Düsseldorf, Germany, who initially began treating the guitarist for arthritis, but soon discovered a bone spur, twisted tendon and a cyst in the joint of his left thumb.

“They said the only way to fix it was surgery, which of course scared the shit out of me, but I was told it was the only way to fix it,” Van Halen says. “Surgery was a success, now I just have to let it heal. I am totally jazzed that they found the problem, fixed it and in about four months my hand will feel like I am 18 again. Thank God.”

Van Halen is said to be recovering nicely, having already regained his reach and full spread of his hand. He’s said to be taking his recovery slowly, however, to insure he heals properly. His rehabilitation should be complete in 4-6 months.

“In the meantime I am able to write a bit, but can not overexert my hand because it needs to heal properly,” the guitarist says.

His stitches come out in a few days, and he’s confident he’ll be able to play at maximum intensity when he completes his recovery.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

U2 Rocks Dublin As World Tour Hits New High

Bono and U2 rocked more than 80,000 fans in Dublin as the Irish supergroup's latest world tour hit new emotional highs Friday night (July 24) on home soil.

A deafening roar welcomed the Dubliners as they launched their three-concert homestand at Croke Park, Ireland's biggest stadium and a cathedral to Irish nationalism. The band's "360" tour — featuring its underselling 12th studio album, No Line On The Horizon — switches from Europe to North America in September.

"We are so young — as a nation!" shouted the 49-year-old lead singer Bono.

Crowds braced for downpours threw their raincoats aside as an unexpected sunset gave way to a starry Dublin night.

All of the "360" concerts feature a stunning feat of engineering: the four-taloned "Claw" stage. The 390-ton, green cabana stands more than 10 stories above the band as they strut through the crowds on moving bridges and a ring-shaped stage with concertgoers inside and out.

The U2 touring juggernaut deploys three "Claws" — each costing euro100 million ($140 million) and capable of holding up more than 150 tons of lighting, pyrotechnics and giant TV screens — that are continually being assembled and disassembled in different concert locations.

Before taking the stage, Bono joked that the band's performances in Barcelona, Milan, Paris, Nice, Berlin and Amsterdam were just "rehearsals" for the Dublin concerts.

And in front of a crowd waving flags from as far away as Brazil and Japan, Bono said tens of thousands had traveled worldwide to Dublin. "You know the best place to see U2 live is right here," he said to cheers.

The U2 gigs are delivering an estimated euro50 million ($70 million) boost to Ireland's recession-ravaged economy, with most Dublin hotels booked solid for weeks. Even the Dublin Criminal Court shut down jury deliberations for the weekend because too many jurors had U2 tickets.

Nonetheless, Ireland's descent into double-digit unemployment could be seen in the stands. Several thousand seats remained empty — the first non-sellout of a U2 gig in Dublin since 1980.

Irish safety laws also barred fans from the most hallowed end of Croke Park: standing-room-only concrete stands called Hill 16.

Hill 16 was built on rubble from Ireland's first, failed rebellion against British rule in 1916. Ireland won independence six years later, but not before British security forces made Hill 16 the most infamous killing ground of the conflict, shooting to death a dozen spectators and athletes at a Gaelic football match.

The day become known as Ireland's first Bloody Sunday, the inspiration for U2's 1983 anti-war anthem "Sunday Bloody Sunday."

"We're undefeatable!" Bono shouted. "Hill 16 right behind us. Out of the rubble of a revolution in 1916 they built a beautiful stadium, and more importantly they built a great country. And there is nothing we can't do if we believe in ourselves."

High school students Paul "Bono" Hewson, guitarist Dave "The Edge" Evans, drummer Larry Mullen and bassist Adam Clayton came together to form U2 in Dublin 33 years ago.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Foreigner Betting On Wal-Mart With New Release

Can Wal-Mart work its magic for yet another '70s rock act? The retail giant's exclusive September 29 release of Foreigner's Can't Slow Down will be its first major exclusive since AC/DC's Black Ice in October. The album (Foreigner's first since 1995's Mr. Moonlight) has much in common with Journey's 2008 Wal-Mart-only release, Revelation. Like its predecessor, Can't Slow Down will be a three-disc set that features a CD of new material, a concert DVD and a best-of collection. But whereas Revelation included a CD of rerecorded Journey favorites, Foreigner remixed the band's original master recordings to make its hits sound more contemporary.

Perhaps most noticeable to longtime fans of both bands, each release features a replacement lead singer -- in Foreigner's case, Kelly Hansen, who takes the place of original frontman Lou Gramm.

Despite the absence of original Journey lead singer Steve Perry, Revelation sold 633,000 copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan. In its debut week that ended June 8, 2008, it sold nearly 105,000 copies, good enough to reach No. 5 on the Billboard 200 album chart. Black Ice sold 2.1 million U.S. copies, including 784,000 in its debut week that ended October 26, 2008.

It won't be easy for Can't Slow Down to match the success of Revelation or Black Ice. During the past year, overall U.S. recorded-music sales have continued to tumble, with CD sales plunging 21.2 percent in the first half of 2009 from a year earlier.

And despite being a regular chart fixture in the '70s and '80s, Foreigner doesn't have a synch-licensing hit like Journey's 1981 single "Don't Stop Believin'," which has helped keep the band in the public eye through its use in hit movies and TV shows, most memorably the June 2007 series finale of HBO's The Sopranos.

But Foreigner boasts its own potential source of hip cachet: founding guitarist Mick Jones' stepson, Mark Ronson. Ronson, who has collaborated with Amy Winehouse, Lily Allen and Kanye West and is a BRIT Award-winning performer in his own right, co-produced the new songs on Can't Slow Down with Marti Frederiksen.

Foreigner also has a catalog of hits that instantly register with fans, even if they don't remember who performed them. "When Foreigner played at the company's annual shareholders meeting, the band's (appeal) was reinforced by how much our associates loved it," said Wal-Mart senior music buyer Tom Welch.

"People know all of Foreigner's songs," the group's manager, Phil Carson, said. "But the band has so many hits -- nine top 10 hits and 16 top 30 -- they aren't aware that they are all by the same group ... With the album at Wal-Mart's entrance, we can get people to associate the band with their songs."

Phish To Bring Back Halloween Cover Band Tradition To California

Phish will celebrate Halloween this year with a three-day fest called Festival 8 in Indio, California, the band has revealed on their website. The concerts will run from October 30th to November 1st, with the band’s October 31st night show reviving a Halloween tradition for the first time since 1998: As in years past, Phish will dress up in costumes and perform another band’s album in its entirety. Festival 8, named because it’s the band’s eighth festival since 1996, marks Phish’s first festival since 2004’s Coventry in Vermont, and the band’s first-ever festival anchored on the West Coast.

Tickets for Festival 8 go on sale Monday, July 27th, at 10AM PST. Tickets will cost $199, plus a $1 donation fee and a $15 parking pass for each vehicle. As Phish reiterates in their comically written FAQ section of their Festival 8 website, there are no one-day tickets available for the event.

“We are pleased to support this event,” said Glenn Southard, Indio City Manager. “It will bring thousands of visitors to the City of Indio and to the Coachella Valley and will provide a much-needed boost to our local economy. We look forward to a great event!”

Phish will play eight sets over the course of the three days, including the Halloween costume set featuring another band’s album. Past Phish trick-or-treat sessions have featured the Vermont foursome playing the Who’s Quadrophenia, the Beatles’ White Album, Talking Heads’ Remain In Light and the Velvet Underground’s Loaded, which the band covered at their last traditional Halloween in 1998.

Before hitting the road for their reunion tour earlier this year, Phish and producer Steve Lillywhite gathered in a New York City studio to record their new album, Joy. In an announcement on their official website obscured by the Festival 8 news, Phish revealed Joy will be released on September 8th and unveiled the album’s cover art.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Springsteen, U2, Metallica To Play Hall Of Fame Concerts

Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band, U2, Paul Simon, Metallica, Eric Clapton, Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Friends, Simon and Garfunkel will join together on October 29th and 30th at Madison Square Garden to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Proceeds from the concerts will go towards creating a permanent endowment for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Foundation and Museum.

The two shows will be helmed by Joel Gallen, director and producer behind the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremonies and the MTV Movie Awards (1996-2005), and a four-hour program of highlights will be edited for broadcast on HBO in mid-November.

Tickets will go on sale to the general public beginning August 3 at 9:00 a.m., and American Express Cardmembers will have the opportunity to purchase advanced tickets starting July 27.

An all-star creative team -- including Tom Hanks and his producing partner Gary Goetzman, Jann Wenner, singer-songwriter Robbie Robertson and Oscar-winning screenwriter and director Cameron Crowe, among others -- will work with the artists to curate the show through the live performances and filmed segments. The programs will be designed to tell the story of rock and roll by featuring guest stars and unique collaborations. Artists will perform their own songs and the music that inspired them - tracing the history of genres ranging from soul to hard rock.

The museum's anniversary celebration will extend beyond the concerts, with both a book and a deluxe DVD set to be released this fall. Collins Design will publish The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: The First 25 Years, chronicling 25 years of induction ceremonies in September. In August, Time Life will issue a nine-DVD boxed set of highlights of the past induction ceremonies, featuring speeches and all-star performances, many that have never before seen by the public.

Here are the October 29th performers:

Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band
Simon & Garfunkel
Crosby, Stills, Nash & Friends
Paul Simon
Stevie Wonder

Here are the October 30th performers:

Eric Clapton
Aretha Franklin
Metallica
U2

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

“The Beatles: Rock Band” Announces 15 New Tracks

The debut of The Beatles: Rock Band is still well over a month away, but early glimpses of the video game suggest another wave of Fab Four hysteria can’t be far off. On his current tour (and at Coachella), Paul McCartney has already revealed some charming animated footage from the game. And at a recent preview session at MTV in Santa Monica, California, Rolling Stone got an up-close look at the most exciting version of Rock Band yet.

As previously reported, the game comes with 45 remastered tracks, and Abbey Road will become available for download at the same time as the title’s September 9th release for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Wii. Fifteen more tracks — and their venues — have been announced today, including “Can’t Buy Me Love” at the Ed Sullivan Theater, “Paperback Writer” at Budokan and “I’ve Got A Feeling” at the rooftop concert (full list below).

(Click here to watch the newest trailer for The Beatles: Rock Band, featuring eight of the 15 newly announced tunes.)

A hands-on test of the game suggests it could sometimes be a challenge to keep up with George Harrison’s guitar on “Day Tripper” and “Here Comes the Sun.” And your luck singing along (and actually hitting the right notes) with John Lennon and McCartney is measured within the game. As previously reported, The Beatles: Rock Band allows for three-part harmony (a vocal training session in the game will help with that) and rocking on the Beatles’ signature instruments: a Höfner bass, Rickenbacker and Gretsch guitars and Ludwig drums.

Fans will also find rare bits of Fab ephemera otherwise unavailable on the albums embedded in the game. According to a spokesman for MTV Games/Harmonix, McCartney personally did some unofficial fact-checking for the game, making small adjustments in the chronology. Before now, the Beatles have been totally unavailable to fans of Rock Band (or rival Guitar Hero), but the delay has led to a Beatles version of the game that pushes the technology further, finally offering a digitized magical mystery tour that is a vivid, multi-layered experience for a new era.

Confirmed songs for The Beatles: Rock Band:

“Twist And Shout” / Cavern Club
“Do You Want To Know A Secret” / Cavern Club
“Can’t Buy Me Love” / Ed Sullivan Theater
“I Wanna Be Your Man” / Ed Sullivan Theater
“Eight Days A Week” / Shea Stadium
“Paperback Writer” / Budokan
“And Your Bird Can Sing” / Budokan
“Yellow Submarine” / Abbey Road Dreamscape
“Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” / Abbey Road Dreamscape
“With a Little Help from My Friends” / Abbey Road Dreamscape
“Within You Without You” / Tomorrow Never Knows / Abbey Road Dreamscape
“Revolution” / Abbey Road Dreamscape
“Birthday” / Abbey Road Dreamscape
“Dig A Pony” / Rooftop Concert
“I’ve Got A Feeling” / Rooftop Concert
“I Saw Her Standing There”
“I Want To Hold Your Hand”
“I Feel Fine”
“Taxman”
“Day Tripper”
“Back In The USSR”
“I Am The Walrus”
“Octopus’s Garden”
“Here Comes The Sun”
“Get Back”

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

John Fogerty Enlists Springsteen, Eagles For New Blue Ridge Rangers

John Fogerty's The Blue Ridge Rangers Rides Again, a new collection of Fogerty recordings of some of his favorite classic songs, is set for release Sept. 1 on Fortune Son/Verve Forecast.

The album, recorded under the guise of the mythical group of his 1972 solo debut, includes guest spots from Bruce Springsteen and members of the Eagles, and features covers of songs by John Prine, Buck Owens and John Denver, among others, as well as Fogerty's own "Change in the Weather."

As previously reported, Fogerty recorded and produced the album himself with help from Lenny Waronker at Village Recorders in Santa Monica, Calif. Rather than the one-man-band affair of the original Blue Ridge Rangers album, the new set features an all-star cast of players including Kenny Aronoff, Buddy Miller, Greg Leisz, Hunter Perrin, Jason Mowery, Chris Chaney, Jay Bellerose, Dennis Crouch, Jodie Kennedy, Herb Pedersen and Oren Waters.

"Those guys are just fantastic players," Fogerty said. "They really captured or understood what the Blue Ridge Rangers vibe is. It's a really cool record."

Other guests on the album include the Eagles' Don Henley and Timothy B. Schmit, who help harmonize on Rick Nelson's "Garden Party," and Bruce Springsteen, who duets with Fogerty on the Everly Brothers' classic "When Will I Be Loved."

Fogerty hopes to put the Blue Ridge Rangers on the road once the album is out. "Lord knows we played it great live in the studio -- it's probably more live than many rock 'n' roll records," he said. "I think it really needs to be presented that way to an audience. We'll have to wait and see how everything shapes up."

The full track list for The Blue Ridge Rangers Rides Again is:

"Paradise" (John Prine)
"Never Ending Song of Love" (Bonnie Bramett/Delaney Bramlett)
"Garden Party" (Rick Nelson)
"I Don't Care (Just As Long As You Love Me)" (Buck Owens)
"Back Home Again" (John Denver)
"I'll Be There (If You Ever Want Me)" (Ray Price/Rusty Gabbard)
"Change in the Weather" (John Fogerty)
"Moody River" (Gary Bruce)
"Heaven's Just a Sin Away" (Jerry Gillespie)
"Fallin' Fallin' Fallin'" (D. Deckleman/J. Guillot/J.D. Miller)
"Haunted House" (Robert L.Geddins)
"When Will I Be Loved" (Phil Everly)

Monday, July 20, 2009

Rest In Peace? The Perils Of Posthumous Pop

When the Beatles recorded Buddy Holly’s “Crying, Waiting, Hoping” at their audition for Decca Records in 1962, they were recreating an arrangement that Holly himself had never approved, much less heard. The version of “Crying, Waiting, Hoping” the Beatles were familiar with was created after Holly’s death by producer Jack Hansen, who added additional instruments and vocals to Holly’s home recording.

Around 30 years later, the Beatles and producer Jeff Lynne did something similar when they added their own overdubbed instruments and vocals to two songs left unfinished by the late John Lennon, “Free as a Bird” and “Real Love.”

Holly and Lennon are not the only musicians whose work has been altered after they’ve passed on. Modifications have also been made to the work of such deceased artists as Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Nat King Cole, Hank Williams and Elvis Presley.

Toying with the music of dead artists is one of pop’s oddest traditions — and one of it’s most controversial. For casual listeners, these recordings might seem like harmless “posthumous pop.” But for purists, tampering with an artist’s work can seem somewhat sacrilegious. Jazz guitarist Pat Metheny, for example, described saxophonist Kenny G’s “collaboration” with the late Louis Armstrong as “musical necrophilia.”

Debates about this practice will probably be reignited in the coming months, since news broke that Michael Jackson left behind two unfinished albums. There’s also news the surviving Beatles may release another Lennon demo they worked on, “I Don’t Want to Lose You.” Additionally, Paste magazine reported that Lynne will now help complete unfinished recordings by late Beatle George Harrison.

A double-edged sword

Veteran music writer Gillian G. Gaar remembers liking the way the Beatles had beefed up Lennon’s “Real Love” when she first heard it as part of the “Anthology 2” CD. Yet she revised that opinion after she heard the original demo on a Lennon box set.

“It just sounded so nice and gentle and I thought ‘They shouldn’t have really added stuff, should they have?’” says Gaar who for years wrote the “Beatle Beat” column for the record collector’s magazine Goldmine.

Still, Gaar says she realizes that sweetening Lennon’s work broadened its appeal: “With instrumentation, it’s more like a complete song, and maybe more people would be interested.”

Reworked recordings can be a “double-edged sword” says music writer Chris M. Junior, who has written extensively on Buddy Holly. He notes that the unfinished Holly recordings that were revised after the singer’s death probably wouldn’t have been what the artist wanted. But they brought in more listeners — including the Fab Four, who liked “Crying, Waiting, Hoping” enough to cover it.

“On the one hand, when these records first come out, it keeps the artist in the public eye,” Junior says. “But I think over time, these types of releases lose their value because people can see through them. With hindsight, they look back and say ‘OK, that may have been a smart move from a commercial standpoint, but artistically I don’t think they added all that much to the artist’s legacy.’”

Gaar, who also used to write a column about Elvis Presley for Goldmine, says her feelings are a lot less mixed about the kludged-together “duet” version of “If I Can Dream,” in which the late rock icon was unwittingly paired with Celine Dion.

“I hate Celine Dion but I love that song,” she says. “I’ve never listened to it because I don’t want that in my head. Would Elvis have chosen to duet with her?”

On the other hand, she notes, when Natalie Cole created a posthumous duet with her late father Nat King Cole on his song “Unforgettable,” the response was favorable from both the critics and the public. What’s the difference?

Respecting an artist’s vision

The success of posthumous productions depends on whether the producer takes into account the artist’s vision, says John McDermott, who serves as the catalog director for Jimi Hendrix, a musician whose work underwent controversial alterations after his death. Imposing a new agenda on an artist is where the process goes wrong, McDermott says.

McDermott cites as a bad example the way producer Alan Douglas recast Hendrix as a jazz fusion player by pairing him with session musicians he’d never met on the 1970s albums Crash Landing and Midnight Lightning.

“The objection was that Douglas had promised an album that was supposedly a lost album, but in actuality was an album that was created by using session musicians to replace the original playing by Mitch Mitchell, Noel Redding and Billy Cox,” he explains. “And nowhere on the album jacket was an explanation of why they took this approach.”

Junior says in Holly’s case, he doesn’t believe the artist’s ideas were prioritized either. Many of Holly’s unfinished recordings were dressed up in a rockabilly style the singer had moved away from before his death: “He was more experimental than people remember him for. Who’s to say he would have gone for that older style like they did?”

McDermott notes that in the Internet age, there’s now enough information available that listeners will understand if posthumous releases lack commercial polish. “What you have to do in any posthumous setting is describe the work as a work in progress,” he explains. “That’s what we tried to do on the Hendrix box set.”

That idea worked for Nirvana, Gaar says. She thinks Kurt Cobain’s unvarnished song sketch “Do Re Mi” is one of the best things about the band’s box set With The Lights Out.

“They could have done a band arrangement, I suppose, but then you’d lose the beauty of the original demo,” she says. “It’s so plaintive, and to have other musicians there I think would ruin it.”

With music by major artists, McDermott says, there’s no need anymore to sell the public on it by touching it up. Great music, he says, “sells itself — whether it’s a demo or a track that was considered for an album.”

"Thriller" Sales Soar Close To Eagles' "Hits"

For nearly a decade, the Eagles' Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975 has been the recording industry's ultimate evergreen release, certified by the RIAA as the all-time best-selling album in the United States. But thanks to continued robust demand for Michael Jackson's catalog since his June 25 death, Thriller appears on the verge of matching "Their Greatest Hits," at least in the eyes of the industry trade group.

In March, the Recording Industry Association of America certified Thriller as 28 times platinum, meaning that at least 28 million copies of the album have been shipped since its 1982 release. That's just a notch behind the Eagles' hits compilation, which was released in 1976 and was certified 29 times platinum in 2006.

Billboard estimates that the posthumous surge in Jackson's sales and Sony Music Entertainment's efforts to push Jackson CDs into the distribution pipeline have likely propelled shipments of Jackson product, if not yet sales, beyond the 29 million-unit mark in the United States.

Amid the recent explosion in Jackson sales, Thriller has enjoyed the second-biggest sales bump in his catalog, just behind the hits collection Number Ones. During the three weeks that ended July 12, Thriller sold 552,000 U.S. copies, for year-to-date sales of 608,000, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

Most industry executives believe that the most recent SoundScan week -- which included the widely watched memorial service for Jackson at the Staples Center in Los Angeles -- will mark a posthumous weekly peak for Jackson sales. They also expect sales to wind down slowly in the next few months, which means sales will remain strong. In the week ended July 12, Jackson's album catalog sold a combined 1.1 million copies, up from nearly 800,000 in the preceding week and 422,000 in the week he died.

Thriller and Their Greatest Hits were instant hits. The RIAA first certified Thriller platinum in January 1983, just two months after its release, while Their Greatest Hits was certified platinum in February 1976, mere days after it arrived.

Propelled by groundbreaking videos for the singles "Billie Jean," "Beat It" and the title track, "Thriller" reached the 20 million certification milestone in October 1984, becoming the RIAA's top-selling album of all time. The album's next RIAA certification, at 21 times platinum, came in May 1990. The RIAA's certification of "Thriller" as 28 times platinum in March came 13 months after Sony's release of a deluxe 25th-anniversary edition of the album.

The RIAA's second certification of shipments of the Eagles' Their Greatest Hits didn't occur until August 1990, when it certified the release as 12 times platinum. The RIAA couldn't immediately explain why the album wasn't certified at earlier platinum milestones, or why it was next certified at 14 times platinum in December 1993, and for 22 times in June 1995, despite U.S. sales of only 919,000 during that period. When the RIAA certified Their Greatest Hits as 26 times platinum in November 1999, it unseated Thriller at the top of the RIAA's all-time ranking.

Since being certified as 29 times platinum in January 2006, Their Greatest Hits has sold 404,000 copies, including 33,000 this year and 115,000 in 2008.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

McCartney Plays First Concert Ever At Citi Field

Sir Paul McCartney knighted another New York Mets baseball stadium Fridat, July 17, playing the first concert ever at Citi Field.

"Long time since I've been here," the former Beatle told the crowd, then paused to take it all in.

Citi Field is the successor to Shea Stadium, the baseball park where the Beatles played a historic concert in 1965 that's regarded as the precursor to the stadium rock concert. Patty Parker attended the concert and remembers the 1965 show well.

"I was three rows from the top. I was 10 years old," she said. "He captured that same tune; I'm so blown away."

Several times, McCartney alluded to that magical night 44 years ago. But he was also made it clear that it was less than perfect at times, saying: "The first time we played here, we couldn't hear a thing because of all the girls screaming and the stadium sound system."

The two-and-a-half-hour show went more smoothly, highlighted by fireworks on and off the stage for "Live and Let Die" near the show's end.

McCartney played more than 30 songs, covering the Beatles, Wings and his solo catalog. When he introduced "I'm Down," he said it was also played at the Shea Stadium concert.

The crowd rocked most of the night, which was also filled with heartfelt dedications. The most poignant went to McCartney's late wife before an emotional version of "My Love."

"We'd like to do a song dedicated to Linda," McCartney said. "She was a New York girl."

He also played the Beatles classics "Hey Jude," Let It Be" and "Back in the USSR."

When he performed "A Day in the Life," McCartney swapped out John Lennon's part at the end with a version of Lennon's "Give Peace a Chance," asking the crowd to join in.

For the encore, McCartney brought out Billy Joel for "I Saw Her Standing There." Last year, McCartney joined Joel on stage for the last concert at Shea Stadium.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Happy 40th birthday Woodstock Baby, If You Exist

BETHEL, N.Y. – Welcome to middle age, Woodstock Baby — if you're really out there.

The babies reportedly born at the Woodstock festival 40 years ago remain the most enduring mystery from that chaotic weekend that defined a generation. Depending on the source, there was one birth on that patch of upstate New York farmland between Aug. 15-17, 1969. Or two. Or three. Or none.

There is some tantalizing evidence. Singer John Sebastian is captured on film announcing that some cat's old lady just had a baby, a kid destined to be far out. A couple of surviving eyewitnesses say there were births. The concert's medical director told reporters at the scene there were two births: one at a local hospital after the mother was flown out by helicopter; the other in a car caught in the epic traffic jam outside the site crowded with more than 400,000 people.

But no one has come forward with a credible public claim of giving birth to a Woodstock baby or being born there. No one has produced proof that it happened. If babies were born at Woodstock, they have lived their lives ignoring — or unaware of — the fact that reporters and researchers have been on their trail for decades.

"I've searched, I've spoken to the doctors and nurses from the main hospitals that were there," said Myron Gittell, who wrote the new medical history, "Woodstock '69: Three Days of Peace, Music, and Medical Care."

Like many before him, he found nothing.

"Almost statistically, you'd think if there are a half-million people, and half of them were women, and 95 percent of them were of childbearing age, and fertile, and active. Just statistically, someone would have had to pop a baby."

Problem is: No one has been able to dig up a birth record.

Rita Sheehan, town clerk for Bethel, which hosted the concert, said there is no local birth certificate on record. Still, it's possible the birth was recorded in one of the surrounding towns. Gittell says there were births recorded in neighboring towns in that period, but the records are sealed under state privacy laws. There's no way to check whether the birth mothers were locals or out-of-towners (the likely pool of Woodstock Moms).

That leaves a few eyewitness accounts, like that of Gladys Devaney, who was a member of the volunteer ambulance corps in nearby Liberty. She answered an ambulance call to a tent at the festival and saw a young woman in labor. Her overriding concern then was that other medical workers took her stretcher as they rushed the woman away. But Devaney knew labor when she saw it.

"I heard her screaming," Devaney said. "I didn't get a good look at her, she was thrashing."

Devaney never found out whether they took the young woman to a waiting helicopter or somewhere else.

Elliot Tiber, the subject of Ang Lee's new movie, "Taking Woodstock," tops Devaney. He says he helped deliver a baby that weekend.

Tiber, who has a reputation for being a raconteur, said the woman gave birth at his parent's hotel near the site, which — like the entire area that weekend — was mobbed. The woman wore a leather jacket, came in on a motorcycle and just flopped down.

"I see she's starting to give birth," Tiber recalled. "It was like the quote from `Gone With the Wind': `I don't know nothing about birthing no babies, Miss Scarlet' ... I was screaming, just screaming. Everybody was standing around stoned saying, `Yeah, groovy!' They thought it was cool."

Tiber said the baby was taken away, though the mother came by in a cab a few weeks later with her baby in a blanket. He didn't get any names. He never heard from them again.

After four decades, the Woodstock baby trail has gotten colder. The young people who packed into Woodstock are retirement age now. A number of the emergency and medical workers involved, including the concert's medical director, Dr. William Abruzzi, are dead. And if a baby was born onsite, there are curious gaps in the record.

Press accounts at the time mentioning the births did not provide names. Abruzzi wrote an exhaustive account of the event in which he tallied six pages of medical incidents over the three days (11 rat bites, 16 peptic ulcers, 707 drug overdoses, among them). The paper, now in the collection of the Museum at Bethel Woods, the onsite museum, does not mention a single childbirth.

"It could be one of those myths that grow out of major events," said Bethel museum Director Wade Lawrence. "It could be like the story of the New York State Thruway being closed. It wasn't."

Maybe the best argument against a Woodstock baby is that no one in the past four decades has stepped forward to publicly and credibly claim they were born or gave birth at Woodstock. There is a theory that neither mother nor child particularly want Woodstock to define their lives, and have chosen to keep their distinction a private matter.

But it bears saying as the 40th anniversary of Woodstock approaches. If you are a Woodstock baby or a Woodstock mother, please consider contacting The Associated Press at woodstockbaby@ap.org.

People have been looking for you.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Paul McCartney Rocks Letterman Show, Talks MJ

On Wednesday, July 15, Paul McCartney made his first-ever appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman. He performed on the marquee of the show's Ed Sullivan Theater, reminisced about The Beatles' appearance there 45 years ago, and touched on the beginning and end of his friendship with Michael Jackson.

McCartney delivered a vibrant version of "Get Back" and a new song, "Sing the Changes," to thousands of fans who filled Broadway to watch the legendary singer perform.

He told Letterman he was 22 when he and the rest of the Beatles performed at the Ed Sullivan Theater in 1964, the start of rock's British Invasion. He also recalled performing "Yesterday" solo and saying no when a floor manager asked if he was nervous about performing it alone.

"You should be," McCartney recalled the manager saying. "There's 73 million people watching."

McCartney also went into detail about his first contact with Jackson, with whom he collaborated on the hits "Say Say Say," and "The Girl is Mine."

"It was great, we had a great time," McCartney said. "It was Christmas and I was at home and my phone rang and a little voice talked to me and I said 'Who's this?' you know, kind of guarding my privacy, my private number.

"I said who's this? 'It's Michael.' I thought it was, you know, a little bit sort of dodgy. But anyway he said, 'Michael Jackson.' He said, 'You want to make some hits?' So I said, 'Yeah, sure' - you know, being of the hit-making variety."

The two became "very good friends," McCartney said, but it "actually kind of fell apart" when Jackson bought the Beatles catalog. McCartney said he tried to make a deal with Jackson after the singer purchased the catalog.

"Somebody had to get it, I suppose. What happened actually is then I started to ring him up because I thought, here is the guy historically placed to give Lennon/McCartney a good deal at last. Because we'd got signed when we were 21 or something in a back alley in Liverpool and the deal remained the same even though we'd made this company the most famous and hugely successful. So I kept thinking, it was time for a raise.

"We never kind of got to it and I thought, Mmm, so we kind of drifted apart. It was no big bust-up. ... But he's a lovely man, massively talented, and we miss him."

McCartney's trademark dry wit was in full effect when Letterman messed up a cue to a commercial.

"Not reading your cards," he chided.

Letterman joked that the crowd filling the streets outside his studio was the largest since the "Fire Letterman" rally inspired several weeks ago by his jokes about Gov. Sarah Palin. McCartney continued playing for those gathered even after the taping.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Pearl Jam Debuts 'Fixer,' Reveals Track List

Pearl Jam's new single, "The Fixer," made an abbreviated debut Tuesday, July 14, during Fox's broadcast of the Major League Baseball All-Star Game. The track officially goes to U.S. radio and digital retailers on Monday, July 20.

As previously reported, Target will be the exclusive big-box retailer in the United States for Pearl Jam's self-released ninth album Backspacer, due Sept. 20.

The clip for "The Fixer" was only a few seconds long, but it was long enough to discern catchy "yeah yeah yeah" shout-outs in its chorus and frontman Eddie Vedder imploring that when "something's gone, I want to fight to get it back again."

Pearl Jam's official Web site has begun taking pre-orders for CD and vinyl versions of Backspacer as well as a 7-inch single for "The Fixer" backed with "Got Some," which the band debuted June 1 on The Tonight Show With Conan O'Brien.

The order page confirms the 11-track contents of Backspacer, which features three songs recently premiered during Vedder's U.S. solo tour: "Unthought Known," "Speed of Sound" and "The End."

As previously reported, Pearl Jam will return to the road August 8 in Calgary, Alberta, and has dates on tap through October 30 in Philadelphia. Reportedly added to the itinerary is a rare small venue show on August 11 at London's Shepherd's Bush Empire. U.K. retailer HMV is currently advertising a ticket presale offer which fans can enter by preordering Backspacer via the HMV website.

Here is the track list for Backspacer:

"Gonna See My Friend"
"Got Some"
"The Fixer"
"Johnny Guitar"
"Just Breathe"
"Amongst the Waves"
"Unthought Known"
"Supersonic"
"Speed of Sound"
"Force of Nature"
"The End"

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Springsteen Adds 25 U.S. Dates For 2009

Bruce Springsteen & The Legendary E Street Band have added 25 new US concert dates to their 2009 Workin' On A Dream tour. Springsteen has now sold over 1.5 million concert tickets in 2009 alone, with the new dates expected to push that number over the two million mark.

On June 27, Springsteen played to 135,000 fans ­— his largest audience in over 20 years ­— as the Glastonbury Festival's headliner. Footage of live songs is posted at http://brucespringsteen.net, including a performance of "The River" taken from Glastonbury. Also, check out video of "London Calling," opening the set at London's Hard Rock Calling Festival June 28: http://www.brucespringsteen.net/news/index.html.

In a recent cover story, Q Magazine called a Springsteen concert "the greatest show on earth." Working On A Dream (Columbia Records) debuted at #1 in the U.S., Canada, U.K., Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Holland, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and New Zealand and received exemplary reviews in Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly, Vintage Rock, and elsewhere.

BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN & THE LEGENDARY E STREET BAND 2009 US TOUR DATES

August 19 - Hartford, CT - Comcast Theater (On sale now)
August 22 - Mansfield, MA - Comcast Center (On sale now)
August 23 - Mansfield, MA - Comcast Center (On sale now)
August 25 - Saratoga Springs, NY - Saratoga Performing Arts Center (On sale now)
September 10 - Nashville, TN - Sommett Center (On sale July 25)
September 12 - Tampa, FL - Ford Amphitheatre (On sale July 24)
September 13 - Ft. Lauderdale, FL - Bank Atlantic Center (On sale July 24)
September 16 - Greenville, SC - Bi-Lo Center (On sale July 31)
September 20 - Chicago, IL - United Center (On sale August 1)
September 30 - East Rutherford, NJ - Giants Stadium (Sold out)
October 2 - East Rutherford, NJ - Giants Stadium (Sold out)
October 3 - East Rutherford, NJ - Giants Stadium (Sold out)
October 8 - East Rutherford, NJ - Giants Stadium (On sale now)
October 9 - East Rutherford, NJ - Giants Stadium (Sold out)
October 13 - Philadelphia, PA - Spectrum (On sale July 27)
October 14 - Philadelphia, PA - Spectrum (On sale July 27)
October 25 - St. Louis, MO - Scottrade Center (On sale August 8)
October 26 - Kansas City, MO - Sprint Center (On sale August 8)
November 2 - Washington, D.C. - Verizon Center (On sale TBA)
November 3 - Charlotte, NC - Time Warner Cable Arena (On sale August 28)
November 7 - New York, NY - Madison Square Garden (On sale TBA)
November 8 - New York, NY - Madison Square Garden (On sale TBA)
November 10 - Cleveland, OH - Quicken Loans Arena (On sale August 22)
November 13 - Auburn Hills, MI - Palace At Auburn Hills (On sale August 22)
November 15 - Milwaukee, WI - Bradley Center (On sale August 1)

Monday, July 13, 2009

Album Cover Designer Tom Wilkes Passes

Tom Wilkes, a Grammy Award-winning art director and album cover designer whose work included albums for the Rolling Stones, Janis Joplin, Neil Young and other music legends, has died. He was 69.

Wilkes, who was diagnosed with a form of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's disease) in 1999, died of a heart attack June 28 at his home in Pioneertown, CA, said his daughter, Katherine Wilkes Fotch.

Wilkes was partner in a Long Beach advertising firm when he became art director for the 1967 Monterey International Pop Music Festival for which he created all of the graphics and print materials, including the festival's psychedelic poster that was printed on foil stock.

"In fact, he won an award from Reynolds aluminum for the most creative use of aluminum foil," Fotch said. "He was always very proud of that."

Music producer Lou Adler, who produced the landmark music festival with singer John Phillips, said Wilkes "caught the spirit of the time" with his festival graphics.

"Most of the artwork in that particular culture was coming out of San Francisco, and what Tom did was he took a San Francisco look, or niche, and made it international," Adler said. "You can see a lot of the posters from that period and say, 'Oh, that's the '60s.' With Tom, it isn't dated. There's a very special look to it."

The Monterey Pop Festival "catapulted" Wilkes' career into the music industry, his daughter said, beginning as art director at A&M Records.

During his heyday, Wilkes designed or provided the art direction or graphic design for scores of album covers, including designing the covers for the Rolling Stones' Beggars Banquet, Neil Young's Harvest, Eric Clapton's Eric Clapton, Joe Cocker's Mad Dogs & Englishmen and George Harrison's Concert For Bangladesh and All Things Must Pass.

As he did with many of the albums, Wilkes also shot the cover photo of Joplin for her 1971 Pearl album, which shows the flamboyant singer lounging on a settee.

"Their photo session was the night she overdosed," Fotch said.

In 1973, Wilkes won a Grammy Award for best recording package for the Who's rock opera Tommy, as performed by the London Symphony Orchestra and Chamber Choir.

David Fricke, a senior writer at Rolling Stone magazine and an admirer of Wilkes' work, said that "the magic and the sort of importance of album design was to be able to catch the eye, to try and get a sense of what the music and the personalities were inside and also make you want to buy it."

Wilkes, Fricke said, "was able to capture a certain essence of what was on the record and the person who made it.

"You look at something like Neil Young's Harvest, the texture of the cover and that very simple, almost antique lettering, and you get a feel of what Neil was trying to do in that record, the honesty and the grit and the deep Americana of what that record represents now."

And the cover for Mad Dogs & Englishmen, Fricke said, "with that pose of [a muscle-flexing] Cocker almost like a circus strongman captures the carnival atmosphere of what those shows were like."

Adler, for whom Wilkes designed the Tommy album, as well as a number of Cheech and Chong albums for his Ode Records label, described him as "very creative" and "very volatile."

"He was very, very independent and sometimes difficult to deal with because of his strong convictions on what he was doing," he said.

But the end product, Adler said, "would be very unique and special, as evident by his artwork when you look at it."

Born in Long Beach on July 30, 1939, Wilkes graduated from Woodrow Wilson High School in 1957. He attended Long Beach City College and graduated from what was then known as Art Center School in Los Angeles (now Art Center College of Design in Pasadena).

After two years as art director at A&M Records, Wilkes was a partner in Camouflage Productions, a partner in Wilkes & Braun Inc. and art director of ABC Records. Then, in 1978, he launched Tom Wilkes Productions and also became president of Project Interspeak, a nonprofit environmental and human rights organization.

A longtime Topanga Canyon resident, Wilkes moved to Pioneertown in 1992 but continued designing album covers and working with Project Interspeak, among other things.

"He loved the high desert, and he always had a place out here since I was a child," Fotch said by cellphone this week while driving to her father's home. "We'd come out here to race motorcycles."

Wilkes recently completed writing a memoir, which would include his artwork, and was seeking a publisher before he died.

"It's called Tommy Geeked the Chicken," said Fotch, who is unsure of the meaning of the title reference. "I haven't read the manuscript yet. I'm almost afraid to find out."

Wilkes was married and divorced three times. In addition to his daughter from his first marriage, he is survived by his brother, Dennis Wilkes, and three grandchildren.

Island Records Stars Pay Tribute At Montreux

Baaba Maal and Angelique Kidjo were among the headliners in a tribute to Island Records founder Chris Blackwell that rocked into the early hours at the Montreux Festival on Saturday, July 11.

"Without Mr Chris Blackwell you wouldn't have me before you tonight. That's all I have to say," Angelique Kidjo, the Grammy Award-winning Beninese singer-songwriter discovered by Blackwell in 1991, said.

Kidjo, Maal and the other gathered musicians, who all recorded for Blackwell's boundary-crossing label during their careers, knocked dead the packed Stravinski Auditorium on the shores of Lake Geneva with a mold-breaking evening of musical acrobatics marking the label's 50th anniversary.

Blackwell, who started Island Records in 1959 with 1,000 pounds ($1,600), worked with local ska and reggae singers in Jamaica, where he grew up, before moving to London.

There he scored his first big transatlantic hit with Millie Small's cover of "My Boy Lollipop" set to a romping ska beat.

Island broke down musical, geographical and race barriers, helping turn reggae into a global musical form by bringing legendary Jamaican singer Bob Marley to an international audience, and unearthing talents like Kidjo and Irish band U2.

Congolese pianist and songwriter Ray Lema kicked off with a blend of Congolese rumbas, township jive and reggae.

"I know you are a man of passion. In other people this passion dies away," Lema told a visibly moved Blackwell, sitting in the audience. "So I just want to thank you for your passion, Chris Blackwell."

Jamaican pianist and band leader Monty Alexander followed, flitting through a genre-busting set of seamless complexity that left heads shaking in amazement.

The highlight was Alexander's cover of Marley's "The Heathen" that shifted effortlessly between driving grooves, rock and jazz forms before his double bassist provided what must be the cleverest Michael Jackson tribute to date.

In a short improvisation he moved smoothly from Queen's "Another One Bites The Dust" into the King of Pop's "Billy Jean" and "Thriller" before Alexander's piano launched back into a full-out reggae finish to the Marley track.

Kidjo, who recorded four albums for Island before Blackwell stepped back from the label in 1997, joined a beaming Alexander onstage, bowling over the crowd with a voice as powerful and clear as any church bell in rollicking renditions of "Tumba" and "Afrika."

The last was dedicated to legendary South African singer Miriam Makeba, who was a key influence on Kidjo's muscular singing style and sassy stage persona.

Senegalese superstar Baaba Maal, an outspoken campaigner on poverty and AIDS in Africa, started his set with the acoustic "Tindo Quando" before rousing the crowd with the hypnotic electro-beat of "Television" and the rapid-fire West African rhythms of "International" pounded out by percussionists.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Robert Plant Awarded CBE From Prince Charles

He was the bare-chested screamer who embodied the phrase sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll. Robert Plant was almost as renowned for his hell raising behavior as for his performances with Led Zeppelin.

But old rockers never die - they just end up at Buckingham Palace. Call this a party? On Friday, July 10, 60-year-old Plant became the latest in a long line of popular musicians to be honored when he received his CBE from Prince Charles.

And rather than discuss his days of outrageous behavior throwing TVs out of hotel windows watched by gaggles of admiring groupies, he chatted about global warming.

Plant's award was for 'services to popular music'. He arrived at the palace with his blond curls tied into a ponytail and wearing a plain blue suit, although he could not resist a number of heavy silver rings on his fingers.

Plant denied that the award meant he was now part of the establishment. "The diversity of people who have moved through here this morning prove there is no real establishment here," he said. "I owe everything to the musicians I work with. From the UK to Africa to Tennessee, it is their brilliance that I bounce off. Alone I'm nothing."

Plant's date at the palace came after Paul McCartney, Mick Jagger, Elton John and Cliff Richard all received knighthoods. Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page was awarded the OBE four years ago.

Plant has enjoyed a successful solo career since the group split in 1980 following the death of drummer John Bonham. His latest album, Raising Sand, recorded with country singer Alison Krauss, won five Grammy awards after it was released in 2007.

After the ceremony, he said he and Charles discussed the Dimbleby lecture the prince gave this week on global challenges and the environment.

Plant became notorious during the 1970s for his wild behavior. During the band's stays at the Hyatt House hotel on Hollywood's Sunset Strip, it was nicknamed the Riot House.

Led Zeppelin have sold more than 200 million albums worldwide. In December 2007, the band reunited to play a one- off show before nearly 20,000 fans at London's 02 arena with Bonham's son Jason playing the drums.

Friday, July 10, 2009

'Funny People' Soundtrack Mixes New Music With Classic Rock

A rare John Lennon acoustic demo of "Watching the Wheels," the 1981 single released after his death, is one of the highlights of the original motion picture soundtrack to Universal Pictures' highly anticipated Funny People, writer/director Judd Apatow's (The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up) new feature comedy. The soundtrack, from Concord Records, features two exclusive new live tracks: James Taylor's on-camera performance of "Carolina in My Mind" in the film, and Wilco's "Jesus, etc.," featuring Andrew Bird on violin recorded during their Summer 2008 tour.

"Choosing music is my favorite part of the process, said Apatow. "I am thrilled that I was able to include so many of my musical heroes on this soundtrack. When I look at who is on it I am startled. If the movie is half as good as the music, I am in great shape."

Funny People stars Adam Sandler, Seth Rogen and Leslie Mann in the story of a famous comedian who has a near-death experience and what happens when the other side isn't at all what you expect. Eric Bana, Jonah Hill and Jason Schwartzman co-star.

Concord's release of the Funny People - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, which was executive produced by Apatow with album producer/music supervisor Jonathan Karp, continues a relationship established by the 2007 release of the soundtrack to the director's previous film, Strange Weirdos: Music From And Inspired By The Film Knocked Up, which featured original songs by Loudon Wainwright III.

Funny People - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack features songs from three of the Beatles, including Lennon's acoustic version of "Watching the Wheels," Paul McCartney's "Great Day" (from his 1997 album Flaming Pie) and Ringo Starr's "Photograph" (co-written with George Harrison for the 1973 Ringo album). The film's theme of mortality runs through several of the selections, including a pair of tracks from Warren Zevon, "Keep Me In Your Heart" and "Numb as a Statue," from his 2003 album The Wind, which came out just two weeks before his own death from cancer. Lennon's "Watching the Wheels," from his 1980 Grammy-winning Album of the Year Double Fantasy with Yoko Ono, came out several months after his tragic murder.

Funny People star Adam Sandler contributes a pair of songs, including a cover of a 1977 John Lennon song "Real Love," which was ultimately released as the "last official Beatles song," when the three surviving band members finished and released it as the lead track on Anthology 2 in 1996; he also recorded the humorous "George Simmons Soon Must Be Gone." Jason Schwartzman's band, Coconut Records, is also represented with a pair of psychedelic British Invasion-inspired songs in "Wires" and "I Am Young," while Judd's daughter Maude, who also appeared in Knocked Up, offers an impressive performance of "Memory" from Cats.

The album is rounded out with an early Neil Diamond take on "We" from his 2005, Rick Rubin-produced 12 Songs album, and Robert Plant and the Strange Sensations' "All The King's Horses," from the 2005 Mighty Rearranger album.

The Funny People - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack CD is scheduled for release on July 28.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Bruce Hornsby Busy With Music, Film, Broadway Musical

A new album, a new label, a Broadway play and a cameo in a Robin Williams film are keeping multi-Grammy winning artist Bruce Hornsby busy for 2009.

“Levitate," Hornsby's 12-song set, is slated for a September 15 release via Verve and finds the multi-instrumentalist collaborating with his band the Noisemakers on their first recordings together since 2004's “Halcyon Days.” Eric Clapton guests on the song “Space is the Place,” and Deadheads will relish in the song “Cyclone,” on which Hornsby worked with long-time Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter.

Hornsby says the material on “Levitate” was actually born after he received an unexpected letter in 2005 from Playwrights Horizons, which was convinced that three tunes from "Halcyon Days" -- “What The Hell Happened,” “Hooray For Tom,” and “Heir Gordon” -- sounded like Broadway tunes. “They were writing the letter to try and commission me to write a play,” Hornsby tells Billboard.com. “So I said to them, “what the hell, I'll give it a try, as long as its fun.” Hornsby has since been working on a musical called “SCKBSTD," and he says that fully eight of the new album's twelve songs are from the show.

While Hornsby's song catalog has always run the gamut in terms of genres, he says, “I feel a freedom when I'm writing for the theater. A couple of the songs that I'm most proud of are 'Paperboy' and 'Michael Raphael' because they are dealing with harmony in a more adventurous, advanced way than on the standard pop song. This album is six guys in a room playing quasi-Broadway music.”

Over the last several years, Hornsby has been quite active in other recording realms, trying his hand at bluegrass and jazz. He released a self-titled collaboration with Ricky Skaggs in 2007 as well as “Camp Meeting,” a trio record with Christian McBride and Jack DeJohnette. “I felt like with those I finally dealt on a more intense level with making a bluegrass record and a jazz record," says Hornsby. “This record is a reaction to having made those two albums, which are really about virtuosity on the instruments. I felt like, 'Okay, let's have this have no virtuosity and no solos -- at least none from me.' "

Hornsby says that there are 17 songs penned for “SCKBSTD,” but there's no set timetable for when the album will be done. “I'm just letting it come naturally but I like the places it's taking us, songwriting-wise.”

If that weren't enough, he'll make his film debut on August 21 with the release of “World's Greatest Dad," a film co-starring comedians Bobcat Goldthwait and Robin Williams. Hornsby plays himself and has two lines. “I was really pretty bad at it,” he recalls. “I don't think my phone will be ringing off hook with offers to star with De Niro.” And “Levitate” material shows up, too; Hornsby says his track "Invisible" is the “flagship song of that movie.”

Despite the intricacies that led to “Levitate,” Hornsby seems to appreciate getting back to the basics of studio recording. “Our attempt was a bunch of guys in a room playing,” he says. “A lot of this record sounds just like that. It's a little old fashioned, but there's nothing wrong with that.”

Here is the track list for “Levitate”:

“The Black Rats of London”
“Prairie Dog Town”
“Cyclone”
“Continents Drift”
“Paperboy”
“Invisible”
“Levitate”
“Here We Are Again”
“Space is the Place”
“Michael Raphael”
“Simple Prayer”
“In the Low Country”

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

McCartney Doesn't Inherit Beatles Songs From Jackson

Paul McCartney has put to rest any lingering questions about whether Michael Jackson bequeathed to Macca his rights to songs by The Beatles. The reports began surfacing before Jackson died two weeks ago, but when the King of Pop’s will was released last week it contained no reference to any such transfer.

In a post on his website, McCartney wrote that it was all a case of the media getting it wrong.

“Some time ago, the media came up with the idea that Michael Jackson was going to leave his share in the Beatles songs to me in his will, which was completely made up and something I didn’t believe for a second,” McCartney said in the post.

“Now the report is that I am devastated to find that he didn’t leave the songs to me. This is completely untrue. I had not thought for one minute that the original report was true and therefore, the report that I’m devastated is also totally false, so don’t believe everything you read folks!”

A January 2009 article in British tabloid The Mirror said that Jackson wanted to leave his share in many of the Beatles songs to McCartney as a peace offering. Of course, the will that keeps the Beatles songs with Jackson’s estate dates from 2002, so even if he had wanted to turn them over to McCartney, he would have had to revise that document, and clearly he did not.

Jackson snapped up the Beatles songs for $47.5 million in 1985 in a purchase of the ATV Music catalog, outbidding McCartney himself. When he died, he owned a 50 percent stake in the catalog with Sony, but his share was heavily leveraged.

McCartney famously called Jackson a “massively talented boy-man” after the King of Pop died at age 50 on June 25. But on his website Macca, who in decades past socialized with Jackson, said that even though he and Jackson “drifted apart over the years,” they “never really fell out” and that he still has fond memories of his old friend and duet partner.

Abbey Road Expands With Online Mastering Service

The legendary Abbey Road studios, famous for recording seminal albums by the likes of The Beatles and Pink Floyd, have launched an online mastering service which will allow new acts to submit their recordings via a secure server. Engineers at Abbey Road will then mix the tracks using the studio's mastering suites.

”It’s easy for new bands to undervalue the importance of quality mastering, but it really is the final stage of the recording process and getting it right makes a huge impact to the sound of your recordings," Alex Wharton, Mastering Engineer at Abbey Road, said.

"Abbey Road's been responsible for mastering some of music industry's most influential albums but in addition to Pink Floyd and The Beatles, we've also worked with new talent like Babyshambles, The Last Shadow Puppets and Lightspeed Champion, and we're so excited to be able to offer this same level of quality to the young bands out there that could be the bands to watch in the future."

For full details and specifications head to Abbeyroadonlinemastering.com.

Incidentally, the Beatles' Abbey Road was originally going to be called Everest and the cover shot was going to be taken in the Himalayas. In the end, however, the band decided to shoot it outside their recording studio instead.

From 2003 onwards, U.S. versions of the sleeve have been produced with the cigarette in Paul McCartney's hand airbrushed out - the result of pressure from anti-smoking campaigners.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Zeppelin's John Paul Jones and Dave Grohl Working On New Music Together

A long-rumored collaboration between Foo Fighters' Dave Grohl, Led Zeppelin's John Paul Jones, and Queens of the Stone Age's Josh Homme has been confirmed, after multiple sources (like rock photographer Ross Halfin) confirmed that the trio are currently in the studio working on an album.

The collaboration has its roots back in 2005, when Dave Grohl spilled to Mojo that the next project he had coming up was an album with him drumming, Homme on guitar, and John Paul Jones on bass. Jones confirmed that he was working on new music this spring, but remained tight-lipped on what exactly he was working on.

“I’m working on some other music, which is more rock-based, with a couple of other people. We hope to be everywhere this summer.” When pressed for more information, the legendary bassist clammed up. “It’s a secret, actually,” he said. “I shouldn’t have even said that, you know? There are some exciting projects coming up, let’s put it that way."

When the album will actually be out, or what the group will be called, is up in the air. But for now at least, it seems like the group is for real.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Neil Diamond's 'Hot August Night: NYC' To Be Broadcast On CBS

Neil Diamond – Hot August Night: NYC, a new concert special featuring highlights from one of Neil Diamond's most memorable recent concerts, will be broadcast Friday, Aug. 14 (8:00–9:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.

The special features electrifying performances from Diamond's latest sold-out concerts at Madison Square Garden in New York. Diamond sings several of his classic and beloved Top Ten hits including "America," "Cracklin' Rosie," "I Am…I Said," "Cherry, Cherry" and the world's greatest sing-along song, "Sweet Caroline." In addition, Diamond reflects on a recent visit to his hometown, as he takes the audience on his journey from Brooklyn to Madison Square Garden, in an intimate look at the man behind the music.

The broadcast celebrates the simultaneous DVD release from Sony Music of the complete show recorded during Neil Diamond's historic four-night run at Madison Square Garden. Featuring over two hours of live music and 25 career-spanning hits, the DVD captures the dynamic energy that has epitomized Neil Diamond's live performances for over four decades and includes "Song Sung Blue," "Holly Holy," and the very first live release of "Pretty Amazing Grace" from his most recent #1 album, Home Before Dark.

Also included is additional footage of the exclusive bonus feature "Welcome Home Neil," a behind-the-scenes look at Diamond's pilgrimage to his childhood home in Brooklyn. The DVD with bonus CD is available exclusively at all Wal-Mart locations and online at Walmart.com, beginning Friday, Aug. 14.

Neil Diamond's eclectic and universally beloved songs — as well as his charismatic and openhearted performances of them — continue to make him an international force both as a record maker and a live entertainer. In an impressive musical career that has spanned nearly five decades, he has released dozens of albums and sold more than 125 million records worldwide, with a remarkable track record of 15 Top Ten albums and 37 Top Ten singles.

His songs such as "Sweet Caroline," "I Am…I Said," "Cracklin' Rosie," "America," "Song Sung Blue" and "You Don't Bring Me Flowers," and the rest of his vast catalog of hits, are the reason that this Grammy-winning artist was inducted into the Songwriter's Hall of Fame and received the same organization's prestigious Sammy Cahn Lifetime Achievement Award.

Among Diamond's many other notable honors, he has to date received a Golden Globe Award and 12 Grammy nominations and, in February, was named the 2009 MusiCares Person of the Year. His latest release, the critically acclaimed Home Before Dark, his first ever #1 debut, marked one of his most successful worldwide tours ever, solidifying his status as one of the most dynamic performers of our time.

Who Owns The Beatles Songs Now That M.J.'s Dead?

The publishing rights to most of the Beatles' biggest hits are owned by one entity, a joint venture between the late Michael Jackson and the music arm of Sony Corp. It's called Sony/ATV, and it also owns the rights to songs written by Bob Dylan, Neil Diamond, Taylor Swift and, oh yes, the Jonas Brothers.

But Sony/ATV does not handle the recordings of Beatles songs. Two other companies do that, so whether you'll ever download "Come Together" off of iTunes has nothing to do with M.J.'s death. I'll have more info on that for you later in this story.

As for what happens to Jackson's portion of that legendary publishing catalog, welcome to the big, hot mess that is Jacko's estate...

Why?

Well, because Jackson was also, according to reports, mired in some truly epic financial drama. Even the value of Sony/ATV is unclear, with analysts and media placing it somewhere between the rather widely spaced poles of $500 million and $1 billion.

Here's some more math: According to the Wall Street Journal and other reports, Jackson had about $500 million in debt.

Adding to the quagmire: Jackson once put up his share in Sony/ATV as collateral for a loan. The debt is held by Barclays, Jackson's biggest creditor, and the amount owed is said to be around $300 million.

So where does that leave Lovely Rita or Sgt. Pepper or Sweet Loretta?

"It's all a mess," one executive involved in Jackson's financial affairs told the New York Times this past weekend. "No one really knows what is going on, but these are early days."

Now, Sony/ATV owns 267 songs written mostly by John Lennon and Paul McCartney. That collection—which comprises most of the Beatles' hits—continues to make bank; in fact, Sony/ATV recently negotiated a deal to allow some of the songs to be used on a Beatles version of Rock Band.

The actual recordings of all the Beatles songs you know and love are owned by record label EMI and the band's company, Apple Corps. Those two are still trying to figure out terms for introducing Beatles songs to the digital world, including iTunes.

In conclusion, it could very well be years before anyone figures out what exactly Michael Jackson owned, owed and bequeathed—other than a big old tangle of drama.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Former Beatles, Stones Manager Allen Klein Dies

Record label mogul Allen Klein, who handled the affairs of both the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, died in New York on Saturday, July 4, after a battle with Alzheimer's disease, a spokesman said. He was 77.

During a career spanning more than 50 years, the former New Jersey accountant secured a fortune as one of the savviest and most infamous players in the music business.

He played a key role during the bitter demise of the Beatles, coming on board in 1969 at the behest of John Lennon, Ringo Starr and George Harrison. Paul McCartney was fiercely opposed to Klein, preferring the legal expertise of his high-powered father-in-law Lee Eastman. The feud set the scene for the court battle that led to the group's dissolution.

Klein later reunited with Harrison to organize the all-star Concert for Bangladesh show in 1971 concert. It took a decade for the funds to reach the refugees because of complex tax problems. He also continued to work with Lennon and Yoko Ono.

Klein also managed the Rolling Stones during the 1960s and ended up owning the rights to their recordings and copyrights from that decade -- to the eternal regret of Mick Jagger.

He first made his mark in the music industry by auditing record labels on behalf of clients such as Bobby Darin and Connie Francis. When he invariably found that they were owed royalties, he took a percentage of the difference as a fee. he also managed Sam Cooke, helping the R&B star set up his own label and publishing company.

Klein's family-owned ABKCO Music & Records also handled the recordings of such artists as the Animals, Herman's Hermits, Bobby Womack, Marianne Faithfull, the Kinks, Chubby Checker, Bobby Rydell and many others.

He is survived by his wife and three adult children. His funeral will take place in New York on Tuesday, July 7.

U2 Asks Fans To Support Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi

BANGKOK, Thailand – As U2 kicks off its world tour, the Irish rockers are turning a spotlight on Myanmar's jailed opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

On its Web site and on stage, U2 is asking fans to wear a Suu Kyi mask in support of the 64-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner.

"Wear it to work or college. Wear it on the bus or the train. Wear it in the pub or at shops. And don't forget. Bring it to a U2 show," the band says on its official Web site.

A mask of Suu Kyi's smiling face can be downloaded and printed from http://www.u2.com and appears inside the program for the band's "360 degree" tour, which opened June 30 in Barcelona.

Lead singer Bono paid tribute to Suu Kyi at a packed Barcelona stadium Tuesday night when he introduced U2's 2000 single, "Walk On," which was written for her.

"This next song is dedicated to Aung San Suu Kyi and the people of Burma," Bono told the crowd, according to a statement received Friday from the Burma Campaign UK. The London-based human rights group helped coordinate a recent campaign that groups celebrities, musicians and dignitaries calling for Suu Kyi's release.

"Let's send her a message of love and support. Let us stand with her ... Put on your masks," Bono said, according to the statement, which said thousands in the audience were wearing or holding the masks.

Suu Kyi's opposition party, the National League for Democracy, won Myanmar's last elections in 1990, but the ruling generals refused to hand over power. She has been under house arrest for nearly 14 of the past 20 years.

In May, Suu Kyi was arrested on charges of violating her house arrest in a case that has been globally criticized as a pretext to keep her behind bars. She faces five years in prison if convicted.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Deep Purple Fined For “Illegally” Playing Their Own Songs

What the hell is wrong with classic rock outfit Deep Purple? You think they'd have more sense than to rip someone off after so many years in the industry.

Oh wait, turns out they just ripped themselves off. That's the situation according to Russia Today, which reports that a Russian court has fined the British rockers for — get this— “illegally” performing their own songs.

Yes, that's right: when the band played a concert in the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don on October 19, 2008, they did so without gaining proper permission to play the tracks they'd selected. We know what you're asking: “Who did they have to ask about playing their own songs?”

Well, there's an organization called the NGO, “Russian Authors' Society,” which issues licenses to publicly perform songs. This organization represents the rights of foreign performers in Russia, whether or not the performers give the NGO permission to represent them.

Therefore, the NGO took it upon itself to bring the issue of a band playing songs live that they didn't obtain permission for, regardless of who was writing and/or playing 'em. If we here at Exclaim! are to understand this correctly, that means Deep Purple will have to pay royalties for the tunes to themselves — no doubt with a big cut going to the NGO, that is. No statement has come from the band as of yet.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Vanilla Fudge’s Mark Stein Remembers Session With Michael Jackson

With the passing of Michael Jackson, many fond recollections of collaborating with the gloved one have bubbled to the surface. Mark Stein, lead singer of the iconic Vanilla Fudge, remembers a song he did with Jackson during the recording of Dave Mason’s 1980 album, Old Crest On A New Wave.

“We were doing the session at Hollywood Sound in Los Angeles and the Jackson Five were also doing some tracks in the studio down the hall,” Stein recalls. “I went out for a break and ran into Michael Jackson in the lounge. I introduced myself and said, ‘Hey Michael, come in the studio and check out this track. I think you'll dig it’ and he said, ‘Sure.’ He followed me into the studio and I told the engineer Ed Thacker to put up the track “Save Me,” written by the late great Jim Krueger (who also wrote the huge hit "We Just Disagree").

“It had the same type of flavors and rhythm from the Off The Wall album and I could see he was getting into it, so I said, ‘Michael, why don't you go inside and scat on the tune. That would be amazing.’ Low and behold, he actually went into the studio, stood in front of the microphone and put the earphones on. We hit the record button and he started singing and dancing as if it was his own. I turned to the engineer and said, ‘Can you believe what’s going on here?’ He basically did it in one take, shook my hand, said, ‘Thank you,’ and took off into the night.”

Stein says, after all these years, he feels privileged to have worked with the King of Pop. “I was probably one of the very few cats from my era to have had the pleasure to sing and play the Hammond organ on a track with him.”

Michael Jackson’s vocal track on Dave Mason’s “Save Me” can be heard on YouTube.

Mark Stein is currently playing shows with Vanilla Fudge guitarist Vince Martell. The two will perform at Ridgefield Playhouse in Ridgefield, Connecticut, on August 8. The next night, they're scheduled to make a special appearance at Hippiefest at the Brookhaven Amphitheater in Farmingville, New York. The bill also includes the Turtles, former Three Dog Night vocalist Chuck Negron, Mountain, Badfinger and Brewer & Shipley. For details, visit Mark Stein’s Home Page.