The upcoming SXSW Film Festival in Austin, Tex. in mid-March will feature the premiere of a new Western movie titled Paradox and starring Neil Young, Willie Nelson and Nelson's sons Lukas and Micah Nelson. Music from Young, as well as his sometime backup band Promise of the Real which features Lukas and Micah, will also be included in the film, which is described on the official SXSW website as "a far-fetched, whimsical western tale of music and love." The SXSW Film Festival, an annual conglomerate of film, interactive media, and music festivals and conferences, kicks off on Mar. 9. - New Musical Express, 2/1/18...... The estate of John Denver announced on Jan. 30 it was launching a Patreon.com page on where fans of the late singer-songwriter can listen to a bounty of previously unreleased tracks and sample unique content, including Denver's artwork and photography, much of which has never been seen before. "John Denver's Estate continually seeks new ways to bring John's fans content in a way we feel John would have supported," Brian Schwartz, the manager of Denver's estate, told Billboard. "Patreon is an innovative way for the estate to do just this. We can offer rare and exclusive content to excited consumers with ease and in the true spirit of John Denver, in a way that supports environmental causes." Patreon.com is a membership platform that allows content creators to house subscription sites for their followers. To date it claims to have more than 50,000 active creators, which include musicians, videographers, animators, podcasters and game developers, who are paid directly by a reported 1 million customers interested in their art. In October, Denver's estate released a previously unheard version of Judy Collins' "The Blizzard" that was recorded during the early 1990s but never released. - Billboard, 1/30/18...... Former Talking Heads frontman David Byrne has posted a playlist of Carribbean and African music titled "The Beautiful Shitholes" on his official website DavidByrne.com in response to Pres. Donald Trump's recent comments during a meeting at the White House in which he purportedly said, "Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here? Why do we need more Haitians? Take them out." "I assume I don't have to explain where the shithole reference came from," Byrne said in his playlist's description. "Here's a playlist that gives just the smallest sample of the depth and range of creativity that continues to pour out of the countries in Africa and the Caribbean. It is undeniable. Can music help us empathize with its makers?" Byrne added that "Trump is not the issue... We know and have known for a long time that he is racist... What is truly disturbing is the Republicans who go along with this person" and urged his fans to "remember that at voting time." - NME, 2/1/18...... The B-52s were among the honorees at the sixth annual She Rocks Awards, held on Jan. 26 at the House of Blues in Anaheim, Calif. The B-52s' Kate Pierson and Cindy Wilson accepted the Vanguard Award, and other female artists recognized during the event included Pat Benatar and Melissa Etheridge. - Billboard, 1/27/18...... Lionel Richie has announced he'll be heading back to the UK this summer for a 12-city tour, performing in towns that he's never previously visited including Lincolnshire, Shrewsbury, Leigh, Carlisle, Scarborough, Chesterfield and Hove. The tour will kick off on June 1 in Northampton and also hit London on June 6. "I've been missing the UK and cant wait to make my long awaited return and to see parts of the country I've never made it out to before," Richie said in a press release. - New Musical Express, 1/30/18...... Journey keyboardist Jonathan Cain will release his memoir, titled Don't Stop Believin' after the famous Journey song, on May 1 to coincide with Journey's upcoming co-headlining tour with Def Leppard which begins three weeks later. Cain says he started writing the book "10 years ago" and that it's "a musical, songwriter's book." "It's about dealing with the setbacks of the music business -- the ups and downs, the dedications, the rejection, dealing with everybody that says 'You're not good enough' and carrying on," he says. "Just because somebody tells you you can't write and you can't sing doesn't mean you've got to quit, it just means you haven't gotten to the right position yet. So it's a book of hope and faith." Cain credits his late dad Leonard Friga for telling him to not to stop believing and that Jonathan's tenure with The Babys before hitting it big with Journey was "just a stepping stone." Cain also details the inner-workings of Journey in the book, providing insights into his relationship with former frontman Steve Perry, both as a songwriter and a friend. As for the upcoming tour, Cain says Journey is "clicking" even though the tensions between him and guitarist Neal Schon that surfaced last year via social media haven't been fully rectified. - Billboard, 1/31/18...... In a new interview with GQ magazine, legendary producer Quincy Jones dissed pop sensation Taylor Swift by saying, "We need more songs, man. F---ing songs, not hooks." "Some people consider her the greatest songwriter of our age," to which the producer laughed and commented, "Whatever crumbles your cookie." Jones added that "a great song can make the worst singer in the world a star. A bad song can't be saved by the three best singers in the world. I learned that 50 years ago." In the same interview, the 84-year-old producer also opened up about his very active love life, admitting he has been enjoying romances with women of all different backgrounds, with none of them older than 42. "I got 22 girlfriends," the father-of-seven smiled. Asked if he was serious, he replied, "Hell yeah. Everywhere. Cape Town. Cairo. Stockholm -- she's coming in next week. Brazil -- Belo Horizonte, Sao Paulo, and Rio. Shanghai -- got a great girl over there from Shanghai, man. Cairo, whew." - Billboard/WENN.com, 1/30/18...... An upcoming documentary and biopic on the life of legendary rock 'n' roller Chuck Berry, who passed away in March 2017, is being planned in cooperation with his estate and widow Themetta Berry. Cardinal Releasing Ltd, which has previously produced films on music legends including Jimi Hendrix, B.B. King and Nat King Cole, has already begun work on the documentary titled Chuck! The Documentary. "I am very privileged to be able to produce and direct this fully authorized and official story of the legendary Chuck Berry," Chuck! director Jon Brewer said in a statement. - Billboard, 1/30/18...... Paul Simon has apparently announced that his final show, at least in the United Kingdom, will be on July 15 at the Barclaycard British Summer Time Festival. According to a post on the festival's website, the 76-year-old, 12-time Grammy winner will close out the event in what is being billed as "Paul Simon: Homeward Bound The Farewell Performance" with special guests James Taylor & His All-Star Band and Bonnie Raitt. The massive summer fest will kick off on July 6 with headliner Roger Waters, and other nights will feature the likes of Eric Clapton, Santana, Steve Winwood, Guy Clark Jr. and Bruno Mars. - Billboard, 1/30/18...... A Grammy viewing party hosted by Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler to benefit his Janie's Fund charity was held on Jan. 28 at the historic RED Studios in Hollywood. The event drew the likes of Alice Cooper, Caitlyn Jenner, Sharon Stone, Olivia Wilde and Randy Jackson, all dressed in their best "rock star chic." "My dreams are to do this next year and the year after and the year after," Tyler said prior to the event. "And if I die in the meantime, we'll have someone else do it. I'll get Slash involved or someone," he joked. The evening concluded with Tyler taking the stage with his Nashville-based band, Loving Mary, to perform a 10-song set, which included such Aerosmith classics as "Sweet Emotion," "Jaded," and "Dream On." Tyler raised an estimated $2.4 million for his Janie's Fund charity, which helps girls heal after suffering abuse and neglect, and an auction included a chance to spend a week at his Maui home (which went for $55,000). - Billboard, 1/29/18...... Meanwhile the actual Grammys event, which took place on Jan. 28 in New York City's Madison Square Garden, featured a performance of "Tiny Dancer" by Elton John with a beautifully dressed Miley Cyrus. The pair was all smiles as they sang the tear-jerking, sweeping pop ballad, with Cyrus imbuing the song -- which already has a touch of twang -- with some Southern vocal tone. Elton was also the subject of a Grammy salute on Jan. 30, which will air at a later date. Also performing during the show were Sting and Jamaican-American hitmaker Shaggy, who described themselves as "the not-so-odd couple." Sting opened with his jazzy 1987 reggae song "Englishman In New York," which they segued into their joint single "Don't Make Me Wait," and then back to "Englishman." The pair consider themselves besties and have announced they have a joint album coming out soon. - Billboard, 1/28/18...... In other Grammy-related news, late actress Carrie Fisher was awarded a posthumous Grammy in the Best Spoken Word category for her memoir The Princess Diarist, which gives a peek behind the curtain of her life while filming the first Star Wars movie. - Billboard, 1/28/18...... Aretha Franklin has chosen Jennifer Hudson to play her in an upcoming biopic on her life. Music mogul Clive Davis, a former mentor of Franklin's, made the announcement at his annual pre-Grammy bash on Jan. 28. Hudson reportedly sang Franklin classics like "Think" and "Respect" as part of her performance during Davis' gala. - Deadline.com, 1/28/18...... Cable TV's Showtime channel will premiere the Eric Clapton documentary Life in 12 Bars on Feb. 10 at 9:00 p.m. ET. The 135-minute rock doc, directed by Lili Fini Zanuck, relies solely on voice-overs to tell the story of the legend's life, with his memorable ups, like being the only three-time Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, and tragic downs, including the death of his young son. - Entertainment Weekly, 2/2/18...... Songwriter-composer Robert Arthur, who famously tweaked the lyrics to the Rolling Stones' "Let's Spend the Night Together" so the band could perform it on the iconic CBS variety program in 1967, died on Jan. 21 at his Topanga Canyon home in Los Angeles. He was 89. A songwriter and composer, Mr. Arthur worked with newspaper columnist-turned-TV host Ed Sullivan from 1952, on Sullivan's earlier show Toast of the Town, until the renamed Ed Sullivan Show left the airwaves for good on June 6, 1971. Mr. Arthur handled all the music for Sullivan, arranging and composing songs for and working with such guests as The Beatles, Judy Garland, Sly Stone, Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, Ella Fitzgerald, Elvis Presley, Kate Smith, Count Basie, Perry Como and Diana Ross, among many others. Recalling his notorious reworking of "Let's Spend the Night Together," which could not pass CBS's censors, Mr. Arthur once said: "So I was sent to deal with them, because I was also a songwriter -- and I came up with a phrase that was almost the same thing and sounded almost the same, and it was, 'Let's spend some time together.' Mick Jagger agreed." Jagger appeared to roll his eyes as he sung the substituted line, however few in the screaming audience probably noticed the difference. After The Ed Sullivan Show went off the air, the Flushing, N.Y. native moved to Los Angeles, where he helped Dick Clark launch the American Music Awards. He also produced videos that Michael Jackson showed during his concerts; co-wrote the Natalie Cole hit "All About Love;" and had his tunes performed by Tony Bennett and Johnny Mathis. - 1/27/18.
Fleetwood Mac was presented with the MusiCares Person of the Year honor by former president Bill Clinton at the annual pre-Grammys gala at New York's Radio City Music Hall on Jan. 26. "I've had 'Don't Stop' played more for me than 'Hail to the Chief'," Pres. Clinton mused, referring to the song that became his 1992 presidential campaign's theme song. All members of Fleetwood Mac, except bassist John McVie spoke after receiving their award, with Lindsey Buckingham acknowledging the dysfunction that fueled so many of the band's hits, but added, "not very far below the level of dysfunction, what we are feeling more than ever in our career is love." Stevie Nicks took time to remember her late "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around" duet partner Tom Petty during her speech, saying Petty's loss "has just about broken my heart" and "he was one of my best friends. Petty, who died of an accidental drug overdose on Oct. 2, was the 2017 MusiCares Person of the Year honoree. The ceremony featured performances of popular Fleetwood Mac songs by such artists as Imagine Dragons, Keith Urban and Miley Cyrus, with Fleetwood Mac performing their hits "The Chain," "Little Lies," "Tusk," "Gold Dust Woman" and "Go Your Own Way." The event raised nearly $7 million for the MusiCares charity, according to Recording Academy president/CEO Neil Portnow. - Billboard, 1/27/18...... Neil Diamond posted a statement on his official website on Jan. 22 announcing he was retiring from touring due to his recent diagnosis of Parkinson's disease. "I plan to remain active in writing, recording and other projects for a long time to come," the Grammy-winning singer wrote. "My thanks goes out to my loyal and devoted audiences around the world. You will always have my appreciation for your support and encouragement. This ride has been 'so good, so good, so good' thanks to you," he added. Diamond had planned to launch a tour of Australia and New Zealand in March, but now he is canceling the tour on the advice from his doctor. Thousands of fans down under who had bought Diamond concert tickets opted to donate their refunded ticket money to Parkinson's research, animal rescue groups and victim funds, among other charities. Diamond's wife and manager, Katie, then took to Twitter to express her gratitude to the fans. "My heart is so full of joy to see this silver lining. Faith in humanity = restored," she wrote. News of Diamond's retirement from live performing also prompted his friend and former labelmate, Elton John, to pay tribute to the "Solitary Man" singer: "I would like to pay my respects to him," John told reporters on Jan. 24. "He introduced me off his own back at the [iconic Hollywood venue] Troubadour because he loved my record -- he was a huge star then, and he's a huge star now. And I know that he's said he's not going to tour any more because he has Parkinson's. I'm going to contact to him personally, but I would like to say publicly that I love him and I can't thank him enough for what he did for me along the way." - Billboard, 1/22/18...... Speaking of Elton John, the Rocket Man held a press conference at New York's Gotham Hall on Jan. 24 to announce that he'll kick off a 300-city, three-year "farewell" tour this fall, beginning in September with stops including Allentown, Penn., New York City, Orlando, and Los Angeles. The event opened with a dazzling, psychedelic video going through some of John's biggest hits before cutting to him performing a live version of "Tiny Dancer" and "I'm Still Standing." "I'm not going to be touring anymore, apart from this global tour which launches in September," Elton told CNN's Anderson Cooper, noting he will be saying goodbye with a 300-date, three-year worldwide Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour promoted by AEG Presents. "My priorities have changed in my life," John told Cooper, noting the impact of his 2005 marriage to advertising executive David Furnish, as well as the birth of their two sons. "My priorities in my life are now my children, my husband and my family," he added. After the US leg, John will head to Europe in May 2019 and will add additional dates in South America, Asia, Australia and New Zealand. Elton added that unlike Cher, who has launched several "farewell tours" in the past decades, he will not be returning to the road once his tour wraps: "I'm not Cher, even though I like wearing her clothes -- this is the end." - Billboard, 1/24/18...... Also planning a farewell tour are Southern Rock legends Lynyrd Skynyrd, with the Rock & Roll Hall of Famers announcing on Jan. 25 that their final tour will begin May 4 in West Palm Beach, Fla., with special guests including .38 Special, ZZ Top, The Charlie Daniels Band, The Marshall Tucker Band, Bad Company, Hank Williams, Jr. and Kid Rock. Rossington added that the band is "just winding it down a little bit" and "even if the touring ends we'll still do special shows and special guest things here and there with the whole band." "I just want to go out on a high note and make sure the band's name stays in high regard instead of going out and playing fairs and casinos and things like that... I want to live it still filling arenas and sheds like we still can," he said. Formed in Jacksonville in 1966, Lynyrd Skynyrd was struck by tragedy in 1977 when a plane crash killed lead singer Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist Steve Gaines, backup singer Cassie Gaines and several members of the road crew. The lineup now includes Rossington and Johnny Van Zant, Ronnie's brother. Rossington says the group has "a lot of big plans (for) last kind of goodbye things here and there, special things," including a CMT-produced documentary and a new studio album, the follow-up to 2012's Last Of A Dyin' Breed. - AP/Billboard, 1/25/18...... Led Zeppelin will reissue their classic 2003 live LP How The West Was Won on Mar. 23, with remastered sound supervised by Jimmy Page. How The West Was Won features original performances from two dates on the band's 1972 US concert tour: Los Angeles Forum on June 25, 1972 and Long Beach Arena on June 27, 1972. Part of the band's 50th anniversary celebrations, the reissue will also include a "Super Deluxe Boxed Set" version featuring three CDs, four vinyl LPs, a download of the entire album, plus a book "filled with rare and previously unpublished photos of the band at each of the concert locations." - NME, 1/24/18...... In an interview with a Louisville radio station on Jan. 25, former Genesis member Tony Banks said he "wouldn't rule out" Genesis reuniting for more live shows. Banks said that he and former bandmate Mike Rutherford, and Rutherford as well as Phil Collins have also expressed interest in reforming the band in the past couple of years. "We don't rule it out. It'd be fun to try," Banks said. "But Phil's gotta survive his tour first of all and we'll see where it goes." Acknowledging the one "slight problem" that the band would have to navigate, Banks added: "Phil's our drummer and he can't drum anymore." Genesis last performed together in 2007 to mark the band's 40th anniversary, and Collins has announced he'll kick off a tour of South America in February in the next leg of his "Not Dead Yet" world tour. - New Musical Express, 1/25/18...... The 2018 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival announced on Jan. 24 that its headliners this year will include Aretha Franklin, Sting, Aerosmith, Lionel Richie, Jack White and Beck. The 2018 festival, held at the N.O. Fair Grounds Race Course, is scheduled for two weekends this spring -- April 27-29 and May 3-6. In addition, the festival is planning a tribute to Fats Domino and a celebration of New Orleans' 300th anniversary. - AP, 1/24/18...... Jackson Browne will be recognized with the Les Paul Innovation Award during the 33rd annual NAMM Technical Excellence and Creativity (TEC) Awards in Anaheim, Calif., on Jan. 27. "Jackson Browne's success as a singer, songwriter and guitarist has had a prolific impression on the music industry throughout his successful career," says Michael Braunstein, executive director of the Les Paul Foundation. "Like Les Paul, Jackson has never shied away from expressing his emotions or thoughts through his music. I have no doubt that Les would have liked to have shared a few jams with Jackson along the way." Four veteran sidemen -- guitarist Danny Kortchmar, keyboardist Craig Doerge, bassist Leland Sklar and drummer Russ Kunkel -- collectively known as The Section and known for their work with Browne, James Taylor, Carole King and Crosby, Stills & Nash will be inducted into the NAMM TEC Hall of Fame and will perform at the awards. Earlier in the day, the four sidemen will participate in a panel discussion on the making of Browne's best-selling 1977 album Running on Empty. - Billboard, 1/23/18...... Stevie Wonder reportedly called actor Raphael Saadiq to congratulate him on his Oscar nomination for co-writing "Mighty River" from the film Mudbound. "He just said, 'Congratulations, my Taurean brother,' because we're both Tauruses," Saadiq told Billboard. "Mighty River" is a gospel-tinged song that plays over the movie's end credits, and was co-written with Mary J. Blige and Taura Stinson. - Billboard, 1/23/18...... George Harrison's son Dhani Harrison has played a key role in the making of M.I.A's upcoming biography documentary, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier in January. The score of the documentary, Matangi/Maya/M.I.A, was co-written by Harrison and his Thenewno2 bandmate Paul Hicks. - New Musical Express, 1/24/18...... A paper cup used by Elvis Presley that dates back to a 1956 tour stop in Tulsa, Okla., by the King when it ended up in the hands of a fan sold has sold at auction for $3,300. The buyer of the decades-old cup owns the Icon Hotel in Luton, England, and the seller was aiming to get only $1,000 for it. - TMZ.com, 1/23/18...... Former Judas Priest drummer Dave Holland died at age 69. Holland played in a series of pop and rock band including Finders Keepers and Trapeze, which also featured future Deep Purple bassist Glenn Hughes. After leaving Trapeze to play with Priest, Holland appeared on a number of the group's best-selling albums, including 1980's British Steel, 1981's Point of Entry, Screaming for Vengeance, Defenders of the Faith, Turbo and 1988's Ram it Down; he was replaced by drummer Scott Travis on 1990's Painkiller. "It is with regret that we hear of the passing of Dave Holland," Judas Priest wrote in a statement. "Despite his actions since working with the band, his time with us was amongst the most productive and successful in the band's career and for that alone he shall be missed." - Billboard, 1/23/18...... Legendary South African musician Hugh Masekela died on Jan. 23 after a long battle with cancer, the South African government announced on its official Twitter page. He was 78. Known as the father of South African jazz, Masekela channeled the struggle against apartheid into soulful compositions that championed the experiences of ordinary South Africans. His 1986 song "Bring Him Back Home," written for Nelson Mandela, became an anthem of the 1980s anti-apartheid movement. The Grammy-nominated artist also toured with Paul Simon and was a major player on the jazz and world music scene for decades. "A loving father, brother, grandfather and friend, our hearts beat with profound loss," the family said in a statement released by his agents Dreamcatcher. In the 1960s, he went into exile in the United Kingdom and the United States, where he collaborated with American jazz legend Harry Belafonte and used his music to spread awareness about the oppressive system of white-minority rule in South Africa. He also scored an international number one hit in 1968 with "Grazing In The Grass," and was married to South African singer and activist Miriam Makeba for two years. In October 2017, Masekela issued a statement that he had been fighting prostate cancer since 2008 and would have to cancel his professional commitments to focus on his health. He said he started treatment after doctors found a "small 'speck'" on his bladder, and had surgery in Mar. 2016 after the cancer spread. South African President Jacob Zuma expressed his condolences, saying Masekela "kept the torch of freedom alive globally, fighting apartheid through his music and mobilizing international support for the struggle for liberation and raising awareness of the evils of apartheid... His contribution to the struggle for liberation will never be forgotten." - CNN, 1/23/18...... Actress Olivia Cole, an Emmy-winner best known for her performances in the 1970s miniseries Backstairs at the White House and Roots, died on Jan. 26 at her home in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, of as yet undisclosed causes. She was 75. Cole also portrayed the gossipy Miss Sophie alongside Oprah Winfrey on the 1989 ABC miniseries The Women of Brewster Place and on a subsequent, short-lived series. She received her supporting actress Emmy for her turn as Matilda, the wife of Ben Vereen's Chicken George and mother of Georg Stanford Brown's Tom in Roots, which was broadcast on ABC in January 1977 on eight consecutive nights and watched by an estimated 140 million people. - The Hollywood Reporter, 1/24/18...... Actress Connie Sawyer, known as Hollywood's oldest working actress, has died peacefully at the age of 105 at her in Woodland Hills, Calif. To many, she is recognized as the lady in Dumb and Dumber who stole Jim Carrey's character's wallet. She also appeared in The Pineapple Express, as well as When Harry Met Sally. Ms. Sawyer also has numerous TV credits which span six decades, including The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Hawaii Five-O, Dynasty, Murder, She Wrote, Archie Bunker's Place, Home Improvement, Seinfeld, Will & Grace, ER, The Office, and How I Met Your Mother. Most recently she appeared in Showtime's Ray Donovan as James Woods' mother. - MSN.com, 1/23/18.