David Bowie has scored two 2017 BRIT Awards nominations, in the British Male Solo Artist category and Mastercard British Album Of The Year category for Blackstar. The late Leonard Cohen also received a nod in the International Male Solo Artist category. Nominations for this year's awards were announced at a ceremony on Jan. 14. The BRITs, the U.K. recording industry's flagship awards ceremony, will be held Feb. 22 at London's O2 Arena. - Billboard, 1/16/17...... In other Bowie-related news, former Yes keyboardist Rick Wakeman revealed on BBC Radio 5 that he played piano on Bowie's 1971 Hunky Dory track "Oh! You Pretty Things," in addition to his previously credited contributions to the songs "Changes" and "Life on Mars?" That is me [playing]," Wakeman told host Danny Baker. "David wanted it to be very simple but if I remember rightly he kept cocking up the little riff. He did a few bits of it and I did the rest. He did the beginning." Wakeman also performed a piano rendition of "Life on Mars?" after Bowie's death in Jan. 2016. - New Musical Express, 1/16/17...... In a new interview with the Los Angeles Times, Christine McVie and Lindsey Buckingham said they are working on a new album of duets. "I've been sending Lindsey demos in their very raw form, and he's been doing his Lindsey magic on them, which I love," McVie said. "It made sense to me with what she had given me and what I done with it. But we still didn't know how it was going to play out in the studio," Lindsey Buckingham added. Although the duets album, which is expected to be released in May, will also feature Fleetwood Mac drummer Mick Fleetwood and bassist John McVie, it won't come under the Fleetwood Mac banner, but instead it is tentatively titled Buckingham McVie, a homage to the pre-FM Buckingham and Stevie Nicks collaboration, Buckingham Nicks. - NME, 1/13/17...... Elton John and Mariah Carey were paid $4.2 million to perform at a wedding at the LandMark hotel in London for the granddaughter of Russian billionaire Valery Kogan on the second weekend of January. Sir Elton kicked things off with an impressive 12 song set, and the reception lasted for a staggering 9 hours. Meanwhile, Elton has paid tribute to ex-Watford and England manager Graham Taylor, who died on Jan. 12 at age 72 of a probable heart attack. John was chairman of the Hertfordshire football club during Taylor's time as manager, and said he was "deeply saddened and shocked" by the news. "He was like a brother to me. We shared an unbreakable bond since we first met. We went on an incredible journey together and it will stay with me forever... We have become a leading English club because of his managerial wisdom and genius," Elton wrote in an Instagram post. - TMZ.com/New Musical Express, 1/12/17...... A New York coffeehouse where a young Bob Dylan played a couple of gigs almost 60 years ago has reopened after a $2 million renovation project. The low-ceilinged Caffe Lena was host to Dylan in 1961 and 1962 as he was making his way onto New York City's folk scene. "It's a legendary place," said Jeff Place, archivist for Smithsonian Folkways, the nonprofit record label of the Smithsonian Institution. "For singer-songwriters, playing there is like playing Carnegie Hall for classical musicians." Caffe Lena first opened in May 1960, and also saw early performances by such folk legends as Dave Van Ronk, Joan Baez, Don McClean and Arlo Guthrie, who was honorary chairman of the coffeehouse's fundraising campaign. - AP, 1/15/17...... Sky TV, a leading pay TV channel in the UK, has announced it will not air a controversial program about Michael Jackson after his daughter Paris said she was "incredibly offended" by the portrayal of the late music star. The episode was scheduled to be part of a series called Urban Myths and was set to air on Sky Arts. It focused on Jackson taking a road trip from New York to Los Angeles with Elizabeth Taylor and Marlon Brando after the 9/11 attacks, with Joseph Fiennes playing Jackson. In a statement, Sky said they "set out to take a light-hearted look at reportedly true events and never intended to cause any offense," and that "Joseph Fiennes fully supports our decision." On Jan. 12, Paris Jackson tweeted following a trailer for the episode, and said the images made her "want to vomit." A petition to boycott the episode had been signed by more than 20,000 people. - Billboard, 1/13/17...... Pink Floyd's Roger Waters has previewed music from his upcoming first solo album in 25 years, with Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich at the helm. On Jan. 11 Waters posted a video of himself playing guitar in the studio with Godrich, as well as a photo of the pair together. The LP will be Waters' first solo effort since 1992's Amused to Death. - New Musical Express, 1/12/17...... Former Grateful Dead member Bob Weir helped kick off the 11th MusicNOW Festival at the Aronoff Center in Cincinnati on Jan. 12. Weir treated the audience to a rapturously received set of Dead classics, Bob Dylan covers and a dose of cowboy songs from his recent solo album, Blue Mountain. Weir's 21-song set opened with a take on Dylan's "When I Paint My Masterpiece," then Son House's "Walkin' Blues" and Little Feat's "Easy To Slip." Encores included "Ki-Yi-Bossie," "Peggy-O" and "Ripple." The three-night event was founded by The National guitarist Bryce Dessner. - Billboard, 1/13/17..... Stevie Wonder serenaded outgoing First Lady Michelle Obama on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon on Jan. 11. Mrs. Obama was the guest of honor on the show that night, with the host bidding farewell to her husband's administration. Performing his 1969 classic "My Cherie Amour," Wonder changed the lyrics to honour Obama, calling it "My Michelle Amour." "I love you Michelle," Wonder said as he introduced the song. "I must tell you, I wrote this song but I changed the words a little." - NME, 1/12/17....... Two offspring of the Beatles -- Sean Lennon and Stella McCartney, got together on Jan. 10 at the Cotton Club in New York's Harlem. Stella, the daughter of Paul and Linda McCartney, was in New York for her pre-fall fashion show. On his Facebook page, Sean, the son of John Lennon and Yoko Ono, made a comment on a picture from the show, "At @stellamccartney Cotton Club bash the other night. Was nice to see the familams." Stella has made a name for herself as one of the world's top fashion designers, and her famous dad has often attended her fashion shows. - Billboard, 1/13/17...... Legendary country singer Loretta Lynn will be the subject of a major exhibit at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville that is set to open Aug. 25. "I am so happy the Country Music Hall of Fame has asked me to be one of their main exhibits in 2017 gonna show off my 50-some-odd years in country music," Lynn said in a statement. "They best have a big space. I have a lot of stuff. I'm so proud to share my life, and music with the Hall of Fame. Y'all come see us," she added. Her exhibit, featuring personal artifacts and career memorabilia, will remain open through June 2018. Meanwhile, Willie Nelson says he thinks Loretta Lynn should try marijuana again, after she recently tried it for the first time at the age of 84 for her glaucoma but didn't like it. "She's got a lot of guts. She'll try anything. Maybe I should help her," Nelson said in a recent interview, Nelson, 83, has attached his name to a line of legal marijuana being sold in Colorado and Washington called "Willie's Reserve," after decades of personally advocating for the legalization of marijuana. - AP, 1/12/17...... Billy Joel performed his 37th Madison Square Garden Show on Jan. 11 since first launching the residency in 2014. Joel often asked the audience to dictate what he would perform, allowing them to choose between two possible songs. During the nearly three-hour show, Joel admitted that he often picks favorites from his discography based on his mood. Before launching into "Vienna" at the Garden, he said, "I just kind of said what came to the top of my head at the time -- the problem is they're different every day. Some days, I like some songs. Some days, I like other songs." - Billboard, 1/12/17...... Carpenters surviving member Richard Carpenter filed a lawsuit against Universal Music Group on Jan. 11 over digital royalties he contends are owed from the licencing of Carpenters songs for online services such as Apple's iTunes. The lawsuit seeks more than $2 million in royalties and is also being filed on behalf of the estate of his sister, Karen Carpenter, who died in 1983. The suit, which also names Universal subsidiary A&M Records, is one of a number of lawsuits filed after a 2010 appellate court ruled in a case involving Eminem's record label that music downloads from services such as iTunes should result in higher payments to artists. That ruling called for artists to receive substantially higher royalty payments for digital downloads of their music than they do when a physical recording is sold. Richard Carpenter says he has been unable to resolve the dispute without suing. "The Carpenters recordings are among the best sellers in the history of popular music and after 48 years continue to contribute a substantial amount to UMG/A&M's annual bottom line," he wrote in a statement. "It seems only fair that these companies account fairly to my sister's estate and to me." - AP, 1/11/17...... Author William Peter Blatty, the novelist and Oscar-winning screenwriter most famous for landmark 1973 horror film The Exorcist as well as the director of two films, The Ninth Configuration and The Exorcist III, has died at age 89. The Exorcist director William Friedkin announced the news on Twitter on Jan. 13: "William Peter Blatty, dear friend and brother who created The Exorcist passed away yesterday," Friedkin wrote. - Variety, 1/13/17...... Actor Tony Rosato, an alum of the sketch comedy series Saturday Night Live and SCTV, died on Jan. 10 of a suspected heart attack at his home in Toronto. He was 62. Born in Naples, Italy, in 1954, Rosato joined the Canadian comedy show SCTV in the late 1970s, playing, among other characters, drunk TV chef Marcello Sebastiani. He went on to join the cast of SNL in 1981, a year after producer Lorne Michaels took a break from the NBC show. His other TV credits include Night Heat, L.A. Law and Lonesome Dove. - Variety.com, 1/12/17...... Actor Dick Gautier, who starred on Broadway in the original production of "Bye, Bye Birdie" and then famously played Hymie the Robot on the '60s sitcom Get Smart, has died at age 85. Mr. Gautier died on Jan. 13 at an assisted living facility in Arcadia, Calif., after a long illness, his daughter Denise said. - The Hollywood Reporter, 1/14/17...... Alex "Magic Alex" Mardas, who was once dubbed The Beatles' technological guru, has died at age 74 in Greece. Mardas was reportedly found dead in his apartment of natural causes on Jan. 12, and reportedly had been dead for several days before his body was found. While most of Magic Alex's inventions for the Fab Four were failures or didn't deliver what he promised, some of his ideas were way before their time. Some of his ideas had foresight, like the phone that dialed by voice recognition and displayed the numbers of callers. But then there were others, like the electronic brooches that made noise and flashed in no particular order, an artificial sun that used laser beams, and the invisible curtain that used ultrasonic vibrations to "screen" the Beatles from their fans. "I invented a large number of electronic devices, none of which had anything to do with music of the business of the Beatles," Mardas told the New York Times in 2010. "It must be remembered that none of these had even been thought about by others at the time, although most of them are now in common use," citing an electronic camera and a "memory phone" among them." When The Beatles began Apple Corps in 1968, Mardas was hired to head Apple Electronics, and was also chosen to design lighting for the band's newly opened Apple Boutique and reportedly tried to help them buy a Greek island. A year later, he was pushed out by the band's new business manager Allen Klein after failing to properly put together a planned 78-track recording studio for them at Apple. - Billboard, 1/14/17...... A Bruce Springsteen cover band called B Street Band is drawing jeers on social media for agreeing to perform at pre-inauguaral event for President-elect Donald Trump in Washington on Jan. 19. The band has responded by saying its performance at the New Jersey State Society's gala -- not Trump's inaugural ball itself -- has actually been planned since 2013. "We got some flak from the others, but nothing like this," says B Street Band bandleader Willie Forte. "We made a commitment, and we're not political," and added his band has twice performed for the nonprofit group's galas to mark Democrat Pres. Barack Obama's inaugurals. Among those criticizing the band was a Democratic NJ state senator, who accused them of "profiting from Bruce, now they're abandoning the message in his music." Springsteen himself has called Trump a "flagrant, toxic narcissist" and questioned whether he's competent for the job. - AP, 1/16/17...... In related news, Marie Osmond told Yahoo Finance that she'd be willing to perform at Trump's inauguration, though she has not yet been asked. "I think when it comes to our country we need to unite. I think we should all support our president whether we're happy or sad. This is America," the 57-year-old "Paper Roses" singer said. Osmond has previously performed at multiple inaugurations, including Ronald Reagan's in 1981. - JustJared.com/Yahoo Finance, 1/10/17...... Tony Booth, the artist who created several posters for the Beatles in Liverpool in the early 1960s, died on Jan. 11 after a battle with cancer. He was 83. Mr. Booth made the iconic signs for the Fab Four and other Merseybeat bands in the 1960s, and in recent years, made replicas of the posters for fans and had written a book about them which his son hopes will be "part of his legacy." One of his last projects was to produce posters for The Cavern club's 60th anniversary, which it is celebrating throughout January 2017. - BBC.com, 1/12/17...... Tommy Allsup, a guitarist for Buddy Holly who lived nearly 58 additional years because he lost a coin flip to ride on the doomed flight of Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson, died on Jan. 11. He was 85. Mr. Allsup would have been aboard the plane except that he flipped a coin with Valens for a seat on the plane. After Holly's death, Mr. Allsup finished the tour with Waylon Jennings, then moved to California and joined Liberty Records as a session guitarist. At the studio, he made a quick rise and began producing and working with such greats as Bob Wills and The Texas Playboys, Willie Nelson and Bobby Vee. Paul McCartney once called Mr. Allsup "one of the finest guitar players in the world." - AP, 1/12/17...... Singer Buddy Greco, a jazz pianist, vocalist and Las Vegas mainstay who recorded more than 60 albums and had a hit with a version of "The Lady Is a Tramp," died on Jan. 10 in Las Vegas. He was 90. Born in South Philadelphia, Mr. Greco toured and recorded with famed bandleader Benny Goodman, performed on dozens of TV variety shows and was a popular act at The Desert Inn in Las Vegas. He often sat in with Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. of The Rat Pack and collaborated with Ella Fitzgerald, Rosemary Clooney, Lena Horne and many others. Mr. Greco signed with Sinatra's Reprise Records and in 1966, and hosted his own TV special in 1965. His other notable songs included "Around the World," "Girl Talk," "MacArthur Park" and "The More I See You." In Nov. 2016, a frail-looking Mr. Greco appeared at his induction into the Las Vegas Entertainment Hall of Fame. - AP, 1/11/17.
Bruce Springsteen participated in a 90-minute Q&A session at Monmouth University in Long Branch, N.J., on Dec. 10, telling the audience of around 700 that "the right song can start a fire." "I tend to believe music is important to activism in the sense that it stirs passion, it stirs interest, it stirs curiosity, it moves you to question your own beliefs," the 67-year-old singer said. "It strikes straight to your emotions and it stirs you up inside. After you've heard it, I think it marinates inside of you, and ends up coming out in your own energy." Moderated by Grammy Museum executive director Robert Santelli, the conversation covered plenty of musical ground, from Springsteen's beginnings with Steel Mill, his creative process, future musical plans, and stories as told in his new memoir, Born to Run. Since 2011, Monmouth University -- an affiliate of the Grammy museum -- has served as the home of the Bruce Springsteen Special Collection, and is the official archival repository for Springsteen's written works, photographs, periodicals, and artifacts. The appearance came a few weeks before Springsteen and his E Street Band will hit the road for a month-and-a-half tour of Australia. - Billboard, 1/11/17...... Billy Joel appeared on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on Jan. 9 in New York, and among the highlights was when hos Stephen Colbert asked the Piano Man to name his five favorite songs from his career. Joel said he actually favors album tracks over the hit singles, naming off the following: "Vienna," "And So It Goes," "You May Be Right," "She's Right on Time" and "Scenes From an Italian Restaurant." Joel capped his appearance with a stirring performance of "Miami 2017 (Seen the Lights Go Out on Broadway)." - Billboard, 1/10/17...... A special David Bowie tribute concert was held in Brixton, UK, on Jan. 8 to celebrate what would have been the late music icon's 70th birthday. Bowie's actor friend Gary Oldman curated the event, and the show also featured members of Bowie's old band including guitarists Adrian Belew and Earl Slick, pianist Mark Garson and bassist Gail Ann Dorsey -- who fronted a number of legendary tracks including "Space Oddity" and "Young Americans." The three-hour charity show also featured special guests including La Roux, Tom Chaplin, Simon Le Bon, members of Spandau Ballet and many more. The gig was the first in a series of events organized by Bowie's former bandmates, with others taking place on Jan. 10 at New York's Terminal 5, Jan. 25 at the Wiltern in Los Angeles, and Feb. 2 in Tokyo's Dome City Hall. On Jan. 8 a group of 130 Bowie fans also gathered at London's Olympic Studios for a group meditation to commemorate Bowie's birthday. The memorial was followed by a playback of Bowie's 1972 album The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars and 1974's Diamond Dogs, which was recorded in the very same building. Meanwhile, a new EP of Bowie music to mark this birthday, and is available on Spotify.com. As well as the single "Lazarus," the No Plan EP also features tracks recorded for the acclaimed musical of the same name. - New Musical Express/Billboard, 1/9/17...... The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has issued the death certificate for Carrie Fisher, and it confirms that the Star Wars actress died of a heart attack, but added more investigation is needed to try to determine the underlying cause. Under "cause of death" it says "cardiac arrest/deferred." The "deferred" designation indicates that more investigation is needed by the county coroner, usually in the form of toxicology tests that can take several weeks to complete. Fisher suffered the heart attack on a flight from London to Los Angeles on Dec. 23. According to the certificate, she died at age 60 on Dec. 27 at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, and lists "writer" as the occupation in which Fisher spent most of her life. Fisher's mother, legendary actress Debbie Reynolds, died the following day at another Los Angeles hospital, after having her own medical emergency while making memorial plans for her daughter. The pair were laid to rest on Jan. 6 at Hollywood Hills Cemetery, with Fisher's remains reportedly inside a porcelain urn in the shape of a large Prozac pill. Fisher's brother, Todd Fisher, said his sister bought the urn years ago and it was her favorite possession. "She loved it, and it was in her house, and Billie and I felt it was where she'd want to be," he said. Among the other stars buried at Hollywood Hills are Bette Davis, Lucille Ball, Dick Van Patten, Liberace and Florence Henderson. - AP, 1/10/17...... Foreigner has announced it will mount a 40th anniversary tour on July 11 in Syracuse, N.Y., with longtime pals Cheap Trick and drummer Jason Bonham and his band as openers. Founding Foreigner member Mick Jones says that original Foreigner members Lou Gramm, Ian McDonald and Al Greenwood will be appearing on select dates. "They're not on the whole tour, but there will be some appearances," Jones says. "It's the right time to do this. I'm looking forward to that and we'll see how it goes, and I'm sure it'll go down well." Foreigner's extensive 2017 tour schedule includes U.S. dates which start on Jan. 30, 37 summer dates that run through Sept. 9 in Auburn, Wash., and a European tour that begins May 20 in Switzerland. A two-disc, 40-track anniversary compilation with some brand new material is also in the works, while Jones will be publishing his memoir, A Foreigner's Tale, due out this spring. Jones formed Foreigner during 1976 in New York, and the band released its debut album a year later. - Billboard, 1/8/17...... Stevie Wonder was honored on Jan. 7 at the 10th Annual Heaven Gala Celebration, which encourages screen professionals and entertainers to support and volunteer their time to programs such as hospitalized youth, homeless shelters and special needs centers. The evening featured such special guests as John Legend and Quincy Jones, and concluded with a moving performance by Wonder of such classic songs as "You Are The Sunshine Of My Life." - The Hollywood Reporter, 1/8/17...... Former UFO and Scorpions member Michael Schenker will release Michael Schenker Fest "Live" Tokyo, a new live recording and filmed concert, on Mar. 24. Filmed and recorded Tokyo International Forum on Aug. 24, 2016, the concert features guest appearances from some of the greatest rock vocalists who have worked with Schenker including M.S.G.'s Gary Barden and Graham Bonnet, and Robin McAuley of the McAuley Schenker Group. Says Schenker, "It's a miracle that after all these years, something like this took place with the original band members of M.S.G. Being able to go back to those days and celebrate the music is an exciting experience for us, as well as for old and new fans. To being able to re-experience, and for the new audience to get a feel of what it was like, is incredibly enjoyable." - Noble PR, 1/9/17...... Producers of a new Jimmy Buffett-inspired musical announced on Jan. 6 that the show, called "Escape to Margaritaville," is eyeing a Broadway debut in the spring of 2018. After the production has its previously-announced world premiere at San Diego's La Jolla Playhouse on May 9-June 25, the show will make three additional tryout stops in New Orleans, Houston and Chicago. "Its always been a dream of mine to make it to Broadway!" said Buffett in a statement. "Escape to Margaritaville" tells the original story of a tropical island resort and its charming bartender-singer who falls for a beautiful, career-minded tourist. - The Hollywood Reporter, 1/6/17...... In a new interview with radio station Planet Rock, Black Sabbath guitarist Tony Iommi revealed that a lump recently found in his throat wasn't cancerous. Iommi, 68, said he received the good news on Christmas Day: "I had the treatment when I got back from [touring] South America. I went in for the throat [operation]. They found a lump at the back of my sinus, in the throat, and we had to have it checked in case it may have been cancerous. But it turns out it wasn't, which I found out on Christmas Day, which is brilliant." In November, it was rumoured that Black Sabbath might consider releasing new music in 2017. While Iommi has ruled out future touring for the band, the guitarist answered "maybe" when the notion of recording new Black Sabbath material was posed to him. - New Musical Express, 1/6/17...... In other Black Sabbath-related news, Ozzy Osbourne's daughter Kelly Osbourne has revealed in her forthcoming book, There Is No F---ing Secret: Letters From A Badass Bitch, that her dad once overdosed on pills while his wife and Kelly's mother Sharon Osbourne was fighting cancer because "he could not handle the thought of losing mum." "Dad was there in his boxers, and I watched him scoop his hands into a bowl of pills, swallow a handful of something, and then wash it down with vodka," Kelly recalls. She writes that later, during an ambulance journey, Ozzy "leaned over to put his hand out to see if mum was breathing. Then he passed out with his hand over her mouth The EMTs tried to pull him off, and dad, not knowing where he was or what he was doing, started to resist out of habit. They pulled over the ambulance and started to call the police." There Is No F---ing Secret is due in April. - NME, 1/9/17...... Former Deep Purple member Glenn Hughes says he's "thrilled to be coming over to tour the UK and Europe this month and February" for a tour that's set to kick off on Jan. 20 in Newcastle. "My band will now be a four piece. On guitar is Sren Andersen, on drums Pontus Engborg, and on keyboards Jay Boe," Hughes says. "Song selections will be a mix from my new album Resonate, and from my well of historic songs through the decades. This tour is all about ROCK and what it means to us all, including my band, and to my fans and friends," he added. Hughes' tour will also visit London (1/21), Bilston (1/23), Glasgow (1/24), Nottingham (1/26), Reading (1/29), Cambridge (1/30), and Leeds (2/1) before wrapping in Bristol on Feb. 2. Hughes is currently in the studio in LA recording a new studio album with rock supergroup Black Country Communion. - Noble PR, 1/6/17...... Buddy Bregman, an American conductor, arranger and composer who worked with the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, Ethel Merman and Bing Crosby, died on Jan. 7 in Los Angeles after a long battle with Alzheimers disease. He was 86. Mr. Bregman also served as Merman's personal arranger; produced TV specials/documentaries that featured Crosby, Judy Garland, Shirley Bassey and Mel Torme; worked as a producer on Jonathan Winters' CBS variety show; and directed several TV-movies. - AP, 1/9/17...... Eclectic columnist/critic/novelist Nat Hentoff died on Jan. 7 at the age of 91. His son, Tom Hentoff, said his father died from natural causes at his Manhattan apartment. Jazz was Mr. Hentoff's first love, but he was an early admirer of Bob Dylan, first hearing the then-unknown singer at a Greenwich Village club in 1961 and getting on well enough with him to write liner notes two years later for Dylan's landmark second album, The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan. Mr. Hentoff also wrote a popular column for the Village Voice for 50 years, also authoring more than 25 books included works on jazz and the First Amendment. - AP, 1/8/17.