Here are current stories about Oldies Artists in the News:
Motown singer Jimmy Ruffin, best-known for the #7 hit, "What Becomes Of The Brokenhearted" in 1966, died in a Las Vegas Monday hospital Monday (November 17) at the age of 78. He had been in critical condition for the past month. Jimmy was the brother of David Ruffin of the Temptations and cousin of the Temptations' Melvin Franklin. Born in Collinsville, Mississippi in 1939, he and his brother originally sang in the gospel Dixie Nightingales. Moving to Detroit, he signed up with Motown as a session and solo singer, first with their Miracle Records and after military service (where he sang with a group called the Four Hollidays) with the Soul label. After the success of "Brokenhearted" (originally intended as a Spinners tune), he scored with lesser hits like "I've Passed This Way Before" (#17-1967), "Gonna Give Her all The Love I've Got" (#29-1967) and "Stand By Me" (#61-1970 with David). Leaving Motown, he signed with Polydor, Epic, Atco and Chess before having one more top ten hit with "Hold On To My Love" on RSO Records in 1980.
Dave Appell passed away Tuesday (November 18) at the age of 92. Besides being the leader of the instrumental group, the Applejacks, who have us "Mexican Hat Rock" (#16-1958) and "Rocka-Conga" (#38-1959), he was the leader of the house band that backed up many of the artists on the Cameo and Parkway labels in Philadelphia, including Chubby Checker, Bobby Rydell, Charlie Gracie, John Zacherle and the Dovells. He co-wrote many of the labels' hits, including "Let's Twist Again," "Mashed Potato Time" and "South Street." His band backed Ernie Kovacs on Ernie's TV and radio shows in Philadelphia. Much later, Dave produced Tony Orlando and Dawn hits, including "Knock Three Times" and "Tie A Yellow Ribbon."
Mike Love announced Wednesday (November 19) that he has signed a deal with Blue Rider (a subsidiary of Penguin Random House) to write an autobiography entitled, "Good Vibrations: My Life as a Beach Boy." The book is due in 2016.
Glen Larson,founding member and baritone for the Four Preps who went on to become a well-known Hollywood television producer, died in a Santa Monica, California hospital of esophageal cancer Friday (November 14) at the age of 77. Formed by four students at the prestigious Hollywood High School, the Preps and their influential harmony (ask Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys) were signed by Capitol Records who saw them performing at a talent show there in 1956. Though their initial record, "Dreamy Eyes," only reached #56 the following year, the group charted 18 times over the next eight years, including "26 Miles" (#2-1958), "Big Man" (#3-1958) and "Down By The Station" (#13-1960)-- all co-written by Glen. When the group's fortunes waned, Glen went to work for Quinn Martin Productions on "The Fugitive" TV show and later signed his own production deal for such hit series as "Alias Smith And Jones," "The Six Million Dollar Man," "Battlestar Galactica," "Quincy, MD," "Buck Rogers," "Magnum PI" and "Knight Rider." His shows accounted for a reported 513 hours of television between 1976 and 1988. He also wrote the themes for many of his shows, including "Battlestar Galactica," "The Hardy Boys" and "The Fall Guy." Glen was nominated for an Emmy Award three times, but never won.
Connie Francis will present the Lifetime Achievement Award named after herself to Neil Sedaka as "Entertainer of the Year" on behalf of the Footlighters Club in Hollywood Florida February 12.
Stevie Wonder will be among 19 recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom November 24 in ceremonies at the White House. Others to be honored include actresses Meryl Streep and Marlo Thomas, journalist Tom Brokaw and Broadway composer Stephen Sondheim ("Send In The Clowns").
Central Middle School in Waukesha, Wisconsin was re-named Les Paul Middle School-Central Campus in ceremonies Saturday (November 8). The Les Paul Foundation paid for the school's transition (letterheads, sign changes and uniforms). The famed guitarist attended the school when it was Waukesha Junior High School and he was still Lester Polfuss.
Clarinet player Acker Bilk (billed as "Mr. Acker Bilk" on his recordings), best known for his #1 hit, "Stranger On The Shore" in 1962, died Sunday (November 2) in a hospital in Bath, England after what was described as a lengthy illness. He was 85. The Pensford, Somerset native was born Bernard Stanley Bilk but used the nickname "Acker"-- slang for "mate." He learned to play the clarinet while in the army in Egypt and formed his first band after serving in World War II, playing "trad"-- traditional American jazz. His first single, called "Summer Set" (a play on his home county) was a top five hit in the UK-- "bubbling under" the US charts at 104. Other hits followed in Britain, including "That's My Home" and-- strangely enough-- "Stars And Stripes Forever." He was asked by the British Broadcasting Corporation to compose a theme for their children's science fiction show, "Stranger On The Shore" and responded with a tune he originally named for his daughter-- "Jenny." While it was his only American top 40 hit, he followed it up with four more in the UK and continued performing until August of last year.
(Gloria) Jeanne Black, the country singer who recorded the most successful-ever answer record-- to Jim Reeves' "He'll Have To Go" called "He'll Have To Stay" (#4-1960 pop, #6 country and #11 R&B!), died October 23 in Orem, Utah just shy of her 77th birthday. Jeanne had been suffering from Alzheimer's Disease. She was married to guitarist/songwriter Billy Strange, who died in 2012. Though she never appeared again on the country charts, she made the pop charts with two follow-ups-- "Lisa" (#43-1960) and "Oh, How I Miss You Tonight" (an answer to Elvis Presley's "Are You Lonesome To-Night", #63-1961).
Jack Bruce, vocalist and highly-influential bass player with Cream, died Saturday (October 25) of liver disease at his home in Suffolk, England at the age of 71. Born in Glasgow, Scotland, the classically trained cellist Jack and his family traveled throughout Canada, the U.S. and Europe before he settled in London, joining Alexis Korner's Blues Inc. (with future Rolling Stone Charlie Watts). He migrated on to the Graham Bond Organisation, John Mayall's Bluesbreakers and Manfred Mann (where he played on the #29 hit "Pretty Flamingo" in 1966) before being asked by Ginger Baker to form Cream alongside Eric Clapton. Jack wrote many of the songs and sang lead on their hit singles, "Sunshine Of Your Love" (#5-1968) and "White Room (#6-1968). Though the group lasted less than three years, it sold a reported 35 million albums in that time. After a series of solo albums, Jack formed West, Bruce and Laing with Leslie West and Corky Laing for two studio and one live albums. He continued to work on solo projects and as a guest bassist with some of the biggest names in the industry. Jack underwent a liver transplant in 2003, but continued his work (touring for a number of years with Ringo Starr's All-Starr band), releasing his last album just last March. Jack and Cream were inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame in 1993 and were honored with a Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award in 2006.
John Denver was honored with a posthumous star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame Friday (October 24). The ceremony coincided with the opening of an exhibit of John's photographs at a nearby gallery.
A section of West 121st Street between Broadway and Amsterdam in New York's Morningside Heights was named "George Carlin Way" Wednesday (October 22), following a two-year petition drive. Fellow comedians Robert Klein and Gilbert Gottfried were among those in attendance at the dedication.
Raphael Ravenscroft, who gave us the iconic saxophone solo on Gerry Rafferty's #2 song, "Baker Street" in 1978, died Sunday (October 19) of what is believed to be a heart attack at the age of 60. Though it made him world-famous, he was only paid 27 pounds for the recording session (and in a possibly apocryphal story, it's said the check bounced). In later years he said he was upset with the song because the saxophone was out-of-tune.
Tim Hauser, founding member of Manhattan Transfer, died Thursday (October 16) from cardiac arrest in a hospital in Sayre, Pennsylvania. He was 72. Tim had been treated for pneumonia in an Elmira, New York hospital and was moved to Sayre. Born in 1941 in Troy, New York, his family moved to New Jersey, where he formed a doo wop group called the Criterions that achieved modest success in the New York area in 1959 and appeared on television with Alan Freed. That same year he produced the Viscounts version of "Harlem Nocturne" (#52). Moving on to Villanova University (where he sang in school with Jim Croce), he formed a folk group called the Troubadours Three with Tommy "Buchanan Brothers" West. The Air Force and corporate jobs delayed his breakthrough in music until he created the original Manhattan Transfer in 1969. They recorded one album for Capitol Records but broke up soon afterwards. While working as a cab driver in 1972, Tim met Laurel Masse, who remembered his group and they decided to re-form it with Alan Paul and Janis Siegel. The classic sound and stylings eventually paid off in 1975 as "Operator" made it to #22 on Atlantic Records. That led to a Summer variety TV show on CBS. Though Laurel was replaced by Cheryl Bentyne due to a car accident in 1979, their quirky sound continued to sell many albums and occasional hit singles like "Twilight Zone/Twilight Tone" (#30-1980), "Spice Of Life" (#40-1983) and a re-make of the Ad Lib's "Boy From New York City" (#7-1981). The Manhattan Transfer have been honored with ten Grammy Awards and collectively received an honorary doctorate from Berklee College of Music in Boston in 1993. They were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 1999.
Condolences to Ramsey Lewis, whose son, Marcus Kevyn Lewis, died of what were termed natural causes Sunday (October 12).
Don Henley filed a lawsuit Wednesday (October 8) in California District Court against the Duluth Trading Company, makers of Henley shirts, over it's advertising slogan, "Don a Henley and take it easy." "Take It Easy" is, of course a song by Don's group, the Eagles. However, the song was written by Jackson Browne and Eagle Glenn Frey and sung by Glenn. Don is claiming copyright infringement and asking for unspecified damages.
The latest group of nominees for the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame were announced Thursday (October 9). They are: the Marvelettes, the Spinners, War, Bill Withers, Chic, Sting (who is already in the Hall with the Police), Kraftwerk, Lou Reed Stevie Ray Vaughan, Joan Jett, the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Nine Inch Nails, the Smiths, Green Day and NWA. Induction of the winners will take place April 18, 2015 in Cleveland.
Paul Revere Dick, keyboardist and leader of Paul Revere & the Raiders, died Saturday (October 4) of what some reports say was brain cancer at his Idaho home at the age of 76. He had officially retired from performing earlier this year citing unspecified health issues. Paul was a restaurant owner in Caldwell, Idaho when he met up with lead vocalist Mark Lindsay in the late '50s (while picking up hamburger buns from the bakery where Mark worked). The two formed a group originally called the Downbeats but later revolving around Paul's name (with Revolutionary War uniforms to match). A Pacific Northwest sensation (they recorded "Louie Louie" at the same Portland, Oregon studio around the same time as the Kingsmen's hit), the Raiders released their instrumental version of a classical piece called "Like, Long Hair" in 1961. Though it only reached #38, it got them them noticed by Columbia Records and the band moved to Los Angeles, where in 1966 hits like "Just Like Me" (#11), "Kicks" (#4) and "Hungry (#6) began to flow. As the house band on Dick Clark's daily "Where The Action Is" TV show (plus the appearance of Paul and Mark as hosts of Dick's "Happening '68" show), they continued the success with "Good Thing" (#4-1967), "Him Or Me-- What's It Gonna Be" (#5-1967) and "Let Me" (#20-1969). Their biggest hit was in 1971 with "Indian Reservation" (#1) under the shortened name, the Raiders. By then, Mark was also recording solo which led to the rumor that he had left the group (he eventually left in 1975) and subsequent singles charted lower and lower, drying up completely in 1973. But Paul, who could be described as "The Hardest Working Man in Rock 'n' Roll" by anyone who saw the show, kept the band performing-- including getting married onstage at a concert on America's Bicentennial-- even during his short-lived "retirement" in 1976 and they became a must-see act throughout the world. Paul and the Raiders were inducted into the Oregon Music Hall of Fame in 2007 and the Hit Parade Hall of Fame in 2010. Rolling Stone magazine named "Kicks" one of the 500 Greatest Songs of all Time" (at #400).
B.B. King fell ill while performing in Chicago Friday night (October 3) and has cancelled the remaining 8 dates on his U.S. tour. "Dehydration and exhaustion" were named as the cause.
Owing to what was termed a "serious medical condition," Gerry Marsden dropped out of Saturday's (October 4) concert in Chatham, England and, it appears, the rest of the British Sixties Gold Tour. The Pacemakers will continue to perform without him and Spencer Davis has been added to the bill.
Stevie Wonder has been named grand marshal of the Hollywood Christmas Parade which will be held November 30 and televised nationwide.
Steve Martin will be presented with a Lifetime Achievement award from the American Film Institute next June 4 in Los Angeles. While the award has been given 43 times, this is only the second time it will be presented to a comedian (Mel Brooks being the first).
A Streetsboro, Ohio restaurant owner was sentenced to three years in prison Monday (September 29) for stealing $20,000 raised for the medical expenses of Sonny Geraci of the Outsiders and Climax last November. The man was also ordered to pay $28,000 in restitution plus court costs.
While criminal charges against Patti LaBelle's bodyguard involving a dustup with a former West Point cadet outside Houston's airport in 2011 were dismissed last year, a civil case against her, the bodyguard and her son began September 16. Jurors returned a not guilty verdict on September 23. Patti herself took the stand and denied telling her 400-pound bodyguard to attack the man, who was standing too close to her luggage. The cadet, who had a blood alcohol level of .285 at the time of the melee, had claimed he was left with brain damage and forced to withdraw from the service academy.
A California federal judge Monday (September 22) ruled that Sirius/XM satellite radio played Turtles music without paying royalties in violation of their copyright. While federal copyright law does not apply retroactively to songs recorded before 1972, the Turtles had contended that state and common law was violated and the judge agreed, stating, "There was wrongful disposition of that property right every time Sirius XM publicly performed the recordings without [the Turtles' Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan's] permission, in violation of California copyright law." The duo were seeking $100 million dollars but damages have yet to awarded and the matter will, no doubt, be appealed.
Bob Dylan has been named MusiCares Person of the Year for 2015 by the charitable arm of the National Association of Recording Arts & Sciences (the Grammy people). The announcement was made Wednesday (September 24). Bob will be saluted at an all-star concert February 6 in Los Angeles featuring Tom Jones, Crosby, Stills & Nash, John Mellencamp and Neil Young, among others.
Three former tour dancers for Cher who were let go for "budgetary reasons" in July filed a lawsuit against the singer Wednesday (September 17) claiming they were actually released because the women blew the whistle on a male dancer's attempted sexual assault of a fan. The suit also claims that Cher was looking to diversify her backup dancers because there was "too much color onstage."
George Hamilton IV, who charted eleven times on the pop top 100 between 1956 and 1963 (and 40 times on the county charts from 1960 through 1978), died Wednesday (September 17) in a Nashville hospital. The 77 year-old had suffered a heart attack on Saturday. The Winston-Salem, North Carolina native is best remembered for his 1956 hit "A Rose And A Baby Ruth" (#6) and 1958's "Why Don't They Understand" (#10), but even after concentrating on country music, he crossed over to the pop charts with such hits as "Abilene" (#15 pop,#1 country, 1963). George hosted a Canadian TV program for six years and was one of the first American artists to record songs by Gordon Lightfoot and Joni Mitchell. He also was the first country artist to perform behind the Iron Cutain (Russia and Czechosolvakia) in 1974. He was inducted into the Grand Old Opry in 1960 and was known as the "International Ambassador of Country Music."
Tuesday, September 23 has been declared "David Bowie Day" in the City of Chicago by Mayor Rahm Emanuel. A retrospective of David's artwork, "David Bowie Is..." opens that day at the Museum of Contemporary Art there (its only U.S. stop) and a documentary film about the exhibit will show in 100 theaters on that date.
Beatrice Best, who sang baritone with the Jive Five starting in 1962 until his retirement two years ago, died Monday (September 15). Bea sang on such tunes as "I'm A Happy Man" (#26-1965) and "What Time Is It" (#67-1962).
Lynn Anderson was arrested in Nashville early Friday morning (September 12) after a traffic accident and charged with driving under the influence of alcohol and prescription medication. She was previously arrested for DUI in Texas ten years ago and has undergone rehabilitation. Lynn was released on $5,000 bond.
Legendary New Orleans recording studio owner and producer Cosimo Matassa died in the Crescent City Thursday (September 11) at the age of 88. He was an architect of the "New Orleans Sound" in the '50s and artists as diverse as Fats Domino ("Blueberry Hill"), Little Richard ("Tutti Frutti"), Frankie Ford ("Sea Cruise"), Clarence "Frogman" Henry ("Ain't Got No Home"), Ernie K-Doe ("Mother-in-Law"), Lloyd Price ("Personality"), Smiley Lewis ("I Hear You Knocking"), Robert Parker ("Barefootin'") and Professor Longhair ("Take Me To The Mardi Gras") recorded with him. His studio was named a historic Rock 'n' Roll Landmark and he was selected for the Louisiana Music, Blues and Rock 'n' Roll Halls of Fame.
Stanley Robert "Bob" Crewe, the Newark, New Jersey native who wrote and produced many hits for the Four Seasons and whose "Music To Watch Girls By" was a #15 hit (and a classic Diet Pepsi commercial) in 1966, died Thursday (September 11) in Maine at the age of 82. He co-wrote such hits for the Four Seasons as "Big Girls Don't Cry" (#1-1962), "Walk Like A Man" (#1-1963), "Let's Hang On" (##3-1965) and Rag Doll" (#1-1964). He also wrote hits for others, most notably "Silhouettes" and 'Daddy Cool" by the Rays (#3-1957), Billy & Lillie's "La Dee Dah" (#9-1958) and "Lucky Ladybug" (#14-1959), "Tallahassee Lassie" by Freddy Cannon (#6-1959), Diane Renay's "Navy Blue" (#6-1964) and Lady Marmalade (#1-1975). His Dyno-Voice label gave us Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels and the Toys. He also produced artists as diverse as Oliver and Disco Tex and the Sex-O-Lettes. He was featured prominently in the Broadway and movie productions of "Jersey Boys."
Scientists have named an extinct species of swamp creature with large lips that lived nineteen million years ago Jaggermeryx Naida after Mick Jagger. The name translates to "Jagger's water nymph." Apparently, Mick beat out Angelina Jolie for the honor.
Cher has been forced to postpone her "Dressed To Kill" tour nearly a month because of an "acute viral infection." The second leg of the tour, scheduled to start September 11 in Albany, New York, will now begin October 8. Rescheduled dates should continue into December.
Giving no reason, Aretha Franklin cancelled her performance Tuesday (September 9) in Houston. The concert will be made up next April.
Washington's Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts announced this year's Kennedy Center Honors Thursday (September 4). Al Green, Sting, comedienne Lillian Tomlin, actor Tom Hanks and ballerina Patricia McBride will be honored December 7 at a ceremony to be taped and aired on CBS-TV December 30.
David Cassidy pled guilty to misdemeanor driving while intoxicated charges in Schodack, New York Town Court Wednesday night (September 3). Sentencing will occur on November 5 and is expected to include a conditional discharge in exchange for 50 hours of community service in his home state of Florida and an ignition interlock device on his car. This is David's third arrest for driving under the influence. He has completed an alcohol rehabilitation program. Said David, ""I'm feeling good and sober ... I accept that this is what I should do."
76 year-old Tommy Chong of Cheech & Chong will be among those competing on the next season of "Dancing With The Stars," it was announced Thursday (September 4). Other competitors include actress Lea Thompson from "Back To The Future" and "Fresh Prince of Bel Air" star Alfonso Ribeiro.
The other members of the Commodores sued original guitarist and singer Thomas McClary on August 19 for using the group's name in billing his solo concerts, as well as on his web site and Facebook page. McClary departed the group in 1984. They are seeking an injunction against his using their name as well as monetary damages.
Diana Ross' son, Evan Ross married singer Ashlee Simpson at Diana's Connecticut home Sunday (August 31). Sister Jessica Simpson was the Matron of Honor. And yes, Miss Ross performed at the reception, along with Stevie Wonder. It's Ashlee's second marriage, Evan's first.
Olivia Newton-John has been named to sing the national anthem before the Australian Football League grand final September 27 in Melbourne. Olivia also sang "Advance Australia Fair" at the 1986 grand final.
Harry Belafonte will be given the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences November 8 in Hollywood.
Glenn Cornick, original bassist with Jethro Tull, died on congestive heart failure August 29 at his home in Hilo, Hawaii. He was 67. Glenn played on the group's first three albums but left in 1970.
Dusty Hill of ZZ Top slipped on his tour bus Tuesday night (August 26) requiring "immediate attention" and forcing cancelllation of their tour dates with Jeff Beck through September 13.
Talmadge "Tommy" Gough, original tenor singer with the Crests on their hits, including "Sixteen Candles" (#2-1959), "Step By Step" (#14-1960) and "The Angels Listened In" (#22-1959), died Sunday (August 24) of throat cancer in Flint, Michigan. He was 74. Crests founder J.T. Carter praised Tommy on his Facebook page, saying, "If it were not for you, I would have never been involved in music or The Crests!!! You are a true musical icon... Sing on with the stars in heaven my friend, you will be greatly missed!"
A restaurant owner in Streetsboro, Ohio pled guilty Monday (August 25) in Portage County court to grand theft after stealing over $20,000 from a fundraiser for Outsiders and Climax lead singer Sonny Geraci. The man will be sentenced in a month and will have to make restitution.
It's been learned that Rosetta Hightower, lead singer of the Orlons on such hits as "Wah-Watusi" (#2-1962), "Don't Hang Up" (#4-1962) and "South Street" (#3-1963), died August 2 in Clapham, London. The Philadelphia native was 70. Rosetta had moved to the UK in 1970, marrying producer Ian Green. She backed up numerous musicians, including John Lennon and Joe Cocker and recorded at least two solo albums.
Neil Young filed for divorce from his wife of 36 years, Pegi, in their home town of San Mateo, California July 29. A hearing is scheduled for December 12. Pegi met Neil while working as a waitress in Southern California. She not only sang background with him but has released three albums of her own.
The Rhythm and Blues Hall of Fame and Museum inducted its second class of honorees Sunday (August 24) in Canton, Ohio, including the late Michael Jackson, Marvin Gaye, Chubby Checker, Gene Chandler, the Impressions, the Spinners, the Dells, the Delfonics, the Whispers, the Sweet Inspirations, Russell Thompkins of the Stylistics, radio personality Norm N. Nite, Motown's Records' Funk Brothers musicians, Jackson 5 manager Joe Jackson and the late Whitney Houston. So, Michael and his father-- as well as Whitney and her mother, Sweet Inspiration Cissy Houston-- were inducted together. Cissy also received the Humanitarian award while Joe was saluted for a Lifetime Achievement honor.
Frankie Valli will join Carol Burnett in guest-starring on an episode of CBS' "Hawaii Five-O" this November. Frankie will play the Carol's fiance, who has a possibly-shady past.
Mark Chapman, murderer of John Lennon, was denied parole for the eighth time Friday (August 22). He had been interviewed earlier in the week by New York prison officials. John's widow, Yoko Ono, wrote a letter to the parole board reaffirming her belief that the 59 year-old Chapman should not be released. He was sentenced to 20-years-to-life in jail for the 1980 slaying. His next chance for parole will be in two years.
Tony Orlando will help dedicate a new diabetes research center at the University of Iowa in Iowa City Saturday (August 23). The Fraternal Order of Eagles (of which Tony is a member) raised $25 million for the facility. In addition, Tony's mother was a diabetic. What's unclear is whether the ribbon he cuts will be yellow.
Rick Parfitt, guitarist for Status Quo, returns to performing Saturday (August 23) in Norfolk, England after surgery to correct a heart problem stemming from his quadruple bypass seven years ago. Rick fell ill while on tour in Croatia earlier in the month and says he was "an inch away from dying" before flying home for the procedure. He did miss his first concert with the group on August 15.
Licensing agency ASCAP (the American Society of Composers And Publishers) is turning 100 and will hand out 5 "Centennial Awards" November 17 in New York. The honorees are Stevie Wonder, Billy Joel, Joan Baez, Garth Brooks and Broadway composer Stephen Sondheim. If the names don't look that impressive, it's because most contemporary writers are associated with rival Broadcast Music, International (BMI).
Debbie Reynolds will receive the Life Achievement Award from the Screen Actors Guild, it was announced Monday (August 18). The honor, given for career achievement and humanitarian accomplishment, will be presented at the Guild's 21st annual awards ceremony January 25 in Hollywood to be broadcast on TNT and TBS.
Native son Ramsey Lewis was named Monday (August 18) as one of the recipients of the City of Chicago's inaugural Fifth Star Awards to be handed out September 17. Since the city's flag has four symbolic stars, the "Fifth Star" is designed to salute the arts in the city.
After five years of renovation, the boyhood home of Johnny Cash in Dyess, Arkansas was open to the public August 16. The Cash family lived in the home from 1935 to 1953.
Police in South Yorkshire, England searched the penthouse flat of Cliff Richard Thursday (August 14) looking for evidence involving the molestation of an "under 16" boy in 1985. Cliff, who is flying back from Portugal, issued a statement denying any allegations as "completely false" and said he would cooperate with the authorities.
Aerosmith drummer Joey Kramer underwent a minor medical procedure which forced cancellation of their concert Wednesday (August 13). Despite rumors the rest of the tour would be cancelled, a publicist said Joey "has no history of a heart condition" and Joey released a statement that he would be back behind the drums to complete the tour.
The Shelby County, Tennessee Historical Commission will unveil a historical marker at the site of Chips Moman's American Sound Studios in Memphis Wednesday (August 13). The ceremony is being held during "Elvis Week" because the King recorded his "Memphis Sessions" at that studio. The location is sadly now a Family Dollar store.
At age 76, Paul Revere announced Friday (August 8) that he will withdraw from performing on the road. The group will continue on as Paul Revere's Raiders. Doctors had asked Paul to take a break from his hectic schedule but he decided it needed to be more permanent. He will stay on as executive producer and his son, Jamie will re-join the band.
Rick Springfield has cancelled his Australian tour, which was set to begin October 7. Instead, he'll be filming the movie "Ricki & The Flash" with Meryl Streep.
Lionel Richie entertained at the White House as President Barack Obama hosted 45 African heads of state Tuesday (August 5).
Tony Orlando threw out the first pitch at Dodger Stadium as Los Angeles hosted Anaheim's Angels Monday night (August 4).
"Get On Up," the biographical film on the life of James Brown (and produced by Mick Jagger), opened Friday to generally good reviews, especially for it's lead. Richard Roeper in the Chicago Sun-Times said it's, "the powerful, raw, energized performance by Chadwick Boseman that makes this film worth seeing... Boseman is astonishingly good, inhabiting the persona of a larger-than-life icon without ever delving into caricature or mere impersonation." He called it a 4 star performance in a 3 star movie. The New York Times chimes that it, "thrillingly captures the frenzy of Brown's music, and the forces driving that frenzy, both musical and personal." The New York Post praised, "the film largely avoids standard rise-and-fall clichTs and strained attempts to explain a messy and colorful life filled with contradictions... the film belongs, heart and soul, to Boseman, who expertly lip-syncs to Brown's original tracks after playing a very different kind of black superstar in last year's Jackie Robinson bio-pic '42.' This time, I think, he's going to get an Oscar nomination." Variety wrote it was, "an admirable, fitfully successful stab at the life of the brilliant but volatile funk-soul legend... Whatever else one may fault about 'Get On Up,' one thing that's faultless is its star." But the Los Angeles Times moaned that the movie, "is more frustrating than fulfilling, a disjointed film that suffers from having a more ambitious plan than it's got the ability to execute."
Dick Wagner, guitarist for Alice Cooper and co-writer of his hits "Only Women" and "You And Me," died Wedneday (July 30) of respiratory failure at a Scottsdale, Arizona medical facility. He was 71. Dick also played with Aerosmith, Kiss and Lou Reed.
Linda Ronstadt was among the recipients of the National Medals of Arts in conjunction with the National Humanities presented by President Barack Obama at the White House Monday (July 28). The president whispered in Linda's ear that he once had a boyhood crush on her.
Don "Dirt" Lanier, lead guitarist with the Rhythm Orchids, who backed up Buddy Knox and Jimmy Bowen, died Wednesday (July 23) at the age of 78. Don also co-wrote Jimmy's hit, "I'm Stickin' With You" and Buddy's "Hula Love." In addition, he recorded on his own, was a well-respected arranger and studio guitarist and later an A&R man for MCA Nashville.
Chubby Checker settled a lawsuit out-of court Tuesday (July 22) filed against Hewlett-Packard over an app (since removed) sold in its app store called the "Chubby Checker," which was designed to measure the length of an man's sexual organ. Terms were not disclosed, but HP agreed not to infringe upon Chubby's trademarks in the future.
The city of Gary, Indiana is dipping into the Michael Jackson well once again. The city's school board entered into a "memorandum of understanding" Tuesday (July 22) with Michael's mother and executor to name an unspecified school after their native son. Michael moved from the city to Los Angeles when he was 11. Katherine Jackson donated $10,000 to the Gary Promise scholarship event in April.
The Library of Congress announced Tuesday (July 22) that it will award the Gershwin Prize for Popular Song to Billy Joel this November.
Billy's mother, Rosalind Nyman Joel, passed away Sunday (July 13) at the age of 92.
Dusty Hill of ZZ Top is scheduled to undergo surgery this week to remove two kidney stones, necessitating the postponement of the first six dates of the group's tour.
Famed blues guitarist Johnny Winter, brother of Edgar Winter, died Wednesday (July 16) in a hotel room in Zurich, Switzerland, while he was on tour. The Texas native was 70. He toured and produced Muddy Waters and teamed up with Edgar for a live album in 1976. He had two charted singles of his own with "Johnny B. Goode" (#92-1970) and "Jumpin' Jack Flash" (#89-1971).
Drummer and producer Tommy Ramone, last surviving member of the Ramones, died Friday (July 11) of bile duct cancer at his home in Queens, New York. He was 62. Born Tom Erdelyi in Budapest, Hungary, his family emigrated to America in 1957. He studied at the Record Plant in New York (working on a Jimi Hendrix album in the late '60s) and started playing with John (Johnny Ramone) Cummings in a group called Tangerine Puppets. With the addition of Jeffrey (Joey Ramone) Hyman and Douglas (Dee Dee Ramone) Colvin, they signed with Sire Records as the Ramones and, while never achieving great commercial success, became a highly-influential punk rock band. Their highest charting single was "Rockaway Beach" (#66-1978) but they are well-remember for tunes like "Sheena is A Punk Rocker" (#81-1977), Blitzkrieg Bop" (1976), and "Teenage Lobotomy" (1977). Tommy left the group in 1978 but continued producing the group for the next two albums. The Ramones eventually disbanded in 1996 and were inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame in 2002.
Carl Giammarese of the Buckinghams threw out the first pitch as the Chicago Cubs hosted the Atlanta Braves at Wrigley Field Friday afternoon (July 11).
Alice Cooper was inducted Monday (July 7) into the White Castle Craver Hall of Fame at the company's Colmbus, Ohio headquarters. Vincent (Alice) comes from Phoenix, where the hamburger chain has no stores, but grew up in Detroit, where it does.
Richard Cowsill, one-time road manager of his family's singing group, died Tuesday (July 8) of lung cancer at his home in Rio Rancho, New Mexico. He was 63. Richard was the twin brother of group guitarist Bob Cowsill.
Kansas announced Wednesday (July 2) that lead singer Steve Walsh will be leaving the band August 16. The group will continue on without him. Steve previously left the group from 1981-1986.
Gregg Allman was hospitalized with undisclosed trouble Monday (June 30)forcing postponement of the rest of his tour, including dates in Idaho and Oregon.
Meanwhile, the producers and director of Gregg's ill-fated autobiographiocal movie were indicted for involuntary manslaughter by a Georgia Grand Jury Thursday (July 3) after a February train accident that killed an assistant camera operator.
Bonnie Pointer, one-time member of the Pointer Sisters, has filed for divorce from her Motown Records producer husband. The two were married in 1978 but have been separated for a decade.
Two crew buses for the groups Styx and Foreigner caught fire in a Philadelphia parking lot Wednesday (July 2). The busses were empty and no one was hurt. The groups donated $10,000 to the fire department's widows fund to show their gratitude.
A jury in London of six men and six women found Rolf Harris guilty Monday (June 30) of all twelve counts of indecent assault involving four underage girls from 1968 to 1986. He was sentenced Friday to nearly six years in prison and will, no doubt, have to forfeit the Commander of the Order of the British Empire medal awarded him by the Queen in 1977.
Bobby Womack, who sang in the Valentinos (AKA the Womack Brothers), played guitar on tour with Sam Cooke and in sessions with Elvis Presley, Aretha Franklin, the Box Tops, Wilson Pickett, Sly & the Family Stone and Janis Joplin and appeared 14 times on the Hot 100, died Friday (June 27) of undisclosed causes at the age of 70. A diabetic, he had successfully fought colon cancer in 2012 and it was suspected he was suffering from Alzheimer's Disease. Born in Cleveland in 1944, Bobby (called "The Preacher") and his four brothers began a gospel group managed by their father. Signed to Sam Cooke's SAR Records in 1962, he renamed them the Valentinos. The group achieved limited success with the original versions of Bobby's compositions, "Lookin' For A Love" (#72-Pop, #8-R&B, 1962)-- later recorded by the J. Geils Band and "It's All Over Now" (#94-Pop, #21-R&B, 1964)-- later a hit by the Rolling Stones. Bobby went solo in 1965 (shortly after marrying Sam's widow), eventually charting with his own version of "Lookin' For A Love" (#10-Pop, #1-R&B, 1974), "Woman's Gotta Have It" (#60-Pop, #1-R&B, 1972) and "That's The Way I Feel About Cha" (#27-Pop, #2-R&B, 1972). Bobby was inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame in 2009. His autobiography, "Midnight Mover: The True Story Of The Greatest Soul Singer In The World," was published in 2007.
Congratulations to the newest class of inductees into the Memphis Music Hall of Fame, announced Thursday (June 26). They include Carl Perkins, Big Star, Ann Peebles, Jesse Winchester, producer Chips Moman, Al Bell of Stax Records and Louis Armstrong's wife-- Lil Hardin Armstrong, bringing the 3-year total to 47.
Cliff Dunn, baritone singer with the Dreamlovers, died Sunday (June 22) of an unreported cause. The Philadelphia quartet and, later, sextet (who were named after Bobby Darin's hit record) are best remembered for "When We Get Married" (#10-1961) and "If I Should Lose You" (#62-1962), but also sang backup for Cameo and Parkway Records, including most of Chubby Checker's hits, (including "The Twist").
Phil Collins will appear in San Antonio Thursday (June 26) as he donates his collection of artifacts from The Alamo to the Texas General Land Office, which manages the shrine. The artifacts could be on display as early as next year.
Mabon "Teenie" Hodges, guitarist with the rhythm section of Hi Records in Memphis and co-writer of Al Green's hits, "L-O-V-E (Love)" and "Here I Am (Come And Take Me)," died Sunday (June 22) in a Dallas hospital of complications from emphysema. He was 68.
The late Slim ("Baby Scratch My Back") Harpo was honored with a marker by the state of Louisiana Saturday (June 21) near his gravesite in Mulatto Bend. It's the first of 26 such markers in West Baton Rouge parish to honor a musician.
Percy Sledge was forced to cancel a performance at a casino in Opelousas, Louisiana Saturday (June 21) because of illness. The 73 year-old was diagnosed with liver cancer in February.
Merry Clayton, one of the stars of the documentary film, "Thirty Feet From Stardom," was hospitalized Monday (June 16) after what was termed a "major" automobile crash. According to a statement, "Merry sustained severe injuries to her lower body, including major trauma to her lower extremities." Merry has appeared on the Hot 100 five times in her career but is best known for her backup singing with the Rolling Stones and as a member of Ray Charles' Raelettes.
Johnny Mann, musical director for "The Joey Bishop Show" on TV and arranger for countless recordings, died Wednesday (June 18) at his Anderson, South Carolina home. He was 85. His Johnny Mann Singers briefly charted (at #99) with their version of "Up- Up And Away" in 1967 which won the group a Grammy award that year. They also had a syndicated TV program called "Stand Up And Cheer" from 1971 to 1974.
The Clint Eastwood-directed movie version of the Broadway hit, "Jersey Boys" opened Friday (June 20) to tepid reviews. The New York Times called it "a strange movie, and it's a Clint Eastwood enterprise, both reasons to see it. For those with a love of doo-wop, it also provides a toe-tapping, ear-worming stroll down rock 'n' roll memory lane that dovetails with that deeply cherished American song and dance about personal triumph over adversity through hard work, tough times and self-sacrifice," but said it was, "disappointing that Mr. Eastwood, a director who can convey extraordinary depths of feeling in his work, didn't do more with this material. Frankie's scenes with his family tend to be embarrassingly bad..." Richard Roeper in the Chicago Sun Times gave it 2 (out of 4) stars, moaning, "[a]t times the movie version of Jersey Boys captures the electric excitement of the musical, but for every soaring moment, there are 10 minutes of bickering or brooding. For one of the few times in Eastwood's career as a director, he seems indecisive about what kind of movie he wanted to make." And "John Lloyd Young won a Tony for his portrayal of [Frankie] Valli on Broadway, and he does a remarkable job of capturing that distinctive falsetto voice. But there's no movie-star juice to his nonmusical work." The Chicago Tribune gave it 2 1/2 (out of 4) stars, recalling, "' Goose it up too much, and it gets cheesy,' Valli says to [Bob] Gaudio ... about a song arrangement. Eastwood takes that line to heart. The unspoken B side of that warning, however, is worth heeding: No particular style leads to a movie of no particular style... Full of genial showbiz cliches and mobbed-up sweeties, it's an easy movie to take. It is also an uncertainly stylized one, with a drab sense of atmosphere at odds with the material's punchy theatrics." The Hollywood Reporter was kinder, saying, "[a] dash of showbiz pizzazz has been lost but some welcome emotional depth has been gained...if the ultimate aim of the theatrical version... was to get the audience on its feet for the final feel-good medley, Eastwood goes for a more mixed mood, combining the joy of the music with what Valli, in particular, lost and could never regain." But New Jersey's nj.com gave it 3 stars, calling it, "a little long too, and overly reverent," but "lovely," concluding that, "as deliberately, consciously old-fashioned as it sometimes is, Clint Eastwood's 'Jersey Boys' is also often fresh, with a self-aware sense of fun that concludes with the whole cast dancing down one of those studio back-lot streets."
Gerry Goffin, one-time husband and lyricist for Carole King, who wrote scores of hit records both with and without her, died Thursday (June 19) at his Los Angeles home. The Brooklyn native was 75. Gerry met Carole while studying at Queens College in New York in 1958 and married her a year later. The two were taken on as songwriters for Aldon Music by Don Kirshner in the legendary Brill Building. Together they wrote such hits as "Will You Love Me Tomorrow" (Shirelles), "Take Good Care Of My Baby" (Bobby Vee), "Up On The Roof" (Drifters) "One Fine Day" (Chiffons) and "Pleasant Valley Sunday" (Monkees). On two occasions they wrote songs that became #1 hits twice-"Go Away Little Girl" (Steve Lawrence & Donny Osmond) and "The Loco-Motion" (Little Eva and Grand Funk). The two divorced in 1968. Gerry also wrote with other composers, including Barry Mann ("Who Put The Bomp"), Michael Masser ("Theme From Mahogany") and Jack Keller ("Run To Him"). Gerry is an integral part of the storyline in the current Broadway hit, "Beautiful: The Carole King Musical." He and Carole were inducted as non-performers in the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame in 1990 and the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1987.
Prosecuters in Connecticut dropped charges of domestic violence Tuesday (June 17) against Paul Simon and his wife, Edie Brickell. The couple had been arrested after a dispute at their New Canaan home on April 26.
Casey Kasem, actor, voice talent and-most notably-host of radio's "American Top 40" program for nearly 40 years, died Suday (June 15) after suffering from Lewy body dementia. He was 82. Born Kemal Amin Kasem in Detroit, Casey spent the Korean war serving as an announcer with Armed Forces Radio there. He then returned to the states, working at a variety of stations-most notably KYA in San Francisco and KRLA in Los Angeles. He also worked as an actor in television and low-budget movies, including "Wild Wheels" and "The Incredible Two Headed Transplant." Casey was fondly loved, though for his voice-over work, which included Shaggy on the "Scooby Doo" cartoons and Batman's sidekick, Robin in "Super Friends." It was on the July 4th weekend in 1970 that Casey and his associates launched "American Top 40"-a weekly countdown of the top 40 of Billboard magazine's Hot 100 chart. Initially three hours, then four hours long, the program started on seven stations nationally and grew to over 200 affiliates. The show spawned a television program, companion adult contemporary countdown and even for awhile a competing show called "Casey's Top 40." His sign off line, "Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars," became a national catch phrase. Casey Kasem was inducted into the National Association of Broadcasters' Hall of Fame in 1985.