As expected, Ringo Starr was among those awarded knighthoods by the British royal family when the Queen's New Year honors list was announced on Dec. 29. Starr's knighthood comes more than half a century after he received an MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) at the height of the Beatles' fame. In a statement, Ringo said it was "an honor and a pleasure to be considered and acknowledged for my music and my charity work, both of which I love. Peace and love. Ringo." John Lennon's widow Yoko Ono also tweeted out her kind thoughts to Ringo on Jan. 2. "Dear Sir Ringo," Ono wrote. "I am very happy that you have received this honour from the Queen. It's about time! Huge congratulations! I am delighted for you and your family. It is an honour for everyone in the Beatles family and I love you very much." Also set to be knighted during the formal New Year's Honors ceremony in 2018 are Bee Gees founding member Barry Gibb, Soft Cell vocalist Marc Almond, rapper/producer Wiley, and British actor/writer/musician Hugh Laurie, are all set to be knighted during the formal New Year's Honors ceremony in 2018. Gibb, who is being honored not only for his services to music but to charity as well, told the AP that being awarded a knighthood was "a moment in life to be treasured and never forgotten" and that he is "deeply honored, humbled and very proud." Gibb went on to pay tribute to his brothers and Bee Gees co-founders, Maurice and Robin Gibb, who died in 2003 and 2012, respectively. "I want to acknowledge how responsible my brothers are for this honour," said the 71-year-old Gibb. "It is as much theirs as it is mine. The magic, the glow and the rush will last me the rest of my life." The Gibb brothers were named Commanders of the British Empire (CBE) in 2002. - Billboard, 12/29/17...... In an interview with a podcast called "Life In The Stocks," Def Leppard lead singer Joe Elliott said he was uncomfortable with the way AC/DC so quickly replaced frontman Brian Johnson with Axl Rose of Guns 'N Roses in 2017 and said his band wouldn't have dealt with AC/DC singer Brian Johnson, who was forced to go on hiatus from the band due to hearing problems, that way. "I wouldn't have done it like that," Elliott said. "I can't speak for [AC/DC guitarist] Angus [Young] and his team as to what their reasons were for doing what they did. But considering that we had a drummer lose and arm and we waited for him, the way that they dealt with it was not the way I would have done it, put it that way." Def Leppard drummer Rick Allen joined the band in 1979 when he was just 15, but lost his arm in car accident on New Year's Eve five years later. Def Leppard didn't replace him, but instead waited till he had re-learned how to play on an adapted kit, and he has continued to tour and record with the band to this day. While Elliott said that he thought Axl Rose "did a pretty good job, actually" filling in for Johnson, he added that the last touring lineup of AC/DC wasn't "really AC/DC anymore," calling it "basically just Angus and the other four now." Guitarist and founding AC/DC member Malcolm Young left the band in 2014 and passed away earlier this year, prompting an outpouring of tributes from across the world of music. - New Musical Express, 12/31/17...... David Bowie's son Duncan Jones has just launched an informal "David Bowie Book Club," after the late rock icon released a list of his 100 favorite books back in 2013. Jones took to Twitter to launch the book club, describing his late dad as "a beast of the reader." Jones selected Hawksmoor, an award-winning 1985 novel by Peter Aykroyd about a 1980s detective who investigates murders committed in London churches in the 18th century, as the first book. Fans wishing to join the book club (and presumably discuss each book with Jones on Twitter) have until Feb. 1 to complete Aykroyd's novel. "Hawksmoor is in DAVID BOWIE'S TOP 100 BOOKS list, indeed it's one of the books we illustrated in our montage back in 2013," Jones tweeted. "It's also a work we've loved for a long time here at DBHQ, since David first recommended it many years ago. Go here (https://t.co/wNp8N91EsD) for the synopsis of this gripping and terrible tale of two Londons separated by two and a half centuries. #BowieBookClub #ReadingIsBrainFood" In other Bowie-related news, a new BBC radio drama called The Final Take: Bowie In the Studio is to dramatise the making of Bowie's final studio album, Blackstar. It will feature dialogue constructed from Bowie's own words -- which have been taken from the hundreds of interviews he gave during his life -- and will air on the BBC World Service at 11:30 a.m. on Jan. 9. - NME, 12/29/17...... Actress Rose Marie, best known as wisecracking co-star Sally Rogers on the 1960s sitcom The Dick Van Dyke Show, passed away on Dec. 28 at her home in Van Nuys, Calif. She was 94. The comedienne-vocalist, identifiable by the black bow in her hair and her raspy voice, also co-headlined on the opening night of Bugsy Siegel's Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas in 1946 and was a regular on the game show The Hollywood Squares. Along with Dick Van Dyke, Mary Tyler Moore, Morey Amsterdam and, occasionally, Carl Reiner (the series' creator), she appeared in all five seasons of The Dick Van Dyke Show and received Emmy nominations in 1963, 1964 and 1966. Ms. Marie had known Amsterdam in real life since she was 11, and her verbal jousts with him were among the show's highlights. She was hired or the sitcom -- the second person cast after Van Dyke himself -- for $1,000 an episode by executive producer Sheldon Leonard, who had played her brother on the radio on The Phil Harris Show. Ms. Marie had cultivated her persona as a husband-hunter in a number of comic guest appearances on the shows of such luminaries as Jimmy Durante, Jackie Gleason, Red Skelton, Garry Moore, Tennessee Ernie Ford, Dinah Shore, Dean Martin, Merv Griffin and, frequently with Johnny Carson, on The Tonight Show. She also played secretary Myrna Gibbons, who worked with Doris Day's character in a magazine office, on the CBS sitcom The Doris Day Show, and her other TV credits include S.W.A.T., Murphy Brown and Hardball. She also was a 14-year participant on The Hollywood Squares, where her comic cackle delighted audiences, and she appeared in such films as Dead Heat on a Merry-Go-Round (1966), Don't Worry, We'll Think of a Title (1966) and Lunch Wagon (1981). Born Marie Mazetta in New York on Aug. 15, 1923, Ms. Marie's name was inspired by the popular Broadway musical "Rose-Marie." She entered show business as a 3-year-old toddler when she appeared at New York's Mecca Theater and belted out a torch ballad. Beginning in the '40s, she performed in nightclubs and theaters, and during the 1950s and '60s, she garnered guest-star roles on TV in such shows as The Adventures of Jim Bowie, Gunsmoke, The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, The Monkees and My Three Sons. Ms. Marie was married to Bobby Guy, at one time the lead trumpeter for the NBC Orchestra, which performed nightly on The Tonight Show. He died in 1964 of a blood infection. The couple had one daughter, Georgiana, who survives her. She was also active in many charitable causes throughout her life, most notable animal welfare. - The Hollywood Reporter, 12/28/17.
The Beatles' new holiday collection The Christmas Records has debuted on Billboard's Hot 200 albums chart at No. 199. With 7,000 units (all from traditional album sales) sold, the archival box has reproductions of the seven flexi-disc vinyl singles the band sent to its fan club members each Christmas between 1963 and 1969. It has a total combined running time of about 44 minutes and features a smattering of music from the band (including the original tune "Christmas Time [Is Here Again]"), comedic skits, and messages from the group. The Christmas Records also debuted at No. 4 on Billboard's Vinyl Albums chart and, due to the nature of the box's contents, at No. 38 on the Holiday Albums roundup. - Billboard, 12/27/17...... Elsewhere on the Fab Four front, a source close to Ringo Starr has told Britain's The Sun paper that the former Beatles legend will be made a knight when Queen Elizabeth II announces her New Year's Honours list on New Year's Eve. Starr is expected to be honoured for his contributions to music and charity, and if the reports are true, it will be his first time back to London's Buckingham Palace 52 years ago when he became a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE) in 1965 during the Beatles' heyday. Ringo's sole surviving Beatles bandmate Sir Paul McCartney, who was knighted in 1997, reportedly once told the Queen: "Look, love it's about time." Ringo, 77, had reportedly given up all hope of being knighted before a letter arrived from the Palace a few weeks ago. "He'll feel 10 feet tall when he goes back," the source told The Sun. "Sadly, two of the Beatles, John Lennon and George Harrison, are no longer here to be honoured in a similar way. But giving Ringo a knighthood will go some way towards recognising the enormous contribution the Beatles made to popular music. He is a beacon of Beatlemania," the source added. "It came as a bolt from the blue," the family friend told the publication. "Ringo was totally knocked sideways but is chuffed to bits (very proud)." Although Starr is being bestowed with one of Britain's highest honours, he sold his 200-acre estate in Cranleigh, Surrey, for a reputed £20 million in 2014, and now divides his time between his homes in Switzerland and California. - PageSix.com/WENN.com, 12/26/17...... In other Beatles-related news, Paul McCartney's One on One Tour has hit the top slot in Billboard's Hot Tours roundup for the week ending Dec. 26. With $67 million in sold ticket revenue from 15 performances added to the concerts that were already reported earlier in the year, the tour's overall gross in 2017 rises to $132 million. Macca's One on One trek included a total of 37 concerts from April through December with the number of sold tickets totaling 907,610 during the eight-month span. The tour covered four continents in 2017 beginning with a string of four concerts at two venues in Japan from Apr. 25 through 30. This past summer the tour was booked at arenas in twelve North American markets including eight shows in the metropolitan New York City area that drew over 113,000 fans to four venues. In October, the tour played stadium dates in five Latin American cities, four of them in Brazil. The final leg of the tour was a sweep through Australia and New Zealand, in which all were stadium dates except Sydney's two arena shows. Queen + Adam Lambert made the second spot in the final 2017 Hot Tours roundup, with $3,572,980 in sold ticket revenue from two concerts at London's O2 Arena on Dec. 12 and 13. - Billboard, 12/27/17...... Stevie Wonder was among the music icons paying tribute to former Commodores member and '80s solo superstar Lionel Richie during the 40th Annual Kennedy Center Honors in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 26. Wonder covered Richie's Commodores-era classic "Easy," while country singer Luke Bryan sang "Penny Lover" and "Sail On," and pop sensation Leona Lewis performed a medley of Richie's solo chart toppers "Say You Say Me" and "All Night Long (All Night)." The recently retired Kenny Rogers, who scored a No. 1 pop hit in 1980 with the Richie-penned "Lady," also honored the singer/songwriter with an emotional speech about his career. The event was broadcast live on the CBS Television Network. - Billboard, 12/27/17...... The latest Star Wars soundtrack, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, has risen to No. 5 on the same chart in its initial week of release. With 44,000 units (41,000 in traditional album sales) sold, the soundtrack has become the latest in the string of companion albums in the Star Wars saga to at least reach the top 20 in the tally. None of main eight Star Wars soundtracks have reached the top spot, with the closest being the original Star Wars LP which spent three consecutive weeks at No. 2 in 1977; it was stuck behind Fleetwood Mac's Rumours juggernaut which ruled the list for 31 nonconsecutive weeks. - Billboard, 12/27/17...... English musician Denny Laine, one of the co-founders of the Moody Blues in 1964 before becoming a member of Paul McCartney's Wings in the 1970s, says he's "very pleased" his former band will be added to the roster for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Laine, who wasn't initially added to the roster of Moody Blues members who will be honored during the Apr. 14 ceremony in Cleveland, Oh., was later added to the list thanks to lobbying by Rock Hall voting committee members, including E Street Band member Little Steven Van Zandt, producer Peter Asher and Cousin Brucie Morrow. Van Zandt tweeted Dec. 16 that Laine's "inadvertent ommission is being corrected on the Rock Hall website as we speak." Laine says Asher told him that "he wouldn't even vote for the Moody Blues unless I was in it." "That was kind of the most rewarding part of the thing, I think: I had friends from the top who pushed for me to get back in," Laine notes. Moodys member Mike Pinder, according to Laine, recruited him away from his own band in Birmingham, though the other Moodys were not as interested in Laine's push to move to London to be closer to the British music industry of the mid-'60s. "But if it hadn't been for Mike and Ray (Thomas) talking me into getting into their band, I could've been stuck in Birmingham and not done anything, so I'm grateful for that," Laine says. As for McCartney's Wings eventually being inducted into the Rock Hall, Laine says he doesn't anticipate that. "It was not a band, really. It was Paul McCartney and a backing band -- that's the truth of the matter," Laine says. "We weren't a band like the Beatles, the (Rolling) Stones, the Moody Blues. So I wouldn't see Wings as a band that would go into the Hall of Fame, to be honest." These days, Laine resides in New Jersey and tours as a solo act, playing songs from his entire past live as well as recording. He recently released the single "Meant to Be"/"Over the Horizon," and says he has a new album in the can as well. "I'm not just living in the past," he says. "Tribute bands have kind of taken over the market, and I don't want to come across as being that. - Billboard, 12/23/17...... Canadian actress Heather Menzies-Urich, who played one of the singing von Trapp children in the hit 1965 film The Sound of Music, died on Dec. 24 in Frankford, Ont., after a battle with brain cancer. She was 68. Menzies-Urich played Louisa von Trapp, the third-oldest of the seven von Trapp children, in the film adaptation of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical that starred Julie Andrews and Canadian actor Christopher Plummer. The movie musical went on to capture five Academy Awards, including best picture. Menzies-Urich was the wife of late actor Robert Urich, and their son, actor Ryan Urich, said his mother "was an actress, a ballerina and loved living her life to the fullest." A Toronto native, Menzies-Urich's other film credits include Hawaii and Piranha. On television, she appeared as a fugitive in Logan's Run and had guest spots on Dragnet, Bonanza and Marcus Welby, M.D., among other series. After Robert Urich died in 2002, Menzies-Urich established the Robert Urich Foundation to raise funds for cancer research. - WENN.com, 12/25/17...... Film and TV composer Dominic Frontiere, known for such classic TV themes as The Outer Limits, The Flying Nun, The Rat Patrol, That Girl, 12 O'Clock High, Branded and Vega$, died on Dec. 21 in Tesuque, N.M. He was 86. Mr. Frontiere was a fixture on the film- and TV-music scene throughout the 1960s, '70s and '80s, composing hundreds of hours of music, mostly for TV but also for films including Hang 'Em High, Cancel My Reservation, Hammersmith Is Out, Freebie and the Bean, The Aviator, and three John Wayne films, Chisum, The Train Robbers and Brannigan. He won a Golden Globe award for his score for The Stunt Man in 1980, and an Emmy as musical director of "Swing Out, Sweet Land," a patriotic TV special hosted by Wayne in 1970. Frontiere's career was temporarily derailed in 1986 when he was sentenced to a year in federal prison for filing a false income tax return and lying to IRS investigators to conceal his role in scalping tickets to the 1980 Super Bowl. At the time, his wife Georgia Frontiere was owner of the Los Angeles Rams. He moved to New Mexico in the 1990s and continued to work in the electronic-music medium. Survivors include his current wife Robin, and five children. - Variety, 12/23/17.