Greg Lake, the singer/guitarist/bassist in the famed '70s prog rock trio Emerson, Lake & Palmer, died on Dec. 6 of cancer, according to his manager. He was 69. "Yesterday, December 7th, I lost my best friend to a long and stubborn battle with cancer," Lake's manager Stewart Young posted on Facebook. Born in Bournemouth, UK, on Nov. 10, 1948, Lake was presented with his first guitar at age 12 and took lessons from a local tutor called Don Strike. Lake formed a close friendship with his fellow student guitarist Robert Fripp, and the pair formed King Crimson in 1969. Their debut album, In the Court of the Crimson King, set a standard for progressive rock with such elaborate tracks as "21st Century Schizoid Man," and was famously praised by Pete Townshend of the Who. Within a year however, Lake parted ways with King Crimson, refusing to work with the band after founding member Mike Giles quit. But he was featured on the band's critically-reviled second album, In The Wake Of Poseidon. Lake was then approached by keyboardist Keith Emerson, who had supported King Crimson on a North American tour, and needed a singer for a new band he was forming. After recruiting drummer Carl Palmer of Atomic Rooster, ELP made their live debut at the Guildhall, Plymouth, in 1970, then established themselves with a well received performance at the Isle of Wight Festival. ELP's eccentric style combined heavy rock riffs with a classical influence, and the trio scored hit albums with Pictures at an Exhibition, Trilogy, and Brain Salad Surgery -- many of them produced by Lake himself. Their 1971 album Tarkus featured an opening track lasting more than 20 minutes, and was inspired by a fictional half-tank, half-armadillo creature that would appear on stage at gigs. The band's ambitious light shows and on-stage theatrics became the epitome of '70s rock excess, and later in the decade several punk acts cited ELP as one of the bands they were reacting against. But the band sold more than 48 million records worldwide, and Greg Lake continued to be an influential and popular touring musician even after ELP's heyday of the early-mid '70s. His death comes during the season when ELP's yuletide song "I Believe in Father Christmas" is often heard on rock radio. News of the passing of Lake, who is quoted on his website as saying "The greatest music is made for love, not for money," comes nine months after his longtime bandmate Keith Emerson died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. - 12/8/16.
Dolly Parton announced on Dec. 6 that she will be hosting a Dec. 13 telethon in Nashville to raise money for her My People Fund, which benefits victims of the recent devastating wildfires in East Tennessee. "I know there are a lot of great events being planned to help the people of East Tennessee, however, I am planning a telethon to support the 'My People Fund' where 100% of the money will help those who lost their homes in the wildfire. I am planning on doing this on Dec. 13th in Nashville, Tennessee," Parton said in a statement. Dolly's My People Fund aims to provide $1,000 each month to families in Sevier County, the area where the country icon grew up and the location of her theme park, Dollywood. For donations, visit dollywoodfoundation.org. - Billboard, 12/6/16...... Stevie Nicks has added 20 new dates in the new year to her "24 Karat Gold Tour" with opening act The Pretenders. With the tour being met with "huge ticket demands" and receiving "stellar reviews" according to her reps, the legendary Fleetwood Mac singer will kick off the winter 2017 leg on Feb. 23 in Reno, Nev., also visiting such cities as Salt Lake City, San Diego, New Orleans, Raleigh, Orlando, Jacksonville, Baltimore, Indianapolis, Pittsburgh, and Newark, N.J. before wrapping in Uniondale, N.Y. on Apr. 6. The tour is in support of Nicks' latest album 24 Karat Gold, which features new versions of works primarily written and demoed between 1969 and 1987 but never officially released. "It's been thrilling to get on stage each night and sing some of my early gems from early in my career along with getting the chance to sing the material from my last two albums," Nicks said in a statement. The current 2016 tour concludes on Dec. 18 at the Forum in Inglewood, Calif. - Billboard, 12/6/16...... While David Bowie's final album Blackstar received three 2017 Grammy nominations in the rock categories when the 59th Annual Grammy Awards nominees were announced on Dec. 6, the late rock icon's swansong set was noticeably absent from the main four categories. Although the title track from Blackstar received Best Rock Song and Best Rock Performance nominations and the album was nominated in the Best Alternative Album category, many expected the critical favorite and commercial success with an intriguing backstory to also have a lock for an Album of the Year nomination. Bowie didn't fare much better when the BBC Music Awards nominations were announced on Dec. 5, with Blackstar again being snubbed for Album of the Year, however Bowie was nominated for a British Artist of the Year prize at the upcoming Dec. 12 ceremony. Blackstar gave Bowie his first No. 1 in the U.S, his 10th chart-topper in his homeland and was a hit across the globe with fans and critics. Meanwhile, other 2017 Grammy Award nominees include the Ron Howard-directed Beatles tour documentary The Beatles: Eight Days a Week, for a Best Music Film nomination, and Paul McCartney's deluxe Tug of War reissue getting a Best Boxed or Special Limited Edition Package Grammy nod. Bob Dylan was nominated for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album, for Fallen Angels, and Dylan's The Cutting Edge: 1965-1966: The Bootleg Series, Vol. 12 was nominated in the Best Historical Album category. - Billboard/New Musical Express, 12/6/16...... The Rolling Stones are on course to score an official UK number one album for the first week in December for their latest album, Blue & Lonesome. The album, the veteran rockers' first studio release in more than a decade, is way ahead of its nearest competition with almost 66,000 combined sales at the halfway stage of the midweek chart. The all-blues 12-track album was recorded in just three days at British Grove Studios in west London and sees the band return to "their roots and the passion for blues music." Should the album cross the finish line in first place, it'lll be the band's 12th No. 1 in the U.K. The Stones' last studio effort to reach the chart summit in their native country was Voodoo Lounge back in 1994, though a re-release of their 1972 album Exile On Main St also reached Number One in 2010. - NME, 12/5/16...... The Nobel Foundation announced on Dec. 5 that while Bob Dylan won't be attending the traditional Nobel Prize banquet on Dec. 10 in Stockholm, Sweden, the singer-songwriter has written a "speech of thanks" for the occasion that will be read aloud by a yet-to-be-decided person. Earlier in the day, Patti Smith is scheduled to perform Dylan's "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall" as a tribute to the 75-year-old musician. A spokeswoman for the foundation says Dylan's diploma and Nobel Prize medal will be handed over at a later date that hasn't been determined yet. - AP, 12/6/16...... Taking to Twitter on Dec. 6, Queen guitarist Brian May gave fans an update about his health after the musician was forced to cancel an 11-date solo UK tour two months ago due to what he described as a "persistent illness." "Just want to say thanks, dear twitter folks -- for all your kind wishes. I'm still taking it relatively slowly, but getting stronger. Bri -- Dr. Brian May (@DrBrianMay)," he posted. In the fall, May said that he was "now at the point where I don't feel confident to perform the scheduled shows to the standard we all expect... I've been strongly advised to rest and heal, rather than go out and risk 'falling down on the job' out there, which would be a real tragedy." Queen with guest vocalist Adam Lambert completed their 2016 tour at the end of September, and May and Kerry Ellis are due to release a collaborative album in March. - NME, 12/6/16...... A Chicago-based design firm called New World Design Ltd. has announced plans to block out the word "Trump" from President-Elect Donald Trump's Trump Tower in the Windy City with four "golden pig balloons," a protest inspired by the cover artwork of Pink Floyd's 1977 album Animals. "Comprised of four gold colored balloon pigs tethered to buoys in the Chicago River, the folly is a design effort by NWD to provide visual relief to the citizens of Chicago by interrupting the view of the ostentatious Trump Tower Chicago sign," the company said in a statement on its website. "The design scheme follows rigorous rationale in providing layers of meaning while allowing for nuanced interpretations by viewers," it added. The protest follows former Pink Floyd member Roger Waters' use of a giant inflatable pig which flew over the crowd at the recent Desert Trip festival in October in Indio, Calif. On that occasion, the pig was printed with the phrases "F--k Trump and his wall" and "Ignorant, lying, racist, sexist." - Billboard, 12/5/16...... In a post on his Facebook page on Dec. 5, Neil Young questioned whether Pres. Barack Obama will stand up to the corporate interests pushing for the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), following the Army Corps of Engineers' decision to look for an alternate route for the project. After DAPL issued a press release on Dec. 4 stating they remain "fully committed to ensuring that this vital project is brought to completion and fully expect to complete construction of the pipeline without any additional rerouting in and around Lake Oahe" and that "nothing this Administration has done today changes that in any way," Young asked what the president will do if DAPL does indeed move ahead despite the Army Corps' decree. "The question now is whether President Obama will send in law enforcement or the military to halt DAPL from drilling without a permit," Young wrote. "Otherwise, today's announcement will have no enforcement. It will be seen as another US and corporate ploy to send home water protectors, and thousands of veterans, now at Standing Rock Camp, where more than 10,000 are camped." - Billboard, 12/5/16...... '70s artists The Eagles, James Taylor and Mavis Staples were among those feted by Pres. Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama at the prestigious Kennedy Center Honors show Dec. 4, 2016 at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. Eagles members Glenn Frey, Don Henley, Joe Walsh and Timothy B. Schmit were first called for Kennedy Center recognition in 2015, but postponed their attendance in hopes that Frey, who by then was in a fierce battle with colitis, rheumatoid arthritis and pneumonia, would recover. Tragically, Frey passed away in January, and his wife Cindy and children were on hand to receive his honor. Frey's longtime friend and fellow Detroit native, Bob Seger, showed up to pay homage to the band and his 47-year friendship with Frey, noting his upcoming album features a song he wrote for Frey that carries the line, "When I think about you I always smile." Also honoring the Eagles were Kings of Leon, country star Vince Gill and Latin rocker Juanes, who performed "Take It Easy," "Peaceful Easy Feeling" and "Hotel California," respectively. James Taylor was honored by former president Bill Clinton, country/rock singer Darius Rucker, Sheryl Crow and Garth Brooks, while Bonnie Raitt and Andra Day paid tribute to Mavis Staples. The event was taped and will air on the CBS network on Dec. 27. - Billboard, 12/5/16...... Kraftwerk has added two more UK shows to their upcoming 2017 tour, due to heavy ticket demand. The German electro pioneers announced a rare and lengthy run of UK shows earlier in 2016, before tickets instantly sold out within minutes -- much to the frustration of fans. Now the band has added two more shows -- at Oxford on June 6 and Brighton New on June 7 -- to the trek, which kicks off in Dublin on June 2. Kraftwerk will wrap the 17-date tour with a three-night stand at London Royal Albert Hall on June 21, 22 and 23, and are rumoured to be among the headliners at the 2017 Glastonbury festival in June. - NME, 12/5/16.