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[Oldies Music News]

Have You Heard the News...

Here are current stories about Oldies Artists in the News:

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.


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.

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