Posted by Administrator on Feb. 6th, 2016
Singer/songwriter/producer/musician/arranger Maurice White, the co-creator of the hugely popular '70s and '80s group Earth, Wind & Fire, died of natural causes on the morning of Feb. 4, according to a post on EWF's Twitter feed. He was 74. "Our brother Maurice White passed peacefully in his sleep this morning. The light is he, shining on you and me. pic.twitter.com/ppWTHKUyG6," the band posted. White, who was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease in the early '90s, had stopped touring with the band around 1994. Born in Memphis on Dec. 19, 1941, White moved to Chicago in the early '60s and was hired as a session drummer for Chess Records. Following a post-Chess stint as a member of the Ramsey Lewis Trio, White became a member of the Capitol-signed band Salty Peppers with friends Wade Flemons and Don Whitehead. Relocating to Los Angeles, he established the nine-member first incarnation of Earth, Wind & Fire in 1971 with himself, Flemons, Whitehead and White's bass-playing brother Verdine White, among others. Under contract to Warner Bros., the band released two albums. By 1973, a remodeled Earth, Wind & Fire -- including the White siblings, vocalists Philip Bailey and Jessica Cleaves, drummer Ralph Johnson and keyboardist Larry Dunn -- was signed to Columbia Records. From that period through the early '80s, the band was a permanent fixture on both the R&B and pop charts. Earth, Wind & Fire, whose moniker was chosen from the elements in White's astrological sign, Sagitatarius, became known for its game-changing fusion of R&B/soul, pop, jazz, funk, disco, rock, Latin and African rhythms, and are hailed as one of the most successful bands of the 20th Century. Scoring its first top five R&B single in 1974 with "Mighty Mighty," the band scored its first R&B/pop crossover hit a year later with "Shining Star," No. 1 on both charts. Embracing the themes of empowerment, unity, spirituality and love, White guided the band through a host of R&B and pop hits that have since become classics, among them: "That's the Way of the World," "Sing a Song," "Serpentine Fire," "September" and "After the Love Has Gone." EWF were honored with six Grammy Awards, and became one of music's most influential, iconic and longest-running bands. Beyond the music, their concerts became must-see spectacles during which the brilliantly garbed band members mesmerized audiences with disappearing acts and other magic tricks. In addition to EWF, White collaborated with other artists during his career, including projects by Minnie Riperton, Barbra Streisand, Barry Manilow, James Ingram, Neil Diamond and Brian Culbertson. White even logged his own top 10 R&B single with a cover of "Stand By Me," taken from his 1985 self-titled solo album. Even after being diagnosed with Parkinson's, White stayed busy behind the scenes, and collaborated with Maurice Hines on the 2006 Broadway play "Hot Feet," and in 2007 executive producing an EWF tribute album, Celebrating the Music of Earth, Wind & Fire. Earth, Wind & Fire was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000, and are set to be honored with a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award at the Feb. 15 ceremony. Among those paying tribute to the late multi-talented musician on Twitter include Questlove, Nile Rodgers, Bryan Adams, Quincy Jones, Jimmy Jam, Chris Rock, Arsenio Hall, Bootsy Collins, Earvin Magic Johnson and Craig Robinson, who posted "Keep Your Head To The Sky," recalling one of EWF's biggest hits. - Billboard/NME, 2/4/16.
Bruce Springsteen invited an 89-year-old grandmother on stage to dance during a performance of "Dancing in the Dark" during the the Boss's show at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto on Feb. 2. As Springsteen and his E Street Band performed the Born In the USA track during its encore performance, the rocker noticed the woman, named Evelyn, in the crowd enjoying the show, and asked her up to the stage. The show was part of his The River Tour, which will see the musician touring North America until March, finishing up with two shows in Los Angeles between March 15-17. His The River trek leads the Billboard Hot Tour Roundup from Jan. 26-Feb. 1, with $12.2 million in ticket sales. The first five dates of his North American arena trek are included in the roundup, and all five arenas since the Jan. 16 opener in Pittsburgh have logged a combined sold ticket count of 90,579, with Chicago's Jan. 19 show taking in $2.7 million at the box office and selling 19,120 tickets. - New Musical Express/Billboard, 2/3/16...... A line of cannabis products commemorating what would have been the 71st birthday of reggae legend Bob Marley's 71st birthday on Feb. 6 are slated to be launched on that day in conjunction with Marley's estate and New York based Privateer Holdings. "Marley Natural" Product Manager Tahira Rehmatullah says his team has "visited hundreds of farms around the world, learning all about growing processes and different strains, trying to find the best quality cannabis there is," and that "our goal is to work with all local farmers in every jurisdiction where we are offering cannabis." Some states in the US have a decriminalization policy in effect, where marijuana is sold through state controlled "dispensaries," however current regulations require that marijuana can only be distributed in areas where it is grown. Marley's son Stephen Marley, who will be performing at a launch party for Marley Natural, says "if my father was here physically, he would be up front advocating for this plant, so we are very proud to put our Marley Natural brand out there." - NME, 2/5/16...... He was famously known as "The Man in Black," and now country music legend Johnny Cash now has a species of black tarantula spiders named in his honor. After biologists discovered 14 new types of U.S. tarantuals, a black arachnid has been dubbed Aphonopelma johnnycashi because it makes its home near Folsom Prison, California, where Cash staged a famous concert for inmates on Jan. 13, 1968. The breakthrough performance became a popular live album, and it contained one of his signature songs, "Folsom Prison Blues". Cash died in 2003, aged 71. "It's a perfect name," explains Florida Museum of Natural History's Chris Hamilton, who led the team of biologists. "It fits the spider -- it's found around Folsom and the males are predominantly all black, so it fits his image. I have a Johnny Cash tattoo so I was very happy that it worked out that way." - Billboard, 2/5/16...... As the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign moves into high gear, many of the candidates are making some incredible promises, but perhaps none more unbelievable than a pledge to reunite legendary British prog-rockers Pink Floyd. Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who is running for the Republican nomination, appeared on CNN on Feb. 1 to discuss the Iowa caucus and told host Anderson Cooper that he is a huge Pink Floyd fan, and pledged to reunite the squabbling surviving members of the group if he becomes president. "Roger Waters is a remarkable artist," Kasich said. "I saw The Wall in Pittsburgh; it was absolutely incredible." Kasich then make his big statement: "And if I'm president, I am going to once and for all try to reunite Pink Floyd to come together and play a couple of songs." Pink Floyd, which last played together in 2005 at Bob Geldof's Live 8 charity benifit, has stated that its latest album, 2013's The Endless River, was unequivocally its last. - Billboard, 2/2/16...... A new musical based on the songs of Jimmy Buffett will make its world premiere at the La Jolla Playhouse in California on May 16, 2017, producers announced on Feb. 4. The show will combine the singer/songwriters laid-back blend of rock and country tunes with an original story by writers Greg Garcia and Mike O'Malley. It's described as "the story of a part-time singer, part-time bartender, and fulltime good ol' boy named Tully who suddenly finds himself in uncharted territory -- falling in love with a beautiful, career-minded tourist." Buffet and producer Frank Marshall -- the producer of such films as Back to the Future and Raiders of the Lost Ark -- teamed up to create Parrothead Productions, which helped produce such Broadway shows as "Big Fish" and "Doctor Zhivago." - Billboard, 2/4/16...... Elton John surprised train commuters at a London rail station on Feb. 4 with an impromptu performance of his classic 1971 track "Tiny Dancer." The Rocket Man gave the performance at St Pancras station in central London as he promotes his new album Wonderful Crazy Night, which dropped Feb. 5 via Island Records. "A colleague and I were just walking through the station and there was a bit of a crowd, then everyone started clapping and cheering. Elton sat down and started playing 'Tiny Dancer'," said onlooker Ruth Swailes. "He didn't sing, played for about five minutes, then got up and walked away, all very low key," she added. Following his performance, Sir Elton signed the piano with the message: "Enjoy this piano. It's a gift. Love, Elton John." John later confirmed that he donated the piano to the station with a post on Instagram: "Surprise!! I popped into St Pancras International to christen the Yamaha piano which I donated to the station. Now everyone can have a play." A day earlier, John is reported to have told BBC Radio 2 that he's going to start pulling back on his music career over the next several years to focus more on his family. John will also be joining late night TV host James Corden during Corden's special post-Super Bowl broadcast on Feb. 7 on CBS for and installment of Corden's popular "Carpool Karaoke" series. - Billboard, 2/5/16...... In other Super Bowl news, a commercial featuring Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler is set to be aired during the game. Tyler will appear in an ad for Skittles candy, with his face made entirely out of Skittles, singing the Top 10 Aerosmith "Dream On." - Billboard, 2/2/16...... The Rolling Stones performed their 1967 track "She's a Rainbow" live for the first time in 18 years on Feb. 4 as they kicked off South American leg of their 2016 world tour at Chile's Estadio Nacional stadium. The track, which originally appeared on their 1976 album Their Satanic Majesties Request, was played for the first time since 1998 and, reportedly, only the 11th time in their entire history. The tour is set to wrap on Mar. 17 in Mexico City, and the band is reportedly gearing up to work on its first album since 2005's A Bigger Bang. New Musical Express, 2/4/16...... Punk legends the Ramones will mark the 40th anniversary of their 1976 eponymous debut album in 2016 with a marketing blitzkrieg that will include a new documentary, a South by Southwest Music Festival panel, a traveling exhibit of memorabilia, and a collector's reissue. The campaign, which focuses on the four original members -- Joey, Johnny, Dee Dee and Tommy Ramone, all of whom died between 2001 and 2014. On Mar. 17, a South by Southwest panel featuring Sire Records exec Seymour Stein will be held, with several bands performing the group's music. The following month, an exhibit of Ramones memorabilia is set to open at the Queens Museum in New York on Apr. 10 and will include Johnny's recently unearthed leather jacket and guitar. An expanded version of the exhibit moves to Los Angeles' Grammy Museum in October. In addition, a world tour of at least 18 cities is planned for 2017. On the music side, Rhino Records will release a three-CD/one-LP deluxe collector's edition of the band's self-titled first album, and include demos and a live concert. - Billboard, 2/3/16...... Ozzy Osbourne's wife Sharon Osbourne confirmed that her husband is now "ready to rock" on the Feb. 4 edition of the morning gabfest The Talk after Ozzy and Black Sabbath were forced to cancel a series of dates in Canada earlier in February after the singer was diagnosed with bronchitis. "He's doing so much better," Sharon said. "He had sinusitis, which went to bronchitis, and he said that he felt like he had the Pacific Ocean in his ear, and he couldn't hear properly, and it's been a nightmare. He had to cancel four shows. They're all gonna be rescheduled; we're working on it now," she added. Black Sabbath is set to perform in Seattle on Feb. 6 in a show that's part of the band's farewell "The End Tour" that will run until September 2016. - NME,2/5/16...... UK classic rockers Status Quo have announced their 2016 "The Last Night of The Electrics" tour will be their last with a statement on their official website on Feb. 4. "We've talked about it for some time and have decided that it's time for us to hang up the electrics. It's getting harder and harder for us to play those shows" Status Quo singer/guitarist Francis Rossi posted. "It's 30 years since we last said we were stopping but this is a final decision. It doesn't mean we won't do other things, perhaps the odd special, but we're agreed that the moment has come. There's more to come from us in the years ahead, but we won't tour the electric set ever again." Although never huge in the US, Status Quo has charted over 60 songs in the UK, with 22 of those reaching the UK Top 10 Singles Chart. In 1991, Status Quo received a Brit Award for Outstanding Contribution to Music. The band also spent a consistent 500 weeks in the albums chart, joining the likes of Queen and the Beatles. Meanwhile, the band is also scheduled to appear at a number of festivals across Europe this summer between May-July including Wirral Rocks on May 21 and Somerset Rocks in Taunton on Aug. 26. - NME, 2/4/16...... The Hollywood Vampires, the new "super group" comprised of Alice Cooper, Joe Perry, Duff Mackagan and Johnny Depp, is set to pay tribute to late rock stars Lemmy Kilmister and David Bowie during the 58th annual Grammy Awards on Feb. 15. Lady Gag a has also been confirmed to sing a medley of David Bowie songs on the night. The 2016 Grammys will take place at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. - NME, 2/4/16...... The Jefferson Starship said on Feb. 3 that it intends to continue touring after the death of its co-founder, guitarist/singer Paul Kantner, on Jan. 28 at age 74. According to a report on Jambands.com, the band have decided to carry on with their tour, which started in January and is due to finish Apr. 14 in Stockholm, Sweden. The band's current lineup includes David Freiberg of fellow San Francisco psychedelic rockers Quicksilver Messenger Service, along with Donny Baldwin, Slick Aguilar, Chris Smith, Cathy Richardson and Jude Gold. - Billboard, 2/3/16...... Comedian Bob Elliott, half of the hilarious radio and TV comedy team Bob and Ray, died at his home in Cundy's Harbor, Maine, on Feb. 3 at the age of 92. After a stint on a local Boston radio station and then on NBC radio, the low-key Mr. Elliott and his more-boisterous comedy partner Ray Goulding hosted The Bob and Ray Show on TV from 1951-53. The duo were known for their low-key humor and took turns serving as the straight man while often mocking their medium. Bob and Ray later recorded comedy albums and appeared often on The Tonight Show and The Ed Sullivan Show. On Broadway starting in 1970, they starred in "The Two and Only," where they did comedy sketches, and were seen on the big screen in Cold Turkey (1971), directed by Norman Lear, and, playing brothers, in Arthur Hiller's Author! Author! (1982). After Goulding died in 1990, Mr. Elliott appeared as a castmember on Garrison Keillor's American Radio Company of the Air and showed up in the Bill Murray comedy Quick Change (1990). He also played the father of his real-life son, actor Chris Elliott, on the 1990-92 Fox series Get a Life. Survivors also include his grandchildren (and Chris' daughters) Abby Elliott, also a former Saturday Night Live cast member, and actress Bridey Elliott (Fort Tilden). - Billboard, 2/3/16.