Jerry Lewis, an American comedy and film legend who dominated show business with his "straight man" singing partner Dean Martin in the 1950s before going on to star in, write and direct dozens of classic movies on his own, died on Aug. 20 at his home in Las Vegas after battling numerous health problems in recent years. He was 91. Born Joseph Levitch on March 16, 1926, in Newark, N.J., to professional entertainers, Mr. Lewis made his debut at age 5 at a hotel in the Borscht Belt, the legendary upstate New York venue, by singing "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?" He dropped out of high school and, while working as a soda jerk and theater usher, cultivated a comedy routine, in which he mimed phonograph records. In July 1946, Mr. Lewis teamed up with Italian-American crooner Martin, who was nine years his elder. Their ad libs, including insults and off-the-wall jokes, were a sensation,and their salaries skyrocketed from $250 a week to $5,000. Playing up their physical and personality contrasts -- Mr. Lewis' monkeyshines and ineptitude against straight man Martin's sedate, sexy charm -- the duo became overwhelmingly successful, catching the attention of Paramount Pictures producer Hal B. Wallis, who signed the team to a contract with Paramount and produced their first film, My Friend Irma, in supporting roles in 1949 which became a hit. Martin & Lewis made a total of 16 films together as headliners, including At War With the Army (1950), Sailor Beware (1952), The Caddy (1953), Living It Up (1954) and You're Never Too Young (1955), before Martin became tired of Mr. Lewis getting most of the attention, and the pair made their final appearance together at New York's Copacabana club on July 25, 1956, ten years to the day they formed their team. The feud that developed did not publicly end until the MDA telethon of 1976, when Frank Sinatra surprised longtime host Mr. Lewis by bringing Martin onstage. Martin died in 1995. Mr. Lewis then signed a $10 million deal with Paramount for 14 films during a seven-year period, and he formed his own production company. Mr. Lewis found his first solo starring role in The Delicate Delinquent (1957) and quickly followed with a string of hits: The Sad Sack (1957), Rock-a-Bye Baby (1958), The Geisha Boy (1958), Don't Give Up the Ship (1959) and The Bellboy, the latter a slew of blackout gags he concocted around the Miami's Fontainebleau Hotel. Mr. Lewis' string of hits continued with Cinderfella (1960) and The Errand Boy (1961), but it was 1963's The Nutty Professor that cemented his reputation. Directing himself, Mr. Lewis starred as a near-sighted professor and chemistry egghead who dazzles his coeds by becoming the ultra-cool pop singer Buddy Love. The movie also served as the basis for Eddie Murphy's retooled remake in 1996, with Murphy taking over the nerdy professor role, this time turning into a sharp-tongued comedian. (Murphy presented Mr. Lewis with the Hersholt trophy at the 2009 Oscars.) After that, his films dropped drastically at the box office, and he experienced his greatest disappointment on TV in 1963 when his two-hour Saturday night talk and variety show didn't click with the socially-conscious mid-1960s era. However, his popularity remained intact in France, which became something of a running gag. For 13 years, Mr. Lewis later admitted, he also was addicted to the painkilling drug Percodan, which was prescribed for treatment of a chipped spinal column he received while doing a pratfall in 1965 on The Andy Williams Show. His controversial 1972 film The Day the Clown Cried -- a drama set inside a Nazi concentration camp -- was never released, although he donated a copy to the Library of Congress in August 2015, with the agreement the film not be shown for a decade. In 1980, after an absence of nearly 10 years from the screen, Mr. Lewis attempted a comeback with the film Hardly Working. More successfully, he followed with a straight role as a talk-show host stalked by an obsessive fan in Martin Scorsese's The King of Comedy (1982), starring Robert De Niro. Mr. Lewis' dramatic performance as a beleaguered TV star was critically lauded. Mr. Lewis most recently appeared in such films as Cookie (1989), Arizona Dream (1993), Funny Bones (1995) and Max Rose (2016), and he played opposite Nicolas Cage and Elijah Wood in The Trust (2016). He performed a cameo as himself in Billy Crystal's Mr. Saturday Night (1992) and guest-starred on a 2006 episode of Law & Order: SVU. In 1991, he was presented with the Comic Life Achievement Award at the National Academy of Cable Programming's ACE Awards. The American Comedy Awards gifted him with a lifetime achievement award in 1998. And the Los Angeles Film Critics Assn. presented him with its career achievement honor in 2004. When Mr. Lewis was 18, he met singer Patti Palmer, and they wed 10 days later. During their marriage, which lasted from 1944-82, they had five sons, including '60s pop singer Gary Lewis and adopted another child. His youngest, Joseph, became a drug addict and committed suicide in 2009 at age 45. Mr. Lewis also was known for his efforts as national chairman of the Muscular Dystrophy Assn. He devoted more than a half-century to fighting the neuromuscular disease, hosting an annual Labor Day telethon -- and raising nearly $2.5 billion -- from 1955 until he was ousted before the 2011 telecast. Mr. Lewis was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 1977 for his efforts. Mr. Lewis' health ailments over the years included open-heart surgery in 1983, surgery for prostate cancer in 1992, treatment for his dependence on prescription drugs in 2003, a heart attack in 2006 and a long bout with pulmonary fibrosis, a chronic lung disease for which he took Prednisone, causing his face and body to balloon. He reportedly died at 9:15 a.m. at his home in Las Vegas, surrounded by family and friends. - The Hollywood Reporter, 8/20/17.
Welsh singer Bonnie Tyler, who followed up her 1978 No. 3 single "It's a Heartache" with an even bigger hit called "Total Eclipse of the Heart" in 1983, will be singing the latter song during the total solar eclipse that is due to take place in the US on Aug. 21, 2017. Tyler is booked as a special guest for a few days of the week-long Oasis Of The Seas cruise, which sails from Orlando, Fla., to the Caribbean on Aug. 20. The Royal Caribbean vessel will reportedly be positioned in "the path of totality" so Tyler's performance will coincide with those aboard as they view the eclipse, which will be the first solar eclipse in the U.S. since 1979. "It's going to be so exciting. It doesn't happen very often, does it?," Tyler told Time magazine. Tyler's "Total Eclipse of the Heart" was the No. 1 single in the U.S. for four weeks in 1983. She will be backed by Joe Jonas' band DNCE for the performance. - New Musical Express, 8/16/17...... Olivia Newton-John has updated fans in a new video following the return of her breast cancer, which led her to postpone her tour in May. "I'd like to express my gratitude to all of you who sent such kind and loving messages of support over the past few months," Olivia said in a new clip posted to Facebook. "Your prayers and well wishes have truly helped me, and continued to lift my spirits. I'm feeling great, and so look forward to seeing you soon," she added. The "I Honestly Love You" singer, who was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 1992, then focused on the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness and Research Centre named in her honor and its new "We Go Together" campaign, which raises money for research, trials and holistic care in an effort to improve the lives of cancer patients. Olivia's organization hopes to raise $1 million through the campaign by encouraging people to share #WeGoTogether messages of "strength and courage" to those with cancer, or loved ones who have passed from cancer, on social media along with their donations. - Billboard, 8/18/17...... Robert Plant announced on Aug. 18 that he'll release a new solo album called Carry Fire on Oct. 13, a collaboration with the likes of the Pretenders' Chrissie Hynde and folk singer/multi-instrumentalist Seth Lakeman. Carry Fire will be the former Led Zeppelin frontman's fourteenth solo album, and his first since 2014's lullaby and... The Ceaseless Roar. In a press release, Plant said he spent time in Texas before returning to England three years ago and as a result, Carry Fire melds "unusual rhythms with naturalism and smoldering power." "It's about intention, I rspect and relish my past works but each time I feel the lure and incentive to create new work," Plant said of the new album, which features his band the Sensational Space Shifters, which now includes Lakeman. The album's first single, "The May Queen," mixes Plant's ethereal vocals with a driving track that is part drone and part folk shuffle. Plant will launch a world tour beginning in the U.K. tour behind the new LP on Nov. 16 in Plymouth, also playing Bristol, Wolverhampton, Llandudno, Newcastle, Liverpool, Glasgow, Perth and Manchester during that month. In December, he'll visit Belfast, Dublin, Sheffield, London and Portsmouth, before wrapping on Dec. 12 in Birmingham. - New Musical Express, 8/18/17...... Aerosmith guitarist Brad Whitford says his band is still "going to be playing for the next five years" and will most likely be releasing singles with new tunes, despite lowering their output in the late 2000s and feuding between some members including singer Steven Tyler and guitarist Joe Perry. "You don't have to record a whole CD anymore," Whitford told Billboard. "We've started recording a new song... It's very rock 'n roll.... a musical idea of Joe Perry's." Whitford added: "We actually did some recording while we were touring Europe, and we started recording a new song. We were in the studio in London. The music business has changed so much since we started. You have to do things really differently, We could just release one song and make it available for download. It is a different world in the music business." - Billboard, 8/17/17...... An unreleased live version of Lou Reed's "Sweet Jane" can be heard on Reed's first posthumous release, Lou Reed and Kris Kristofferson: In Their Own Words with Vin Scelsa. The performance was captured during a performance by Reed and Kris Kristofferson at NYC's Bottom Line club in February 1994. "Lou was very comfortable on the Bottom Line stage," says Archive Series producer Gregg Bandian. "The audience is interacting with (Reed and Kristofferson). Lou just lets it all hang out; He's funny, he's irascible, he's sarcastic. It's a full Lou experience, and it's very pared down and very raw." The release is due Sept. 15, and Bendian says more releases will be coming from the Bottom Line's archive of more than 1,200 shows. - Billboard, 8/17/17...... A new David Bowie biography by British journalist Dylan Jones of GQ magazine called David Bowie: A Life reveals some new details of his wild "Ziggy Stardust"-era life, including the time, according to groupie Josette Caruso, that Bowie was once offered a "warm, deady body" to have sex with, while on tour in Philadelphia in September 1972. Caruso claims the shocking offer made Bowie look "white as a sheet" and said: "Who on Earth do they think I am? Why would they think I'd be interested in something like that? "Why would I be interested in f----- a dead body?" Bowie once described himself as "incredibly promiscuous," and the biography is said to include details about his sex addiction. The singer once revealed he slept with a string of women throughout the 1970s and 80s, and earlier in 2017, lawyers urged any potential love children to come forward to get a share of his £80 million fortune. David Bowie: A Life hits stores on Sept. 12. - New Musical Express, 8/19/17...... In an Aug. 16 interview with the right-wing media outlet Newsmax TV, Country musician Charlie Daniels said the removal of Confederate statues was similar to demolition actions by the terrorist group ISIS. "That's just what ISIS is doing over at the places where they were," Daniels said when asked if Confederate symbols should be removed across the United States. "There were pieces of history over there they didn't like, they're taking them down," he added. Daniels then echoed Pres. Donald Trump's "slippery slope" argument made by the president a few days earlier in a press conference, saying "Where does it stop?... "Is it just going to be Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson, or are we headed into Jefferson and Washington, who were both slave owners?... Is everybody in history who we disagree with, we're going to have to wipe every semblance of them out?" The "Devil Went Down to Georgia" singer concluded by saying "They're statues of people who are part of our history... There are people who are part of our history who were not very savory characters... If you don't like it, don't look at it.... I walk past movie posters I don't like [but] I'm not going to go over and tear them down." - Billboard, 8/18/17...... In related news, the family of late Country legend Johnny Cash are condemning a white supremacist who was spotted wearing a Johnny Cash T-shirt during the neo-Nazi rallies protesting that city's removal of Confederate statues that broke out in Charlottesville, Va., on Aug. 12. "[Johnny Cash] would be horrified at even a casual use of his name or image for an idea or a cause founded in persecution and hatred," Cash's daughter Roseanne Cash posted on Facebook. "The white supremacists and neo-Nazis who marched in Charlottesville are poison in our society, and an insult to every American hero who wore a uniform to fight the Nazis in WWII," she added. The emotional post was also signed by Kathy, Cindy and Tara Cash. - Billboard, 8/18/17...... Michael Lang, the co-founder of the legendary 1969 Woodstock festival in upstate New York, has organized the new Lovelight Festival which he hopes to bring enlightenment and the arts to an aching country. Running from Aug. 18-21 in Darlington, MD, the Lovelight Festival celebrates yoga, health and the arts of enlightenment for a family-friendly experience over a long weekend. The headliners include Matisyahu, Trevor Hall, MC Yogi and Living Light. Lang and his co-creators, yoga musician Wynne Paris and producer Kim Maddox, have made the event alcohol and drug-free and vegan. Yoga played a key role in the 1969 festival and that legacy is hoped to continue with Lovelight. Lang also says he plans to expand the festival to two other locations. And with the 50th anniversary of the 1969 Woodstock coming up in a couple of years, Lang says "We're pursuing a festival event for that." - Billboard, 8/17/17...... Randy Newman has come out in support of the Music Scoring Tax Credit Bill (AB 1300), legistlation in his home state of California which aims to keep film and TV music scoring in the state. "The studio musicians here in Los Angeles are one of the greatest resources this city has," the lauded singer/songwriter/composer said in a statement. "For more than 80 years, Los Angeles musicians have played music heard and admired around the world. In the last ten years or so many filmmakers chose to record elsewhere. Film music has suffered because of it," he added. On Aug. 19, a free concert was presented at Los Angeles' City Hall supporting the California State assembly bill, with various unions particpating and featuring Rickey Minor of American Idol and The Tonight Show. - Billboard, 8/16/17...... A defiant Gene Simmons has made his first public remarks since aborting his attempt to trademark the "rock 'n roll devil horns" hand symbol popularized by Ronnie James Dio. "I regret nothing," Simmons told the U.K. paper The Windsor Star. "Wake up every morning and let your conscience be your guide. Did you know I own the money bag logo? The dollar sign with the bag of money. I own all kinds of things. I own 'motion pictures' as a trademark. Anyone who thinks that's silly -- the silliest thing I've ever done is wear more makeup and higher heels than your mommy." Then turning his attention to Dio's widow Wendy Dio, who has said that the symbol belongs to culture and that "to try to make money off of something like this is disgusting," the Kiss frontman said: "People said, 'You can't do that.' Actually, bitch -- I can. I can do anything I want to do." An investigation into Simmon's claims shows that he does indeed have a trademark on one particular clip art-style image of a bag with a money sign on it, but his other trademark claims are dubious. - NME/Spin.com, 8/18/17...... Foreigner founder and guitarist Mick Jones has revealed plans for the surviving original Foreigner lineup members and second bassist Rick Wills (his predecessor Ed Gagliardi died in 2014) to get together in Michigan this fall for a session that will be filmed, according to Jones, though no firm details have yet been announced. "One thing for sure is all the musicians are getting on very well together and it's just refreshing and we're really enjoying it," says Jones, who reunited with singer Lou Gramm when the duo was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2013. "Lou is good, and he's kept his voice. Al [Greenwood] and Ian [McDonald] are playing the same as they did 40 years ago, basically, and it's a hoot. It's great adrenaline and very enjoyable. I think there's no bad apple anywhere in the whole thing, so I can't see any big problems." Jones is equally excited about Foreigner's current 40th anniversary run, which is touring North America this summer after a spring run in Europe. "I have to say it's just wonderful," Jones says. "It feels like the early '80s. The crowds are flocking in everywhere. Nearly everywhere's a sellout and people just want to be out there and have fun with us.... It feels like the old days back again, so it's going tremendously well. I'm just so happy." Jones, who also published the memoir A Foreigner's Tale earlier in 2017, also hinted the energy could send the band back into the studio to record new material. "It just requires a bit of time to concentrate on writing, which I will have coming up early next year," he says. - Billboard, 8/15/17...... Elvis Presley's daughter Lisa Marie Presley and her children, eight-year-old twin daughters Harper and Finley Lockwood and her 24-year-old son Benjamin Keough honored Presley on the 40th anniversary of his death at Graceland Mansion in Memphis, Tenn., on Aug. 16. Over 50,000 fans joined the family, including Lisa Marie's mother Priscilla Presley, for a candlelit vigil at Elvis' Memphis estate. Lisa Marie, 47, reportedly carried a torch and lit candles with those who'd turned up to remember the late musician. A procession walked around the grounds where he, his parents and grandmother are buried. Meanwhile, some fans attending the annual ceremony have complained after being charged to visit Elvis' grave to pay their respects. For the last four decades, it has been free to visit his grave to mourn him -- but for the first time in 2017, a fee has been introduced. Elvis fans now have to pay $28.75 for an "Elvis Week Property Pass" wristband to be able to walk up the driveway procession towards his grave. "I understand they are a business, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with them making money," one Elvis fan said. "But the current price-gouging situation has created so much friction, it's even dividing fans." Earlier in the week, Priscilla Presley told a British TV interviewer that she didn't think Elvis would "never have overcome his demons." I "I think that he would always have his demons," the 72-year-old Priscilla said. "Elvis was a thinker. He was a searcher. His mother had demons, his father had demons. We all have demons obviously; I don't want to make it bigger than it is. They were a close family but there was always a little bit of sadness in them." In other Elvis-related news, Graceland Holdings LLC has announced it is planning a new $135 million live venue in Memphis that will draw global stars. Also, an "Elvis on Tour: The Exhibition" exhibit is set to open on Nov. 3 in London that will provide Elvis fans with a never before seen glimpse of Presley's life on tour in the 1970's. Among the main attractions are some of Elvis' most recognizable jumpsuits and guitars that he played on tour -- including a Gretzsch Country Gentleman guitar that he used in Las Vegas in 1969. - NME/WENN.com, 8/17/17...... Cher has just released a trippy, magical new song called "Ooga Boo," a contribution to the soundtrack for animated children's television show Home: Adventures with Tip & Oh. The release comes with a psychedelic animated video, where a glamorous alien creature named "Chercophonie" (wink wink) floats through outer space with Tip and Oh, the main characters of the new Netflix spinoff based on the Dreamworks film Home. Home: Adventures with Tip & Oh is streaming now on Netflix. - Billboard, 8/16/17...... Stephen Stills and his former paramour Judy Collins are planning the release of a collaborative album called Everybody Knows, which is due out Sept. 22. The set includes a song Stills wrote for his then girlfriend called simply "Judy," as well as a variety of covers of each other's material, as well as covers by the likes of Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen and the Traveling Wilburys. A new Collins composition, "River Of Gold," will also be featured. "We always were friends," Collins says of Stills. "We didn't ever hate each other. We had a kind of, I would say, dramatic love affair, lots of positive and then a lot of upset because it wasn't working out. And then, of course 'Suite: Judy Blue Eyes" came along and, I mean, how can you resist when you hear that song all over the country?!" The album project led to a concert tour by the pair that kicked off on July 26 in Highland Park, Ill., and runs through Nov. 4 in Brooks, Calif. - Billboard, 8/15/17...... Grammy Award-winning singer Yvonne Elliman-Alexander of Saturday Night Fever fame and her husband were arrested in Guam on Aug. 15 and charged with illegal drug possession. Guam Customs and Quarantine Agency dogs reportedly sniffed out methamphetamine and marijuana as the two arrived on the island for a benefit concert at a school. Crystal-like rocks, which tested positive for meth, and a glass pipe with suspected methamphetamine residue were in the singer's belongings, according to court documents. Elliman-Alexander, 65, is charged with one count of possession of a controlled substance on board an aircraft, a first-degree felony. Allen Alexander is charged with one count of possession of a controlled substance as a third-degree felony. The two were released on $10,000 personal recognizance bonds, but they can't leave Guam without permission from the court. They also can't go to any clubs or bars. - AP, 8/18/17...... Original Thin Lizzy drummer Brian Downey will perform a rare concert at Nells Jazz & Blues in London on Nov. 24 with his new band Alive and Dangerous to mark the 40th anniversary of the classic live Thin Lizzy set, Live and Dangerous. Next year, 2018, celebrates the 40th Anniversary of the Live and Dangerous album. Although the LP was recorded live in 1977 at London's Hammersmith Apollo and Toronto's Seneca College, it wasn't officially released until a year later in 1978. - Noble PR, 8/18/17...... Dick Gregory, the trailblazing comedian, social critic, writer and civil activist who used his humor to break racial barriers and to spread messages of social justice and nutritional health, died on Aug. 19 in Washington, D.C., after being hospitalized earlier in the week. He was 84. Mr. Gregory was one of the first black comedians to find mainstream success with white audiences in the early 1960s. He rose from an impoverished childhood in St. Louis to become a celebrated satirist who deftly commented upon racial divisions at the dawn of the civil rights movement. Mr. Gregory also ran for president in 1968 as the Peace and Freedom party candidate. His son, Christian, said his dad died late in the evening and the family posted the following message on Twitter: "It is with enormous sadness that the Gregory family confirms that their father, comedic legend -- Dick Gregory (@IAmDickGregory) August 20, 2017." - AP, 8/20/17.