Recent Nobel Prize for Literature honoree Bob Dylan has informed the Nobel Prize's Swedish Academy that "he wishes he could receive the prize personally, but other commitments make it unfortunately impossible," and that he won't be making the trip to Stockhom to pick up the prize in person on Dec. 10. Dylan, 75, was awarded the prize on Oct. 13 "for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition." Details on who will accept the award on Dylan's behalf are expected to be announced soon. Dylan at first was silent after the Nobel announcement but eventually said getting the award left him "speechless." - AP, 11/16/16...... Friends and former bandmates of David Bowie have announced they'll throw an all-star concert in memory of Bowie on what would have been his 70th birthday, Jan. 8, 2016. Set for the UK's Brixton Academy, the event will feature music by 30 musicians from throughout Bowie's career. Bowie friend and actor Gary Oldman will host the show, and it will be the first of a series of gigs around the world that will "take place in cities that have a strong connection with David Bowie and his work." The London gig will feature musicians who played on Bowie's final albums, The Next Day and Blackstar, along with former collaborators Mike Garson, Earl Slick and Adrian Belew, among others. - New Musical Express, 11/14/16...... As Joni Mitchell continues to recover from a brain aneurysm that left her unconscious in her L.A. home in March 2015, the legendary Canadian singer/songwriter made another public appearance on Nov. 7, her 73rd birthday, to celebrate the occasion with friends. Wearing red for her special day, a photo of Mitchell was posted to her Twitter account on Nov. 16. Although her condition was listed as life-threatening at the time, Mitchell's attorney Rebecca J. Thyne said the artist "has physical therapy each day and is expected to make a full recovery." Mitchell has kept a low profile since but was snapped out with friends at the Catalina Bar and Grill in late August. - Billboard, 11/16/16...... The exact details of singer/songwriter Leonard Cohen's death on Nov. 7 have emerged, with his manager Robert B. Kory issuing a statement saying Cohen's death was "sudden, unexpected and peaceful" as he died in his sleep after falling down in the middle of the night at his Los Angeles home. Kory's statement also said that Cohen died on Nov. 7 -- three days before his passing was made public. The "Hallelujah" singer, who was 82, had been in declining health for much of the year, though he revealed few details. Cohen, who is survived by two children and three grandchildren, was buried in Montreal in a small ceremony on Nov. 10, the same day his death was announced. A makeshift memorial to Cohen has appeared at New York City's famous Hotel Chelsea, which was immortalized by Cohen in his 1974 song "Chelsea Hotel #2," which he later revealed was about Janis Joplin. Fans have left flowers, handwritten notes and pictures outside the Chelsea in Cohen's memory. A memorial to Cohen in Los Angeles is being planned, according to his reps. - AP, 11/16/16...... In related news, Leon Russell's wife, Jan Bridges, released a statement on Nov. 13 stating the influential songwriter and performer died at his home in his sleep on Nov. 12. "We thank everyone for their thoughts and prayers during this very, very difficult time," she wrote. While Bridges did not specify his cause of death, she said, "My husband passed in his sleep in our Nashville home. He was recovering from heart surgery in July and looked forward to getting back on the road in January. We appreciate everyone's love and support." Elton John, who collaborated with Russell on the 2010 album The Union, tweeted that Russell was "a mentor, inspiration and so kind to me... I loved him and always will." Others tweeting in honor of Russell include Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens), Charlie Daniels, Chaka Khan, Richard Marx, Whoopi Goldberg, Booker T. Jones an George Benson, whose cover of Russell's composition "This Masquerade" was a Top 10 hit in 1976. - Billboard, 11/13/16...... Bruce Springsteen and Diana Ross will be among 21 people to be recognized by Pres. Barack Obama with a Presidental Medal of Freedom at the White House on Nov. 22. America's highest civilian honor, the medal will also be awarded to Ellen DeGeneres, Robert De Niro, Cicely Tyson, Tom Hanks, Robert Redford, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Michael Jordan, Bill and Melinda Gates, Lorne Michaels and sports broadcaster Vin Scully. - AP, 11/16/16...... In other Bruce Springsteen news, a group of good Samaritan bikers rescued The Boss on his own motorcycle after the bike broke down as he was travelling through Allaire State Park in New Jersey on Veterans Day, Nov. 11. Members of the Freehold, N.J. American Legion Post 54 Legion Riders -- who represented Post 54 at the Veterans Day Ceremony in Holmdel for Veterans Day -- noticed a lonely rider on the side of the road calling out for help. After they pulled over, they recognized it was the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member, and gave him a ride to Mulligan's, a restaurant in Farmingdale, N.J., where the 67-year old rocker made a call for a pickup. After the guys went inside, sat down and had a few drinks, a grateful Springsteen threw in $100, told them to keep the change, posed for a few pictures and took their phone numbers, presumably for future rides, or a thank-you note with free concert tickets. - Billboard, 11/12/16...... Reacting to the surprise election of Donald Trump as the next president of the U.S., Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger told the Associated Press in a new interview that "Everyone outside the U.S. is kind of mystified... I'd say, that's the polite word." Also weighing in during the interview were Rolling Stones Ronnie Wood, who aid "There will be some changes made. Hopefully they're going to be good ones," Charlie Watts, who commented that "I don't think he's gonna be as radical as he was coming into it, so I think a lot of what he says is going to be tempered down. Because if it isn't, it's gonna be a hell of bloody ride for four years." Keith Richards, however, offered no opinion. "It's a blank spot to me, I'm telling you... I ain't going there," he said. The Stones are promoting their new exhibit that debuted at Industria in New York City on Nov. 12 after launching in London earlier in 2015. It includes colorful tour outfits, Jagger's lyric book, Keith Richards' 1963 diary, Watts' toy drum kit and various photographs, from posters to magazine covers. The group's first London apartment that the band mates shared in 1962, complete with dirty dishes, beer bottles and blues records placed throughout the flat, has also been recreated. The band is also preparing to release a new album of blues cover songs called Blue & Lonesome on Dec. 2.- Billboard, 11/15/16...... Two members of the '60s pop band The Turtles, Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan (a.k.a. Flo & Eddie), have settled a royalty lawsuit with SiriusXM radio on the eve before the trial was scheduled to begin. Pre-1972 sound recordings aren't protected by federal copyright. So, until recently, the owners of the rights to the songs weren't being compensated for hits played on digital channels like SiriusXM Radio's "'60s on 6." Details of the settlement were not announced, and a motion for preliminary approval of the deal will be filed in the next three weeks. - The Hollywood Reporter, 11/14/16...... Cable channel HBO has announced that a two-part, as-yet-untitled Elvis Presley documentary has just wrapped and will be debuting on their network at some future date. The three-hour doc from Sony Pictures Television will span from Presley's childhood through his final recording sessions at his Graceland Jungle Room studio in 1976. It is written by Alan Light and directed by Emmy/Grammy winner Thom Zimny, who has worked on multiple Bruce Springsteen documentary and video projects. The film is being produced with full participation of Presley's family estate and will include never-before-seen photos and footage. - Billboard, 11/14/16...... Aerosmith has announced that it will launch what it is calling a "farewell" tour in Europe in the spring of 2017. The Hall of Famers, who recently completed a tour of South America, are calling the tour the Aero-Vederici Baby! Tour and will kick it off on May 17 in Tel Aviv, Israel and include 17 dates before wrapping up July 5 in Zurich, Switzerland. The tour includes headlining spots at the Sweden Rock Festival on June 8 and the U.K.'s Download Festival on June 11. Tickets go on sale Nov. 18, and the full itinerary is posted at the band's official web site. Aerosmith's members have been talking about a farewell tour for a year, and guitarist Joe Perry says "that's a little tough for me to wrap my head around." "I mean, we all know our age is creeping up on us, but, man, we've tried to follow the lead of the original blues guys and the early rockers and just keep playing 'til we drop, y'know?," he added. "We all have different feelings about it. I do have a feeling that there'll be a tour that we'll call the final tour -- but when will it end? That I can't say." No North American dates have been announced yet for next year. Aerosmith has announced no plans to release new music, but Perry says "Maybe once we start doing some shows again we'll get inspired and get everyone on the page to do that. We'll see." - Billboard, 11/14/16...... Veteran ska band The Specials have just played two shows in London in November, and have announced they'll play extra dates in Birmingham, Leeds and Hatfield in Hertfordshire in May 2017. In December 2015, The Specials' drummer John "Brad" Bradbury died at the age of 62. After joining the band in 1979, Bradbury had a top 10 hit with The Specials in 1984 -- "Free Nelson Mandela." The Coventry band then split, but reunited for a 2009 tour to celebrate their 30th anniversary. Bradbury had remained part of the group since then. - Billboard, 11/12/16...... A letter from John Lennon and Yoko Ono to Paul McCartney and wife Linda McCartney has been put up for auction to the highest bidder, with bidding expected to reach $20,000 (£16,000). The undated letter sees Lennon responding to prior correspondence from Linda which he says left him "wondering what middle aged cranky Beatle fan wrote it." Lennon writes in his letter: "I hope you realise what shit you and the rest of my 'kind and unselfish' friends laid on Yoko and me, since we've been together." Later in the letter, John goes on to say that doesn't "resent" his former Beatles bandmate but that he feels "sorry for him." He also wrongly predicts that the McCartneys' marriage would be over within two years. "It was likely written shortly before Lennon and Ono's departure for America," says RR Auction representative Robert Livingston. "The draft captures the intense rivalry between the two men in the months, and even years, surrounding the breakup of the Beatles." - New Musical Express, 11/14/16...... A gig by Kraftwerk in Buenos Aires that appeared to be a victim of the Argentinian capital's ban on electronic music events after six people died at the Time Warp festival will go ahead after all, the promoter announced on Nov. 14. Kraftwerk are scheduled to play at Buenos Aires' Luna Park Stadium on Nov. 23. Kraftwerk are also set to tour the UK in 2017. - NME, 11/14/16...... Former The Police frontman Sting reopened the Bataclan venue in Paris on Nov. 12, a day shy of the anniversary of the Paris terror attacks that killed 90 music fans during an Eagles of Death Metal concert in 2015. "We've got two important things to do tonight," Sting said in French. "First, to remember and honor those who lost their lives in the attacks a year ago and to celebrate the life and the music of this historic venue." He then called for a minute of silence in their honor, and said "We shall not forget them, before launching into his 1988 song "Fragile," whose lyrics read: "Nothing comes from violence and nothing ever could." Sting then paid tribute to a list of musicians who have passed within the past year, including David Bowie, Prince, Glenn Frey, Lemmy Kilmister and Leonard Cohen. - Billboard, 11/12/16...... Actress Carrie Fisher, who co-starred in the iconic 1977 Star Wars film with Harrison Ford, has purportedly detailed that she had a three-month extramarital affair with Ford in her upcoming book, The Princess Diarist. Fisher reveals the two thespians were more than just friends while shooting Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope in 1976, when she first portrayed Princess Leia and Ford took on the role of Han Solo. An excerpt purportedly from the upcoming release began circulating online on Nov. 15, apparently suggesting Carrie, then 19, was left disappointed the first time she slept with her co-star. Fisher has since spoken out to dismiss the unfounded claims, telling People.com, "Any reports claiming I said Harrison was bad in bed are utterly false. Perhaps people should read the book before they write their stories." Fisher has also taken to Twitter to address the reports, insisting her book makes no mention of Harrison's lovemaking skills. "I would never talk about how someone was in any furniture - chair, bed, coffee table or otherwise," she joked. Fisher says she has no regrets about going public with her fling, even though it suggests Ford was unfaithful to his then-wife Mary Marquardt. Ford and his first wife MaryMarquardt filed for divorce in 1979. He went on to wed Melissa Mathison in 1983, and now he's married to actress Calista Flockhart. Fisther has only been married once - to singer Paul Simon from 1983 to 1984. Ford and Fisher both reprised their roles for Star Wars: The Force Awakens in 2015. - WENN.com, 11/16/16.
Leon Russell, the longhaired and long bearded pianist/guitarist/songwriter/bandleader who moved from playing countless recording sessions to making hits on his own, died on Nov. 12 in Nashville, Tenn. He was 74. The death of Russell, who had suffered significant health difficulties over the past five years, was announced on his website, which said that he had died in his sleep but gave no specific cause. One of the first of the supersessionmen, Russell played on recordings from whole host of artists from Jerry Lee Lewis through to The Crystals, Herb Alpert, The Byrds, Gary Lewis & The Playboys, Delaney & Bonnie and the Rolling Stones. Born Claude Russell Bridges in Lawton, Oklahoma on Apr. 2, 1941, Russell grew up in Tulsa and studied classical piano from the age of three for 10 years, but then grew tired of the disciplines of formal music. At 14 he learned to play trumpet and put together his own band, lying about his age so that he could work in a Tulsa nightclub, where he played with Ronnie Hawkins and the Hawks, which later evolved into The Band. Later, Jerry Lee Lewis took Russell's band on the road with him. In 1958 he moved to Los Angeles, and began to hustle gigs as a sideman on recording sessions -- something his instrumental versatility enabled him to do with relative ease. He met Ricky Nelson's guitarist James Burton, who taught him guitar, and worked in the studio with Dorsey Burnette, Glen Campbell, and others. Russell worked on nearly all the Phil Spector hit productions -- from The Crystals' "He's a Rebel" to the Righteous Brothers' "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'," as well as on isolated hits like The Byrds' "Mr. Tamborine Man," Herb Alpert's "A Taste of Honey" and Bob Lind's "Elusive Butterfly." After spending some time as an executive with a small record company named Viva, he quit the music business for two years in 1967 in order to build his own sophisticated home studio, and occasionally appeared with friends Delaney & Bonnie on the ABC TV dance show Shindig, and sometimes played sessions. In 1968, he and Marc Benno were signed by Mercury for the Smash label, and made the Asylum Choir album, which sold disappointingly. Russell then toured with Delaney & Bonnie, and teamed with English producer Denny Cordell to form Shelter Records, which signed J. J. Cale, and went to London where they laid down the tracks for Russell's debut solo album, Leon Russell. At the beginning of 1970, Russell put together the Mad Dogs and Englishmen all-star entourage to back Joe Cocker, who had cut Russell's composition "Delta Lady" at Russell's home studio, on Cocker's ambitious American tour. However as the film of the tour illustrates, the whole enterprise served to elevate Russell into the star attraction at the expense of Cocker. In August 1971, Russell was invited by George Harrison to be one of the many leading rock personalities to participate in the Concert for Bangla-Desh benefit show, which also featured Bob Dylan and Eric Clapton. Russell's considerable stature in the rock world was also fortified when he was invited to work with and produce Dylan, although the resulting tracks, which include "Watching the River Flow" and "When I Paint My Masterpiece," were recorded when Dylan seemed to be creatively at a low ebb. Russell's solo career, however, continued apace, and throughout 1972 and 1973, he was enormously popular in the U.S. He developed a strong onstage personality with his long beard, wispy hair and beard, and familiar stove-pipe hat. His own albums usually employed superstar lineups, and were of variable quality, though after 1972's Carney and a 1973 triple live set recorded at California's Ontario Race Track both went gold, Russell's standing as a solo artist declined. Russell severed his associations with Shelter Records in 1976, and initiated a new label, Paradise Records, with his Wedding Album. The album celebrated his marriage to singer Mary McCreery, who had released a solo album on Shelter in 1973. In more recent years, Russell continued to record and tour, and in 2010 he collaborated with one of his old touring partners, Elton John, on an album called The Union. That same year, Russell underwent surgery for a brain fluid leak and was treated for heart failure. The following year, he was honored with the Award for Musical Excellence by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In July of this year, Russell suffered a heart attack, and was scheduled for further surgery, according to a news release from the historical society of Oklahoma, his home state. - 11/13/16.