In an interview with BBC Radio 6 on Mar. 25, Paul McCartney revealed he's working on a new album with producer Greg Kurstin, who McCartney previously worked with for a song for an animated film. "I'm making a new album, which is great fun. I'm in the middle of that," Sir Paul said. "I'm working with a producer who I first worked with two years ago on a thing, a piece of music I'm doing for an animated film. And since then he went on to work with Beck and got best album of the year," he continued. "Then he went on to work with Adele. He just got song of the year, record of the year with Adele. And just got producer of the year. So my only worry is people are going to go, 'Uhhhhh, there's Paul going with the flavor of the month.' You know, I suppose you always think the worst of it. But he's a great guy. Greg is musical and he's great to work with." McCartney, who has not scheduled a release date for the upcoming album, released a deluxe version of his 1989 solo album Flowers in the Dirt with previously unheard demos from the recording sessions with Elvis Costello on Mar. 24, and has announced plans to tour Japan in 2017. Macca also paid tribute to the late Chuck Berry, who was a major influence on the Beatles. "He came to one of our concerts when we were playing in St. Louis, which is his home town. And he came round backstage. It was great to meet him and just be able to tell him what a fan I was," he said. - Billboard, 3/26/17...... In other Beatles-related news, Pete Shotton, a childhood friend and early bandmate of John Lennon, died of a heart attack in Liverpool, England, on Mar. 24 at age 75. "My memories of the two of us go back so far that I barely remember a time when there was no John Lennon in my life," Shotton wrote in his 1983 autobiography In My Life. Shotton, who lived around the corner from John, says he approached Paul McCartney soon after he'd met Lennon about an idea to join the pre-Beatles group The Quarrymen, which then included both him and Lennon. "By the way, I've been talking to John about it and we thought maybe you'd like to join the group." He wrote that McCartney thought for a minute, then said, "Oh, all right," and took off on his bicycle to go home. Shotton also played a role in the creation of two Beatles songs: "Eleanor Rigby" and "I Am the Walrus." Shotton said he suggested the name "Father McKenzie" when McCartney was trying to come up with the name of a cleric for the song. It was also his idea, he says, to have Rigby die at the end of the song, a suggestion he writes was originally rejected by Lennon. Lennon later gave Shotton a job managing the Apple Botique, which lasted just over six months before closing in 1968, and the pair remained friends until Lennon's death in 1980. - Billboard, 3/24/17...... Barry Manilow has joined the lineup for the monthly "Concert for America: Stand Up, Sing Out!" series of charity concerts that raises money for human rights organizations. Manilow will perform at the Apr. 18 concert at New York's Town Hall, with proceeds benefiting the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Southern Poverty Law Center, National Immigration Law Center and the Sierra Club Foundation. The concert will also be streamed live on Facebook. - AP, 3/25/17...... Eric Clapton announced on Twitter on Mar. 24 that he was forced to postpone two two concerts scheduled for the last weekend in March at the Forum in Inglewood, Calif., due to a case of "severe bronchitis." The concerts will be rescheduled for the fall. Clapton was already scheduled to perform Sept. 15 and 16 at the Forum and these new concerts will be rescheduled around those gigs. The 71-year-old Clapton has only performed two shows so far in 2017 -- both at New York's Madison Square Garden in late March. - Billboard, 3/24/17...... As he reached his milestone age of 70 on Mar. 25, Elton John began curating the Song of the Day on Amazon.com's newly-launched premium on-demand streaming service Amazon Music Unlimited. Each day through March 30, Sir Elton will choose a new song by a different artist to be highlighted through song of the day; his first pick was Lana Del Rey's "Love," the singer's latest single which was released in February. "I'm excited to share some of my favorite songs and some new artists I'm really excited about with you over the course of the week," John said via introduction to the playlist. "Let's start it off with the new, gorgeous track from the one and only Lana Del Rey. I've been anxiously awaiting her new music and I wasn't disappointed when I heard the beauty and cinematic quality of this song." - Billboard, 3/24/17...... Cher has announced she's dropping out of a TV movie for the Lifetime network about the water crisis in Flint, Mich. Cher was set to portray a Flint resident whose family is impacted by the water crisis in the drama inspired by a Feb. 2016 cover story in Time magazine called "The Toxic Tap" by Josh Sanburn. Cher cited a "serious family issue" that prevented her from going on location for the April filming, but said "I'm so glad that Craig and Neil [the producers] plan to move ahead and I know that this Lifetime movie will be done beautifully." Cher won a Golden Globe nomination for her sole previous TV movie effort in 1996, HBO's If These Walls Could Talk, about three different women's experience with abortion. - The Hollywood Reporter, 3/24/17...... Recently deceased rock 'n' roll legend Chuck Berry is on track to score his highest charting album on the Billboard Hot 200 LP rundown in more than 40 years with his greatest hits album The Definitive Collection, which could debut somewhere inside the chart's top 50. In 1972, Berry's The London Chuck Berry Sessions, which featured his No. 1 novelty track "My Ding-a-Ling," peaked at No. 8 on the Hot 200. - Billboard, 3/24/17...... A luxury timepiece from Swiss watchmaker Raymond Weil has unveiled its "David Bowie Freelancer," a watch coming later in 2017 that "celebrates the legendary icon's musicality, style and unmatched innovation." To mark what would have been Bowie's 70th birthday, the watch features an Aladdin Sane lightning bolt on its face and Terry O'Neill's iconic 1974 portrait of the late star is on its case-back. The watch was created in collaboration with the David Bowie Estate and announced via the singer's social media channels. Just 3,000 of the watches have been manufactured and numbered for release later in the year. In other Bowie news, a crowd-funding campaign that was launched in February to raise £900,000 to erect the "ZiggyZag" sculpture near Bowie's birthplace in Brixton, South London has failed to reach its goal. Around 700 fans were only able to raise just around £50,000 of the total amount and none of the funds will be taken, however organizers say they hope to create an alternate "appropriate piece of public art." - Billboard, 3/23/17...... In a rare interview posted on his official website to promote his new album Triplicate, Bob Dylan told interviewer Bill Flanagan that he enjoys recent releases by such artists as Iggy Pop, Imelda May and the Stereophonics. Dylan continued: "I like Willie Nelson and Norah Jones' album with Wynton Marsalis, the Ray Charles tribute record. I liked Amy Winehouse's last record." In other Dylan-related news, photographer Don Hunstein, who is best remembered for shooting the iconic photograph for Dylan's 1963 Freewheelin' Bob Dylan album, has passed away at age 88. The photograph features Dylan and his girlfriend, Suze Rotolo, walking down a West Village street on a freezing February afternoon. Mr. Hunstein, an in-house photographer for Columbia Records in the 1950s and 1960s, also produced covers for Miles Davis' Nefertiti, Thelonious Monk's Monk's Dream, and Dylan's 1962 self-titled solo LP. - New Musical Express, 3/23/17...... Over 1,000 fans of Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds attended a joint memorial honoring the two late actresses at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Los Angeles on Mar. 25. There were more than a few fans present who payed tribute to Fisher's most famous role, as Princess Leia in 1977's Star Wars, including several young girls wearing their hair in Leia's iconic "cinnamon bun" style. "We grew up with the Star Wars movies and Carrie Fisher and we just love her so much," said fan Clarice Diers. "We were devastated. We were in Texas when we found out, so we found out about this. We just wanted to show up and show our support. We just loved them." During the ceremony, the Gay Men's Chorus sang a stirring rendition of "True Colors" while clips of both Debbie and Carrie played, that moved many in the audience to tears. - The Hollywood Reporter, 3/26/17...... John "Sib" Hashian, the drummer in the classic '70s lineup of Boston, died after collapsing onstage during a concert performance on the Legends of Rock Cruise on Mar. 22. He was 67. The L.O.R. Cruise began on Mar. 18 in Florida and had stops in several places including Puerto Rico and the Bahamas. Hashian, who donned an epic afro hairdo in the early days of his career, played on Boston's first two hit records, their self-titled debut album in 1976, featuring the hit song "More Than a Feeling," and the 1978 followup, Don't Look Back. Boston, comprised of Hashian, Tom Scholz, Brad Delp, Barry Goudreau and Fran Sheehan, had one of the most successful debut records in history, selling over 17 million copies, with the singles "Long Time" and "Peace of Mind." Sib Hashian's daughter, Lauren, has a daughter with actor Dwayne Johnson, and he is also survived by his wife Suzanne. A cause of death had not yet been determined. - AP, 3/23/17...... Actress Lola Albright, perhaps best known for playing glamorous nightclub singer Edie Hart opposite Craig Stevens in the 1958-1961 NBC television series Peter Gunn, died on Mar. 23 in Toluca Lake, Calif. She was 92. A native of Akron, Oh., Ms. Albright was a receptionist for Akron radio station WAKR before moving to Hollywood. In 1959, she was nominated for an Emmy for her work in Peter Gunn. - Ohio.com, 3/24/17.
It appears that rock 'n' roll legend Chuck Berry died of natural causes at age 90 on Mar. 18, and no autopsy is planned. The singer/songwriter/guitarist's final album, CHUCK, will be released on June 16 on CD as well as vinyl via Nashville-based Dualtone Music, and his family said details about the album will be forthcoming soon. "Working to prepare the release of this record in recent months and in fact over the last several years brought Chuck a great sense of joy and satisfaction," they wrote in a Facebook post on Mar. 20. Meanwhile, it has been estimated that the business-savvy rock icon left behind an estate estimated to be around $50 million. Industry observers say the estate's share of publishing rights to songs controlled by the late rocker's Isalee Music Publishing Company could be worth more than $13 million alone, and Berry's recording-artist royalties could amount to $500,000 per year. Berry wrote about 200 songs during his career, and his estate will now own about half of them outright, albeit mostly ones he wrote after his commercial peak. Universal Music Group, which owns the Chess catalog, controls Berry's most valuable recordings; BMG holds what's left. The publishing rights to those songs could generate about $360,000 per year in royalties, and publishing income from his songs could amount to $1.1 million annually. Should the estate sell Berry's publishing rights, such catalogs are generally priced at about 12 times annual revenue, which in this case would be $13.5 million. - Billboard, 3/20/17...... The CBS TV network announced on Mar. 21 that it will air a Grammy tribute to the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack, Stayin' Alive: A Grammy Salute to the Music of the Bee Gees, on Apr. 16. Barry Gibb, the Bee Gees' co-founder and last surviving member, will make an appearance and perform classic hits from the Saturday Night Fever album for the event, which will focus on improving music life and culture through the Bee Gees' legacy. Among the other artists scheduled to perform are Stevie Wonder, Celine Dion, Nick Jonas, Keith Urban, John Legend, Little Big Town and Ed Sheeran. John Travolta, who had the lead role in Saturday Night Fever, That '70s Show's Wilmer Valderrama, and Cynthia Erivo, will also be honoring the Bee Gees and the film. - Billboard, 3/21/17...... The Beatles' hometown of Liverpool, England announced on Mar. 22 that it is preparing to celebrate the half-centenary of the band's seminal 1967 Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album. Liverpool authorities have commissioned 13 artists to create works based on the album's 13 tracks, including choreographer Mark Morris' dance tribute to the title song, cabaret artist Meow Meow's "outlandish procession" based on "Lovely Rita" and a mural by U.S. artist Judy Chicago inspired by "Fixing a Hole." There will also be a singalong by 64 choirs of the jaunty "When I'm Sixty-Four." The works will have their world premieres at venues across Liverpool between May 25 and June 16. On June 1 -- the anniversary of the album's release -- the city will host a fireworks extravaganza by French pyrotechnic artist Christophe Berthonneau. - AP, 3/22/17...... Prog-rockers Kansas have announced they plan to carry on their 40th anniversary tour of their breakthrough 1976 Leftoverture album into its 41st year, with 32 U.S. dates planned for late summer through late fall, beginning on Aug. 25 in Shreveport, La. The second leg of the Leftoverture tour, which begins on Mar. 24 in Salina, Kan., includes an Oct. 6 date in Topeka, Kan., where the band was formed, and its final show will be on Dec. 9 in The Villages, Fla. The Leftoverture anniversary tour, which began in 2016, coincided with the release of The Prelude Implicit, Kansas' first new studio album in 16 years. Released during October of 1976, Kansas' Leftoverture was a Top 5, five-times platinum smash that included the band's most famous hit, "Carry On Wayward Son." Kansas' future plans include recording a new studio album in 2018 and another full-album tour, this time playing 1977's Point of Know Return, the quadruple-platinum follow-up to Leftoverture. - Billboard, 3/22/17...... In other prog-rock news, Brian May of Queen has unveiled a special new edition of the famous board game Monopoly based around Queen. May recently images of the game on Instagram and Twitter, which is emblazoned with a classic live photo of Queen, while the plot of the game has changed from amassing property to following the successful career of the band -- from their very first gig at Imperial College in 1970 to their last show with Freddie Mercury at Knebworth in 1986. The Queen Monopoly game will drop in May, and Queen are also preparing to go on tour in 2017 with Adam Lambert handling vocal duties. - NME, 3/21/17...... Todd Rundgren announced on Mar. 21 that he'll release a new studio album, White Knight, on May 12 via Cleopatra Records, and mount a new tour behind it beginning in April. The track list of White Knight is notable for the preponderance of guest stars involved, which run the gamut from peers of Rundgren's original '70s and '80s heydey (including Daryl Hall of Hall & Oates, Joe Walsh of the Eagles and Donald Fagen of Steely Dan), to luminaries of more modern art-pop, including Trent Reznor, Dam-Funk and Atticus Ross, and even Rundgren's own son Rebop. Rundgren has also shared the first advance track from the upcoming set, "That Could Have Been Me," which features Robyn. Rundgren kicks off a 12-city U.S. tour behind White Knight on Apr. 29 in St. Louis, wrapping on May 27 in St. Petersburg, Fla. On June 10, he'll be among the headliners at the 35th Syracuse Jazz Festival in Syracuse, NY. - Billboard, 3/21/17...... With the health of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II apparently in rapid decline, Sex Pistols frontman John Lydon (a.k.a. Johnny Rotten) says that he will miss the Queen after she dies and that he doesn't want his band's famous "God Save The Queen" to be played to mark her passing. Political anthem "God Save The Queen" was released in 1977 and features the lyrics: "God save the queen, she ain't no human being/There is no future in England's dreaming." It was released by the punk band during the week of Queen Elizabeth II's Silver Jubilee. "[The song is] about a political situation and the demand for obedience to a monarchy I don't believe in," Lydon recently said in another interview, adding: "[The Queen is] a human being and I will sorely miss her as a human being on planet Earth It's not her fault she was born into a gilded cage. Long may she live." - New Musical Express, 3/21/17...... Lawyers representing the late '60s/early '70s band Spirit have filed an appeal with a US federal court to argue against the June 2016 verdict that sided with Led Zeppelin in the "Stairway To Heaven" plagiarism case. The 90-page brief filed the third week in March at the US court of appeals for the ninth circuit, argues a series of "erroneous" jury instructions were to blame for the verdict. At the center of the 2016 case was the accusation that Jimmy Page, when writing the intro to "Stairway To Heaven," ripped off Spirit's instrumental "Taurus," which predates the British band's 1971 signature hit. It was ruled in the 2016 case that the two songs were not "substantially similar" although the new appeal argues that the reason the jury did not hear similarities was because they were not allowed to hear the specific version of "Taurus" that Page allegedly copied from. Other complaints pertaining to the original trial include limiting plaintiff's trial time to 10 hours and an accusation the court seriously erred when defining originality. Spirit's lawyers are seeking a reversal of the original verdict and a retrial. After the initial verdict, Jimmy Page posted on Facebook that he "received and been aware of the overwhelming wave of support, encouragement and congratulations that have been deeply moving. I'd like to take this opportunity to personally thank all those who contributed such a positive energy to me." - NME, 3/18/17...... Kim Campbell, the wife of country/pop crossover legend Glen Campbell, says that Alzheimer's disease has robbed her 80-year-old husband's ability to play guitar. But Kim says that her husband occasionally breaks into a solo "air guitar" routine, which she says is "kind of fun." Campbell was diagnosed with the brain-ravaging disease in 2011 and went on a world tour afterward. The singer, known for such hits as "Rhinestone Cowboy," ''Wichita Lineman" and "Southern Nights," was moved to a long-term care facility in 2014. Kim says that Glen continues to sing, although the words are gibberish and "it's not a melody that we recognize, but you can tell that it's a happy song and he has a song in his heart," so that brings her great comfort. She added that he has lost most of his language, and doesn't understand many words either. - AP, 3/19/17...... Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason was recently involved in a crash in which he was driving his rare Formula One car when it collided with a wall. Mason, a car aficionado, was driving his McLaren F1 GTR when he crashed the multi-million dollar supercar into a tire wall during the Goodwood Members Meeting in West Sussex. He is reported to have emerged from the battered vehicle fine and uninjured after the parade lap crash, but it is said that "serious damage" was done to the car. - NME, 3/21/17...... Iconic New York columnist Jimmy Breslin died on Mar. 19 after a battle with pneumonia. He was 88. In his decades-spanning career writing for several outlets, Mr. Breslin found fame for his portrayals of ordinary New Yorkers and the city's scruffy anti-heroes, often those at the sidelines of major world news events. In a 1980 Daily News story, Mr. Breslin told the story of the New York City cops who retrieved John Lennon's body moments after he'd been fatally shot. For an iconic 1963 column in The New York Herald Tribune, he tracked down the cemetery worker tasked with digging Pres. John F. Kennedy's grave. Mr. Breslin also authored several lauded books, including The Church That Forgot Christ, a response to the Catholic Church's many sex scandals; How the Good Guys Finally Won, a glimpse into the politicians who helped bring down President Richard Nixon during the Watergate scandal; and a novel, The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight. In 1969, he ran as writer Norman Mailer's running mate in an unsuccessful New York mayoral bid. He is survived by his wife, four children, three stepchildren and 12 grandchildren. - HuffingtonPost.com, 3/19/17...... TV impressario/host Chuck Barris, the maniacal host/producer of The Gong Show who also was the manic mastermind behind two other spontaneous game-show classics, The Dating Game and The Newlywed Game, died of natural causes on Mar. 21 at his home in Palisades, N.Y., according to publicist Paul Shefrin, who announced the death on behalf of Barris' family. He was 87. Mr. Barris, a Philadelphia native, also penned the 1962 pop song "Palisades Park," a tribute to the old amusement park in New Jersey that was a hit for Freddy Cannon and figured high on Mr. Barris' list of career achievements. With his innovative shows, Mr. Barris changed the face of reality TV but was derided but critics who nicknamed him "The King of Schlock," "The Baron of Bad Taste" and "The Ayatollah of Trasherola." On The Gong Show, which aired on NBC and in syndication in daytime and primetime from 1976-80, amateurs took to the stage to demonstrate their so-called talent in front of three celebrity judges. Quite often, they made fools of themselves. Acts who appeared included The Unknown Comic (Murray Langston), Danny Elfman, Paul Reubens and Barris' own mother, and at random moments, the host would call out Gene Gene the Dancing Machine (stagehand Gene Patton) to boogie for the audience to the tune of "Jumpin' at the Woodside." Any of the three judges (a roster that included Jaye P. Morgan, Rex Reed, Rip Taylor, Jamie Farr, Arte Johnson and David Letterman) could send the bad performers packing by striking a large gong. Barris, who in his book, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind: An Unauthorized Biography, also claimed to have been an assassin for the CIA -- his implausible story became a fantastical 2002 movie directed by George Clooney and written by Charlie Kaufman. Mr. Barris first made his mark in the game show arena when he created The Dating Game, which bowed as an ABC daytime program in December 1965. Hosted by San Francisco radio personality Jim Lange, the program featured a bachelor or bachelorette asking three members of the opposite sex suggestive questions, then choosing one for a date. ABC's The Newlywed Game, produced by Barris and hosted by the cheeky Bob Eubanks, premiered in July 1966. Four couples who had been married for a year or less competed by matching answers to questions about their spouses' likes and dislikes. Just like The Dating Game, it was a huge hit and played in primetime as well (both shows aired in tandem on Saturday nights for a time). Mr. Barris often came off as a nut case, but he was an astute businessman. As a pioneer of first-run syndication, he sold The Dating Game and The Newlywed Game to stations after ABC canceled his shows, keeping them the air. Mr. Barris also presided over other game shows like The Game Game, How's Your Mother-in-Law?, Dream Girl of '67, The $1.98 Beauty Show, 3's a Crowd, The Family Game and The New Treasure Hunt. Mr. Barris is survived by his wife of 16 years, the former Mary Clagett. - Billboard, 3/22/17.