Posted by Administrator on December 30th, 2014
Singer Ashlee Simpson and her husband, actor Evan Ross, have legally changed their names to honor Ross's mother, Motown great Diana Ross. Following their wedding in August, impson took her husband's legal last name -- Naess -- which is his father's. But now that the couple is expecting its first child, together they want to change their last names to Ross-Naess in honor of the Supremes icon. Evan Ross's movie credits include Crazy Sexy Cool: The TLC Story and Jeff, Who Lives at Home, among other film projects. In 2015, he will co-star in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay -- Part 1, the third installment of the blockbuster franchise. Simpson's last album, Bittersweet World, was released in 2008. - Billboard/TMZ.com, 12/29/14...... Ringo Starr announced on his YouTube page on Dec. 28 that he plans on releasing a new album in 2015 and mounting a tour behind it. In the video, the drummer said he's finished his new studio LP, and that it will be released via Universal Records. He also thanked his fans for supporting his many 2014 All Starr Band tour and alluded to more touring in February and March as well. "It's all my pals, really. We just get together," Starr said in an interview this summer. "It's a mixed bag, as my records always are. We have the reggae track and we have the rock track and that's how it is. It's pop, rock, reggae." Ringo added that he was taking the production reins on his own this time after working with Bruce Sugar his last two album's, Ringo 2112 and 2010's Y Not. The new album will feature such musicians as Toto guitarist and current All-Starr Band member Steve Lukather, along with Peter Frampton, Richard Marx, Dave Stewart and Nashville songwriter Gary Nicholson. - Billboard, 12/29/14...... In other Beatles-related news, Paul McCartney said in a recent written Q&A with fans that college courses focusing on legendary artists like the Fab Four as a means of learning pop music is "ridiculous." "For me it's ridiculous, and yet very flattering," McCartney wrote in response to one student who is studying for an MA in popular music. "Ridiculous because we never studied anything, we just loved our popular music: Elvis, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Fats Domino, etc. And it wasn't a case of 'studying' it. I think for us, we'd have felt it would have ruined it to study it." Sir Paul added however that he's not against learning about popular music -- simply that he doesn't think you can learn to make great music from a college course. "I don't think that by studying popular music you can become a great popular musician; it may be that you use it to teach other people about the history, that's all valuable. But to think that you can go to a college and come out like Bob Dylan? Someone like Bob Dylan, you can't make -- You can't tell [people] how to become a Bob Dylan or a John Lennon, because you know, nobody knows how that happens." - Billboard, 12/29/14...... Kiss announced on Dec. 28 it plans on performing its classic 1975 live album, Alive!, in its entirety during its Kiss Kruise V in 2015. "What better way to celebrate the rise of these rock legends than to watch Kiss perform the very live album that launched them into greatness 40 years ago," the statement on the official Kiss website reads. "Get ready to rock out to Kiss playing their first gold album Alive! in its entirety. You read it right. Kiss is playing Alive! from front to back during The Kiss Kruise V indoor show." Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley & Co. haven't yet announced which other acts will perform during the cruise, but promises they'll be inviting some of their favorite bands for the adventure at sea. The 2014 lineup included Cheap Trick frontman Robin Zander and Pat Travers. The cruise sets sail from Miami to Jamaica beginning Oct. 30 -- Nov. 3, 2015, on the Norwegian Pearl. - Billboard, 12/28/14...... Renowned jazz clarinetist Buddy DeFranco -- who collaborated with Frank Sinatra, Billie Holiday and other top singers and musicians of his era -- died on Dec. 27 at a Panama City hospital. He was 91. Mr.DeFranco, a member of the American Jazz Hall of Fame, performed at venues around the world for 75 years and recorded with musicians including Sinatra, Holliday, Art Tatum, Ella Fitzgerald and Tony Bennett. He conducted the Glenn Miller Orchestra for eight years from 1966 to 1974. Mr. DeFranco was named a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master and later named a Living Jazz Legend in a Kennedy Center ceremony, and also was recognized 16 times with the Playboy All-Star award for top jazz clarinetist in the world. His wife, Joyce, said he had been in declining health in recent years. The couple lived in Panama City. - AP, 12/26/14...... Alberta Adams one of the last of the great post-World War II era blues singers, passed away on early Christmas morning in Detroit after a long period of failing health. She was 97. Ms. Adams, known for decades as Detroit's "Queen of the Blues," recorded with Chicago's Chess Records during the 1950s and was a member of the Bluesettes, a vocal group that performed with Tiny Bradshaw and his big band. She also recorded for New Jersey-based Savoy Records and toured nationally, eventually beginning a long association with the late Detroit guitarist Johnnie Bassett and his band. - Billboard, 12/26/14.
After embracing recent changes in U.K. law and becoming married on Dec. 21, Elton John and his partner David Furnish shared a picture of themselves on Instagram.com as they tied the knot, adding the caption "That's the legal bit done. Now on to the ceremony! Share the love." The couple reportedly celebrated the union with a reception at their estate in Windsor, England with guests including model/actress Elizabeth Hurley, who tweeted a picture of herself on the way to the event. Elton received many well-wishes from his friends, and posted an Instagram shot of all the cards. One of them was a classy handwritten message from multi-platinum selling singer Adele, who apologized for missing the wedding. "Biggest congratulations my loves. Have a wonderful day. I'm sorry we are not there. See you in 2015. Love Adele, Simon and Angelo. x," she wrote. - WENN.com/Billboard, 12/22/14...... Paul McCartney has reacted to the news of the passing of his "good mate" Joe Cocker on Dec. 22, saying it was a "mind-blowing" experience the first time he heard Cocker's rendition of the Beatles' song "With a Little Help From My Friends." "He was a lovely northern lad who I loved a lot and like many people I loved his singing," McCartney said. "I was especially pleased when he decided to cover 'With A Little Help From My Friends' and I remember him and Denny Cordell coming round to the studio in Saville Row and playing me what they'd recorded and it was just mind blowing, totally turned the song into a soul anthem and I was forever grateful for him for doing that." Also in his statement, Sir Paul said that it was "sad to hear that he had been ill" and that Cocker "was a great guy, a lovely guy who brought so much to the world and we'll all miss him." Meanwhile, Paul said in a recent interview that he's attempting a song about the controversial police killings in Ferguson, Missouri, and New York City. "I was thinking recently about all these protests in New York and around the country. I thought it would be great to put something down about that, just to add my voice to the thousands of people walking in the streets," he said. "I thought it through and it just didn't come easily. I'm not giving up on it, but it didn't come easily, whereas some other emotions might come easily to me." - Billboard/AP, 12/23/14...... In other Beatles-related news, a new documentary from Sacred Goose Productions that asks musicians, actors, comedians and an assortment of other celebrities to choose which side of the John Lennon and Paul McCartney songwriting duo they prefer was posted online in early December. Pete Townshend, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, John Lydon and Arctic Monkeys frontman Alex Turner are among over 550 famous celebs that were queried over a 10-year period for the 35-minute film. - New Musical Express, 12/22/14...... A new legal group representing around 40 artists including the Eagles, John Lennon, Smokey Robinson, Pharrell Williams and Chris Cornell are demanding that the popular online video site YouTube.com remove around 20,000 videos that are currently streaming online. Eagles manager Irving Azoff, who recently founded Global Music Rights, says that although YouTube may have negotiated deals with the record labels, they didn't do so with the artists themselves. Azoff says that his clients want to pursue YouTube, as opposed to other sharing sites, because they have been "least cooperative and the company and our clients feel are the worst offenders." Google, which is planning to launch Music Key -- its own subscription music service to rival Spotify and Pandora -- in 2015, has maintained that YouTube does have the performance rights due to prior deals, however Global Music counters that the service has not provided details of any prior agreements. "Without providing a shred of documentation, you blithely proffer that YouTube can ignore the Notices because it operates under blanket licenses from performing rights organizations other than Global," a lawyer for the group says. - New Musical Express, 12/23/14...... Former Pink Floyd principal Roger Waters says in an op-ed for Britain's Daily Mail newspapaper that there's "no place in the legal system" for the "institutionalized brutality" of Guantanamo Bay and called for a judge-led inquiry into Britain's role in the detention and alleged torture of British prisoner Shaker Aamer. Waters discussed recent revelations about the CIA's torture program and raised concerns about "the mounting evidence that our own [Britain's] intelligence and security agencies may have colluded with the CIA" in the rendition and torture of terror suspects. He focused on the case of Aamer, a 46-year-old Londoner who was seized by the US and rendered to Guantanamo while working in Afghanistan 13 years ago. "During Mr. Aamer's long spell of incarceration, he has never been put on trial or even had any charges leveled against him," Waters wrote. "No human being should be subjected to such monstrous and prolonged treatment " 13 years, with no evidence produced to suggest a crime!" Waters explained that he became involved in the case after it was brought to his attention by Aamer's laywer Clive Stafford Smith, who received a letter from Aamer that included the opening lyrics to Pink Floyd 1979 song "Hey You." In November, Pink Floyd scored their first U.K. No. 1 album since 1995 with their new and purportedlly final LP, The Endless River. - New Musical Express, 12/23/14...... Speaking of YouTube, the Rolling Stones posted a short video to the site on Dec. 21 thanking fans for their support in 2014. "We've had a fabulous time on the '14 On Fire' tour this year," said frontman Mick Jagger in the likely scripted piece that featured a pantomime-esque back and forth with guitarist Keith Richards. "Thanks for coming out to see us and maybe we'll see you in 2015," Jagger added. The Stones performed in 19 countries in 2014 as part of their "14 On Fire" tour which, according to the video, equated to playing to 1,159,882 people. - NME, 12/21/14...... In an interview with New Zealand's One News on Dec. 22, longtime AC/DC drummer Phil Rudd, who's been estranged from the band since being hit with charges of threatening to kill a man in Rudd's employ for three years, says that "I want my job back." "I'm going back to work with AC/DC and I don't care who likes it or who doesn't," Rudd said. "I want my job back and I want my reputation back." Rudd pleaded not guilty to charges of threatening to kill one of his bodyguards earlier in December, which also included a charge of drug possession. Rudd drummed for AC/DC from 1975-1983, and then rejoined them in 1994. AC/DC's new album Rock or Bust, which features Rudd's playing, debuted on the Billboard Hot 200 at No. 3. - Billboard, 12/22/14...... Speaking to Japan's Universal Music, Queen guitarist Brian May says their current vocalist, season-eight American Idol star Adam Lambert, can even sing higher than their original frontman, Freddie Mercury. "They're difficult songs to sing, Queen songs. There's too much range," May said. "So many people can't sing them in the original key -- even if they are good singers, Adam comes along, [and] he can do it easy. He can do it in his sleep! He can sing higher than even Freddie could in a live situation. So I think Freddie would look at this guy and think, 'Hmm| Yeah. Okay.' There would be a kind of, 'Hmm ... You bastard. You can do this.'" May also remarked on Lambert's showmanship: "He doesn't have to try. He is a natural, in the same way that Freddie was," he said, adding, "We didn't look for this guy, [but] suddenly he's there, and he can sing all of those lines. ... He doesn't imitate; he just does his own thing." Freddie Mercury died in 1991 of bronchopneumonia brought on by AIDS. Lambert has collaborated with members May and drummer Roger Taylor since 2011. The Queen + Adam Lambert troupe are set to play a New Year's Eve gig at Central Hall Westminster in London, which will be broadcast on BBC One, before touring other cities in Europe in 2015. - The Hollywood Reporter, 12/22/14...... Donny and Marie Osmond have just extended their run at Las Vegas' Flamingo Hotel & Casino at least through the end of 2015. The sibling singers are still performing more than six years after they committed to six weeks of shows starting in September 2008, and their 90-minute variety show is scheduled to have performance dates every month in 2015 except in March, July, August and December. - AP, 12/22/14...... After a lengthy legal battle, the body of legendary radio and TV personality Casey Kasem was finally laid to rest on Dec. 16, approximately six months after his death, however questions about the cause of his death remain. According to celebrity gossip site TMZ.com, Kasem's body was buried at Norway's Vestre Gravlund Cemetery. Kasem's own children were not at the ceremony and reportedly did not know it took place until Dec. 22. Kasem died June 15 at the age of 82, his wife, actress Jean Kasem and daughter Kerri Kasem sparred over the burial. Along with fellow siblings Mike and Julie, Kerri filed a police report with the LAPD claiming their stepmother contributed to their father's death. The elder abuse investigation examined whether a multi-state car trip Jean took Kasem on led to his fatal infection. Kasem's cause of death was first reported as "complications from dementia." In the months leading up to Kasem's death, Kerri accused Jean of torturing her father, which included allegedly denying him necessary treatment for his illnesses. Jean maintained she intended to have Kasem interred in Norway, because of her own Norwegian heritage, and because her plans to relocate there would allow her to visit him. - Billboard, 12/22/14...... The son of former Roxy Music frontman Bryan Ferry was involved in a car accident in England near Cressage, Shropshire on Dec. 22. Merlin Ferry was reportedly in "critical condition" following a "head on collision," and he was trapped in the car for an hour following the crash. Another of Ferry's sons, Otis Ferry took to Twitter to thank firefighters from Wellington fire station, after they tweeted an image of wreckage from the crash. Otis wrote: "Thank you for extracting my Brother alive from what looks like a mangled box of tin. We are all continuing to pray." Bryan Ferry released his latest solo album, Avonmore, in November, with the likes of Johnny Marr and Nile Rodgers appearing on the LP. - NME, 12/24/14...... Dirty Harry actor Clint Eastwood is now officially single after a judge in California signed off on his divorce from now-ex-wife Dina. The divorce documents were filed in Monterey County Superior Court on Dec. 22, terminating the marriage. Eastwood and his wife separated in June 2012, and Dina filed for divorce a year ago. Details of the settlement are not yet available. - WENN.com, 12/23/14...... Lynyrd Skynyrd have announced they'll play their first two classic '70s albums -- Pronounced 'Leh-nerd Skin-nerd and Second Helping -- in their entirety in back-to-back shows at the Florida Theatre in their hometown of Jacksonville on Feb. 12 and 13. They will perform their debut on Feb. 12, with the follow-up LP being played the following night. Both shows, which will also feature a selection of other hits, are to be recorded and will be released on DVD. "We've been wanting to go back and recreate these live records for a long time," lead singer Johnny Van Zant told The Florida Times-Union. "We decided to come back to our hometown, Jacksonville, and play at the legendary Florida Theatre. Can't wait to rock it." The two albums are among 15 studio LPs released by the legendary Southern rockers, who were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006. - NME, 12/21/14...... Singer/songwriter Larry Henley, whose raucous falsetto on "Bread and Butter" gave The Newbeats their biggest pop hit in the 1960s and who later co-wrote "Wind Beneath My Wings," died Dec. 18 in Nashville. He was 77. The Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, which inducted him in 2012, announced the death but did not cite a cause. "Bread and Butter," which features with the lyrics "I like bread and butter, I like toast and jam, that's what my baby feeds me, I'm her loving man" -- climbed to No. 2 on the U.S. pop charts. It continued to resonate through commercials, notably for Sunbeam bread, and its use in films as varied as 9 1/2 Weeks (1986) and Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004). "The Wind Beneath My Wings," from the soundtrack of the 1988 film Beaches became a No.1 pop hit and won the 1989 Grammy Award for song of the year. Over time, it became a contemporary standard used both at public events and in more intimate settings, often in the context of an apology set to music. After The Newbeats went their separate ways in the '70s, Henley continued a solo career while deepening an interest in songwriting. He co-wrote "Till I Get It Right," which became a No.1 country hit for Tammy Wynette in 1973, and "Lizzie & the Rainman," which Tanya Tucker propelled to No. 1 in 1975....... Producer/engineer and Ardent Records and Ardent Studios founder John Fry died in Memphis, Tenn., on on Dec. 18. He was 69. Ardent Studioes hosted sessions by the likes of Led Zeppelin, Bob Dylan, James Taylor, ZZ Top, R.E.M., Stevie Ray Vaughan, Al Green, the Allman Brothers Band, B.B. King, the White Stripes, the Replacements, as well as scores of Stax Records artists and, of course, the acclaimed '70s power pop band Big Star, who Fry mentored and made three albums with. All told, more than 70 gold and platinum singles and albums were recorded at Ardent. Fry, who was inducted into the Memphis Music Hall of Fame on Nov. 6, had been diagnosed with cancer earlier this year and had gone through chemotherapy. - Billboard, 12/18/14...... Udo Juergens, an Austrian-born star who dominated pop music in the German-speaking world and sold more than 100 million records in a career spanning five decades, died on Dec. 21 after collapsing unconscious during a walk in Gottlieben, a town on Lake Constance north of Zurich, Switzerland. He was 80. "Warum nur, warum" became a No. 1 hit for Mr. Juergens in France, and Walk Away," and an English-language version sung by Matt Monroe went to No. 1 in Britain and No. 2 in the United States, selling 1.5 million records. - AP, 12/21/14...... Joseph Sargent, the director of the 1974 film The Taking of Pelham One Two Three and winner of four Emmys and four DGA Awards, died on Dec. 22 at his home in Malibu of complications from heart disease. He was 89. His credits also included Something The Lord Made, Warm Springs, MacArthur, The Incident, Playing For Time, Miss Rose White, Miss Evers' Boys and Love Is Never Silent. - Variety, 12/23/14.
Joe Cocker, a Grammy-winning rock icon best known for his cover of the Beatles' "With a Little Help from My Friends" and for fronting the legendary 1970 Mad Dogs & Englishmen tour which became a hit double-LP, died on Dec. 22 at his home in Crawford, Col., after a hard fought battle with small cell lung cancer. He was 70. Born in Sheffield, Great Britain in May 1944, the gravely voiced soul, blues and rock singer released his eponymous debut album in 1969 which featured covers of songs by Bob Dylan. He performed at the Woodstock Festival in 1969 (as well as the Woodstock '94 anniversary festival) and scored 19 charting hits on the Billboard Hot 100, including 1968's "With a Little Help From My Friends," which later became the theme song for the hit 1980s TV show The Wonder Years. In 1982, he had a No. 1 hit with "Up Where We Belong," a duet with Jennifer Warnes, from the film An Officer and a Gentleman. The song also won him his only Grammy Award, for best pop performance by a duo or group with vocal. He also charted Top 40 hits with "You Are So Beautiful" (No. 5), "The Letter" (with Leon Russell and The Shelter People, No. 7), "When the Night Comes" (No. 11) and "Feeling Alright" (No. 33). Another famed Cocker track, the Randy Newman-penned "You Can Leave Your Hat On," became a hit in 1986 after it was used in the film 9 1/2 Weeks. The song reached No. 35 on the Mainstream Rock Songs chart. He released 22 solo albums, the last being Fire It Up in 2012. During a recent concert in New York, his friend Billy Joel told the crowd that Cocker was not well, and urged that Cocker be inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. A statement released by his record label Sony, reads: "John Robert Cocker, known to family, friends, his community and fans around the world as Joe Cocker, passed away on December 22, 2014 after a hard fought battle with small cell lung cancer. Mr Cocker was 70 years old. Joe Cocker was born 5/20/1944 in Sheffield, England where he lived until his early 20's. In 2007 he was awarded the OBE by the Queen of England. His international success as a blues/rock singer began in 1964 and continues till this day. Joe created nearly 40 albums and toured extensively around the globe." Cocker's agent Barrie Marshall released a statement regarding his death, saying: "it will be impossible to fill the space he leaves in our hearts." Although Cocker was reportedly battling lung cancer, Marshall said that he passed away of "an undisclosed illness." Cocker's passing also drew condolences on Twitter.com from such fellow famous musicians as Ringo Starr, Tom Morello, Peter Frampton, Bryan Adams, Steven Tyler, Bette Midler, Arlo Guthrie, Lenny Kravitz and Bootsy Collins.. - Billboard/New Musical Express, 12/22/14.
Just two seasons in, the Thursday night CBS sitcom Mom has proven itself to be a primetime series that doesn't shy away from often dark subject matter, tackling such controversial issues as alcoholism, gambling, homelessness, cancer, and teen pregnancy. "I didn't see any point in doing another sitcom and not expanding the language a little bit," says cocreator and executive producer Chuck Lorre. "It seemed to me that the genre doesn't really deal with reality." Mom has been compared by critics to producer Norman Lear's 1970s sitcoms, such as All in the Family, Good Times, and Maude, all of which reflected the issues of that era, and Lorre says that while he's not comparing his show to All in the Family, "I thought this was a chance to go back to Lear's work... he saw opportunity in telling stories about what was really happening in people's lives." Coincidentally, Lear recently revealed that he and Sony Pictures are discussing an All in the Family revival for 2015. Lear says that, like the original, the reboot would be about "what you and your family are living through. They're the same problems we had 30 years ago. They're just not being addressed as often." Why does Lear think more shows don't touch the issues, as he did? "The answer lies in what the networks and buyers insist on," Lear says. "They don't want the problems that the sponsors and executives at the networks didn't want all those years ago. There are writers everywhere who would be eager to write about everything they're facing." - TV Guide, 12/21/14.
The Who have been forced to cancel two London dates on Dec. 17 and 18 that would have finished their UK "Who Hits 50" tour as singer Roger Daltrey recovers from a throat infection. The pair of gigs have been rescheduled for March 22 and 23, 2015, as Daltrey rests his voice on doctor's orders. "The band and their management wish to sincerely apologise to all ticket holders for the inconvenience and disappointment this has caused," The Who said in a statement. The UK tour began in November as the band announced they have begun to consider their retirement from music. Following the March gigs, the band is scheduled to headline London's Hyde Park festival in the summer of 2015. - New Musical Express, 12/16/14...... Tickets for AC/DC's upcoming gig at London's Wembley Stadium on July 4 sold out in under 60 minutes after going on sale on Dec. 17. The band will play Wembley as part of three UK dates in London, Glasgow (on 6/28) and Dublin (7/1) in the summer of 2015. - New Musical Express, 12/17/14...... Yusuf (formerly known as Cat Stevens) wrapped a brief U.S. tour in Los Angeles on Dec. 14, his first American trek in 35 years. Dubbed the "Peace Train" tour, a dilapidated train station provided a fitting backdrop for Yusuf's 32-song set at the Nokia Theatre before a sold-out crowd of 7,000. Standing ovations greeted album tracks such as "Where Do the Children Play" and "Miles From Nowhere," with encores including "Gold Digger," "Peace Train," "Sad Lisa" and "Morning Has Broken." Stevens, 66, was backed by his bandmate from his heady '70s days, guitarist Alun Davies, and four young musicians. - Billboard, 12/15/14...... An episode of the Netflix series Lilyhammer featuring acting by Bruce Springsteen began airing on Nov. 21, and the director of the series, Springsteen's longtime E Street Band guitarist Steven Van Zandt, says there "was a little bit of anxiety involved." "I know we're friends for 50 years but still it meant a lot to me that he chose me and trusted me enough to direct him when literally everybody on earth's been wanting to do it ," said Van Zandt, who besides making his directoral debut also stars, writes, produces and composes music for the show. Lilyhammer is a fish out of water story about fictional New York gangster Frank "The Fixer" Tagliano (Van Zandt), who is trying to start a new life in the Norwegian city of Lillehammer. Springsteen played Frank's older brother Giuseppe -- a small role that was key to the plot, Van Zandt said. "He's really acting," says Van Zandt. "It's not some cameo. He's not playing himself. It's a real thing." Springsteen also briefly appeared in the 2000 film High Fidelity, but as himself rather than in an acting role. - AP, 12/17/14...... In a recent interview with Britain's Daily Mail newspaper, the wife of John Lennon's killer Mark David Chapman said that she and her husband have written letters to Lennon's widow Yoko Ono in a bid to salve Chapman's conscious over the shocking 1980 murder. "If Mark could say anything to John and Yoko now, he would say: 'I'm sorry I caused such pain'. He would say: 'I hope you have forgiven me'...," Gloria Chapman said. "John was a nice person but Mark wasn't thinking about that that day, and put himself first. That was his mistake," she added. She also revealed that she and Chapman have both written letters to Yoko and that she "prays for her to find Jesus Christ in her life and to find forgiveness for Mark." "He isn't angry or upset that (Yoko) has pleaded with judges not to release him. I think he understands," Gloria Chapman added, also saying she thinks that Paul McCartney should visit Chapman in prison because "Mark is a very likeable... and would welcome a visit from Mr. McCartney." Mark David Chapman was sentenced to 20 years-to-life in prison for shooting Lennon outside his home at the Dakota building in New York in December, 1980, and has been refused parole on several occasions. - WENN.com, 12/15/14...... Meanwhile in other Beatles-related news, the Recording Academy announced on Dec. 18 that beloved Fab Four legend George Harrison will be honored with a posthumous Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award during an invitation-only ceremony in Los Angeles on Feb. 7, one day before the regular Grammy Awards. Other artists receiving the award include the Bee Gees, Buddy Guy, saxophonist Wayne Shorter and the country duo The Louvin Brothers, among others. The Recording Academy also announced that an all-star Grammys tribute to Stevie Wonder's classic 1976 double-LP Songs in the Key of Life will air on CBS on Feb. 16. Stevie Wonder: Songs In The Key Of Life -- An All-Star Grammy Salute will feature 25-time Grammy-winner Wonder and contemporary artists covering his songs as well as other archival material. Presenters will also help highlight the historical impact of Wonder's songs on music and culture. - Billboard, 12/18/14...... In other Stevie Wonder news, the R&B icon became a dad for the ninth time on Dec. 17 when his girlfriend Tomeeka Robyn Bracy gave birth to a daughter named Nia. The couple reportedly chose the name because it means "purpose," which is one of the seven principles of Kwanzaa, the African-American holiday observed at the end of December. Wonder has seven other kids from previous relationships, including two sons with his second ex-wife, fashion designer Kai Millard Morris, who he divorced in 2012. - WENN.com, 12/17/14...... The Grammy Hall of Fame added 27 recordings by such diverse acts as the Sex Pistols, Neil Young, Lou Reed, Kraftwerk, The Sex Pistols and Abba on Dec. 16. A selection of both albums and singles have been included, including Kraftwerk's 1974 Autobahn LP, Bob Dylan's 1975 LP Blood On The Tracks, Abba's 1976 single "Dancing Queen," Young's 1972 LP Harvest, Chic's 1978 single "Le Freak," Sex Pistols' 1977 LP Never Mind The Bollocks, Here's The Sex Pistols, Alice Cooper's 1972 single "School's Out," Leonard Cohen's 1967 album Songs of Leonard Cohen, Otis Redding's 1966 single "Try A Little Tenderness" and Reed's 1972 single "Walk On The Wild Side." "These memorable, inspiring and iconic recordings are proudly added to our growing catalogue -- knowing that they have become a part of our musical, social, and cultural history," said Neil Portnow, President/CEO of the Recording Academy. The latest inductions bring the Grammy Hall of Fame's inductions to a total 987 recordings. - New Musical Express, 12/16/14...... The producers of the Carole King Broadway production "Beautiful - The Carole King Musical" have announced nationwide casting calls to find actors to portray King and other cast members. Auditions have been set for New York on Jan. 16; Seattle on Jan. 24; Orlando, Florida, on Feb. 7; Pittsburgh on Feb. 21; and Chicago on Feb. 28. The current King, Tony Award-winner Jessie Mueller, is leaving the show in March. In addition to the Broadway show, there's a West End production set to begin in February and a U.S. tour kicks off in Rhode Island in September. - AP, 12/17/14...... The performing rights organization BMI announced on Dec. 17 that it has renewed its long-standing partnership with the estate of Michael Jackson for representation of the late pop icon's catalog. "Since 1976, we've had the privilege of licensing his works and we're honored to continue this relationship with his estate," said BMI president Jim O'Neil. The pact, which dates back over 38 years, covers the public performances of Jackson's songs. BMI pegs its membership at over 650,000 songwriters, composers and publishers. - Billboard, 12/17/14...... Surviving members of the '70s hard rock band Iron Butterfly revealed in a recent interview with Classic Rock magazine that they are working on a new LP together and plan to play some shows in the near future. "We just reformed Iron Butterfly with some original members Ron Bushy, the original drummer and founder of the band, and myself, and Doug Ingle Jr.," said Iron Butterfly guitarist Mike Pinera. The band is perhaps best known for their 1968 track 'In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida', which was taken from the album of the same name. The record has, to date, sold over 30 million copies. - New Musical Express, 12/14/14...... RCA Records announced on Dec. 16 that it has signed Van Morrison to the label, and it will release Morrison's as-yet-untitled 35th studio album in early 2015. "We are thrilled to have Van Morrison, the iconic musical visionary and legend, join the RCA roster," RCA President and COO Tom Corson and CEO Peter Edge said in a joint statement. "He is one of the most prolific and talented songwriters and performers in music today and we are honored to have him join us at the label and work with him on his forthcoming new album." Morrison's new LP will be the follow-up to his 2012 set Born To Sing: No Plan B, which was released via Blue Note and debuted and peaked at No. 10 on the Billboard Hot 200. Morrison's new album for Sony/BMG will be his first for that company, following long a long stint with Warner Bros. in the 1970s, a 7-year run with Mercury in the 1980s and stints with Polydor, Exile, Virgin/Point Blank and Blue Note. Though he continues to tour extensively through Europe, Morrison hasn't performed in the States since a U.S. tour wrapped in Nov. 2013. - Billboard, 12/16/14...... Soul singer Wendy Rene, whose song "After Laughter, Comes Tears" was sampled by the Wu-Tang Clan on "Tearz," died on Dec. 16 in Memphis, Tenn., following a stroke. She was 67. A rarity for singers at the time, Rene only recorded songs she had written, using Booker T. and the MG's as her backing band. Her dance track "Bar-B-Q" was successful enough that she left high school to make a go of it as a performer though none of her singles ever reached a Billboard chart. Her work was also sampled by such rap/hip hop acts as Ol' Dirty Bastard, Alicia Keys and NastyNasty. - Billboard, 12/18/14...... Millie Kirkham, a backup singer for Elvis Presley whose sky-high iconic soprano helped define Presley's iconic yuletide hit "Blue Christmas," died in Nashville, Tenn., on Dec. 14 after suffering a stroke the previous week. She was 91. Singing as a sort of unofficial fifth member of The Jordanaires, Ms. Kirkham didn't just lead the "whoo-ooh-oohs" on "Blue Christmas," her first session with Elvis in 1957 -- she came up with the part. As the story goes, The King originally didn't want to record the song, but had to, and called on the singers to come up with something silly enough to keep RCA from releasing it. "I started going 'Whoo-oo-oo-oo,' " Ms. Kirkham said in a 2012 interview. "[Elvis] motioned for me to keep doing it, so I did it all the way through the whole song. When we were through, we all laughed and said 'That's one record the record company will never release.' But they did. And if I got royalties, I'd be a rich old woman." Ms. Kirkham became a regular session and stage backup vocalist for Elvis, appearing on hits like "(You're the) Devil in Disguise," gospel cuts like "Milky White Way" and versions of "Polk Salad Annie," "C.C. Rider" and "Bridge Over Troubled Waters." She also sang on classics of the '50s, '60s and '70s by many other artists, including Ferlin Husky, Brenda Lee, Patti Page, Bobby Vinton, Roy Orbison and George Jones.