Cher has added 18 summer and fall dates to her "Classic Cher" show at the Park Theater at the Monte Carlo Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. Cher says she decided to extend the show after the tremendous success of its first dates, and the newly announced performances will run from Aug. 2 through Aug. 19 and Nov. 8 through Nov. 25 at the Park Theater's 5,200-seat, re-imagined Monte Carlo venue. Cher performs many of her 34 Billboard charting hits in her "Classic Cher" show, which also has a previously announced run from May 3 through May 20. - Billboard, 2/28/17...... Jethro Tull principal Ian Anderson has announced he'll release Jethro Tull -- The String Quartets, a 12-song set of revamped versions of Tull classics including "Locomotive Breath," "Bungle in the Jungle" and "Aqualung," on Mar. 24. "I wanted to do these classic rock songs but in an authentic way," Anderson says. "Not the band with a string quartet but focusing on the string quartet with judicious ornament additions from myself to remind people, I suppose, of the originals and give it a bit more of an identifying feature... it was a challenge." Anderson says he selected the Anglo-Irish group Carducci Quartet to perform the arrangements constructed by Tull keyboardist John O'Hara. "Their energy, their precision -- they were really very impressive," Anderson notes. "So I was able to find a little hole in our mutual diaries when we could get together for four days to nail the album, which we did during the latter part of last year." Anderson, who provides flute and vocals to some of the songs on Jethro Tull -- The String Quartets, will kick off a Jethro Tull By Ian Anderson tour on May 26 with the Colorado Symphony at Red Rocks Amphitheatre, followed by dates in the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, Europe and South America. He's also finishing up a lyrics book, which will be illustrated with photographs from his personal collection, and says he's planning an album of new material which he'll begin working on in March. - Billboard, 3/1/17...... The Temptations have been named the top all-time artist in a new Billboard ranking of the R&B/Hip-Hop genre, the first time the publication has compiled extensive all-time chart recaps of R&B/hip-hop music. Billboard reports The Temptations have tallied a record 16 No. 1s on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart (which began in 1965) and 14 leaders on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart (which dates to 1958), including its longest-leading hit single, the eight-week No. 1 "Ain't Too Proud to Beg" in 1966. The Tempts also scored 43 top 10s, including in each decade from the '60s through the '90s. Next on the list is Aretha Franklin (also the top female artist), followed by Stevie Wonder (top male) at No. 3, with both sharing the record for most No. 1 records on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs. James Brown (No. 4) and Michael Jackson (No. 5) round out the artist list's top five. Jackson also leads the list's all-time album recap, with Thriller, which spent a record 37 weeks at No. 1 on Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums in 1983-84. - Billboard, 3/1/17...... Speaking of Michael Jackson, the late singer's Neverland Ranch, which is now known as Sycamore Valley Ranch and owned Colony Capital, is back on the market with an asking price of $67 million. The price for the 2,700-acre property near Santa Barbara, Calif., is a significant cut from the $100 million it was on the market for in 2016. Jackson sold the ranch, which features a 12,000 square foot main residence and a 3,700 square foot pool house to Colony Capital prior to his 2009 death for $22.5 million. Colony Capital is headed by Thomas Barrack, a confidant and fundraiser for Pres. Donald Trump. - AP, 3/2/17...... In an interview with Classic Rock magazine, Aerosmith drummer Joey Kramer says he "never cared" for the Rolling Stones -- "especially in the drumming department" -- and he thinks his band are better live performers than Mick Jagger and co. "First of all, as far as Aerosmith goes, there is no band that has been around for almost 50 years that still has the original five guys in the band," Kramer said. "Everybody is always raving about the Stones, saying the Stones this and the Stones that. I've never cared for the Stones. They never had anything to offer me musically, especially in the drumming department." Kramer continued: "The Stones is not the original band and I do not care for them. I think if you came to see an Aerosmith concert, people would realise that we play so much better than them that it's silly because they're not so good live.... I don't think there's a band out there today that does what we do." Aerosmith announced in 2016 that their 2017 "Aerovederci" UK and European tour, which will include a huge headline performance at Download Festival, would be their last. - New Musical Express, 2/28/17...... Woody Woodmansey, the drummer who worked on David Bowie's 1972 masterpiece The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, says in a new interview that Bowie's label RCA Records initially rejected the album because they felt it lacked a lead single. Woodmansey, a member of Bowie's Spiders from Mars group, says Bowie then wrote the song "Starman" within a month. "It was an obvious single! I think Mick (Ronson) and I went out in the car after David played it for us the first time, and we were already singing it, having only heard it only once." On Feb. 23, Bowie won the top prize at the BRIT Awards, with his son Duncan Jones accepting the Best British Album award on his behalf. - New Musical Express, 2/24/17...... In other Bowie news, lawyers for the late rock icon have asked any secret heirs who might lay claim to his US $100 million fortune to come forward. Anyone who believes they have the right to inherit a portion of his estate, including any secret love children, will have two months to present their claims, after a notice was placed in British newspaper The Times on Feb. 25. Bowie, who passed away aged 69 in January 2016 after a battle with cancer, has two acknowledged children, film director Duncan Jones, 45, by his first wife Angie, and a daughter Lexi Jones, 16, by his second wife Iman. The notice requires claimants to present details of their relationship to him to lawyers at London legal firm Simkins LLP by 4 May. Bowie lived a typical rock and roll lifestyle during the peak of his career in the 1970s and has admitted his promiscuity in interviews. - WENN.com, 2/27/17...... Sting performed an emotional rendition of his Oscar-nominated song "The Empty Chair" at the 89th Annual Academy Awards on Feb. 26 in Hollywood, Calif. "The Empty Chair "was featured on the soundtrack of Jim: The James Foley Story, a documentary which chronicles the story of American journalist James Foley who was captured in Syria and became the first American citizen to be killed by ISIS when he was beheaded in 2014. "The Empty Chair"'s lyrics recount the absence from a deceased loved one from a family gathering, performance ended with a photo of Foley and the aptly-timed quote, "If I don't have the moral courage to challenge authority... we don't have journalism." Sting previously performed "The Empty Chair" at Sundance 2016's ASCAP Music Café with James Foley's family in attendance. "I curated the song from what [Jim's] family and friends said about him. It's their song," Sting has said. - Billboard, 2/26/17...... Jazz pianist Horace Parlan, a stalwart of the hard-bop jazz movement of the 1950s and 1960s and a notable collaborator with such stars as Charles Mingus and Dexter Gordon, died Feb. 23 at a nursing home in Naestved, Denmark. He was 86. Mr. Parlan overcame limited use of his right hand to develop a distinctive punchy style. In 1977, he made a well-received recording of spirituals with saxophonist Archie Shepp, "Goin' Home," and the two made several appearances over the next few years at jazz clubs and colleges in the United States. The duo later recorded two more albums. - AP, 3/1/17...... U.K. designer Alan Aldridge, who contributed to and compiled the classic Beatles-themed book The Beatles Illustrated Lyrics, has died at age 73. Aldridge is possibly best known for the picture book The Butterfly Ball and the Grasshopper Feast (1973), a series of illustrations of anthropomorphic insects and other creatures, which he created in collaboration with William Plomer, who wrote the accompanying verses. Aldridge's other works include The Penguin Book of Comics (1967), Bernie Taupin: The One Who Writes the Words for Elton John (1976), and The Adventures and Brave Deeds of the Ship's Cat on the Spanish Maine (1977), and The Man with Kaleidoscope Eyes: The Art of Alan Aldridge (2009). - Goodreads.com, 2/24/17.
Veteran rock guitarist/producer Rick Derringer pleaded guilty on Feb. 24 to carrying a Kel-Tec pistol on an airplane and in a secure area of Atlanta's airport on Jan. 9. Derringer, a former member of the Edgar Winter Group who sang the classic 1965 pop hit "Hang on Sloopy" and later recorded "Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo" as a solo artist, told a federal air marshal he kept his gun with him on commercial airline flights 30 to 50 times a year, and never before had a problem carrying it through airport checkpoints. However a spokesman for the TSA said there's no way to substantiate claims dating back years. "It was just a mistake, a simple human mistake," said Kenn Moutenot, his manager and the drummer in Derringer's Rick Derringer Band. Nothing like it will happen again, "not even a water pistol." According to TSA guidelines, air passengers are allowed to bring guns as checked baggage only, and the unloaded firearms must be in locked, hard-sided containers that are declared to the airline when checked. Ammunition also is prohibited in carry-on bags. Derringer will begin a U.S. tour in March, and is now working on a remake of his 1980s song "Real American," which has been used as theme music by pro wrestler Hulk Hogan, and at campaign events for former president Barck Obama and Pres. Donald Trump. Derringer has said he hopes the new version and its music video will transcend politics and bring the nation together. - AP, 2/24/17...... Rock guitar god Eddie Van Halen announced on Feb. 23 that he's donating 75 guitars to low-income students through the Mr. Holland's Opus Foundation. The organization provides nearly 1,800 instruments annually to schools without music programs, aiding about 10,000 students annually. "My whole life has been music. I could not imagine anything else," Van Halen told CNN. "It's a must. It has to be taught." He added that it "was very difficult at first to find a charity that [takes guitars]... They all just wanted money." The foundation takes its name from the 1995 movie Mr. Holland's Opus, starring Richard Dreyfuss as a music teacher who mentors young students. - Billboard, 2/23/17...... In related news, Bruce Springsteen continued his habit of encouraging young musicians by inviting an 11-year-old fan who had never played drums in her life onstage to jam with his E Street Band during a show in Christchurch, New Zealand on Feb. 21. Hayley Dockrill, who attended the show with her family, held a sign that caught The Boss's eye -- "I can resist Trump, but I can't resist Max" -- and before she knew it was drumming alongside E Street drummer Max Weinberg on the iconic 1984 track "Dancing in the Dark." Hayley's father, Chris, said it was a surreal moment for his daughter, who not only played in front of 30,000 people, but walked off with a present: a signed drum stick. On Feb. 15 in Brisbane, Australia, Springsteen invited a teenage fan onstage to perform "Growin' Up" with him. - Billboard, 2/22/17...... Michael Jackson's mother Katherine Jackson is asking the court to let her intervene in a lawsuit against the executors of Michael's estate that centers on The Michael Jackson Company. Katherine claims she owns 10% of the company, which was formed in 2006. The legal fight began in 2013 after another TMJC shareholder, Quadree El-Amin, requested to inspect the company's financial records. As part of Jackson's ongoing probate proceedings, attorneys for the estate asked the court for an order determining that Jackson himself was the sole member and owner of TMJC. El-Amin then sued estate executors John Branca and John McClain, claiming they were making deals on behalf of TMJC without approval of its shareholders. Broderick Morris, Adean King and Raymone Bain also contend they are part owners of TMJC and are plaintiffs in the suit. Katherine Jackson says she was kept in the dark about El-Amin's inquiry and the resulting litigation. A hearing is currently set for Apr. 19. - The Hollywood Reporter, 2/24/17...... Such rock legends as Keith Richards, David Byrne, Pete Townshend and Michael Stipe are fighting depositions and submitted documents that presumably go into detail about the financial arrangements they have with publishers in a lawsuit started in 2015 by the National Music Publishers Association against the Wolfgang's Vault website, which sells rock memorabilia and recordings by those and many other music artists. Since the lawsuit was filed, attorneys for Wofgang's Vault owner William Sagan have attempted various tactics to battle claims Wolfgang's Vault lacks the requisite licenses to stream an estimated two billion recorded concert performances. Sagan's attorneys are now prying into old agreements in the music business and demanding depositions with the overall goal of poking holes in the claim Wolfgang's lacks copyright authority. One of the main theories that Sagan's side is pursuing is that if musicians retained copyright to their works at the time of performance, and then agreed to a recording of their concerts, the musicians made an implied license for later use of the recordings. Sagan is also exploring issues ranging from possibly faulty copyright registrations to a lack of protest among the artists over the years to support affirmative defenses as well as limit damages in a case potentially worth hundreds of millions of dollars. At a hearing on Feb. 16, U.S. Magistrate Judge Henry Pitman ruled that Keith Richards and David Byrne wouldn't be required to appear for a deposition, but that they would have to answer 25 written questions. Stipe's own motion to quash a subpoena is still pending. On Feb. 22, the music publishers asked the judge's permission to add new allegations to their lawsuit over a new website, Wolfgangs.com, launched in November 2016 that is also streaming audio recordings and video footage. - The Hollywood Reporter, 2/23/17...... A vintage Ferrari belonging to Eric Clapton may set a new record when it is auctioned in early March. Gooding & Company auction house founder David Gooding says the 1968 Dino 206 GT Ferrari could exceed the highest price paid for a Dino, which was $770,000 in 2016. The estimate on Clapton's Dino is $750,000 - $900,000, and if bidding gets fierce and competitive, it could be the first Dino to crest the $1,000,000 mark. Clapton has long had a continuing love affair with Ferraris, having owned at least a dozen exclusive cars from the Italian brand over the past forty years. The 1968 Dino is one of the first Ferraris he purchased, having been indoctrinated into the brand's charms by George Harrison. In his 2007 autobiography, Clapton recalled the time Harrison arrived at his house in a dark blue Ferrari 365 GTC. I'd never seen one in the flesh before, and my heart melted," he recalled. Clapton didn't have a license at the time and couldn't drive a manual transmission, but he vowed to learn "on Harrison's car" with the eventual goal of acquiring a Ferrari. - Billboard, 2/21/17...... Lionel Richie has been forced to postpone a coheadlining tour with Mariah Carey as he recovers from a knee procedure. The former Commodores member, 67, issued a statement saying "unfortunately my recovery from a knee procedure will not have me 100 percent ready to start the tour." He said he doesn't want to disappoint his fans and he's looking "forward to being back onstage so we can all be 'Dancing on the Ceiling' together again." The 35-date tour was supposed to launch Mar. 15 and wrap on May 27. Purchased tickets will be honored at the new dates, to be announced soon. - AP, 2/24/17...... A Los Angeles Superior Court judge ruled on Feb. 22 that Elvis Presley's daughter Lisa Marie Presley will not have to pay spousal support to her estranged husband Michael Lockwood while they fight over her assets. Judge Patrick Cathcart ordered Presley to pay $50,000 to the lawyer representing Lockwood. The ruling comes days after Presley filed court documents stating she is deeply in debt and their 8-year-old twin daughters are subject to a child welfare case. The order does not affect the couple's children, who are in the care of Presley's mother, Priscilla Presley A trial in children's court is scheduled for March. Michael Lockwood is challenging the validity of an agreement he signed after marrying Presley in 2006 that would govern how much he is entitled to in a divorce. He had been seeking $40,000 a month in spousal support, but Judge Cathcart said the unemployed musician would have to wait until after a trial on the agreement. Lockwood said he gave up his career and worked for Presley before their breakup, according to court documents. Presley's lawyer contended that Lockwood hasn't been looking for work and should apply to be a music teacher or work at Guitar Center. Lisa Marie contends the children's court proceeding was initiated after she discovered photos and "disturbing" video on her husband's computer, allegations Lockwood's attorney contends are "highly sensational" and inaccurate." Priscilla Presley tried to allay fans' concerns about the legal issues and well-being of the twins in a Facebook post on Feb. 19. "There is lots of confusion, commotion and concern from all the talk circulating," she wrote. "Let me put this to rest ... the girls have not been in foster care and never will be. The girls have been with me and will be until all this is sorted out." - AP, 2/22/17...... Nearly 14 months after his shocking death in Jan. 2016, David Bowie took top honors at the 2017 Brit Awards at London's O2 arena on Feb. 22. Bowie was posthumously awarded two of the biggest prizes -- best British album for Blackstar and British male performer -- during the 37th annual award show. I lost my dad last year, but I also became a dad and I was spending a lot of time trying to work out what would I want my son to know about his granddad," Bowie's son Duncan Jones said as he collected the best British album award on behalf of his late dad. "I think it would be the same thing that most of my dad's fans have taken over the last 50 years. He's always been there supporting people who think they're a little bit weird or a bit strange. A bit different. He's always been there for them. So this award is for all the kooks and all the people who make the kooks," Jones added. Actor Michael C. Hall, the lead actor in the Bowie-devised musical "Lazarus," collected the award for British male performer, and said "If David Bowie could be here tonight, he probably wouldn't be here tonight. But since he can't be here tonight, I'm here on his behalf and on behalf of his family to accept this testament to a man beholden to nothing but his own boundless imagination and daring. [A man] whose ever-expanding artistic vitality simultaneously soothes us and astonishes us. Maybe he is here tonight? I don't know." - Billboard, 2/22/17...... In other Bowie-related news, fans of the Thin White Duke are raising money for a memorial statue marking the late music icon's London birthplace. Plans call for the statue to be shaped in the fashion of the iconic lightning bolt from his Aladdin Sane album cover and would be situated in Brixton, south London -- just streets away from Bowie's Stansfield Road birthplace. Organizers say they have consulted Bowie's teams in New York and London in regards to planning the statue, and hope to pay for the project by crowdfunding online and estimate the costs to be north of $1.23 million. So far, 165 people have raised more than $28,330 for the red-and-blue-sprayed stainless steel monument. - NME/Billboard, 2/21/17...... Blondie announced on Feb. 20 that they will play a huge London Roundhouse show on May 3. Blondie will release it's latest studio LP, Pollinator, two days later and have recently posted the second single from the album, "My Monster" which is a collaboration with Johnny Marr, online. While in the U.K., Blondie will also play the British Summer Time festival. - NME, 2/20/17...... In an interview with People magazine on Feb. 20, David Cassidy revealed that he's suffering from dementia, the same disease from which his mother and grandfather suffered. "I was in denial, but a part of me always knew this was coming," the 66-year-old former The Partridge Family star said. Cassidy's revelation comes after a disastrous performance at The Canyon Club in Agoura, Calif., on Feb. 18 when he slurred his words throughout the show and even fell off the stage at one point. Cassidy also reportedly told audiences the following night at the Santa Barbara Performing Arts Center that that concert would be his last show, however a Mar. 4 show at BB King's Blues Club has yet to be cancelled. "I want to focus on what I am, who I am and how Ive been without any distractions," Cassidy told People. "I want to love. I want to enjoy life." Cassidy has struggled with alcoholism in the past, including a rehab stint in 2014 after his third arrest for driving under the influence. Cassidy also recently divorced his wife of 23 years, Sue Shifrin-Cassidy, after she filed for divorce. The split was finalized in 2016. - NY Daily News, 2/20/17...... A star-studded memorial for late The Brady Bunch matriarch Florence Henderson was held at the Music Box Theatre in New York City on Feb. 21. Stars including Alan Cumming, Michael Feinstein, Judy Gold, Whoopi Goldberg and Chita Rivera shared their fondest memories of the veteran actress, who died of a heart attack at age 82 on Nov. 24. Barry Williams, who played Greg Brady in the series, honored his TV mother by singing The Brady Bunch theme song with Gold and other stars. - NY Daily News, 2/22/17.