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Back Stage
Past reports of news coverage and commentary on events that shape the rock music universe.

This is a reverse chronological archive of past reports
(Page 2 of 3) [page 1] [page 3]...
The most recent reports are located here.

Renowned electric guitar virtuoso Joe Satriani is suing the British band Coldplay for allegedly plagiarizing specific passages within their hit song "Vida La Vida" from his own work. Satriani claims the passages in question resemble "substantial portions" of his instrumental song "If I Could Fly." Reuters News reports the 52 year old guitarist has filed a copyright infringement suit during this past week in Los Angeles, seeking a trial by jury to determine and award damages he may be owed as a result of the claimed infringement. The credits on the Coldplay Album Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends, attribute the song in question to all four members of the Grammy nominated band. The Satriani instrumental is on his 2004 album Is There Love in Space? (December 9, 2008)

The musician responsible for putting a large part of the "experience" into the sound of The Jimi Hendrix Experience has passed away. Drummer Mitch Mitchell was found dead in a Portland Ore. hotel room in the early hours of Wednesday, November 12 by a hotel staff member. The 61 year old's unique drumming style contrastingly paired a jazz-tinged atmosphere with a dynamic rock energy, forming a signature element of the overall Hendrix sound. Mitchell's style is heard in full force on the band's breakthrough albums - Are You Experienced? Axis Bold As Love and Electric Ladyland. The English musician's death follows that of Jimi Hendrix in 1970 and bassist Noel Redding in 2003. Mitchell was reportedly in Portland for a short vacation and had died near the end of his planned stay. According to a state medical examiner, his death appeared to have been of natural causes. An autopsy has been planned. (November 14, 2008)

A spokesman for Pink Floyd has announced the death of keyboardist and founding member Richard Wright. Wright, an acquaintance of Floyd's Nick Mason and Roger Waters dating back to their college days, had first joined them forming a band called Sigma 6. Wright's vocals and writing played a good part in the band's success before it's name was changed to Pink Floyd. The groundbreaking 1973 album Dark Side of The Moon featured two of Wright's songs, Us and Them and The Great Gig In The Sky. Almost a decade later Wright had left the band, but rejoined in 1987 for the album A Momentary Lapse of Reason. He was 65 and had been battling cancer. (September 15, 2009)

Led Zeppelin may have written yet another chapter in the annuls of rock history with their reunion concert, but Rush has contributed a footnote of their own by performing on U.S. television for the first time in over 30 years. The power trio of Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and Neal Peart made an appearance on The Colbert Report where they performed the song Tom Sawyer. The show had aired July 16, 2008. Rush is currently in the final stages of the present leg of their Snakes And Arrows tour. (July 19, 2008)

Rock'n'roll pioneer Bo Diddley has passed away at the age of 79. In spite of having hit songs mostly during the fifties decade, Diddley's ultimate influence over nearly a half-century of rock was huge. This was due in large part to his now legendary signature beat being adopted over the years by rock royalty such as The Rolling Stones, The Who, George Thorogood, Buddy Holly, U2 and others. The beat can be heard in Holly's original Not Fade Away as well as in The Rolling Stone's cover version. Even the characteristic sound of Diddley's one-of-a-kind rectangular guitar found it's way into the performances of blues influenced artists such as Jimi Hendrix. Diddley had been inducted into the Rock'n'roll Hall of Fame in 1987 and had received a Rhythm and Blues Foundation Pioneer Lifetime Achievement Award in 1996. In late 2007 after suffering a stroke that affected his speech and a heart attack in succession, he began prescribed rounds of therapy. His death on June 2 was attributed to heart failure. Having been married four times, Mr. Diddley is survived by over 30 combined children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. (June 3, 2008)

A two-story high inflatable pig used as a prop by Pink Floyd during performances at southern California's Coachella Valley Arts and Music Festival had broken from it's tethers and drifted off only to be found later by some area residents just outside their homes. The mammoth pig, which belongs to vocalist Roger Waters had first appeared on the cover of the band's 1977 album Animals and had a creative tie-in with that album's song Pigs On A Wing. The two couples that found the pig's shredded and piled plastic remains will share the $10,000 reward and concert tickets being offered by festival organizers. Now that's what I call bringin' home the bacon! (May 1, 2008)

Tom Petty must have been feeling a tad nostalgic recently. The renowned rocker who scored several decades of fame with performing with The Heartbreakers has reformed his original 1972 band Mudcrutch. Petty had formed Mudcrutch in his hometown of Gainesville Florida, later relocating to Los Angeles. When west coast success proved to be more illusive than real, the band eventually split up with Petty and two others going on to form Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. The original Mudcrutch lineup consisted of Petty, Tom Leadon, Randall Marsh, Mike Campbell and Benmont Tench with Campbell and Tench reuniting with Petty in the new band. Last August Leadon and Marsh joined up with their "Heartbreaker" counterparts at Petty's Malibu home and initially recorded four songs in the relatively "non-studio" atmosphere of a nearby facility normally used by Petty for rehearsal. Over the ensuing two week period, the band had already completed an album's worth of recording. Mudcrutch has been released as a self-titled debut. (May 1, 2008)

E Street Band member Danny Federici has passed away at the age of 58. The keyboardist was lauded by Bruce Springsteen as being "the most wonderfully fluid keyboard player and a pure natural musician." Federici was diagnosed with melanoma in 2004 and had been battling the disease since. He last performed with "the boss" at a concert in late March 2008, some forty years after they had first started playing together at various Jersey Shore rock houses. The bond between them grew in the years to come, seemingly in step with the growing fame of Springsteen and the band. Federici has also played on albums by fellow E-Streeter Steven Van Zandt, Graham Parker, and Gary U.S. Bonds. (April 18, 2008)

Canadian blues / rock guitarist Jeff Healey who was rendered blind by a rare form of retinal cancer at the age of one died this Sunday at a Toronto hospital with his family at his side. The 41 year old musician and jazz aficionado was highly regarded for his unique style of playing - most often with his guitar flat on his lap while seated. Healey had undergone past surgery to remove tumors in his lungs and leg, which made it difficult for him to stand while performing. His life was ultimately claimed by an advanced stage of lung cancer. Besides his music career, Healey hosted a local Toronto jazz radio show and had appeared in the 1989 Patrick Swayze movie Roadhouse. (March 4, 2008)

Buddy Miles has passed away at the age of 60. The famed drummer had played in the second Jimi Hendrix group, Band Of Gypsys. His tenure included playing on Hendrix's classic Electric Ladyland and earlier work with Wilson Pickett and The Delfonics followed later by recording sessions with David Bowie, Muddy Waters, Stevie Wonder and others. Miles had reportedly died of congestive heart failure at his Austin, Texas home. (February 28, 2008)

Tom Scholz, founder and musical architect of the renowned classic rock band Boston has informed aspiring Republican candidate and bassist Mike Huckabee of his disapproval over the Huckabee campaign's use of the song More Than A Feeling. Initially, the song had been played live at some campaign events by Huckabee's own band Capitol Offense joined on the stage by former Boston guitarist Barry Goudreau. In a letter to Huckabee, Scholz pointed out that Goudreau's participation did not amount to an endorsement of his campaign by the band. Goudreau was one of Boston's founding members, but left in 1978 after the release of the band's second album Don't Look Back. According to the Associated Press, Scholz wrote "Boston has never endorsed a political candidate, and with all due respect, would not start by endorsing a candidate who is the polar opposite of most everything Boston stands for." By using my song, and my band's name Boston, you have taken something of mine and used it to promote ideas to which I am opposed. In other words, I think I've been ripped off, dude!" Scholz may have a fight on his hands as it turns out some members of Huckabee's team are not quite taking this sitting down. Said New Hampshire campaign manager Fred Bramante "Governor Huckabee plays Sweet Home Alabama. Does that mean Lynyrd Skynyrd is endorsing him? He plays Louie Louie. Does that mean the Kingsmen are endorsing him? To me, it's ridiculous." Scholtz has let it be known that he personally supports Democratic contender Barack Obama. (February 15, 2008)

The Rolling Stones will be releasing the soundtrack album of their forthcoming concert film Shine A Light through Universal Music, a move many music industry insiders view as a snub towards the band's current label EMI. An EMI representative however begged to differ, stating that since the film itself was being released through the corporation's Universal Pictures subsidiary, it was long understood that the soundtrack would also be released under the Universal brand and have no effect on the band's relationship with EMI. The Rolling Stones have been affiliated with the EMI Group for the past 16 years. The film is directed by Martin Scorsese and captures a 2006 live performance of the band at the Beacon Theater in New York City. EMI has recently endured the loss of some rather high profile artists such as Radiohead and Paul McCartney. Having been purchased last year by a private equity partnership, the company may now be facing a massive restructuring plan to offset revenue losses resulting from several years of falling CD sales. (January 17, 2008)

The reunited and (slightly) reformed Led Zeppelin put on a fine show at the memorial fundraiser for the late Atlantic Records founder and producer Ahmet Ertegun. With an inspiring 130 minute, 16 song set, original members Robert Plant, Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones, joined by John Bonham's son Jason Bonham on drums, aptly validated the band's ongoing legendary stature in the order of things rock'n'roll. The set included Zep standards such as Kashmir, Trampled Underfoot, the opener Good Times Bad Times, Dazed And Confused and of course the ubiquitous "signature" Stairway To Heaven. The set in general was performed with a slightly slower tempo than the studio originals and for that matter, previous live gigs. This was most apparent on Kashmir and In My Time of Dying in which Jimmy Page performed with slide and hollow-body electric guitars. The nearly 20,000 fans who were fortunate enough to attend the December 10 concert at London's O2 arena (perhaps "lucky" is a better word - due to demand, all public tickets were dispensed via an on-line lottery) witnessed a musical event destined to stand among the great live rock'n'roll events of our time. Even Ahmet Ertegun could never have asked for more. (December 13, 2007)

Peter Garrett the lead singer of the now disbanded late eighties band Midnight Oil has been appointed environment minister in his native Australia's newly elected Labor Party government. A dedicated environmental activist and supporter of aboriginal rights, Garrett initially chose music as the medium for his political discourse before disbanding Midnight Oil in 2002. The band is perhaps best known for their 1988 song "Beds Are Burning" whose lyrics dealt with the diminished land rights of Australia's indigenous people. While still involved with Midnight Oil, Garrett began his ascension into public life by heading the Australian Conservation Foundation and serving as an environmental board member of Greenpeace. (November 29, 2007)

The lead singer of Quiet Riot was found dead last Sunday in his Las Vegas home. Nevada authorities are investigating the death of 52 year old Kevin Dubrow. According to the Las Vegas metro police, a concerned neighbor had summoned both police and paramedics to the site. The police also said they had found no evidence of forced entry into the home nor had any suspicious circumstances been reported. The four member band was founded in the mid-seventies and scored a huge hit in 1983 with the "hair metal" classic album Metal Health. Following an extended period of occasional touring besot by personnel breakups and other changes, the band had released a new album just last year. (November 29, 2007)

Ozzy Osbourne is not pleased after a Fargo, North Dakota area sheriff conducted a sting using Osbourne's name to attract and arrest a group of warrant violators. Cass County sheriff Paul Laney had invited 500 individuals with outstanding warrants to what was billed as an exclusive nightclub party being held before a concert featuring Osbourne and fellow rocker Rob Zombie. The concert had taken place as scheduled at a local arena. The sting lead to over 30 arrests and was declared a success by the sheriff. In a formal statement, Osbourne said "Instead of holding a press conference to pat himself on the back, Sheriff Laney should be apologizing to me for using my name in connection with these arrests." Osboune went on to say "It is insulting to me and to my audience and it shows how lazy this particular sheriff is when it comes to doing his job." For his part, Laney was unapologetic, comparing his technique with a bar mentioning different football teams when promoting a Super Bowl party. Laney added that since criminals are creative in evading the law, his officers have to be equally creative in doing their job to reel them in. (November 3, 2007)

Record producer Phil Spector has gone for a walk. No ordinary walk, mind you - but a rather special one he'll likely remember for awhile. The Los Angeles jury deliberating over Spector's alleged guilt in the February 2003 shooting murder of actress Lana Clarkson has been unable to render a decision, even after receiving modified instructions from presiding Superior Court Judge Larry Fidler. With the jury foreman reporting a 7 to 5 impasse after a five month period of testimony, Judge Fidler had no choice but to declare a mistrial and let the 67 year old Spector go free. During the trial, prosecutors brought in Spector's chauffeur who testified he had heard a gun-shot like sound from Spector's mansion just before Spector came outside and said "I think I just killed somebody." They also presented five female witnesses acquainted with Spector who testified that Spector had pulled a gun on them during previous encounters. Spector's defence argued that Clarkson had attempted either suicide or self-inflicted wounding due to suffering from intense personal problems. The famed late 1950's girl-group producer now joins the company of a two other male L.A. celebrities charged with murder but ultimately discharged by their respective juries - namely O.J. Simpson and Robert Blake. (Sept 27, 2007)

Promoters of a UK concert being held to honor the late, famed music producer Ahmet Ertegun have announced the lineup will feature a performance by the surviving original members of Led Zeppelin. Ertegun, who had founded Atlantic Records in 1947 had passed away last December at the age of 83. The concert will be held this coming November 26 at the O2 in London. The deceased John Bonham's son Jason Bonham will take his father's place on the drum riser just back of Robert Plant, Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones. Ertegun had a thriving passion for jazz, soul and blues and had encouraged both Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones to incorporate a blues derived style in their material. Other rock luminaries announced as performers at the event include Pete Townshend, Bill Wyman and Foreigner. (September 13, 2007)
UPDATE: Due to Jimmy Page having undergone a minor injury, the concert has been postponed to December 10, 2007. Page had accidentally fractured his finger and decided it would be best to push back the concert date so as to give the injury some time to heal. In a statement to the media, Page said "Led Zeppelin have always set very high standards for ourselves, and we feel that this postponement will enable my injury to properly heal, and permit us to perform at the level that both the band and our fans have always been accustomed to.Ē It was announced that refunds will be available and that tickets bearing the original date will be honored on the postponed date.

It's almost old news by now, but we wanted to make sure it's official: Van Halen will be reuniting with original vocalist David Lee Roth for a tour of 50 dates across North America. This tour will mark the first time Van Halen and Roth have performed togther since 1985 when Roth had left the band for a solo career. With Roth's departure, Van Halen continued touring and performing, first bringing in Sammy Hagar as Roth's replacement. Former Extreme singer Gary Cherone had joined the band barely long enough to record one album before Hagar returned. After one reasonably successful album, Roth's solo career quickly went south. Jokes about the band's reunion with Roth have been recently flying around fast and thick. In a monologue last week, Conan O'Brien said Van Halen and Roth had actually wanted to reunite sooner, but it never happened until now because they weren't desperate enough. The sad part is that Conan's comedic insight on this might be a lot closer to the truth than what's typical for late-night humor. (August 12, 2007)
UPDATE: It's been confirmed that Eddie Van Halen's 16 year old son Wolfgang will be playing bass on the tour and likely on the next album as well. Former Van Halen bassist Michael Anthony had already departed to pursue other activities - one of which is reportedly going on tour with none other than Sammy Hagar.

Motley Crue drummer Tommy Lee is seemingly not too thrilled over a recent brush with reality - namely his involvement with two "reality TV" shows. Lee and the band are reported to be suing a manager who they claim self-servingly coerced Lee into participating in the shows for Lee's personal benefit at the expense of the band. The suit states that while Lee was involved in the production of Tommy Lee Goes to College and Rock Star: Supernova, the band's 2006 European tour was plagued with 40 cancellations and suffered an estimated $8 million loss in ticket and merchandising sales, all attributable to Lee's absence. The suit contends that both TV shows were ratings disasters and detrimental to Lee's music career. Besides co-managing the band, the manager named in the $20 million plus suit is also Lee's personal manager. (June 19, 2007)

ZZ Top has canceled their upcoming European tour to allow time for bassist Dusty Hill to undergo medical treatment for a growth in his inner ear. The benign growth has reportedly reached a size large enough to diminish Hill's hearing. The legendary Texas trio's European tour was originally scheduled to start June 15 and run into early July with a North American tour starting in mid July. (May 16, 2007)

The legendary executive music producer Ahmet Ertegun who had passed away last December was honored this week in New York at a tribute attended by scores of artists who's careers had been touched by his vision and guidance. As co-founder of the originally rhythm and blues oriented label Atlantic Records in 1947, Ertegun was at the forefront of overseeing early R&B's transition toward a "southern sound" and an eventual integration with rock'n'roll - something well reflected by his label's diverse roster of artists. Over the past half-century, Atlantic Records was either "home" to or affiliated with the likes of Aretha Franklin, Joe Turner, Wilson Pickett, Ray Charles, Solomon Burke, Otis Redding, Buffalo Springfield, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, Led Zeppelin, Yes, AC/DC, Genesis, Phil Colins and The Rolling Stones. In addition to having received numerous music industry awards and honors, Ertegun was a co-founder of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Prior to his death on December 14, 2006, the 83 year old Ertegun had been in a coma for six weeks after sustaining head injuries resulting from a fall backstage at a concert celebrating former U.S. president Bill Clinton's 60th birthday. (April 22, 2007)

The long-time head of The Beatles' record label has stepped down. Sixty-four year old Liverpool native Neil Aspinall has quit as the top executive of London based Apple Corps. The company has already announced his successor as music industry executive Jeff Jones who will assume the title of CEO. Aspinall's relationship with the Beatles goes all the way back to the days when he was their driver. The relationship was so solid, he was often refereed to as "the fifth Beatle." Aspinall's management style was as cautious as it was conservative. He disdained titles and formalities. It was his strategy to not allow the re-issue of Beatle songs on multi-artist compilations. When the CD format arrived in the early eighties, he withheld re-issuing the Beatles catalog for several years until he could secure a preferential royalty rate. The lag also gave producer-engineer George Martin a good deal of time for completing his remastering work prior to the initial 1986 CD releases. Aspinall was originally an acquaintance of former Beatle Pete Best. After serving as their driver, the trainee accountant eventually became their road manager. When The Beatles started up Apple Records in 1968, Aspinall was their unanimous choice to head the new organization. His near forty year term in that post was testimony of Aspinall's great loyalty and sense of duty toward the surviving Beatles - Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr as well as the families of the late John Lennon and George Harrison. (April 11, 2007)

A careless office cleaner had allegedly sent cardboard boxes containing valuable early photographs of The Beatles off to a waste compactor where they were destroyed. According to a report in Britain's The Daily Telegraph, the incident occurred at the office of an EMI executive where several photos had been packed in readiness for a transfer to an EMI archive branch. In a legal writ filed against the outside-contracted cleaning firm Crystal Services, EMI claimed the boxes had been labeled with a hand-written note explaining that contents were "not rubbish" and were "not to be moved." Both of these claims were reportedly denied by the defendants. One of the photos from a 1963 session had been used on the cover of the Beatles' Please Please Me Album. It shows the fab-four in an indoor multi-story atrium setting, leaning slightly forward over a railing and looking downwards toward the camera. That famed photo along with a similar one taken by photographer Angus McBean had also been used on the covers of separate "red" and "blue" compilation albums released in 1973. EMI and Apple Records claim that a total of seven Beatle photos along with another 452 transparencies and negatives worth almost $1.5 million (US) were destroyed in the incident. The works of the now-deceased McBean had been on display at a special exhibition last year at Britain's National Portrait Gallery. (April 7, 2007)

Vocalist Brad Delp of the band Boston was found dead in his New Hampshire home yesterday. A spokesman for the Atkinson, N.H. police said the cause of death was still under investigation, but foul play was not suspected. The 55 year old singer has fronted numerous Boston classics including Foreplay/Longtime, More Than A Feeling and Don't Look Back. Delp was an original 1976 founding member of the legendary classic rock band which was the creative brainchild of guitarist Tom Scholz. Comments from Scholz and other band members were not yet available for this report. (March 10, 2007)
UPDATE: The family of Brad Delp has issued a formal public statement in which they claim Brad's death was a suicide. This statement was issued shortly after the publication of our original report.

Apple Inc. and Beatles affiliated Apple Corps. have reached an agreement that allows the renowned computer and iPod manufacturer to continue gracing it's products with the coveted "Apple" logo. The two companies had previously been locked in a protracted, two decade name dispute. A 1991 agreement had allowed Apple Inc. to use the "Apple" name and fruit logo provided they did not enter the music business. In the view of Apple Corps., that condition lapsed roughly a decade later when Apple Inc. began selling iPod targeted music downloads through their iTunes music store. In May of last year, a British court upheld the 1991 agreement, ruling that it had not been violated. An appeal had been filed. The newest settlement gives Apple Inc. legal ownership of all the "Apple" related trademarks. This allows the manufacturer to continue using the familiar name and logos on their music related products and services. Apple Inc. will in turn license specific trademarks back to Apple Corps. Each side agreed to cover their own legal costs. Further details and terms were not disclosed. Apple Inc. had recently dropped the term "computer" from their corporate name. (February 5, 2007)

It's been reported the Eagles are about to release their first album of all-new material in 28 years. Founding lead vocalist Don Henley, quoted in the Las Vegas Review Journal said "It's coming out in 60 to 90 days, if we don't kill each other first." The band had been in Las Vegas performing a private concert at one of that city's major venues. The Eagles had formed in the early seventies and capping off a considerably successful near-decade string of albums and singles, their last studio album of new material was 1979's The Long Run. Since their disbanding in 1982, Henley had enjoyed moderate success as a solo artist. In 1994 the band reformed for a tour. The line-up featured Henley, and legacy members Don Felder, Glenn Frey, Joe Walsh, and Timothy Schmit. (January 31, 2007)

Famed early eighties trio The Police will reunite to perform at the 2007 Grammyģ Award ceremony this February 11. Sting, Andy Summer and Stewart Copeland had dissolved the reggae inspired band in 1986 following a successful 4 year run. Sting is currently on tour in Europe promoting his latest album. (January 30, 2007)

Hold the phone on a published rumor that Tom Petty was planning to hang up his guitar sometime this year. An article in the July issue of Rolling Stone hinted the veteran rocker had planned to retire in 2007. Turns out this was as much of a surprise to Petty as it may have been to anyone else. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Petty denied having announced any retirement plans. He was quoted in a recently published Times article as saying "You never know how things are going to turn out, and I didn't see this year coming, but maybe next year will be even better." (January 2, 2007)

With the death of James Brown on Christmas Day, the end of 2006 marks the end of an era in popular music. The flamboyant singer and minister had passed away shortly after being admitted to an Atlanta Ga. hospital with congestive heart failure. At an age when most performers are either long retired or have drastically scaled back their schedules, the 73 year old Brown had showed no signs of slowing down right up to his death. Brown was in fact all set to embark on a multi-city tour in the months ahead. On December 28, Brown's body had arrived by horse-drawn carriage back where his career had began - New York city's famed Apollo Theater, where it would lie in state as thousands of fans filed by paying their respects. Brown is survived by four children with the status of a possible fifth child under a cloud of controversy. Brown's estate agents had disputed claims made by Tomi Rae Hynie, the child's mother, that she was in fact legally Brown's wife. The dispute arose out of Hynie's alleged incomplete documentation for the annulment of her previous marriage. A private remembrance ceremony was held today just outside of Augusta, Ga. with a larger public service set for tomorrow at Augusta's James Brown Arena. Brown's energetic performing style and signature "half-beat" rhythm made a lasting mark on four decades of gospel, soul, rock'n'roll and blues music. They remain a part of his legacy. (December 29,2006)

Former Procol Harum organist Matthew Fisher has been awarded a 40% share in the musical copyright royalties from commercial sale and use of the group's 1967 hit song A Whiter Shade of Pale. Claiming he alone had composed the song's distinctive organ riff, Fisher had sued vocalist Gary Brooker over royalties that Booker and his publishing company had previously collected. Booker had always claimed to be the sole composer of the song's score. In documenting his decision, the presiding Judge wrote: "I have come to the view that Mr. Fisher's interest in the work should be reflected by according him a 40 per cent share of the musical copyright" Booker and lyric writer Keith Reid have stated they intend to appeal the decision. (December 21, 2006)

An academic who fought a quarter-century of endless government red-tape to obtain copies of the FBI's surveillance documents on John Lennon has finally prevailed in his quest. Historian Jon Wiener told the LA Times that while the papers yield new insight into Lennon's ties with various leftist/pacifist groups in London during the early 70s, there's no indication Lennon was ever considered a serious threat. The FBI had opposed the release of the documents on the grounds that doing so could result in diplomatic or economic sanctions against the U.S. by an unnamed foreign government that was said to have provided the original information under a mutual agreement of confidentiality. Some previously released files which Weiner had obtained in 1997 after wining a lawsuit against the government indicate the agency kept a close watch on Lennon's activities from 1971 to 1972. The report's remaining pages were later released from the tenacious grasp of Justice Department lawyers following a federal Judge's order in 2004. Mark Rosenbaum, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California said the documents portray "government paranoia at a pathological level." The ACLU had assisted Weiner with representation in the case. (December 20, 2006)

It has been announced that The Doors and the Grateful Dead will be presented with lifetime achievement awards at the 2007 Grammyģ award ceremonies. (December 20, 2006)

Two past members of Procol Harum have appeared before a British magistrate seeking a decision as to how the copyright and royalty revenues from the top-ten 1967 song A Whiter Shade of Pale are to be divided among them. The legendary song has held up well over the decades and still evokes memories of the famous 1967 "summer of love" to many. Former organ player Matthew Fisher is suing vocalist Gary Brooker and his publishing company over the royalties Brooker has collected exclusively to date. Fisher, who left the band in 1969, claims to have composed both the organ melody as well as the distinctive 8-bar Hammond organ solo which his lawyer states were "crucial to the success of the song." Brooker's defense lawyers were skeptical of how long Fisher had waited before bringing his claim before the court, referring to the situation as "bizarre and obviously prejudicial." In his defense, Brooker claimed the organ parts were influenced by Johann Sebastian Bach's "Air on the G String" and "Sleepers Awake" and were composed by himself and lyricist Keith Reid before Fisher joined the band in March 1967. (November 14, 2006)

A foursome of Black Sabbath alumni have leapt ahead to the next stage in their musical careers with the formation of a new band: Heaven and Hell. Legendary metal rockers Bill Ward, Geezer Butler, Tony Iommi and Ronnie James Dio are planning to take the new band on an international tour throughout 2007. As Sabbath "survivors," change is nothing new to these guys - Black Sabbath had undergone numerous personnel changes since it's formation in 1969 with Dio having replaced founding vocalist Ozzy Osbourne in the early eighties. The new band is said to have taken their name "Heaven and Hell" from Sabbath's 1980 song of the same name. Works for me! (October 28, 2006)

To a few acquaintances he had a seemingly loose grip on reality. To others he was simply a quiet neighbor who kept to himself while caringly tending to his garden. Yet to many others he was a creative genius with a vision for the ages. Such was the range of personas inhabited by Pink Floyd co-founder Syd Barrett before his death at the age of 60 on July 7, 2006. A statement from the band said "We were very upset and sad to learn of Syd Barrett's death. Syd was the guiding light of the early band lineup and leaves a legacy which continues to inspire." Barrett who's actual first name was Roger but preferred using "Syd" as an artist, had co-founded Pink Floyd in 1965 with fellow musicians Nick Mason, Roger Waters and Richard Wright. The bandís sophisticated sound and multi-faceted concert performance which made use of images and light found a strong following among the more progressive members of London's fledging psychedelic movement. Unfortunately, by the time the bandís first album The Piper at the Gates of Dawn was released in 1967, Barrettís increasingly frequent use of LSD was rapidly weakening his already fragile mental stability. He left Pink Floyd in 1968, a mere three years after the bandís formation. Over the following decades with the exception of releasing two little-known solo albums, Barrett had essentially withdrawn from his musical past and had settled down to a quiet domestic life in suburban Cambridge England. He shunned fan and media attention, preferring to occupy his time with activities like gardening, cycling or painting. Following Barrett's departure, Pink Floyd went on to record the legendary 1973 album Dark Side Of The Moon with new band member David Gilmour. Itís lyrics harbored many themes and references toward mental illness no doubt inspired by Barrettís condition. To this day, that album is widely regarded by fans and critics alike as a benchmark masterpiece of progressive rock. A subsequent album, Wish You Were Here with it's hauntingly beautiful extended-length track "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" comprised yet an even more poignant tribute to Barrett. The bandís recurring thematic exploration of mental illness surfaced yet again on 1979ís The Wall. Although Barrett was known to have Diabetes, the exact cause of his death has not yet been officially released. (July 11, 2006)

Seventies-era keyboard and vocal musician Billy Preston who had played and recorded with The Beatles and The Rolling Stones has died at the age of 59. Prestonís health had been deteriorating following chronic liver failure in 2002. He had been in a coma since last November while residing in a specialized Arizona care facility. The Texas born Preston had become a close friend of the late George Harrison who eventually invited him to play with The Beatles at the Let It Be sessions held at a London film studio in early 1969. The Beatles had later affirmed that Prestonís presence within the session's tense atmosphere helped maintain an air of civility during a time when their inter-personal feuds were threatening the music/film project if not signaling their finish as a band. Prestonís solo career took-off after winning a best instrumental Grammy for his 1973 instrumental Outta Space. He had already penned Joe Cockerís iconic You Are So Beautiful and later made a national TV appearance as a guest musician on the debut 1975 Saturday Night Live show. He performed at George Harrison's The Concert for Bangladesh and almost three decades later at the Concert for George, a tribute following Harrisonís 2001 death from cancer. He ultimately played keyboards on several solo records released by ex-Beatles Harrison, Ringo Starr and John Lennon. Other Preston session credits included Aretha Franklin's Young, Gifted and Black, Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks and Sly and The Family Stone's There's a Riot Goin' On. He also toured and recorded with the Rolling Stones, playing on legendary albums such as Sticky Fingers and Exile on Main Street. He eventually suspended his relationship with the ĎStones in the mid-seventies following a dispute over song composition credits. In spite of that, he returned two decades later to play on the 1997 Bridges to Babylon album. This era also had itís troubled side as several of Billy Prestonís personal problems led to run-ins with the law. In 1992, he was ordered to spend nine months at a drug rehab center following no-contest pleas to cocaine and assault charges. In 1997, he was sentenced to three years in prison for violating his original probation. The following year he had pleaded guilty to insurance fraud and agreed to testify against other defendants connected with an alleged $1 million scam. We remember Billy Preston for his soulful keyboard artistry and his affectingly cheerful, upbeat vocal style. (June 6, 2006)

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The reports and commentary on this page are based on reports from a variety of on-line and print media resources. In rare cases where direct quotes are used, the editor will endeavor to name the original source that reported the quote.

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