Music

Elton John to host ‘FOX Presents the iHeart Living Room Concert for America’ to benefit coronavirus charities

Fox Corporation and iHeartMedia have teamed up to provide entertainment and support for Americans during the coronavirus pandemic with a special event on Sunday night hosted by music legend Elton John. “FOX Presents the IHeart Living Room Concert for America” will air on Sunday at 9 p.m. ET on all FOX platforms and iHeartMedia radio stations nationwide. The special concert event will pay tribute to front-line medical professionals working to treat coronavirus patients, first responders, and local heroes while soliciting donations from viewers and listeners. The commercial-free event will feature performances by Alicia Keys, Backstreet Boys, Billie Eilish, Billie Joe Armstrong, Mariah Carey, Tim McGraw and others, all playing from their homes on their personal cell phones, cameras and audio equipment, to ensure the health and safety of all involved as Americans adapt to social distancing. The special event will support Americans who have been resilient as the nation attempts to fight the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Viewers will be encouraged to support two of the many charitable organizations helping victims and first responders during the pandemic: Feeding America and First Responders Children’s Foundation. The benefit special will air in the timeslot originally scheduled for “iHeartRadio Music Awards,” which was postponed as a result of the growing pandemic. FOX will offer the event across all of its linear and digital platforms. Last week, Fox Corporation announced it would provide everyone in America unlimited free access to Fox News Channel and FOX Television Stations during the coronavirus pandemic.

Very cool!   Thanks to Fox Corp for putting this together.  Excellent!!    🙂

Kenny Rogers, country music icon, dies at 81

Kenny Rogers, a longtime star of country music, died Friday night, according to a statement posted by his family. He was 81. Known for such hits as “The Gambler,” “Lady,” “Islands in the Stream,” and “Lucille,” Rogers died peacefully at home in Sandy Springs, Ga., of natural causes at 10:25 p.m., the statement said. In all, Rogers had 24 No. 1 hits and was the winner of six CMA Awards and three Grammys, the family’s statement said. Born in Houston, Texas, Rogers was raised in public housing along with seven siblings. He had his first gold single at age 20 with a song called “That Crazy Feeling” under the name Kenneth Rogers. He then joined a jazz group, the Bobby Doyle Trio, as a standup bass player. His breakthrough came in 1966, when he was asked to join a folk group called the New Christy Minstrels. The band reformed as First Edition and scored a pop hit with the psychedelic song, “Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In).” After the group disbanded in 1974, Rogers pursued a solo career and his 1977 hit “Lucille” crossed over to the pop charts and earned the crooner his first Grammy. “The Gambler,” written by Don Schlitz came out in 1978, which became Rogers’ signature song he later developed into a series of television movies that he starred in. One of his biggest hits was “Lady,” written by Lionel Richie, a chart topper for six weeks straight in 1980. Other hits included “You Decorated My Life,” “Every Time Two Fools Collide” with Dottie West, “Don’t Fall In Love with a Dreamer” with Kim Carnes, and “Coward of the County.” Over the years, Rogers collaborated with several female duet partners, most notably, Dolly Parton. The two were paired at the suggestion of the Bee Gees’ Barry Gibb, who wrote “Islands in the Stream.” “Barry was producing an album on me and he gave me this song,” Rogers told the Associated Press in 2017. “And I went and learned it and went into the studio and sang it for four days. And I finally looked at him and said, ‘Barry, I don’t even like this song anymore.’ And he said, ‘You know what we need? We need Dolly Parton.’ I thought, ‘Man, that guy is a visionary.’ “From the moment she marched into that room, that song never sounded the same,” Rogers added. “It took on a whole new spirit.” Rogers and Parton toured together, leading to an HBO concert special. The two later recorded “You Can’t Make Old Friends” in 2013. That same year, Rogers was a winner of the CMA’s Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award and was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. He received a total of 10 awards from the Academy of Country Music. According to the Recording Industry Association of America, Rogers sold more than 47 million records in the United States alone. He was a superstar for six decades before retiring from touring in 2017 at the age of 79. Despite his crossover success, Rogers always preferred to be thought of as a country singer. “You either do what everyone else is doing and you do it better, or you do what no one else is doing and you don’t invite comparison,” Rogers told The Associated Press in 2015. “And I chose that way because I could never be better than Johnny Cash or Willie or Waylon at what they did. So I found something that I could do that didn’t invite comparison to them. And I think people thought it was my desire to change country music. But that was never my issue.” Last May, Rogers was admitted to a Georgia hospital for dehydration, amid rumors that his overall health was failing. In 2018, health problems prompted Rogers to call off shows during what was billed as his farewell concert tour. “Kenny Rogers has been working through a series of health challenges and has been advised to cancel all performances through the end of the year to focus on recuperation,” a statement from the singer’s management said at the time. “I didn’t want to take forever to retire,” Rogers was quoted as saying. “I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this opportunity to say farewell to the fans over the course of the past two years on ‘The Gambler’s Last Deal’ tour.” In addition to his musical craft, Rogers had a chain of restaurants called Kenny Rogers Roasters and was a partner behind a riverboat in Branson, Mo. He was involved in a number of charitable causes, including the Red Cross and MusiCares. Rogers is survived by his wife, Wanda, and his sons Justin, Jordan, Chris and Kenny Jr., as well as two brothers, a sister and grandchildren, nieces and nephews, his representative said. The family is planning a private service “out of concern for the national COVID-19 emergency,” a statement posted early Saturday read. A public memorial will be held at a later date.

We’re very sorry to hear of Kenny’s passing.  The last couple of years his health was in decline.  So, this wasn’t a big surprise.  “The Gambler” was definitely a class act.  Thanks for the tunes, Kenny.  R.I.P.

Led Zeppelin wins ‘Stairway to Heaven’ copyright infringement case

Led Zeppelin scored a major win on Monday in the copyright battle over “Stairway to Heaven,” as the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a jury verdict finding the song did not infringe on the 1968 song “Taurus.” The ruling is also a significant win for the music industry, which has felt itself fighting a losing battle against frivolous copyright suits since the “Blurred Lines” trial in 2015. The court overturned the so-called “inverse ratio rule,” a precedent that has governed copyright cases in the 9th Circuit for the last 43 years. To prove copyright infringement, a plaintiff must show that the alleged infringer had access to the plaintiff’s work, and that the two works are “substantially similar.” The inverse ratio rule — which had not been adopted in other circuits — held that the more access was shown, the less similarity was required to establish infringement. The rule has been a thorn in the side of defendants — including record labels and major artists — for decades. In overturning the rule, the appeals court noted that the idea of “access” has become diluted in the digital age, as millions of works are readily available on Netflix, YouTube, and Spotify. The court also held that the rule has the effect of establishing a lower burden of proof for infringement of popular works. “It was a terrible rule,” said Ed McPherson, an attorney who filed an amicus brief in support of Led Zeppelin, on behalf of songwriters, producers and musicians. “If you have a lot of access, that shouldn’t mean there should be a lesser standard to prove copyright infringement. It’s never made sense to me.” The court also pushed back on the claims of similarity in the Led Zeppelin case, in an opinion that should hearten critics of the “Blurred Lines” decision. “We have never extended copyright protection to just a few notes,” the court held. “Instead we have held that ‘a four-note sequence common in the music field’ is not the copyrightable expression in a song.” The Zeppelin case began in 2014, when journalist Michael Skidmore filed suit on behalf of the estate of Randy Wolfe, the late frontman of the band “Spirit.” The lawsuit alleged that the iconic opening instrumental riff in “Stairway to Heaven” was lifted from Spirit’s 1968 song “Taurus.” A jury ruled against the plaintiffs in 2016, but a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals revived the case in September 2018. The panel held that Judge Gary Klausner had given the wrong jury instructions, and ordered a new trial. Led Zeppelin’s attorneys appealed to the full circuit, which heard the case last September. McPherson said he was not sure whether the court would take the opportunity to overturn the inverse ratio rule, as the subject hardly came up at oral argument. “I’m thrilled they did do it,” he said. “It’s a terrific decision. I have renewed faith in the 9th Circuit.”

Journey members Steven Smith, Ross Valory fired, bandmates embroiled in lawsuit over trademark

Two members of Journey have been kicked out of the band amid the filing of a lawsuit over its trademark. The legendary band’s bassist, Ross Valory, and drummer, Steven Smith, were kicked out of the group after guitarist Neal Schon and keyboardist Jon Cain filed a lawsuit against the two, accusing them of attempting a “coup” to gain control of the band’s trademark, according to a complaint. Schon and Cain accuse their former bandmates of declaratory judgment and breach of fiduciary duty and are seeking damages in excess of $10 million. According to the complaint, Schon and Cain accuse Valory and Smith of attempting to take control of the trademark last month by “improperly” holding meetings with shareholders and the board of directors of one of the band’s corporate entities named Nightmare Productions. In these meetings, Smith was voted to replace Cain as board president and Valory was voted to replace Schon as secretary, the outlet said. Schon and Cain claim their former bandmates incorrectly assumed they had rights to the Journey name. “Smith and Valory erroneously contend that Nightmare Productions controls the Journey name. They hope to use Nightmare Productions to hold the Journey name hostage and force Cain, Schon and Nightmare Productions to provide them with wind-fall payments for their retirement,” the complaint states. It continues: “Smith and Valory are wrong that Nightmare Productions controls the Journey name. Cain and Schon, through an entity named Elmo Partners, hold all rights to the Journey name.” The plaintiffs cite two trademark registration numbers and cite a trademark license agreement from 1985 to prove their ownership of the band name. The two band members further claim Valory and Smith want Nightmare Productions to “pay them a share of Journey touring revenue in perpetuity under the guise of a licensing fee while they perform absolutely no work for the band.” Schon and Cain accuse their former pals of concocting a “malicious” and “very ill-conceived” scheme in order to “set themselves up for retirement.” Journey formed in 1973 and quickly became known as one of the world’s most successful rock bands, with 10 platinum albums, 18 Top 40 singles and over 75 million albums sold worldwide, a press release from the law firm representing Schon and Cain states. Schon and Cain officially removed Smith and Valory from Journey in a letter dated March 3, the release explains. Skip Miller, attorney for Schon and Cain, provided a statement on their behalf in a news release this week. “This is not an action that Neal and Jon wanted to bring against two men that they once considered their brothers, but the devious and truculent behavior of Steve and Ross left them reluctantly with no choice but to act decisively. Journey will continue on with great success by ridding the band of disruptive members and replacing them with top musicians; and most importantly, by keeping its essential members—Schon, Cain and Pineda—fully intact.”

Just when I was having a great day, I read this…  And, I have tix for their concert this coming June in Denver, for crying out loud!  What a buzzkill…    Think I’ll get a refund if I can..  This is reminiscent of when Jon and Neal fired Ross and Steve back in the mid ’80s for a while, and then when the band had their reunion for their “Trial by Fire” cd, Smith and Valory returned.   Steve Smith is one of the greatest drummers in rock history.  Even the late great Neil Peart of Rush asked him once how he got to be so good.  Yeah.. He’s THAT good.  And, of course, Ross is a founding member of Journey, and his bass sound is signature to the Journey sound.  At any rate, there is apparently a lot more to this story.  When they had the vote, former lead singer Steve Perry was present and sided with Smith and Valory.  So, I’m guessing this story is FAR from over.  Someone just needs to put these four guys in a room and smack ’em upside the head and tell them to work it out and get back to playing together.  For more, click on the text above.

 

 

 

Monkees bassist Peter Tork dies at 77 after being diagnosed with rare tongue cancer 10 years ago

The Monkees bassist and singer Peter Tork died Thursday at the age of 77, his sister Anne Thorkelson has confirmed. Tork’s sibling did not clarify the suspected cause of his death, but in 2009 the musician was diagnosed with a rare cancer that affected his tongue. ‘It is with beyond-heavy and broken hearts that we share the devastating news that our friend, mentor, teacher, and amazing soul, Peter Tork, has passed from this world,’ a post on his official Facebook page read. He celebrated his 77th birthday last Wednesday and is survived by his fourth wife Pam Tork as well as children Ivan Joseph Iannoli, Hallie Luia Tork and Erica Marie Tork. The social media post from his ‘friends, family and colleagues’ continued: ‘We want to thank each and every one of you for your love, dedication and support of our “boss.” Having you in our world has meant so very much to all of us. ‘Please know that Peter was extremely appreciative of you, his Torkees, and one of his deepest joys was to be out in front of you, playing his music, and seeing you enjoy what he had to share. We send blessings and thoughts of comfort to you all, with much gratitude.’ Bandmate Micky Dolenz posted on Twitter: ‘There are no words right now…heart broken over the loss of my Monkee brother, Peter Tork.’ He and Mike Nesmith’s The Mike & Micky Show is currently touring the US until March 16. Australia and New Zealand dates are scheduled for June. Nesmith posted on Facebook: ‘Just got the news that Peter died. I am heartbroken. -Nez.’

Was very sorry to hear of Peter’s passing.  I grew up watching the Monkees show..  “hey hey, we’re the Monkees!’   Thanks for the fun memories and tunes, Peter.   R.I.P.

Ozzy Osbourne recalls ‘most painful, miserable year’ of his life, reveals Parkinson’s disease diagnosis

For the Prince of Darkness, 2019 was a rough one. In an interview with Robin Roberts on “Good Morning America,” Ozzy Osbourne revealed that he had a “miserable” year after falling in the bathroom. “When I had the fall, it was pitch black. I went to the bathroom and I fell,” recounted Osbourne, 71, while sitting next to his wife, Sharon Osbourne. “I just fell and landed like a slam on the floor and I remember lying there thinking, ‘Well, you’ve done it now,’ really calm. Sharon [called] an ambulance. After that, it was all downhill.” Black Sabbath’s former lead singer revealed he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, which is a neurodegenerative disorder that typically develops slowly over years, although not all patients are affected the same. It can cause tremors, limb rigidity, gait and balance issues as well as slowness of movement. There is no known cure for the disease, but patients can seek treatment through various medications and surgery, according to the Parkinson’s Foundation. “It’s PRKN 2,” Sharon shared of Ozzy’s diagnosis. “There’s so many different types of Parkinson’s; it’s not a death sentence by any stretch of the imagination, but it does affect certain nerves in your body. And it’s — it’s like you have a good day, a good day, and then a really bad day.” The two then noted that he’s been recovering from the fall for nearly a year now. “Next month, a year,” recounted the rock star. “Worst, longest, most painful, miserable year of my life.” Osbourne’s fall resulted in him receiving 15 screws in his spine, which was followed by multiple hospitalizations, ultimately causing him to delay his tour. “I’m not dying,” Osbourne said in a video he shared to Twitter in October 2019. “I am recovering, it’s just taking a little bit longer than everyone thought it would. I’m bored stiff of being stuck on a f—–g bed all day.” In the same video, the “Paranoid” singer thanked fans for their support before saying: “Now will you f–k off and let me get better?”

Classic Ozzy…  We wish him a speedy recovery.   For more on this interview, and to see a video clip, click on the text above.

Neil Peart, Rush Drummer Who Set a New Standard for Rock Virtuosity, Dead at 67

Neil Peart, the drummer and lyricist for Rush, died Tuesday, January 7th, in Santa Monica, California at age 67. The cause was brain cancer, which he had been quietly battling for three years, according to Elliot Mintz, a spokesperson for the Peart family. A representative for the band confirmed the news to Rolling Stone. Peart was widely considered one of rock’s greatest drummers, with a flamboyant yet utterly precise style that paid homage to his hero, The Who’s Keith Moon, while going well beyond that example. He joined singer-bassist Geddy Lee and guitarist Alex Lifeson in Rush in 1974, and his virtuosic playing and literate, wildly imaginative lyrics – which drew on Ayn Rand and science fiction, among other influences – helped make the trio one of the key bands of the classic-rock era. His drum fills on songs like “Tom Sawyer” were pop hooks in their own right, each one an unforgettable mini-composition. A rigorous autodidact and a gifted writer, Peart was also the author of numerous books. Peart never stopped believing in the possibilities of rock (“a gift beyond price,” he called it in Rush’s 1980 track “The Spirit of Radio”) and despising what he saw as over-commercialization of the music industry. “It’s about being your own hero,” he told Rolling Stone in 2015. “I set out to never betray the values that 16-year-old had, to never sell out, to never bow to the man. A compromise is what I can never accept.” “Neil is the most air-drummed-to drummer of all time,” former Police drummer Stewart Copeland said in 2015. “Neil pushes that band, which has a lot of musicality, a lot of ideas crammed into every eight bars — but he keeps the throb, which is the important thing. And he can do that while doing all kinds of cool shit.” Rush finished their final tour in 2015; Peart was done with the road and eager to spend more time with his wife, Carrie Nuttal, and daughter Olivia. On August 10th, 1997, Peart’s 19-year-old daughter, Selena, died in a single-car accident on the long drive to her university in Toronto. Just five months later, Selena’s mother – Peart’s common-law wife of 23 years, Jackie — was diagnosed with terminal cancer, quickly succumbing. Peart told his bandmates to consider him retired, and he embarked on a solitary motorcycle trip across the United States. He remarried in 2000, and found his way back to Rush by 2001. Peart grew up in Port Dalhousie, a middle-class suburb 70 miles from Toronto. As a teen, he permed his hair, took to wearing a cape and purple boots on the city bus, and scrawled “God is dead” on his bedroom wall. At one point, he got in trouble for pounding out beats on his desk during class. His teacher’s idea of punishment was to insist that he bang on his desk nonstop for an hour’s worth of detention, time he happily spent re-creating Keith Moon’s parts from Tommy.

I was devastated to get a text earlier today informing me of Neil’s passing.  As a drummer myself, Neil was one of my idols growing up; a hero.  My big drumset (I have three) is a Tama one…because of Neil.  I saw Rush’s “Signals” tour (in 1982) twice…and saw every tour since, except in 2008 when I was in Afghanistan playing Army.  The last time I saw Rush was in 2014 in Denver; their last tour.  Neil was one of a kind.  The band issued the following statement today, “It is with the deepest sadness that we must share the terrible news that on Tuesday our friend, soul brother and bandmate of over 45 years, Neil, has lost his incredibly brave three and a half year battle with brain cancer (Glioblastoma).  We ask that friends, fans, and media alike understandably respect the family’s need for privacy and peace at this extremely painful and difficult time.  Those wishing to express their condolences can choose a cancer research group or charity of their choice and make a donation in Neil’s name.  Rest in peace brother.”   Our prayers go out to Carrie and Olivia.. and, of course,  Alex and Geddy.  Thanks Neil for the tunes, the lyrics and the inspiration.  Our hearts are truly broken.  R.I.P.