Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Remembering George Harrison 10 Years Later

A decade ago, George Harrison, “the quiet Beatle,” died.

Harrison died at age 58 of cancer, and many critics thought he got the short shrift in the Beatles’ story. Though he wrote a few of the Beatles’ hits, his work was often overlooked in favor of his more outspoken bandmates, John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Once Harrison died, talk immediately turned to his songwriting. Ten years later, his legacy is still being debated.

According to his Post obituary, by Adam Bernstein, Harrison was an impulsive songwriter: “Mainly the object has been to get something out of my system, as opposed to ‘being a songwriter.’ ”

Harrison’s songs, which included “Within You, Without You,” “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” “Here Comes the Sun” and “Something,” were “among the gentlest and most meditative of the Beatles’ output,” Bernstein wrote.

“Here Comes the Sun,” for example, was written on a beautiful spring day in 1969 when Harrison left the Beatles business office feeling frustrated by nitty-gritty accounting details. He walked over to his friend Eric Clapton's house and strolled around the garden with a guitar. The result was one of the most buoyantly joyful of his songs: “Little darling, it’s been a long, cold, lonely winter/Little darling it feels like years since it’s been here/Here comes the sun. Here comes the sun/And I say ... It’s alright.”

In October, Martin Scorcese released his documentary, George Harrison: Living in the Material World. Though the long-awaited examination of Harrison gave the slighted artist his due, it may have been too kind, says TV critic Hank Stuever:

"Certainly no one is clamoring for a George Harrison movie that seeks dirt or shakes the Beatle firmament. But we do like organization and clarity, even if the subject was prone to such nonlinear acts as running off with a maharishi. Strangely, on the matter of Harrison’s spiritual quests, the movie becomes less inquisitive.

"For his reputation as a maker of unflinchingly tough feature films about dark-hearted men, Scorsese makes documentaries as one would pet a kitty.

"The weekend they flew into New York to do ‘Ed Sullivan,’ George was very sick. They were staying at the Plaza Hotel, and we got him to see the hotel doctor, Dr. Gordon. Dr. Gordon said, ‘This is a very sick kid. He’s got a 104-degree temperature and has strep throat.’

“He was given some shots and vaporizer treatments, and I was in charge of watching over him. George was told to use his voice as little as possible. That’s why at all the press conferences he was so quiet, and so the press thought he was the quiet one. George used to have a good laugh about it.”

Today, Liverpool celebrates Harrison’s legacy with two concerts, and Hollywood will light candles in his honor (in another, less-auspicious tribute, the musician’s amp is being auctioned off for as much as $109,000).

Fans are also invited to a ceremony at Liverpool Anglican Cathedral and are invited to bring a paper flower or dove, or another symbol of peace, which would have suited Harrison. He wrote in his autobiography, I, Me, Mine: “I don’t want to be in the business full time, because I’m a gardener. I plant flowers and watch them grow. I don’t go out to clubs and partying. I stay at home and watch the river flow.”

Monday, November 28, 2011

'Tommy' Director Ken Russell Dead At 84

Ken Russell got Oliver Reed and Alan Bates to wrestle naked, turned Vanessa Redgrave into a demonic nun, and cast Ringo Starr as the pope. Critics and mainstream audiences often hated his films. Actors and admirers loved him.

The iconoclastic British director, whose death at 84 was announced Monday, made films that blended music, sex and violence in a potent brew seemingly drawn straight from his subconscious.

Only a few of his movies were commercial successes. The best known were Women in Love, an Academy award-winning adaptation of D.H. Lawrence's novel, and Tommy, which turned the Who's rock opera into a psychedelic extravaganza complete with appearances from Elton John, Eric Clapton and Tina Turner.

Russell was fascinated with altered mental states and loved horror, religious turmoil and Gothic excess. Critics could be sniffy. Pauline Kael once wrote that Russell's films "cheapen everything they touch."

But many in the film industry felt his influence was underrated.

Twiggy, who starred in Russell's 1971 film The Boy Friend, said directors like Steven Spielberg and George Lucas "say that as a kid they would watch Ken Russell movies. I don't think he got the attention he deserved."

Glenda Jackson, who won a best actress Academy Award for Women in Love, said Russell was an "incredible visual genius."

"It's an absolute shame that the British film industry has ignored him," she said. "It's an absolute disgrace... He broke down barriers for so many people."

Women in Love, in 1969, was one of Russell's biggest hits, earning Academy Award nominations for the director and for writer Larry Kramer, as well as winning Jackson an Oscar. It included one of the decade's most famous scenes - a nude wrestling bout between Bates and Reed. Reed said at the time that the director was "starting to go crazy."

"Before that he was a sane, likable TV director," Reed said. "Now he's an insane, likable film director."

Paul McGann, who starred in Russell's The Rainbow, said the director "encouraged an irreverent joyousness on set and usually got it."

"I remember him sat on a camera crane in kaftan and sandals shouting to us through a megaphone: 'Even greater heights of abandon!'" McGann said. "He's how you imagined, and hoped, a movie director would be."

Born in the English port of Southampton in 1927, Russell fell in love with the movies as a child.

In one of his last interviews, he said his whole life, including his filmmaking, had been affected by the death of his cousin Marion, who stepped on a land mine when they were children.

"There was nothing I could do, that was the end of her," he said in the interview for the Sky Arts TV channel. "She was blown to pieces. It was something I couldn't get out of my mind and it remained with me forever."

Attracted by the romance of the sea, Russell attended Pangbourne Nautical College before joining the Merchant Navy at 17 as a junior crew member on a cargo ship bound for the Pacific. He became seasick, soon realized he hated naval life and was discharged after a nervous breakdown.

Desperate to avoid joining the family's shoe business, he studied ballet and tried his hand at acting before accepting he was not much good at either. He then studied photography, for which he did have a talent, and became a fashion photographer before being hired to work on BBC arts programs, including profiles of the poet John Betjeman, comedian Spike Milligan and playwright Shelagh Delaney.

"When there were no more live artists left, we turned to making somewhat longer films about dead artists such as Prokofiev," Russell once said.

These quickly evolved from conventional documentaries into something more interesting.

"At first we were only allowed to use still photographs and newsreel footage of these subjects, but eventually we sneaked in the odd hand playing the piano (in 'Prokofiev') and the odd back walking through a door," Russell said. "By the time a couple of years had gone by, those boring little factual accounts of the artists had evolved into evocative films of an hour or more which used real actors to impersonate the historical figures."

Music played a central role in many of Russell's films, including The Music Lovers in 1970, about the composer Tchaikovsky - Russell sold it to the studio with the pitch "it's about a nymphomaniac who falls in love with a homosexual."

The same unorthodox approach to costume drama informed 1975's Lisztomania, which starred Roger Daltrey of The Who as 19th-century heartthrob Franz Liszt, with Beatles drummer Starr playing the pope.

The Boy Friend>, a 1971 homage to 1930s Hollywood musicals starring supermodel Twiggy, and Russell's 1975 adaptation of Tommy, were musicals of a different sort, both marked by the director's characteristic visual excess.

Russell's darker side was rarely far away. Dante's Inferno, a 1967 movie about the poet Dante Gabriel Rossetti, played up the differences between Rossetti's idealized view of his wife and her reality as a drug addict.

Russell was even more provocative in his 1970 film The Dance of the Seven Veils: A Comic Strip in Seven Episodes. It presented the composer Richard Strauss as a crypto-Nazi, and showed him conducting Rosenkavalier waltzes while SS men tortured a Jew.

The Devils, a 1971 film starring Redgrave as a 17th-century nun in the grip of demonic possession, was heavily cut for its U.S. release and is due to be released on DVD in Britain for the first time in 2012.

Russell told The Associated Press in 1987 that he found such censorship "so tedious and boring." He called the American print of "The Devils" "just a butchered nonsense."

Admirers luxuriated in his overripe, gothic sensibility - on display once again in "Gothic," a 1987 film about the genesis of Mary Shelley's horror tale "Frankenstein" replete with such hallucinatory visuals as breasts with eyes and mouths spewing cockroaches.

Russell said his depiction of a drug-addled Percy Bysshe Shelley was an accurate depiction of the time.

"Everyone in England in the 19th century was on a permanent trip. He must have been stoned out of his mind for years," Russell said. "I know I am."

Russell's fascination with changing mental states also surfaced in 1980 film "Altered States," a rare Hollywood foray for him, starring William Hurt as a scientist experimenting with hallucinogens. It was poorly received.

Later films included the comic horror thriller The Lair of the White Worm in 1989, which gave an atypical early role to Hugh Grant as a vampire worm-battling lord of the manor.

Russell also directed operas and made the video for Elton John's Nikita.

Married four times, Russell is survived by his wife Elize Tribble and his children.

The director's son, Alex Verney-Elliott, said Russell died in a hospital on Sunday following a series of strokes.

"My father died peacefully," Verney-Elliott said. "He died with a smile on his face."

His widow said Russell was working on a musical feature film of "Alice in Wonderland" when he died.

Funeral details were not immediately announced.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Gregg Allman Says ABB “Has Another Album” In It

Gregg Allman has lived the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle to the fullest and at 63 years of age, his body has been through the ringer. That hasn’t derailed him from doing what he loves, which is making music and touring with The Allman Brothers Band.

That said, Allman is working to remain healthy while creating tunes. Since he was recovering from a liver transplant, he had plenty of time on his hands to write music. So the end most certainly is not nigh for the band or for Allman.

“Absolutely, we have another album in us,” Allman told The Boston Herald. “I’ve had to spend a lot of time healing up from these surgeries with nothing to do but write songs. So don’t listen when you hear there will never be another album. ‘Never say never’ is something I’ve learned recently.”

There you have it, straight from the horse’s mouth. The rumors that the singer/guitarist/keyboardist was done with music spread when he had to cancel shows since he returned to work a bit too soon after the surgery.

Allman said, “The end is always in the back of my mind. After my liver transplant, I got back at it a little soon, and I went at it a little hard… I hated getting sick again and canceling shows. Music is my life’s blood, and I want to stay at it as long as I can.”

Allman did speak about some of the aches and pains his body endures, saying,”I could use a couple of new knees and one new hip, and my arthritis is pretty bad. But I don’t have the time for that, so I’m trying to exercise everyday and get plenty of rest, even on tour.”

That sounds like a terrific plan that will help keep Allman in the game even lon

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Chimes of Freedom - 75 Newly Recorded Dylan Songs By Over 80 Artists Scheduled For January Release

Two iconic forces that have impacted the past 50 years - the life-saving human rights activism of Nobel Peace Prize-winning Amnesty International and the incomparable artistry of Bob Dylan - are being saluted by 80 musicians who contributed new or previously unreleased recordings to Chimes of Freedom: The Songs of Bob Dylan Honoring 50 Years of Amnesty International.

The collection, scheduled for physical and digital release in North America on January 24, 2012, was produced by legendary music executive Jeff Ayeroff and Julie Yannatta, who spearheaded Instant Karma: The Amnesty International Campaign to Save Darfur - a 2007 collection of John Lennon solo compositions performed by major artists including U2, Green Day, and R.E.M.

Chimes of Freedom features a stellar and diverse group of artists across the generational and musical spectrum. The performers, including many of Amnesty International's longtime supporters, range in age from teenage pop star Miley Cyrus, 19, to folk music legend Pete Seeger, who, at 92, records Dylan's poignant "Forever Young," with a children's chorus.

The diversity of the musicians and musical genres - from rock, rap, hip-hop to pop, folk, country, jazz and blues -- attests to Amnesty's depth of support in the music community, the universal appeal of the core message of human rights, and the breadth of Dylan's impact on culture. Almost every track on the album is being released for sale for the first time* - except for the title song, Dylan's original 1964 recording of "Chimes of Freedom." Seventy songs were recorded especially for this release - with the addition of a few previously unreleased recordings.

"This album is a powerful fusion of the music community's respect for Amnesty's life-affirming work and for Bob Dylan's enduring brilliance," said Ayeroff and Yannatta. "We are proud to have worked with Amnesty to produce this remarkable project."

In 1962, Amnesty International evolved from a one-year campaign to free political prisoners into a worldwide movement fighting for justice, freedom and human dignity; today the organization has more than three million supporters in 150 countries. In March of that same year Bob Dylan's debut album was released, launching an unparalleled recording career.

"Over the half century, Dylan's art has explored and expressed the anguish and hope of the modern human condition," observed Sean Wilentz, the noted historian, in the album liner notes.

"Bob Dylan's music endures because he so brilliantly captures our heartbreak, our joy, our frailty, our confusion, our courage and our struggles," said Karen Scott Amnesty International's Manager of Music Relations. "His words convey a depth of meaning that few artists can equal, inspiring us and always moving ahead of our expectations. We at Amnesty International are deeply grateful to this legendary musician and to all of the artists who have contributed to this project."

All of the artists, session musicians, arrangers, engineers, producers and recording studios worked pro-bono to support the human rights cause. Almost 30 tracks on the album were mixed gratis by famed engineer Bob Clearmountain. Bob Ludwig and Adam Ayan of Gateway Mastering donated their mastering services. The album cover illustration is by Grammy Award winning artist Mick Haggerty.

Eight tracks were produced or executive produced by Martin Lewis, who as co-creator/producer in the 1970s of Amnesty's ongoing Secret Policeman's Ball benefit series, instigated Amnesty's outreach to rock musicians by recruiting and producing Pete Townshend, Sting, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Bob Geldof and others. Executive Producers for Amnesty International are Helen Garrett, director of special projects, and Karen Scott, manager of music relations.

Through Chimes of Freedom, Amnesty International seeks to enlist support for its fight against censorship and attacks on free speech - whether involving artists, writers, musicians, political activists or bloggers. In this campaign, Amnesty is fighting for people such as the imprisoned Nobel Prize winner Liu Xiaobo in China, a scholar and human rights defender imprisoned since 2009 for writing about corruption and criticizing China's political system.

In addition to purchasing the album at www.amnestyusa.org/chimes, supporters will find actions they can take to help individuals whose freedom of expression is under threat.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Grammy Hall Of Fame To Include Albums From The Stones, Bruce Springsteen, Paul Simon, CSNY

Three of the biggest musical moments of the 1980s, Bruce Springsteen's album Born in the U.S.A., Paul Simon's Graceland and Tina Turner's single "What's Love Got to Do With It," are among the 25 recordings being inducted into the 2012 Grammy Hall of Fame, the Recording Academy announced Monday, November 21.

The list, comprising songs or albums that are at least 25 years old, also contains historic spoken word pieces like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech and Bill Cosby's legendary comedy album, "I Started Out as a Child." Other notable popular albums include the Rolling Stones' Exile on Main St., Santana's self-titled debut and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young's masterpiece, Deja Vu.

The 54th Grammy Awards ceremony will take over the Staples Center in Los Angeles on February 12. Check out the full list of Hall of Fame nominees below:

Various Artists
Folkways (1952)
Folk (Album)

Cole Porter
(Cole Porter)
His Master's Voice (1934)
Pop (Single)

Bruce Springsteen
Columbia (1984)
Rock (Album)

Gene Autry
(June Hershey & Don Swander)
Decca (1942)
Country (Single)

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
Atlantic (1970)
Rock (Album)

The Rolling Stones
Rolling Stones/Atlantic (1972)
Rock (Album)

Bukka White
(Bukka White)
Okeh (1940)
Blues (Single)

Lester Flatt And Earl Scruggs
Columbia (1957)
Bluegrass (Album)

Paul Simon
Warner Bros. (1986)
Pop (Album)

Sergio Mendes & Brasil '66
A&M (1966)
Pop (Album)

Leroy Carr
(Leroy Carr)
Vocalion (1928)
Blues (Single)

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Freedom March On Washington
20th Century Fox (1963)
Spoken Word (Track)

Bill Cosby
Warner Bros. (1964)
Comedy (Album)

Gloria Gaynor
(Freddie Perren & Dino Fekaris)
Polydor (1978)
Disco (Single)

Furry Lewis
(Walter "Furry" Lewis)
Victor (1928)
Blues (Single)

Big Bill Broonzy
(Big Bill Broonzy & Charles Segar)
Okeh (1941)
Blues (Single)

Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five
Featuring Melle Mel And Duke Bootee
(Jiggs Chase, Melvin Glover, Sylvia Robinson & Edward Fletcher)
Sugar Hill (1982)
Rap (Single)

Los Panchos
Coda (1945)
Latin (Album)

Mahalia Jackson
(Thomas A. Dorsey)
Columbia (1956)
Gospel (Single)

Doris Day
(Jay Livingston & Ray Evans)
Columbia (1956)
Pop (Single)

Serge Koussevitzky, cond.
Boston Symphony Orchestra
RCA Victor (1940)
Classical (Album)

Columbia (1969)
Rock (Album)

Original Broadway Cast
Capitol (1946)
Musical Show (Album)

Freddy Fender
(Freddy Fender & Wayne Duncan)
ABC-Dot (1975)
Country (Single)

Tina Turner
(Terry Britten & Graham Lyle)
Capitol (1984)
Pop (Single)

Monday, November 21, 2011

Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band Announce First Tour Without Clarence Clemons

Despite the loss of his iconic wingman, Clarence Clemons, Bruce Springsteen is soldiering on. The Boss has confirmed that he and a revamped E Street Band will hit that thunder road again with a 2012 world tour.

"Well, things are starting to heat up down on E Street," he said on his official site, Brucespringsteen.net.

The trek will be E Street's first in three years and first without its Big Man, who died last June at age 69 after suffering a stroke. There was no immediate word on how's Clemons' considerable stage presence will be replaced.

Aside from Clemons, the E Street Band is also without original organist and keyboard player Danny Federici, who died in 2008 of melanoma at 58.

The European leg will kick off in May and run through July with a string of stadium and festival appearances. Stops will include a run through the U.K. in June, including a headlining gig at the Isle of Wight Festival. Afterwards, the band is talking about some U.S. dates, but nothing has been announced.

The E Streeters are currently putting the finishing touches on a new album, which will likely drop next year.

"In addition, we want you to know that the music is almost done (but still untitled), we have almost settled on the release date (but not quite yet), and that we are all incredibly excited about everything that we're planning for 2012. That's all the info we have for right now, but we'll get back to you—real soon," Springsteen said.

The Boss and his buddies last toured in support of 2009's Working on a Dream, which included a widely acclaimed Super Bowl halftime performance.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Low Sales For Metallica, Lou Reed Album

Some albums receive critical drubbings but go on to sell like hotcakes, proving that smarty-pants rock critics don't know everything. Lulu is not one of those albums.

According to Blabbermouth, the much-derided Metallica-Lou Reed team-up album moved a mere 3,000 units in its second week of release. That brings total sales to 16,000, a far cry from the 435,000 copies of St. Anger -- perhaps the next most criticized record in the Metallica canon -- the band unloaded in just four days back in 2003.

Even if 'Lulu' proves to be a grower and fans eventually warm to the band's blunt riffing and Reed's dark, complex lyrics -- based on the plays of German Frank Wedekind -- the collection will have a way to go if it's going to catch Metallica's 1991 so-called "black album."

To date, that one has sold 15.7 million units. Given that Lulu is thus far averaging 8,000 per week, it would take 37 years to achieve similar success. If that happens, it'll be a nice 85th birthday present for James Hetfield.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Keith Richards Extends Open Invitation To Stones' 50th Anniversary Jam

Keith Richards has said that "everybody's welcome" to the Rolling Stones' forthcoming rehearsal session, including band members who have long since moved on.

The guitarist revealed earlier this month that the band are planning to rehearse in a London studio soon and has said that all former members of the band, including the long-departed Bill Wyman and Mick Taylor, were welcome at the practice session.

He told Spinner about the planned practice: "Everybody's welcome. I don't see why everybody who was a Stone shouldn't be involved. I was going to ask Bill Wyman to come by. And Mick Taylor. The whole lot. They're all Stones, you know? Why not?"

Richards also said that he had made it his mission to get the band to perform live together to celebrate their 50th anniversary as a band and said he believes it was possible if "everyone wants to get together".

Asked about the chances of a 50th anniversary tour, he said: "I want to pull it off. That, at the moment, is my task. I usually find that logistical nightmares can always be overcome if everyone wants to get together".

The guitarist also downplayed the significance of the rehearsal, saying: "The idea is to go in December. I said, 'Jesus Christ, we haven't played together for a couple of years. We better get our chops together.' So it basically is just like that, it's just a jam. I know nothing except we're just going to play."

The band are set to reissue their 1978 album Some Girls on November 22.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Documentary On Drummer Cozy Powell In Development

Dance With The Devil: The Cozy Powell Story, a proposed documentary about late drummer Cozy Powell, is being developed by independent film maker Lee Hutchings.

The film is is to feature exclusive and extensive interviews with family, friends, work associates and fans, in between various archival footage.

This is an in-depth story and personal account of the man who, from humble beginnings, would go on to play an essential part in British and American rock drumming with Jeff Beck, Rainbow, Emerson, Lake & Powell and many others.

Powell died on April 5, 1998, following a car crash while driving his Saab 9000 at 104 mph (167 kmh) in bad weather on the M4 motorway near Bristol, England.

According to a BBC report, Powell's blood-alcohol reading at the time of the crash was over the legal limit, he was not wearing a seat belt, and he was talking to his girlfriend on his mobile phone.

Check out this teaser of Dance With The Devil: The Cozy Powell Story.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Gibson GuitarTown On The Sunset Strip Charity Auction

Gibson GuitarTown on The Sunset Strip, administered by the Gibson Foundation, is completing its yearlong “tour” of the boulevard and has announced the art guitars will be auctioned for charity on Dec. 3, 2011, at Julien’s Auctions Beverly Hills Gallery (9665 Wilshire Blvd.) beginning at 2 p.m. The auction will also be accessible online at www.julienslive.com. Proceeds from the auction will benefit the Los Angeles Youth Network, which provides outreach, food, emergency shelter, transitional living and educational enrichment programs for homeless adolescents; West Hollywood Arts & Cultural Commission to further support public art and artists on The Sunset Strip; and the West Hollywood Library.

GuitarTown on The Sunset Strip is a larger-than-life public art exhibit celebrating the people and places that have shaped the legendary music boulevard. More than 20 ten-foot Gibson art guitars have lined the 1.6-mile boulevard since August 2010.

The guitars celebrated various aspects of The Sunset Strip and its history and influence, from guitars honoring Slash, The Doors, Mötley Crüe, Ozzy Osbourne, Brian Wilson and Cheech & Chong to abstract guitars that played upon the architecture and nightlife of the boulevard. The guitars were displayed in prominent and historic locations on The Sunset Strip, including the Whisky A Go-Go, The Roxy Theatre, The Comedy Store, Andaz hotel (former “Riot Hyatt”) and at the main entrances to The Sunset Strip. A handful of the guitars were also signed by the influential musicians they were inspired by.

“We enjoyed hosting GuitarTown on The Sunset Strip this year. The guitars celebrated the boulevard’s history while also giving local artists the opportunity to showcase their talents in a one-of-a-kind setting,” noted Sunset Strip Business Association Executive Director Todd Steadman. “The art guitars added to The Sunset Strip experience, and we are pleased that the proceeds from the GuitarTown charity auction will benefit and inspire countless individuals in theLos Angeles area and beyond.”

The full list of artists and guitars included in the auction includes:
  • “Prince Of Darkness” celebrating Ozzy Osbourne. Created by Nic Adams. Guitar signed by Ozzy Osbourne and Slash.
  • “Dr. Feelgood” celebrates iconic Sunset Strip rockers and 2011 Sunset Strip Music Festival honorees Motley Crue. Created by Timothy Teruo Watters. Guitar signed by Tommy Lee, Mick Mars, Nikki Sixx and Vince Neil.
  • “Post Cheech & Chong” is a celebration of the comedy duo who got their start at The Roxy Theatre. Guitar signed by Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong.
  • “Slash Guitar” celebrates the legendary guitarist and 2010 Sunset Strip Music Festival honoree. Created by Ron English. Guitar signed by Slash and Ron English.
    “Good Time Tonite” celebrates Peter Frampton. Created by Anne Olsen Daub. Guitar signed by Peter Frampton.
  • “Good Vibrations” celebrates Southern California icon Brian Wilson. Created by Lauren Evans. Guitar signed by Brian Wilson.
  • “Rosas” is a portrait of one of the most famous Sunset Strip girl bands: The Runaways. Created by Sonia Lopez-Chavez. Guitar signed by Cheri Curie.
  • “Mickey’s Garden” is an homage to the notorious Mickey Cohen. Created by Mark Mahoney. Guitar signed by tattoo artist Mark Mahoney.
  • “Timescape” abstract guitar created by compiling images and references to infamous Sunset Strip music legends. Created by Mads Anderson.
  • “Jimi Rocks” painted guitar celebrating guitarist Jimi Hendrix. Created by Bruce Bermudez.
  • “Star Chords” tribute to Lou Adler, Mario Maglieri and Elmer Valentine, who were instrumental in creating the live music scene on The Sunset Strip with the creation of the Roxy Theatre, Whisky A Go-Go and Rainbow. Created by Jodi Bohassi.
  • “Light My Fire” mosaic tiled guitar honoring The Doors. Created by Robin Bott.
  • “Star Struck” mixed media guitar that plays upon The Sunset Strip’s ties to celebrity and creativity. Created by David “Rudy” Gardner.
  • “The Conscious Mind” utilizes surreal imagery to reflect on the mind and the visual landscape inspired by music. Created by Elizabeth Merrit Kong.
  • “Candy Stripe” is a jewel-encrusted guitar celebrating Katy Perry. Created by Erin Lareau.
  • “Summer Of Love” is a colorful, bejeweled guitar honoring the ‘60s. Created by Juliana Martinez.
  • “Path of Most Resistance” examines the built environment on The Strip. Created by art collective Opus 13.
  • “The Mystic Knights of Oingo Boingo” is a playful, interactive work celebrating Oingo Boingo. Created by John Ottinger.
  • “Crusin: Sunset Strip” is a sleek, colorful abstract resin work mimicking the nighttime landscape of The Sunset Strip. Created by R. Nelson Parrish.
  • “Making Headlines” is a painted visual compilation of past newspaper headlines from The Sunset Strip and Gibson. Created by Leilani Yosick and Dan Calandro.
  • “Dressed To Kill” celebrates KISS. Created by James Rutman.
  • “Mystical Musicians” abstract guitar that reflects on the creative process. Created by Jon Planas.
  • “Ad Lib” montage reflects the diverse styles of music that exist on The Sunset Strip. Created by Stephanie Pryor.
  • “Trigger Happy Jack” uses bold imagery to celebrate the elixir of nightlife. Created by design firm Signature Creative.

GuitarTown on The Sunset Strip is supported by the Sunset Strip Business Association, City of West Hollywood and the West Hollywood Marketing & Visitors Bureau. GuitarTown on The Sunset Strip is administered by the Gibson Foundation, the philanthropic division of Gibson Guitar Corp. For more information, please visit www.gibson.com/sunset-strip, www.thesunsetstrip.com/guitartown and www.gibsonfoundation.org.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Universal's $1.9B EMI Deal

When French conglomerate Vivendi SA agreed to buy EMI’s recorded music division for $1.9 billion on Friday, it created a new king of the music industry.

But in a music business now controlled by digital distributors, it's not nearly as good to be the king as it used to be.

Universal Music Group, owned by Vivendi, already held 26 percent market share in the music industry, measured in terms of albums sold.

Adding EMI, which controls 9 percent, makes the company by far the biggest label around, controlling a catalog that combines such EMI assets as the Beatles and Beach Boys with such Universal staples as Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber.

“If this [deal] goes through, you’ll have one [label] that’s gigantic -- Universal; one that’s big -- Sony; and one that’s pretty small -- Warner Bros.,” said Robert Levine, author of “Free Ride,” a book on how digitization has impacted industries like music and film.

But Levine and others question whether bigger is really more powerful when digital monoliths like Apple, Google and Amazon are controlling the marketplace far more than the content owners.

“In a business changing so quickly, market share is not as important as some people like to think it is,” Levine said.

An individual close to the negotiations noted that Apple, Google and Amazon now control more than 80 percent of legal music sales. "Does it make Universal more powerful?" asked the music industry insider. "Maybe 10 years ago when the world was different.

“Universal has been No. 1 in terms of market share for the last 10 years,” he said. “How has that helped Universal? Look at its negotiations with Apple -- Universal is not exactly in charge.”

There is little doubt that this deal reorganizes the power structure of the industry. A little more than a decade ago, the music industry was made up of six major labels along with a number of independents. Now one label controls more than a third of the market.

But in today’s economy, the impact of gaining so much market share is murkier. For one thing, selling albums, as just about everyone knows, is not nearly as lucrative as it once was. While the decline in album sales leveled off this year, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) estimated in 2009 that 95 percent of global music downloads are illegal.

Still, there is one area where market share may still be quite significant: in negotiations with music services like Spotify.

Said Levine: “Let’s say you’re trying to launch a digital music service. Assuming this deal goes through, the idea of having a music service without this new Universal-EMI label is not much of a music service at all.”

He added: "The Beatles, the [Rolling] Stones, [David] Bowie, Motown -- if you don’t have those acts or those catalogs, I don’t see how you can do any kind of business with baby boomers without that."

But not everyone agrees that controlling a huge catalog is a winning business model any longer. Bob Lefsetz, a former lawyer in the industry and now a widely read blogger, dumped on the notion, and on the acquisition.

“What are you buying here?" he asked. "You’re not buying an active company. They have a couple of hit acts -- Katy Perry and Coldplay -- and at some point Coldplay’s deal will run out.”

Mike McGuire, a research vice president with Gartner Inc., while not quite as incredulous, was also dubious.

“They have obtained a very large catalog,” McGuire said. “Now the question is what are they going to do to exploit that, which is the existential question facing the music industry.”

Also read: Pink Floyd Ends War With EMI, iTunes' Single Sales

EMI has other big artists such as country act Lady Antebellum and electronic dance music superstar David Guetta, but its ability to bring in new artists has been curtailed for the past few years by its debilitating auction.

Even before Universal can try to resolve some of these issues, however, it has a series of regulatory hurdles to leap over, particularly in Europe.

Vivendi spokesman Simon Gillham told TheWrap that while the process would take a lot of work and time, the company is confident it will be approved.

Others are less sure.

Impala, a powerful consortium of independent European music labels, has already voiced its objection to the deal and said it expects it to be blocked by the European Commission for anti-trust reasons.

“Given that Brussels has taken a previous decision that Universal should not be any bigger, we would expect the sale to Universal to be blocked outright, even if it offers to increase the divestments it is prepared to make,” Helen Smith, executive chair of Impala, said in a statement. “The same would apply to Sony if it buys EMI publishing. Impala will be discussing this in detail at its next board meeting in 10 days time.”

Lefsetz added: "I'm not saying it definitely won't get passed, but you can already anticipate it will take 12 to 20 months. They will have to sell something."

This is one of many reasons the conventional wisdom was that Warner, which would not have faced as many regulatory issues due to its much smaller size, would make the deal for a figure closer to $1.5 billion.

The sale of EMI has been a contentious, drawn-out saga that began back in 2007 when Guy Hands’ Terra Firma purchased EMI without the requisite resources.

When Citigroup took control of EMI in February, it was a clear sign that a new buyer would have to step in soon.

Len Blavatnik then took over Warners in May, and analysts assumed he’d want to bolster his new company by combining it with the other "small" major.

Instead, Vivendi and Universal stepped in, believing they were acquiring an undervalued asset.

Vivendi will invest in rebuilding the labels within the EMI brand while capitalizing on certain other advantages of the deal, said on exectuive. Universal can eliminate redundancies in the two companies and conduct its business with lower costs.

At the same time, it is adding assets and generating synergy. Between its catalogs and new artists, EMI is strong in genres -- like country and classical -- where Universal is not.

These are areas, that as adults continue to embrace the digitization of music, will be increasingly lucrative.

"Financially, it’s an intelligent deal,” Gillham insisted.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Black Sabbath To Reunite For New Album And Tour

Black Sabbath is reuniting to record its first studio album with original frontman Ozzy Osbourne since 1978, and will support it with a massive 2012 tour.

The band made the announcement during a press conference today (November 11) at the Whiskey A-Go-Go in Los Angeles, where Sabbath played its first show in the city exactly 41 years ago.

Black Sabbath will headline the Download Festival, scheduled for June 8-10 in Donington Park, England. Meanwhile, Rick Rubin will produce the group's comeback album, which is expected to be released in fall 2012 through Vertigo/Universal.

Rumors of new Sabbath activity have been swirling for months, with Osbourne recently say new material was "a very, very strong possibility. It's in the very early stages, so we haven't recorded anything yet."

Guitarist Tony Iommi, who wrote extensively about the band in his new book Iron Man: My Journey Through Heaven & Hell With Black Sabbath, also told said that he regrouped with Osbourne, bassist Geezer Butler and drummer Bill Ward at Osbourne's California home earlier this year to play some music "for a bit of fun, and to see if we could all play. It was good, but it was just purely, 'Let's have a go and see what happens.' "

Since the original lineup came together in 1968, the English metal pioneers have scored album sales of 15 million, according to the RIAA. Between 1970 and 2007, Black Sabbath have had 22 entries on the Billboard 200, and their biggest-selling effort -- 1970's Paranoid, which featured classic rock tracks like "Iron Man" and "War Pigs" -- has sold 1.6 million in the SoundScan era.

The lineup of Osbourne, Iommi, Butler and Ward released its last album, Never Say Die, in 1978; the disc has sold 133,000 copies in the SoundScan era.

Osbourne split with Black Sabbath in 1979 and went on to a hugely successful solo career, with hits like "Crazy Train," "Mr. Crowley" and "Shot in the Dark." He rejoined the band in 1997 and toured on-and-off with them through 2006, but the only new material produced was two songs tacked onto a 1998 live album.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Peter Gabriel In 3D Comes To The iPhone

Spatial View Inc., a company specializing in 3D content delivery and auto-stereoscopic display technologies, and Eagle Rock Entertainment have partnered for the 3D digital distribution of Peter Gabriel’s New Blood Live in London In 3Dimensions concert.

The New Blood Live in London concert film, shot by Eagle Rock Entertainment, will be available for download for the iPhone 4/4S from Spatial View’s 3DeeCentral site, the leading online store for independent and pro-labeled 3D content.

"It was a buzz seeing the way Spatial View turned something as small as the iPhone into a magical box: a bona-fide 3D device. Capturing our own New Blood Live show in not one, not two, but three dimensions was no easy job,” said Peter Gabriel. “I'm very pleased the way Eagle Rock and all the creative team managed to record the essence of the concert, a concert experience that can now be shared by many more people through Spatial View's cool technology."

New Blood Live in London was held at London’s iconic Hammersmith Apollo on March 23, 2011, as Rock and Roll Hall of Fame artist Peter Gabriel performed a collection of orchestral reinterpretations of songs captured for the first time in 3D. Shooting New Blood Live in London in 3D involved a crew armed with 3D cameras to capture the wraparound experience. Produced by Eagle Rock production company EMP and directed by Blue Leach, the concert film is a visual feast with the drama of a 46-piece orchestra, conducted by the spirited and renowned Ben Foster.

“One of the main barriers to 3D going mainstream is the lack of compelling 3D content,” says Al Lopez, COO, Spatial View. “The addition of the New Blood Live in London in 3Dimensions concert to the 3DeeCentral online store is evidence of Spatial View’s commitment to create a central location. We are thrilled to partner with Peter Gabriel and Eagle Rock on this project.”

Spatial View will also sell a limited edition Peter Gabriel New Blood Live in London branded 3DeeSlide, an iPhone 4/4S accessory that lets people watch 3D content, glasses-free.

The 3DeeSlide will be available for purchase from www.3deecentral.com/newblood.

New Blood Live in London concert film and tracks will be available from 3DeeCentral on 3D-enabled Android devices and Internet-connected 3D TVs in December.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Keith Richards' 'Life' Wins Book Prize

On a night he was honored for his way with words, Keith Richards was clearly winging it. "This is one for the books, if you get my drift - you hacks," the 67-year-old Rolling Stones guitarist joked Tuesday as he accepted the Mailer Prize for Distinguished Biography, a prize earned by his million-selling memoir Life.

Wearing tinted glasses, a long scarf around his neck and a wide red band around his sprawl of salt and pepper hair, Richards stood before hundreds dressed in suits and gowns at the Mandarin Hotel in Manhattan and loosened up as if presiding over a celebrity roast. He chuckled. He swore. He reasoned that since he had been writing songs since age 16, his appearance at a literary event was not a total "intrusion."

It had been an evening of earnest speeches about the importance of writing and education, about the disparity of wealth and the lasting lessons of the Holocaust, the latter point articulated by Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel, winner of the Mailer prize for lifetime achievement.

"You've heard from some incredible people about some serious stuff," Richards acknowledged, before bringing the subject to his own demons, his longtime heroin addiction. "The only serious stuff I'm interested in I've given up."

The Mailer awards are named for Norman Mailer, who died in 2007, and are sponsored by the Norman Mailer Center and the Norman Mailer Writers Colony, based in his longtime home of Provincetown, Mass. Previous recipients of Mailer awards, now in their third year, include Nobel laureates Toni Morrison and Orhan Pamuk and Rolling Stone magazine founder Jann Wenner.

Bill Clinton, who introduced Richards, was for once a supporting star. The former president called Richards "my friend" and "a good guy," and repeatedly plugged Life, which was originally titled My Life, the same as Clinton's memoir, until Richards decided it was best to get to the point and dispense with "My." Clinton noted that his late mother-in-law, Dorothy Rodham, was an avid fan.

"Do you have any idea what it's like to have a 92-year-old groupie living in your home, a woman who lived and breathed for the Rolling Stones?" Clinton said of Rodham, who died Nov. 1. He remembered attending a Stones concert a few years ago at the Beacon Theater in Manhattan, a show filmed for Martin Scorsese's documentary Shine a Light. Rodham arrived early and stood on line just for the chance to see Richards, "to faint."

Not long ago, Richards came to visit with Clinton and family in the Caribbean. He charmed Rodham, who changed her clothes just for the occasion, and made a point of kissing her hello and kissing her goodbye.

"What am I, chopped liver?" Clinton wondered as he recalled the star-struck mother of his wife, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. "It was beautiful. He gives her an autographed copy of the book; she had already bought one on her own; she had already read it. I said, 'Dorothy, what did you think?' And she said, 'I always did like those bad boys.'"

No Stones fan in the 1960s, or Richards, could have imagined a former president as his pal or that he would have been associated with the word "distinguished." And few would have believed an encounter between Richards and Tony Bennett shortly before the ceremony. The 85-year-old Bennett, the kind of pop-jazz crooner the Stones displaced on the charts, approached Richards' table and introduced himself. The two embraced, chatted and posed for pictures. Bennett later explained that Richards had sent him a nice note about his new album, Duets II.

"I just wanted to thank him," Bennett said.

The gap has not entirely closed. Asked if he had any favorite Stones song, Bennett responded that he had never listened to them.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

David Bowie Leaving EMI In January

David Bowie is on the verge of leaving his record label EMI, according to reports.

The Financial Times claims that the legendary singer is poised to end his 15-year association with the label. Universal Music and Sony Music are apparently in talks to sign Bowie when the deal with EMI ends in January.

EMI declined to comment over the claims.

Whether Bowie will release any new music – or even plays live again – is another matter however. Earlier this year, the Thin White Duke's biographer Paul Trynka said it would take a "miracle" for Bowie to return.

Bowie has not released a new album since 2003's Reality and not played live since 2006, when he joined Alicia Keys and David Gilmour on stage. He has given no indication he is likely to tour again.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Roger Daltrey, Robert Plant Announce Teen Cancer Program

According to Rolling Stone, The Who's Roger Daltrey wants to pay back some of what he owes to teenagers.

On Friday (November 4), he was joined in Los Angeles by Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin to announce the launch of the UCLA Daltrey/Townshend Teen & Young Adult Cancer Program, in hopes of changing a medical culture that categorizes patients as either adults or children, with few special considerations for teens.

"Adolescent care up until now has been a teenage wasteland," Daltrey said, quoting from the Who's "Baba O'Riley." "Every generation of rock musician will understand that we wouldn't be anywhere without the support of teenagers buying the records. Just put yourself back on the line. It's very easy — just be there when they ask for you."

The announcement follows more than a decade of support by the Who and other major musicians for England's Teenage Cancer Trust, which has established 19 cancer units for teenagers across the U.K. Some of that support has come in the form of annual benefit concerts at the Royal Albert Hall and the hands-on efforts of Daltrey.

"Pete and I did little things over 10-12 years for charity, and it was doing quite well, but I just felt this needs grabbing by the scruff of the neck," Daltrey told Rolling Stone after the press conference. "Raising money is only one factor. Somebody has to give it a profile."

Housed at UCLA Medical Center, the program will treat teens separately from young children and adults and will focus on concerns of special resonance with teens diagnosed with cancer, from simple survival to getting back to school.

The Who's Pete Townshend planned on being at the press event, but an expired visa kept him back in England. Instead, the guitarist sent a videotaped statement, pointing to the success of the charity in the U.K. "Let's hope in the USA it can catch fire the way it did here, because it does save lives," Townshend said.

"He's here in spirit. We are a team," Daltrey said later.

On the small stage, Daltrey stood with an arm around Sarah Sterner, an Atlanta high school student and rock drummer diagnosed with a brain tumor when she was 15. She's been declared cancer-free for the last 18 months. "Look at her now, 17 years old," Daltrey said with a grin, "a complete success story."

Unveiled at the press gathering were artists' renderings of the planned center, showing brightly colored rooms with a pool table, couches, a coffee counter, games, computers and posters of the Ramones, Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin. "I look at that, and I just think, 'Man, I want to go there right now.' That looks awesome," Sterner said later. "If we can create that home away from home with the Teenage Trust, maybe it will take away some of the mental shock of being sick and having cancer."

After the announcement, Daltrey and Plant autographed a blue Stratocaster to be hung on the wall of the new center. As the two iconic rock singers stood in front of a crowd of photographers, Plant joked with Daltrey, "Do you like guitarists?"

"I love 'em," Daltrey said.

"Me too," said Plant.

After the press conference, Daltrey said of the Led Zeppelin frontman, "He's been supportive of this for years. He's done shows at the Albert Hall. It means a lot. He's a very well-respected guy, and there will be some fan out there who's in another band, who will say, 'Robert Plant's doing this? We will do it.' I'm hoping."

At the hospital, Daltrey exchanged long hugs with both patients and doctors. "They make me enjoy every second of my life. Every second," he said of the teens. "It's impossible to add it all up what they've given me."

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Black Sabbath Announce Press Conference

All four Black Sabbath original members will reunite for a press conference on November 11 -- but will the heavy metal icons announce a new album?

According to Rolling Stone, the long-disbanded group have dubbed the event a "special announcement at the same location where the influential band made their Los Angeles debut on November 11, 41 years ago."

That location is Los Angeles' Whiskey a Go-Go, where the band will make the announcement at 11:11 a.m. Henry Rollins, no stranger to the Whiskey stage himself, will host the event.

In October, frontman Ozzy Osbourne said new material was "a very, very strong possibility. It's in the very early stages, so we haven't recorded anything yet."

His remarks followed an August report in the Birmingham Mail that the group was writing new material. Guitarist Tony Iommi said in a statement at the time that he had been "speculating" in his reported quotes, but did not refute them.

The original lineup has toured sporadically over the last two decades, but has not released a studio album together since 1978's Never Say Die. Not that they haven't stayed busy: Osbourne released his latest book, Trust Me, I'm Dr. Ozzy, on October 11.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Yes Legends Jon Anderson, Rick Wakeman To Release Live Album

As a follow-up to their 2010 CD The Living Tree, Jon Anderson and Rick Wakeman will release Anderson/Wakeman - The Living Tree In Concert Part One on Gonzo Multimedia on November 28th. The CD was recorded during the duo's British tour in 2010 and comes housed in a sleeve design by Mark Wilkinson who also designed the artwork for The Living Tree.

Having worked together on and off since 1971's groundbreaking Fragile album, Jon Anderson and Rick Wakeman have traveled similar musical paths that have eventually and happily led their careers back together again.

The duo began performing live together in the UK in 2006 playing both classics from the Yes catalog and selected tracks from the pair's individual solo releases. In 2009, Anderson and Wakeman recorded The Living Tree, and followed up with a 2010 tour, which featured material from Yes and the duo's new CD. A collection of live highlights from the tour only seems natural.

"The live recordings have a unique feel, the way we perform the show, it's as though all the songs 'old and new' were written just a few months ago, all very timeless," Anderson notes.

"For many years Jon and I have felt it was really important to record all we do," adds Rick, "whether for general release or just personal purposes, the decision being very much that of quality. We were so happy with the way that the live music was happening that we felt this was a must to record and put out a mixture of the music, both old and new, as a record of where we are at, at this moment, and also perhaps giving a hint as to where we can go on to. Music for us is progressive in all genres, and this album is yet another stepping stone in that quest."

Tracks include:

And You & I
Living Tree (Part 1)
Morning Star
Long Distance Runaround
The Garden
Living Tree (Part 2)
Time and a Word
Just One Man
Southside of the Sky
House of Freedom
The Meeting

To order Anderson/Wakeman - The Living Tree In Concert Part One ahead of its release date, go to www.gonzomultimedia.co.uk or

For more information, visit www.jonanderson.com and www.RWCC.com.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Lou Reed Gets Death Threats From Metallica Fans

Lou Reed says he’s received a number of death threats from Metallica fans over Lulu, his collaboration album with the thrash giants.

Supporters were shocked when the controversial coupling was revealed earlier this year, and many have remained unimpressed with what they’ve heard. Most reviews have been lukewarm too.

But Reed says he doesn’t care – because he only did it for fun.

The veteran art rocker told USA Today: “They are threatening to shoot me, and that’s only because I showed up. They haven’t even heard the record yet and they’re recommending various forms of torture and death.”

But he’s not upset by the explosive reaction. “I don’t have any fans left,” he says. “After Metal Machine Music they all fled.

“Who cares? I’m essentially in this for the fun of it.”

The 69-year-old describes Metallica as his “metal blood brothers” and has no regrets about recording Lulu – and although he accepts there’s unlikely to be a follow-up, he’d love to make one.

“No one wants Lulu Part 2,” Reed observes, “But on Radio Lou, in my head where I hear these songs, I want more of it.”

Meanwhile, Alice Cooper has said he’s desperate to hear the album, and describes the shock factor of the pairing of Reed and Metallica as “like Iggy Pop and ABBA.”

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Roger Waters Announces 'The Wall' 2012 North American Dates

Pink Floyd mastermind Roger Waters has announced the return of his stadium live show based around the group's 1979 classic The Wall to North America in 2012. The production will invade the continent for a 36-show tour that begins May 1, 2012, in Houston.

After Pink Floyd first unveiled The Wall live during a 1980-81 tour, Waters resurrected the landmark release with a full backing band for a world tour over 2010-11. The tour grossed over $191 million over 120 shows from Sept. 2010 to July 2011.

The Wall will head to Australia in January and South America in March before heading back to the States in May. In addition to Waters, The Wall concerts will feature guitarist Snowy White, guitarist Dave Kilminster, guitarist/bassist GE Smith, keyboardist Jon Carin, organist Harry Waters and drummer Graham Broad, among others.

For next year's North American run, which will be promoted by Live Nation, Waters will be stopping by stadiums such as AT&T Park in San Francisco, BC Place in Vancouver, Wrigley Field in Chicago, and Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia. Tickets for the trek go on sale on Monday through LiveNation.com.

Pink Floyd was honored with a full week of tribute performances on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon in September. During the week, drummer Nick Mason stopped by by for a short interview, and Waters joined the Foo Fighters to perform "In The Flesh." All 14 Pink Floyd studio albums were reissued that same week.