A bevy of A-list musicians including Bruce Springsteen, Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder, Beyoncé, Eddie Vedder and Jay Z are set to perform at Pres. Barack Obama's final White House party on Jan. 6 in Washington before the 44th president ends his term on Jan. 20. The final "grown up" party as the Obamas describe it will also include close friends and major donors, including Chance the Rapper, Bradley Cooper, JJ Abrams, David Letterman and George Lucas, with Usher and Samuel L. Jackson also rumoured. The news comes as Pres. Elect Donald Trump is reportedly struggling to book artists to perform at his upcoming inaugural ball, whose only name artist so far is 2010 America's Got Talent finalist Jackie Evancho, who is set to perform the US national anthem. - New Musical Express, 1/5/17...... Barbra Streisand participated in a Q&A session at the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles on Jan. 5, ahead of the upcoming 59th Awards in February when the diva will be up for her ninth Grammy for her latest album Encore: Movie Partners Sing Broadway. "I was known on the block as the kid who had no father but had a good voice! That was my MO. I knew I had a good voice," Streisand told host Grammy Museum executive director Bob Santelli. It was the first 2017 event for the Grammy museum's annual public programmes series, with all proceeds going towards funding music programmes for underprivileged youth in L.A. - Billboard, 1/6/17...... During a Q&A on his website on Jan. 4, former Yes keyboardist Rick Wakeman revealed he has had a change of heart and will be appearing with Yes for their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on Apr. 7 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. "I am very pleased to announce that as the Hall of Fame have now agreed to present Chris Squire's wife with a posthumous award acknowledging his massive contribution to YES, I have agreed to attend the Induction ceremony in New York to both stand proudly with my fellow band mates Jon (Anderson) and Trevor (Rabin) and also to watch Chris' wife Scottie collect this well deserved award on his behalf," Wakeman wrote. "Ialso hope that this move to acknowledge members of bands who sadly did not live to receive their own honour, means they can get them posthumously in the future." It should be noted that Squire was always included in Yes' induction, and deceased members of other bands have also been honored by the Rock Hall during past ceremonies. Wakeman, who has been in and out of Yes five times, has been touring since fall 2016 with Anderson and Rabin as AWR, and the trio are scheduled to begin a European tour on Mar. 12 in Wales and have plans for a new album. Wakeman has previously said he thought Yes should have disbanded after Squire's death in 2015, because "Chris was the only founding member, the only original member that stayed the entire time with that band, and I do think... it was time to go 'Let's give it a decent burial.'" The current incarnation of Yes includes longtime guitarist Steve Howe and drummer Alan White -- who will be inducted, along with Squire, Anderson, Wakeman, Rabin, Bill Bruford and Tony Kaye -- as well as keyboardist Geoff Downes, singer Jon Davison and bassist Billy Sherwood. Yes continues to record and tour, most recently playing entire albums during its shows. - Billboard, 1/5/17...... During a press conference at Dodger Stadium in L.A. on Jan. 5, Billy Joel annonced he will take over the ball field on May 13 for his first performance in Los Angeles since May 2014 when he played three nights at the Hollywood Bowl. The show will also be the only Southern California gig in 2017 for Joel, who already has four shows announced at New York's Madison Square Garden, continuing his monthly residency into its fourth year. The Piano Man will also play the first concert at the newly renovated Nassau Coliseum in his hometown of Long Island, with other dates in Orlando, New Orleans and Lincoln, Nebraska. In 2016, the 67-year-old musician performed 28 concerts at stadiums and arenas. - Billboard, 1/5/17...... A new David Bowie documentary entitled The Last Five Years that will air on BBC 2 on Jan. 7 alleges that Bowie didn't know he was dying while recording his final album Blackstar. Johan Renck, who directed Bowie's video Lazarus, claims that Bowie only discovered his cancer had become terminal when he was in the middle of filming the clip in November 2015. "David said: 'I just want to make it a simple performance video'," Renck recalls in the documentary. "I immediately said 'the song is called Lazarus, you should be in the bed'. To me it had to do with the biblical aspect of it it had nothing to do with him being ill." Renck added that he found out later as they were shooting the video that doctors were ending Bowie's treatments and that "his illness had won." Blackstar, recorded in early 2015, is widely regarded as Bowie's "parting gift" to fans, but these new claims contradict this intent. Meanwhile, tributes to Bowie on the first anniversary of his death and what would have been his 70th birthday on Jan. 8 include a concert at Brixton Academy featuring friend and actor Gary Oldman along with over 30 musicians that collaborated with Bowie throughout his career. Also on Jan. 8, a new David Bowie Musical Walking Tour of notable landmarks in his hometown of London will also launch that will take place on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. The tour will include performances of some of his most iconic tracks, including "Starman," 'Heroes', "Life On Mars" and "Ashes To Ashes." "I hope people will come along and enjoy the experience together by singing some of his wonderful songs or just by soaking up the rich culture of Brixton, whether they are massive fans or just want to learn more about the great man and his home town," says tour founder Nick Stephenson. Stops along the tour include Bowie's childhood home in Brixton at 40 Stansfield Road, Stockwell Primary School and James Cochran's mural to the star -- which has become a place of pilgrimage for fans around the world. A new limited edition picture disc of Bowie's Low track "Sound and Vision" will drop on Feb. 10. - New Musical Express, 1/6/17...... Cher has been an outspoken advocate for the citizens of Flint, Mich., since that city suffered a crisis in its water supply in 2015, even donating thousands of bottles of water, and now the singer/actress is set to star in a new Lifetime movie about the incident. Cher will portray a Flint resident whose family is impacted by the water crisis, and the poor management that led to water poisoning as well as the human elements of the residents who suffered but were ignored by government officials. The movie was inspired by a Feb. 2016 cover story in Time magazine called "The Toxic Tap," by Josh Sanburn. In 1996, Cher starred in her first TV movie, HBO's If These Walls Could Talk, for which she scored a Golden Globe nomination. - The Hollywood Reporter, 1/5/17...... On Jan. 5 Elvis Presley's hometown of Memphis began celebrating what would have been the king of rock & roll's 82nd birthday on Jan. 8 with a cake-cutting ceremony on the front lawn of Elvis' Graceland mansion. Also a total of 164 pieces of Elvis memorabilia have been consigned for an auction to be held on Jan. 7 at The Guest House at Graceland, where birthday celebration events are being held for the first time. Included in the auction are a gold and diamond lion head ring given to musician and guitarist Charlie Hodge, boxing gloves worn by Presley in the 1962 film Kid Galahad, and personal clothing. The Guest House at Graceland, a 450-room hotel that opened in October, is part of a $137 million expansion that is also to include an entertainment complex across the street from Graceland. Presley died in August 1977 at age 42. - AP, 1/5/17...... Bruce Springsteen will participate in a Q&A session in front of a live audience on Jan. 10 at the Pollak Theatre at Monmouth University in West Long Branch, N.J. Grammy Museum executive director Robert Santelli, a New Jersey native, will moderate the event. Santelli, a former reporter, also edited Springsteen's 2001 book Songs and published Greetings from E Street: The Story of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. Meanwhile, in a new interview with Marc Maron WTF.com podcast on Jan. 3, Springsteen said he feels a special "kind of fear" over Donald Trump's "competence as president." "I've felt disgust before, but never the kind of fear that you feel now," he said. "It's as simple as the fear of is someone simply competent enough to do this particular job? Forget about where they are ideologically. Do they simply have the pure competence to be put in the position of such responsibility?" Springsteen was also critical of Trump's choices for his incoming Cabinet, adding "that doesn't speak very well for what's coming up," and said he was concerned that the "worst aspects that (Trump) appealed to (could) come to fruition." - Billboard, 1/3/17...... Paul McCartney made a suprise New Year's Eve appearance with the Las Vegas band The Killers as they were performing in St. Barts for Russian billionaire and Chelsea football club owner Roman Abramovich McCartney played one of his old band's songs, "Helter Skelter," with The Killers, and on New Year's Day he posted a holiday message on his website, writing "Happy New Year's Day. May this year be a happy and peaceful one for you and your family and everyone around the world. Love Paul." On Dec. 31, Sir Paul has confirmed his first live dates in 2017 will be in Japan in April. - NME, 1/2/17...... In an interview with the UK paper The Creative Independent, former Talking Heads frontman David Byrne dismissed the idea of a Talking Heads reunion as something that would "probably be quite a number of steps backwards." "[A] Talking Heads reunion might be incredibly successful for a specific generation, or maybe for many generations. It would make me a lot of money and get a lot of attention," Bryne said. "It would also probably be quite a number of steps backwards as far as being perceived as someone who does a lot of different things. "For that reason, I feel like I have to sacrifice something, whether it's money or name recognition or whatever, in order to be able to do a little bit more of what I'd want to do. In other words, you can't have it all," he added. One of the iconic new wave bands, Talking Heads formed in New York City in 1975, and called it quits in Dec. 1991. The band briefly reunited for a short set to mark their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002, but have not played together since. Meanwhile, Byrne is expected to debut a new musical based on the life of Joan of Arc in New York in the spring. - NME, 1/5/17...... As The Doors' classic eponymous 1967 debut marks its 50th anniversary in 2017, the band has announced it will reissue a deluxe special edition of the album with a 3-CD/LP package on Mar. 31. The Doors: 50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition includes remastered stereo and mono mixes of the album, a vinyl version of the mono mix and a live album of a performance at San Francisco's The Matrix from March 7, 1967 -- barely two months after its original release. It will come packaged in a 12x12 hardcover book featuring rare/previously unseen photos while the live album features eight tracks from the album including "Break On Through (To the Other Side)," "Light My Fire" and "The End." The reissue also marks the CD debut of the original mono mix, with the stereo mix available on CD for the first time in a decade. Meanwhile, on Jan. 4 the Los Angeles City council proclaimed the day "The Day of the Doors" during an event featuring founding Doors drummer John Densmore and guitarist Robby Krieger, along with family members of the late frontman Jim Morrison and keyboardist Ray Manzarek. - NME, 1/4/17...... Charles Manson, the notorious cult leader who was found guilty of conspiracy to commit the murders of seven people including the Hollywood actress Sharon Tate in 1971, is reportedly "seriously ill" and has reportedly been transferred from California's Corcoran State Prison where he has been an inmate for 46 years to the hospital. A California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation confirmed to the Los Angeles Times that the 82-year-old Manson is alive, but told the newspaper: "We do not disclose inmate movements for safety and security reasons." During his time as a cult leader, Manson espoused a theory called "Helter Skelter" which he took from the Beatles song of the same name. He believed "Helter Skelter" was an impending apocalyptic race war and the murders he and his followers carried out would help to trigger it. - NME, 1/4/17...... '70s artists Iggy Pop and Patti Smith are among the musicians slated to cameo in director Terrence Malick's upcoming film Song to Song, which is set it the fertile music scene of Austin, Tex. Due Mar. 17, Song to Song is described as a "modern love story about two entagled couples set against the Austin music scene who chase success through a rock 'n' roll landscape of seduction and betrayal." Its stars include Rooney Mara, Ryan Gosling and Michael Fassbender. - Billboard, 1/5/17...... Several famous friends of late actresses Carrie Fisher and her mother Debbie Reynolds attended a memorial service held at the homes on Fisher and Reynolds in Los Angeles on Jan. 5. Meryl Streep, Penny Marshall, Jamie Lee Curtis and Ed Begley, Jr. were among those paying respects to Fisher and Reynolds. Reynolds died Dec. 28 at the age of 84, a day after Fisher died at the age of 60. Streep starred in the film, Postcards From the Edge, based on Fisher's 1987 semi-autobiographical novel of the same title. - AP, 1/6/17.
Producer/composer Brian Eno took to Facebook on Jan. 1 to share an extensive New Year's Day message, urging the public to push for equality. Eno described 2016 as a "pretty rough year" and questioned whether it is "the end -- not the beginning -- of a long decline." "The consensus among most of my friends seems to be that 2016 was a terrible year, and the beginning of a long decline into something we don't," he wrote. "This decline includes the transition from secure employment to precarious employment, the destruction of unions and the shrinkage of workers' rights, zero hour contracts, the dismantling of local government, a health service falling apart, an underfunded education system ruled by meaningless exam results and league tables, the increasingly acceptable stigmatisation of immigrants, knee-jerk nationalism, and the concentration of prejudice enabled by social media and the internet," he added. Eno than blamed the "huge wealth inequalities" for the decline of democracy and urged readers to "start something big." "It will involve engagement: not just tweets and likes and swipes, but thoughtful and creative social and political action too," he continued. "If we want social generosity, then we must pay our taxes and get rid of our tax havens. And if we want thoughtful politicians, we should stop supporting merely charismatic ones." Eno concluded that "inequality eats away at the heart of a society, breeding disdain, resentment, envy, suspicion, bullying, arrogance and callousness," before adding that "if we want any decent kind of future we have to push away from that, and I think we're starting to." - New Musical Express, 1/1/17...... The Kinks' frontman Ray Davies was made a knight by England's Queen Elizabeth II on the last day of 2016, making the Queen's 2017 New Years Honours list with actor Mark Rylance, comedian Ken Dodd, and Vogue editor Anna Wintour. Davies, 72, told that BBC that he initially "felt a mixture of surprise, humility, joy and a bit embarrassed but after thinking about it, I accept this for my family and fans as well as everyone who has inspired me to write." Davies, who formed his legendary and influential British rock band with his brother Dave Davies in the early 1960s, joins the likes of Sir Paul McCartney, Sir Elton John, Sir Mick Jagger and Sir Tom Jones who have received a knighthood. The Kinks disbanded in 1996, six years after being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In Dec. 2015, Ray and Dave Davies performed together for the first time in 20 years, sparking rumors that the band might reunite. - Billboard, 12/31/16...... Elton John paid tribute to his good friend and 1985 Live Aid duet partner George Michael on Dec. 28 during his first of four scheduled New Year's concerts at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas. Appearing before a large photo of Michael projected above the stage, Sir Elton opened the show with "Don't Let the Sun Go Down On Me," which he originally recorded in 1974. Michael and John performed the ballad together at the Live Aid concert in 1985, and at Michael's Wembley Arena concert in 1991. The duet was recorded and released at the end of 1991, and became a No. 1 hit for the pair in 1992. Elton was among the many musicians and celebrities paying tribute to Michael on Twitter and other social media after the singer passed away at his home in Oxfordshire on Christmas day due to heart failure. "I am in deep shock. I have lost a beloved friend - the kindest, most generous soul and a brilliant artist. My heart goes out to his family, friends and all of his fans. @GeorgeMichael #RIP," John posted on Instagram the following day. Elton will also reportedly be performing at Michael's funeral, before the late pop star is buried next his mother Lesley in Highgate Cemetery. - Billboard, 12/29/16...... Neil Diamond has scored his 38th Top 10 hit on Billboard's Adult Contemporary radio airplay chart with his yuletide song "The Christmas Medley (Acoustic Christmas)." The track is from Diamond's recently-released album Acoustic Christmas, which has reached No. 6 on the Holiday Albums chart after being released eight weeks earlier. Diamond's last AC Top 10 was another Christmas song, "Cherry Cherry Christmas," which hit No. 4 on Jan. 2, 2010. Diamond now trails only Elton John with appearances on the AC chart, which originated on July 17, 1961. John has 39 appearances, followed by Diamond, Barbra Streisand (35), Elvis Presley (31), Dionne Warwick (29), and Barry Manilow (28). - Billboard, 12/28/16...... Hollywood is mourning the deaths of two iconic actresses, Carrie Fisher on Dec. 27 and her mother, Debbie Reynolds, one day later. Fisher, 60, died after suffering a heart attack during a flight from London to Los Angeles on Dec. 23. Paramedics removed her from the flight and rushed her to a nearby hospital, where the Star Wars star was treated for a heart attack. She later died in the hospital, reportedly never regaining consciousness. Fisher, the daughter of entertainers Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher, started sharing the stage with her mother in a nightclub act at around age 12. She started but never finished high school, choosing instead to join the Broadway musical "Irene." She was 17 when she made her film debut opposite Warren Beatty in the 1975 sexual-revolution dramedy Shampoo, playing a tennis player who seduces her mother's hairdresser and lover. She went on to study at London's Central School of Speech and Drama but never graduated, and in 1977 beat out other actresses including Sissy Spacek for the role of Princess Leia in Star Wars. When she returned to the character three decades later for The Force Awakens, Fisher expressed anxiety about being a senior member of the cast, after having been away from the series for a generation. Fisher grappled with substance abuse and bipolar disorder during her time in the movies, which also took a toll on her overall health. Fisher starred in several underperforming films, such as Under the Rainbow, Garbo Talks and The Man With One Red Shoe. She went on to take smaller roles in Hannah and Her Sisters, The Burbs, When Harry Met Sally and Soap Dish, and over the past two decades, her screen roles were mostly cameos. Fisher then found acclaim as an author and screenwriter, and her darkly comic, semi-autobiographical 1987 novel Postcards From the Edge was a smash hit, telling the story of a recovering, drug-addicted actress and the love-hate relationship she has with her spotlight-stealing mother. Fisher adapted it into a screenplay for director Mike Nichols 1990 film, which starred Meryl Streep and Shirley MacLaine. Fisher's mother Debbie Reynolds, who was one of Hollywood's biggest stars in the 1950s and 1960s, passed away the day after Carrie's death, and some health experts have speculated it could have been the result of "Broken Heart Syndrome," in which a traumatic experience puts a strain on the heart. The 84-year-old film legend was rushed to the hospital on Dec. 28 after suffering a stroke, and died that night. Born Mary Frances Reynolds in El Paso, Tex., the bubbly singer, dancer and actress began her film career after being spotted in a beauty pageant at the age of 16. She rose to fame after being picked to co-star with Gene Kelly and Donald O'Connor in Singin' in the Rain, one of Hollywood's best-known musicals. Ms. Reynolds was also an entrepreneur, humanitarian and historian, and is survived by her son, Todd Fisher. - AP/The Hollywood Reporter, 12/28/16...... Allan Williams, the first manager of the Beatles who became known as "The Man Who Gave the Beatles Away" from the title of his gritty autobiography, died in Liverpool on Dec. 30. He was 86. In the early 1960s, Mr. Williams opened a coffee bar in Liverpool called The Jacaranda where he first met Beatles John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Stuart Sutcliffe, and personally drove the van to take the young band to Hamburg in 1960, where they gained the vital showbusiness experience that led to their emergence on the world stage. Mr. Williams helped the band get other gigs as well, including a short tour of Scotland with Johnny Gentle, but he and the Beatles got into a dispute after the group took on an extended engagement at the Top Ten Club in Hamburg and refused to pay Mr. Williams the commission he believed he was owed. The dispute was the beginning of the end of their association, and when the group returned to Liverpool, now with Pete Best as drummer, they came to the attention of Brian Epstein, who was running a local record shop. Epstein told Williams he was thinking of managing the Beatles. Mr. Williams told him about the commission dispute and how unpredictable they were. "Yes, yes, Allan you're right," Epstein told him, "but I feel here (tapping his chest) that together the Beatles and I could make something really big. So big that ..." Years later, Mr. Williams worked to get tapes of the Beatles recorded while they were playing at the Star-Club in Hamburg released. The Beatles later won a court case to have the tapes taken off the market. In more recent years, he met with groups of Beatles fans traveling through Liverpool. Beatles historians note that although Mr. Williams wasn't the person who could mold the band into the phenomenon they became, his decision to send them to Hamburg allowed them to transform themselves from a mediocre dance band into the tight, hard-rocking group that mesmerized the world. Williams' death marks the second passing in recent weeks of someone closely associated with the early days of the Beatles. Sam Leach, who booked many early Beatles shows, died Dec. 21 after a long illness. - Billboard, 12/30/16...... Actor William Christopher, who played the unassuming U.S. Army chaplain, Father Mulcahy, struggling to bring spiritual comfort to an anarchic surgical unit during the Korean War on the long-running hit TV series M*A*S*H, on Dec. 31. He was 84. Mr. Christopher, who was diagnosed with cancer about 18 months ago, died in his bed at his home in Pasadena, Calif., according to his longtime New York-based agent, Robert Malcolm. His wife of nearly 60 years, Barbara Christopher, was with him at the time. Mr. Christopher landed his signature role of Father Francis Mulcahy on M*A*S*H after another actor played the part on the show's pilot episode. He went on to portray the soft-spoken priest assigned to the fictional 4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital for the duration of the series, which ran from 1972 to 1983 on the CBS network and continued to air in syndication for decades after. Together with Alan Alda as Captain "Hawkeye" Pierce, Loretta Swit as Major Margaret "Hotlips" Houlihan and Jamie Farr as cross-dressing Corporal Maxwell Klinger, Mr. Christopher was among the only cast members to remain on the show for all 11 seasons. The 1983 finale of M*A*S*H drew 106 million viewers, making it the most-watched U.S. TV show to date. "I liked the character. I liked Father Mulcahy. The character is pretty real to me," Mr. Christopher told a North Carolina newspaper in 2011. Born on Oct. 20, 1932, in the Chicago suburb of Evanston, Ill., Mr. Christopher moved to California and landed recurring roles on 1960s TV shows including The Andy Griffith Show, Gomer Pyle: USMC and Hogan's Heroes, and small roles in movies including 1968's With Six You Get Egg Roll in which he appeared with future M*A*S*H co-star Farr. In the 1990s, Farr and Mr. Christopher co-starred in a touring production of the play "The Odd Couple." Mr. Christopher married his wife, Barbara, in 1957. They had two children. He was active in the cause of autism awareness. He and his wife co-authored a book about raising an autistic son. - EW.com, 1/1/17.