Paul McCartney has joined the ranks of video bloggers, also known as "vlogging," as the former Beatles kept his social media-savvy fans up to date on all his adventures during his recent tour of Australia and New Zealand. Two recent uploads include the rock legend standing by a post showing off the "beautiful" New Zealand countryside ("Looking forward to the gig on Saturday night in Auckland. Hope to see you there! Come on, let's ROCK") and "saving" a baby kiwi bird ("This is Bubbleicious," he explains whilst holding the kiwi. "And he is delicious. Lovely little kiwi. And strong.") In a vlog to his Australian concert fans before the New Zealand treck, he urged the fans Down Under: "Let's get rocking!" - New Musical Express, 12/19/17...... As the 50th anniversary of Led Zeppelin arrives in 2018, Jimmy Page has hinted that some "surprises" could be coming for Zeppelin fans who want to celebrate the momentous occasion. "There'll be Led Zeppelin product coming out, for sure, that people haven't heard," Page said in a Dec. 20 interview with the Academy of Achievement. "Next year will be the 50th year, so there's all manner of surprises coming out," he added. Led Zeppelin has released sporadic new material since their 1980 break up, including a complete remastering of the band's nine studio albums, and have also reunited for a handful of performances, including at Live Aid in 1985 and the Ahmet Ertegun Tribute Concert in 2007. It is unknown exactly what Page and the other two surviving members, Robert Plant and John Paul Jones, have in store to celebrate their half century anniversary. - Billboard, 12/20/17...... Pop songwriting legend Burt Bacharach and '70s New Wave icon Elvis Costello are teaming up for a musical benefit for victims of the San Luis Rey Downs horse training track fire earlier in December that killed nearly 50 horses and injured their caretakers. "Horses and horse racing have given me nothing but pleasure for the last half-century," longtime horse owner Bacharach said in a statement. "The horrible circumstances around the San Luis Rey Downs fire cry out for aid in so many ways. This is my way of giving back to the horse community," he added. The event is set for Jan. 17 at the Belly Up Tavern in Solana Beach, a mile from Del Mar racetrack, and will be hosted by actress Bo Derek, a former member of the California Horse Racing Board. She and Oscar-winning actress Anjelica Huston will preside over an auction before the show. All money raised will be equally split between the California Thoroughbred Horsemen's Foundation and the California Retirement Management Account. - AP, 12/21/17...... A group of more than 40 artists including Bette Midler, Emmylou Harris, Kris Kristofferson, Bonnie Raitt and Blondie's Debbie Harry and Chris Stein have signed a letter to Congress urging them to pass the CLASSICS Act, which would require digital radio services such as SiriusXM to pay royalties on pre-1972 sound recordings. "Digital radio makes billions of dollars a year from airplay of music made before 1972," the artists wrote. "Yet, because of an ambiguity in state and federal copyright laws, artists and copyright owners who created that music receive nothing for the use of their work. The 'CLASSICS Act' would correct this inequity and finally ensure that musicians and vocalists who made those timeless songs finally get their due. We urge Congress to pass the CLASSICS Act and other pro-artist reforms quickly." As it stands, SiriusXM cites state laws in allowing them to pay less (and in some cases no) royalties to play songs recorded before 1972, and the CLASSICS Act would close that loophole and require a uniform digital royalty rate for all music. - Billboard, 12/20/17...... Phil Collins has taken to Twitter to join the New Year's "start off your new right" campaign by uging people to play his 1981 hit "In the Air Tonight" exactly when 2018 arrives. Over the last few weeks, Twitter users have been sharing songs to played at certain times ahead of midnight, so that a certain climax of the track coincides with midnight on New Year's Eve. "If you play 'In The Air Tonight' by Phil Collins on December 31st at 11:56:40 the drum break will play right as the clock strikes midnight... Start off your new year right," Collins posted on Twitter. Earlier in 2017, Collins returned to live performing with his "The First Farewell Tour" with his son Nicholas in tow to help out on drum duties. - Nw Musical Express, 12/22/17...... In his first interview since the death of his Steely Dan bandmate Walter Becker since Becker passed away in September, Donald Fagen revealed that he had hoped to record another Steely Dan album, but Becker wasn't interested. Speaking with Rolling Stone on the magazine's Music Now podcast on Dec. 20, Fagen said that "Walter had some health problems, and especially after 2011-12, I think just being ill for so long, he had a little bit of a personality change and he was much more isolated, and he kinda wasn't that interested in working on Steely Dan records anymore." Since Becker's passing, Fagen has continued to tour with the rest of the live band under the name Steely Dan, but he noted he doesn't necessarily want to keep doing that. "I would actually prefer to call it Donald Fagen and the Steely Dan Band or something like that," Fagen said before explaining that promoters have insisted that he call it Steely Dan for commercial reasons. "That's an ongoing debate. To me, Steely Dan was just me and Walter, really -- it was like a concept we had together." - Stereogum.com, 12/20/17...... On Dec. 19 a judge dismissed the lawsuit brought by an Australian choreographer who alleged Michael Jackson molested him as a child, resolving one of the last major claims against the late singer's holdings. Judge Mitchell L. Beckloff's summary judgment ruling against the now-35-year-old Wade Robson found that the two Jackson-owned corporations, which were the remaining defendants in the case, were not liable for Robson's exposure to Jackson. He did not rule on the credibility of Robson's allegations themselves. Robson's attorney, Vince Finaldi, said he strongly disagrees, that the ruling sets a dangerous precedent, and he plans to appeal. Robson, who has also worked with Britney Spears and 'NSYNC, says he met Jackson when he was 5 years-old. Robson testified in Jackson's defense at the singer's 2005 criminal trial, saying he had spent the night at Jackson's Neverland Ranch more than 20 times and usually slept in Jackson's room, but Jackson never molested him. Jackson was acquitted in that trial. However in 2013 -- four years after the death of Jackson -- he sued the Jackson estate for what his attorneys described as molestation that spanned a seven-year period. A court ruled in 2015 that Robson had filed his lawsuit too late to get any of Jackson's estate. That left two remaining defendants, both corporate entities owned by Jackson in his lifetime: MJJ Productions, Inc., and MJJ Ventures, Inc. The judge ruled that those two corporate defendants could not be held responsible for Robson's exposure to Jackson, the way a school or the Boy Scouts can be found liable for bringing together an abusive adult and a child victim. - AP, 12/20/17...... The Bob Marley and The Wailers greatest hits collection Legend: The Best of has reached a landmark on Billboard's Hot 200 Albums Chart -- with 500 consecutive weeks on the chart it is now second only to Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon, which has racked up 934 weeks, for longevity on the chart. Originally released in 1984, the Marley LP originally reached No. 54 on the Hot 200 and has sold 12.3 million copies in the US since 1991, when Nielsen Music started tracking sales. It is certified as selling 15 million, according to the Recording Industry Association of America, a total that accounts for sales before 1991. Meanwhile, Barbra Streisand's latest live album The Music & The Mem'ries & The Magic! has debuted on the Hot 200 at No. 69. Streisand has charted a total of eight live sets on the Hot 200, stretching back to A Happening in Central Park in 1968, which peaked at No. 30. - Billboard, 12/21/17...... Officials for late Playboy magazine founder Hugh Hefner have announced that his estate will be selling off his stake in the publishing empire. A court petition from an estate trustee seeking to determine how much Hefner's 33.8% share is worth ahead of a planned sale has been granted, and the assets will be split between the late publisher's heirs. "Hef was an American original," attorney Adam Streisand says. "He left Playboy in great hands, but with Hef gone, it's time for us to close that chapter and focus the future on Hef's charitable vision." - WENN.com, 12/22/17...... A fifth woman has accused former That '70s Show cast member Danny Masterson of rape after the Los Angeles Police Department launched an investigation when four women accused him of rape -- allegations which he denied -- Dec. 20. "I stayed quiet long enough. Danny Masterson repeatedly raped me," she wrote. "All I seek is justice and to prevent this from ever happening to anyone else as it has for some time. My truth will be heard. I applaud her strength as well." Masterson was written out of his role on his current TV series, The Ranch, after the accusations surfaced, although he will appear in the episodes released on Netflix last week. When his dismissal was announced earlier in December, he said, "From day one, I have denied the outrageous allegations against me. Law enforcement investigated these claims more than 15 years ago and determined them to be without merit. I have never been charged with a crime, let alone convicted of one. In this country you are presumed innocent until proven guilty. However, in the current climate, it seems as if you are presumed guilty the moment you are accused." - WENN.com, 12/21/17...... A Donna Summer bio-musical tracing the life and career of the disco singing legend will hit Broadway in the spring, it was announced by producer Tommy Mottola on Dec. 19. "Summer: The Donna Summer Musical" will begin previews on at Broadway's Lunt-Fontanne Theatre on Mar. 28, ahead of the Apr. 23 opening. Directed by Des McAnuff and choreographed by Sergio Trujillo, who teamed on one of Broadway's biggest recent jukebox hits, the Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons bio-musical "Jersey Boys," "Summer" drew mixed critical response in its world-premiere developmental production at La Jolla. Reviewing the show in The Hollywood Reporter, critic Deborah Wilker wrote: "While this version isn't quite Broadway-ready, it has all the potential. I feel love," citing the title of one of Summer's biggest hits. "I Feel Love," along with other massive Summer hits such as "Bad Girls," "MacArthur Park," "No More Tears," "Dim All the Lights," "Hot Stuff" and "I Love You," are featured in the show. "Summer" is part of a wave of recent bio-musicals which in addition to "Jersey Boys" include "Beautiful: The Carole King Musical"; others set to premiere in the months ahead include musicals devoted to Cher, Tina Turner, The Bee Gees and The Temptations. - The Hollywood Reporter, 12/19/17...... Acclaimed saxophone player and veteran session musician Ralph Carney, who worked with such artists as Tom Waits, The B-52's, Elvis Costello and the Black Keys, died on Dec. 17 as a result of head injuries sustained after falling a flight of stairs at his home in Portland, Ore. He was 61. A collector of unusual instruments and virtuoso saxophone and clarinet player, Carney recorded a wide variety of solo and band projects over his 40+ year career, garnering acclaim for his work. Most recently, he contributed the title track to the Netflix animated show BoJack Horseman recorded with nephew Patrick, who is the drummer with the Black Keys. Ralph, a native of Akron, Oh., was reportedly surrounded by friends and family at the time of his death. "I hope everybody is lucky enough to have someone as special as Ralph in their lives at some point. He taught me so much," Patrick Carney tweeted in remembrance of his uncle. - Billboard, 12/18/17...... Actress and voice-over artist Heather North, best known as the voice of Daphne in the Scooby Doo, Where Are You! hit Saturday morning series, died on Nov. 30 at her home in Studio City, Calif., after a long illness. She was 71. A native of Pasadena, North also starred as Kurt Russell's love interest in Disney's The Barefoot Executive (1971), about a chimpanzee who can predict which TV shows will be a success on the air. She was first heard as Daphne in Sept. 1970 on the second-season opener of Scooby Doo. She then returned for The New Scooby-Doo Movies in 1972-73 and in many other incarnations of the cartoon through 2003. North also appeared on such TV shows as Mr. Novak, Gidget, The Fugitive, The Monkees, My Three Sons and Adam-12; on the big screen in Git! (1965) and I Love My Wife (1970); and on Broadway in the short-lived 1967 comedy "The Girl in the Freudian Slip." - Billboard, 12/20/17.
Kiss bassist Gene Simmons was sued in Los Angeles Superior Court on Dec. 15 by a woman identified as "Jane Doe" who claims the musician groped her and made "unwanted, unwarranted sexual advances" during a Nov. 1 interview. The radio/TV broadcaster, according to the lawsuit, was interviewing Simmons and his Kiss bandmate Paul Stanley at their Rock & Brews restaurant at San Manuel Casino in Highland, Calif., when the 68-year-old Simmons repeatedly grabbed her hand and "forcefully placed it on his knee and held it on his knee." It also alleges that Simmons "forcibly flicked/struck" her throat, later providing an "incoherent explanation" for his behavior. "Defendant Simmons turned standard interview questions into sexual innuendos, which made plaintiff Doe extremely uncomfortable," the suit reads. The suit also claims the defendant "reached toward Plaintiff Doe's buttocks and touched it" as the pair were posing for a promotional photograph together after the interview. Her lawyer, Willie W. Williams, told a local paper that his client is "embarrassed and humiliated by the incident" and that "she filed suit because she wanted to make a strong statement that this behavior is unacceptable and she wants to see an end to this type of behavior." On Dec. 18, Simmons tweeted that he "vigorously" denies the woman's allegations. "For the record, I did not assault the person making these accusations in the manner alleged in the complaint or harm her in any way," he posted. - Billboard, 12/18/17...... The Recording Academy, the organization that sponsors the Grammy Awards, announced on Dec. 15 that an all-star tribute to five-time Grammy winner Elton John will be taped at The Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York, two days after the 60th annual Grammy Awards. "Sir Elton John is an international music legend who has captivated audiences across generations for more than five decades," said Neil Portnow, President/CEO of the Recording Academy, in a statement. "His creativity, dynamic presence, and melodic virtuosity have positioned him as a cultural icon, and the Recording Academy is pleased to honor his immeasurable contributions to the music community." Elton John: I'm Still Standing - A Grammy Salute will be broadcast later in 2018 on CBS, with scheduled performers to include such top contemporary acts as Miley Cyrus, Kesha, Miranda Lambert, John Legend, Little Big Town, Chris Martin, Maren Morris, Sam Smith and Keith Urban. Elton will also be performing during his tribute, however it is not confirmed if he will be playing at the Grammys two night earlier. Previous Grammy tributes have been bestowed on such music icons as Stevie Wonder, The Beatles, Frank Sinatra and Bee Gees. - Billboard, 12/15/17...... After Judas Priest had been nominated for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2018 but did not make the final cut, frontman Rob Halford told a Phoenix, Ariz., radio station on Dec. 15 that he would have "loved" to have been picked and thought his band "deserve it." "We've put our 10,000 hours in and more," Halford said. "Beyond that, we just feel that heavy metal music deserves more space on shelves at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame." "We were thrilled and honored to be even nominated," Halford added, "so it's kind of bittersweet. We got the nomination, which is something of a recognition for the work that you've done, but we didn't quite get in this time, but I'm hopeful that eventually we'll get some more metal." The DJ team who conducted the interview with Halford, Mark & NeanderPaul, also shared the Rock Hall's rejection letter to Halford on Twitter. "Thank you for embracing your nomination for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame," the letter reads. "While you didn't garner enough votes for induction this year, you were part of a very select group of Hall of Fame nominees. Artists are frequently on the ballot multiple times before they are inducted. For example, Black Sabbath were nominated eight times before their induction, Patti Smith seven times, Solomon Burke nine times, and both the Beastie Boys and The Yardbirds were on the ballot three times before their respective inductions." The letter also invited Halford and his bandmates to "visit our museum in Cleveland, Ohio... if you are touring or simply traveling nearby." - NME, 12/15/17...... A Beatles box set signed and gifted by Paul McCartney was auctioned off on Dec. 13, with proceeds going to benefit the victims of the devastating terror attack at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, UK, in May. McCartney donated a special Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band six-disc Super Deluxe (50th Anniversary Edition) box set, which sold at Bonham's in London for £2,700. Bonhams also waived their commission fee in order to donate the buyer's premium. bringing the total to £3,375. The parents of Eilidh MacLeod, who was killed in the attack, said they are "extremely grateful for Sir Paul's kind gesture. People's generosity has helped us greatly in the aftermath of our loss and we can't thank them enough." - New Musical Express, 12/14/17...... In other Beatles-related news, original Fab Four drummer Pete Best will make his acting debut in "Lennon's Banjo," a play taken from the novel Julia's Banjo by Rob Fennah and Helen A. Jones, which has its roots in Beatles history because a banjo was the first instrument Lennon learned to play. The book is set in present-day Liverpool and tells the fictional tale of a rediscovered lost letter written by John Lennon that is thought to give a clue to that instrument's whereabouts, which these days, of course, would make it a much desired piece of Beatles memorabilia. In the book, the search for the instrument takes the reader to many of the Beatles' old haunts. It's during that search that Best appears in the book. The play will run from April 24 to May 5. Best will play himself in three performances, two on April 25 and the other on May 5, the show's closing night. Best says he was able to do only the three dates because of prior commitments. - Billboard, 12/14/17...... Sony Music announced on Dec. 14 that it is extending its partnership with the Michael Jackson estate to "find new innovative ways to make Michael's music available to future generations of fans." Even in a time of declining sales, the songs of Jackson, who died June 25, 2009, still generates over a million track downloads a year for the last three years running, while his album catalog still moves over 500,000 units annually. In 2017, Jackson's music has been played 1.05 billion times, of which 443 million were audio streams and 608 million were video streams. The signing not only continues a nearly 40-year relationship since Jackson released his Epic debut, Off the Wall in 1979, but also extends the landmark deal signed with the estate after the singer's death in 2010 that provided for the estate to reach up to $250 million in advances and other payments for about 10 recordings. Since then, four albums have been released -- Michael, Immortal, Escape and Scream -- which combined have scanned 1.29 million units; this is on top of the 1.8 million units that 2009's final Jackson concert documentary This Is It has generated since its release. As part of the deal, Sony will partner on additional projects that the estate may produce during the term of the agreement. - Billboard, 12/14/17...... Concert promoter Jack Boyle, one of the founders of the modern concert industry business model, passed away on Dec. 16 after a long illness. He was 83. Mr. Boyle, who promoted massive tours by the likes of Madonna, U2, The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Michael Jackson, The Who, Pearl Jam and hundreds of others, turned his popular Washington, D.C., nightclub business into one of the most powerful concert promotion companies in the US. After becoming one of the most important names in live music throughout the 1970s and '80s, his Cellar Door Concerts became a prized acquisition in the 1990s of then-growing SFX, which was buying and consolidating the biggest regional promoters at the time, paving the way for the eventual creation of national concert powerhouse Live Nation. In the age before corporate financing, Mr. Boyle was known for spotting rising bands and artists early -- and betting his own money on their success. Mr. Boyle ran Cellar Door from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., where he was based for more than three decades. He also owned several prominent South Florida restaurants and clubs. - Billboard, 12/16/17...... Celebrated Hollywood animator Bob Givens, known for drawing the first official design for Bugs Bunny, has died at age 99. After working on the 1937 animated filmed Snow White and the Seven Dwarves at Walt Disney Studios, Mr. Givens joined Warner Bros to work alongside cartoon pioneers Chuck Jones and Tex Avery. In 1940, Avery asked Mr. Givens to look over the designs of a new rabbit character, which had so far proved "too cute." It was then that Mr. Givens created the original, official design for the character that was named Bugs Bunny, the lead character of the Looney Tunes franchise. Mr. Givens also worked as a layout artist on the TV series Popeye the Sailor in 1960 and the layout unit supervisor for Alvin and the Chipmunks during the 1980s. - IBTimes.co.uk, 12/16/17.