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Dave Davies on status of new Kinks project: "It's taken longer than we thought"

Dave Davies, Ray Davies; ABC AudioFor the past year or two, founding Kinks members Ray Davies and Dave Davies been telling the media that they are working on material for a possible new album by the band. Dave recently shared a little update on the project's status with ABC Audio, reporting that things are progressing, albeit rather slowly.

"[W]e're still kind of working hard on ideas. And we've got some archive stuff that we've had that hasn't been released yet," the guitarist reveals. "So we're still very intent on getting some new product together, but it's taken longer than we thought. But it's not from want of trying."

Dave explains that he and Ray haven't "actually done…new sessions together," but notes that besides trying to complete unfinished archival tracks, he and his older brother have recorded demos of new songs "that would constitute work on a new album, I guess."

In October, Ray Davies told Rolling Stone that he and Dave were trying to write songs together, something they hadn't done too often in the past.

"We have worked on a couple of ideas, yeah, which is very exciting," Dave confirms to ABC Audio, "but haven't gotten anything concrete finished yet.

He adds, "There's a lot of interesting ideas and new ideas, so we'll have to see how it shapes up."

Dave also points out that one of the reasons he thinks it's taken a long time for he and Ray to finish the project, at least with regard to the archival material, is because The Kinks were so prolific.

"It's weird because it's always kind of almost been a problem with The Kinks," he maintains. "There's always a lot of stuff -- a lot of music, a lot of ideas...It's been like a blessing and a curse in a way."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Elton John recalls the best advice he ever got was to start small and "build up"

Ben Gibson, © HST Global Limited/ Courtesy of Rocket EntertainmentElton John is always willing to advise young, up-and-coming artists like Ed Sheeran and Lewis Capaldi.  But back when he was first starting out, he received some very valuable advice that's served him well throughout his career.

As part of Spotify's video series "The Best Advice I Ever Got," Elton reveals the words of wisdom that have stuck with him the most over the years came from his U.S. booking agent, Howard Rose: "Don't put yourself in a position where you're playing somewhere big too soon."

Elton explains that early on, "I got the headlines pretty quick, and I could have played bigger venues than I was playing at the start of my career. But Howard said, 'No, you have to go out and play second on the bill to great artists...in areas where you are not so popular.  And you have to get the experience of playing to another audience that isn't your audience.'"

Elton says Rose also told him early on in his career, "We're gonna put you in smaller venues and create a ticket craziness, so you sell out straightaway and no one can get a ticket. That means the next time you come round, you're gonna sell out a bigger venue." 

That way, Rose told Elton, "When you do play big venues, you will really relish it and you will be ready for it."

Elton says now, 50 years on, he can vouch for the fact that "Playing somewhere...[when] you're not ready is a disaster waiting to happen." 

"Just take it easy, know what you can do and then build up to play something special," Elton cautions. "But don't do it straightaway."

 Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

2020 Peach Music Festival lineup features members of The Police & Talking Heads, Allman Brothers alums

Courtesy of The Peach Music FestivalThe lineup for the 2020 edition of the Allman Brothers Band-founded Peach Music Festival has been revealed: Headlining the event will be the supergroup Oysterhead, which features Police drummer Stewart Copeland, Phish singer/guitarist Trey Anastasio and Primus singer/bassist Les Claypool.

Not surprisingly, the bill also includes a couple of Allman Brothers alums: founding drummer Jaimoe and longtime bassist Oteil Burbridge. Both Jaimoe and Oteil will be performing separately with not-yet-announced musical friends, while Burbridge also will be playing with the Grateful Dead tribute act Joe Russo's Almost Dead.

In addition, founding Talking Heads keyboardist Jerry Harrison and the band's one-time touring guitarist Adrian Belew will join eclectic Brooklyn, New York-based group Turkuaz for a set celebrating the 40th anniversary of Talking Heads' Remain in Light album.

Other artists set to perform at the 2020 Peach Music Festival include The String Cheese Incident, Tower of Power, reggae veterans Steel Pulse and The Allman Betts Band. That's the new group that features the respective sons of founding Allman Brothers members Gregg Allman, Dickey Betts and Berry Oakley: Devon Allman, Duane Betts and Berry Duane Oakley.

The festival is scheduled to take place July 2 to July 5 at Montage Mountain in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Four-day passes are available now; visit ThePeachMusicFestival.com for more details.

The Peach fest is one of several reunion performances that Oysterhead has lined up in 2020. The band also will be playing a February 14-15 stand at the 1STBANK Center in Broomfield, Colorado, and will be headlining the Sweetwater 420 Fest, taking place April 24-26 in Atlanta's Centennial Olympic Park.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Anonymous billionaire who bought Olivia Newton-John's Grease leather jacket returns it to her

Credit: Michelle DayThe anonymous billionaire who won the auction for Olivia Newton-John's iconic leather jacket from Grease had a plan when he placed the winning bid. The mysterious buyer, who is a physician and media tech entrepreneur, not only returned it to her, but also made a hefty donation to her cancer charity.

According to Julien's Auctions, the bidder, who is the self-professed "No. 1 fan" of the singer, donated the $243,000 he originally spent on the jacket to the Olivia Newton-John Cancer and Wellness Center in Melbourne, Australia.

In a heartwarming video provided by Julien's Auctions, who auctioned off several items belonging to the four-time Grammy Award winning singer, Newton-John has her eyes closed as the faceless buyer approaches her with a hot pink-wrapped present.

"Oh, hello!" she cheerfully says upon opening her eyes as she her fan, warmly gripping his arm while shaking his hand. She also sheepishly admits that, while she recognizes his face, she cannot recall his name or how they met.

The buyer begins presenting the gift by sweetly telling her, "The odds of beating a recurring cancer using the newest emerging therapies is 1,000-fold greater than someone appearing out of the blue, buying your most famous and cherished icon, and returning it to you."

Newton-John's eyes go wide in shock as is immediately moved to tears. "Are you serious?" she exclaims before giving him a long hug.

"[This jacket] should not sit in a billionaire's closet for country club bragging rights," the anonymous billionaire declares, as he too struggles to maintain his composure. "Godspeed for a quick recovery."

Newton-John, who is battling breast cancer, was ecstatic to be reunited with her leather jacket and was all smiles as she clutched it against her and shimmied excitedly.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Mariah Carey's holiday hit tops 'Billboard' streaming chart; watch her new documentary now

Courtesy Amazon MusicChristmas is a few weeks away, and Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas Is You" has already reached number three on the Billboard Hot 100.  But it's number one on another, equally significant chart.

For the second holiday season in a row, according to Billboard, the song has topped the Streaming Songs chart.  In the past tracking week, it racked up more than 35 million streams and jumped from number 11 to number one.

This is the earliest Mariah's song has reached number one on that chart, and the first time a holiday song has done so before the season has ended.

If you want to learn the story behind the song, you can now watch Amazon Music's mini-documentary Mariah Carey is Christmas: The Story of “All I Want for Christmas Is You."  It features interviews with Randy Jackson -- who worked at Mariah's record label at the time -- as well as her former backup singer Trey Lorenz and several industry experts.

In the doc, Mariah explains that making a Christmas song that reflected what the holiday means to her was very important because as a kid, her "incredibly dysfunctional family" would "ruin" Christmas "every year." 

She recalls vowing that, "When I grow up, I'm gonna make Christmas perfect every year." 

Well, mission accomplished, thanks to the song.

"It's grown in popularity over the years," Mariah marvels. "And that's the thing that's amazing to me."

Mariah also says her favorite line in the song is "I won't even wish for snow."  Why?  Because, she says, "I always wish for snow. I always want it to be, like, a special festive winter wonderland. I always have."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

'The Last Waltz,' 'Purple Rain' among movies selected for the National Film Registry

MGM; Warner BrothersThe Martin Scorsese-directed concert film The Last Waltz, documenting The Band's star-studded 1976 farewell show, and Prince's semi-autobiographical 1984 movie Purple Rain are among the 25 films just added to the Library of Congress' National Film Registry.

Each year the Library of Congress selects a number of films for preservation that are considered to have "cultural, historic and aesthetic importance to the nation's film heritage."

The Last Waltz, which was released in 1978, focuses on the final concert ever by The Band's original lineup, which took place Thanksgiving Day 1976 at San Francisco's Winterland Ballroom. The show featured a jaw-dropping lineup that included Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, Eric Clapton, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Muddy Waters, Neil Diamond, Dr. John, Paul Butterfield, Ronnie Wood and Ringo Starr.

Purple Rain featured Prince as a character based on himself called "The Kid" who was the talented frontman leader of a Minneapolis band. The film spawned a hugely successful soundtrack album that featured four top-10 singles, including the #1 hits "When Doves Cry" and "Let's Go Crazy."

Albert Magnoli, who directed and co-wrote Purple Rain, says he's "deeply honored" that the movie was chosen for the National Film Registry.

"All of us strived to create a film that would capture the attention of what we believed at the time was a small audience," he noted. "None of us expected this longevity. We simply worked hard every day to get it right, and this honor is a testament to the music, story and characters that were created by all of us so many years ago."

Purple Rain's soundtrack also was recognized by the Library of Congress when it was added to the National Recording Registry in 2012.

Here's the National Film Registry's complete 2019 class:

Amadeus (1984)
Becky Sharp (1935)
Before Stonewall (1984)
Body and Soul (1925)
Boys Don't Cry (1999)
Clerks (1994)
Coal Miner's Daughter (1980)
Emigrants Landing at Ellis Island (1903)
Employees Entrance (1933)
Fog of War (2003)
Gaslight (1944)
George Washington Carver at Tuskegee Institute (1937)
Girlfriends (1978)
I Am Somebody (1970)
The Last Waltz (1978)
My Name Is Oona (1969)
A New Leaf (1971)
Old Yeller (1957)
The Phenix City Story (1955)
Platoon (1986)
Purple Rain (1984)
Real Women Have Curves (2002)
She's Gotta Have It (1986)
Sleeping Beauty (1959)
Zoot Suit (1981)

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Chicago explains why they're taking another "Sleigh Ride" this holiday season

Rhino RecordsChicago's latest album Chicago Christmas is the band's fourth collection of holiday tunes and features their new hit version of "Sleigh Ride."  But as founding member Lee Loughnane explains, the band never actually planned to make another Christmas album -- it just kinda happened.

"Initially, it was going to be just a couple of bonus tracks to go along with, with Rhino [Records] re-releasing our previous Christmas stuff, which perennially does well for them," Lee tells ABC Audio. "And when I asked the guys if they had [any material], they came in with 11 songs, eight of which were originals. So we just took one song at a time. And in three months, we had a record."

This is actually the second time the band's recorded "Sleigh Ride"; they also cut it in 2003.  But with so many Christmas songs to choose from, why do it again?

"Our manager Peter...he kept asking me to do [it]," Lee says.  It seems Peter has fond memories of The Ronettes' version of "Sleigh Ride" that appears on Phil Spector's iconic holiday album A Christmas Gift for You.  Specifically, he wanted Chicago to do what the Ronettes did and sing "ring a ling a ling, ding dong ding."

"When I listened to it...they only did one portion of the song. They didn't even do the bridge or anything else. They just did the verses," Lee points out.

He laughs, "So I wanted to change it up a little bit and still give Peter his ring a ling a ling ding dong ding,  so that's how we formed it."

As a result, both versions of "Sleigh Ride" are completely different.  But if you're looking to stream the current one, there's one difference: The new version is called "Sleigh Ride 2019."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

The Dave Clark Five to release 28-track 'All the Hits' compilation in January

BMGA new 28-track compilation by legendary British Invasion hit-makers The Dave Clark Five will arrive on January 24, 2020. All the Hits is the first best-of collection to be released by the Rock & Hall of Famers in more than 10 years, and marks the 60th anniversary of the group's formation.

All of the album's tracks have been remastered by DC5 drummer and band leader Dave Clark at London's famous Abbey Road Studios. The retrospective includes 13 of the 14 top-20 singles that the band released from February 1964 through April 1967.

Eight of those songs reached the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100, including "Glad All Over," "Bits and Pieces," "Can't You See That She's Mine," "Because," "I Like It Like That, "Catch Us If You Can" and the chart-topping "Over and Over."

All the Hits, which can be pre-ordered now, will be available on CD, as a two-LP set pressed on 180-gram vinyl, digitally and via streaming services. The CD version will include a 32-page booklet.

"It's a trip for me to go back to vinyl. The '60s revisited," says Clark. "This album covers our hits from around the world on both CD and magical vinyl. We hope you enjoy this blast from the past."

During their heyday, The DC5 gave The Beatles a run for their money for supremacy of the U.S. singles charts. The band, which also featured singer/keyboardist Mike Smith, made a record-breaking 18 appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show.

The Dave Clark Five were inducted into the Rock Hall in 2008. Sadly, Smith died just 11 days before the ceremony.

Here's the All the Hits track list:

"Do You Love Me"
"Glad All Over"
"Bits and Pieces"
"Can't You See That She's Mine"
"Everybody Knows (I Still Love You)"
"Don't Let Me Down"
"Any Way You Want It"
"Wild Weekend"
"Catch Us If You Can"
"I Like It Like That"
"Reelin' and Rockin'"
"Over and Over"
"Come Home"
"You Got What It Takes"
"Try Too Hard"
"Everybody Knows"
"I'll Be Yours My Love"
"Nineteen Days"
"Look Before You Leap"
"Til the Right One Comes Along"
"All Night Long"
"Good Old Rock 'n' Roll" (Medley)
"Sha-Na-Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye"
"Here Comes Summer"
"Put a Little Love in Your Heart"
"Everybody Get Together"
"Universal Love"

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Blue Oyster Cult releasing archival 2014 concert album/video, reissuing 'Cult Classic' album in January

Frontiers Music srlBlue Oyster Cult is preparing a couple of interesting releases that will arrive on January 24, 2020:  an archival concert album and video titled Hard Rock Live Cleveland 2014, and a reissue of the band's out-of-print 1994 studio album, Cult Classic.

Hard Rock Live Cleveland 2014, which captures an October 2014 show that Blue Oyster Cult played in the Cleveland suburb of Northfield, Ohio, will be available on Blu-ray, as a two-CD/DVD package and as a three-LP vinyl set.

The concert featured a selection of songs from throughout the band's long history, including renditions of such classics as "Burnin' for You," "Godzilla" and, of course, "(Don't Fear) The Reaper."

The group's lineup at the show featured founding singer Eric Bloom and singer/guitarist Don "Buck Dharma" Roeser, longtime keyboardist/guitarist Richie Castellano, drummer Jules Radino and bassist Kasim Sulton, who's best known for his work with Todd Rundgren.

You can watch a video preview of the 2014 show, a clip of the band playing the 1974 tune "Harvester of Eyes," on the Frontiers Music label's YouTube channel.

Hard Rock Live Cleveland 2014 is the first in a series of live releases Blue Oyster Cult is planning to put out in 2020.

Meanwhile, the Cult Classic reissue boasts a remastered version of the album, which features updated recordings of 13 Blue Oyster Cult songs, including "Burnin' for You," "Godzilla" and "(Don't Fear) The Reaper." It will be available on CD and as a two-LP vinyl set.

In other news, Blue Oyster Cult has announced plans to release a new studio album in 2020, its first since 2001's Curse of the Hidden Mirror.

Here's the Hard Rock Live Cleveland 2014 CD track list:

CD 1
"O.D.'d on Life Itself"
"The Red and the Black"
"Golden Age of Leather"
"Burnin' for You"
"Career of Evil"
"Shooting Shark"
"The Vigil"
"ME 262"
"Buck's Boogie"
"Black Blade"

CD 2
"Then Came the Last Days of May"
"(Don't Fear) The Reaper"
"Harvester of Eyes"
"I Love the Night"
"Hot Rails to Hell"
"Cities on Flame with Rock and Roll"

And here's Cult Classic track list:

"(Don't Fear) The Reaper"
"E.T.I. (Extraterrestrial Intelligence)"
"ME 262"
"This Ain't the Summer of Love"
"Burnin' for You"
"O.D.'d on Life Itself"
"Flaming Telepaths"
"Cities on Flame with Rock 'n' Roll"
"Harvester of Eyes"
"Buck's Boogie"
"(Don't Fear) The Reaper" (TV Mix)
"Godzilla" (TV Mix)

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Elton John, The Rolling Stones top StubHub's 2019 list of most in-demand concert tickets in the US

Ben Gibson/Rocket Entertainment; Dave HoganElton John and The Rolling Stones are among the veteran rock acts that dominate ticket reseller StubHub's list of the top 10 acts who sold the most concert tickets in the U.S. for 2019.

Elton John tops the list, thanks to his ongoing Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour, which launched in September 2018 and currently is plotted out through December 2020.

At #2 are The Rolling Stones, whose 2019 No Filter tour ran from late June until late August.

Queen, who hit the road in the States with ex-American Idol singer Adam Lambert for The Rhapsody Tour, are #3 on the tally.

Billy Joel, who continues to play a monthly show at New York's Madison Square Garden as well as select concerts in other cities, land at #4 on the list.

Also on the top 10 are Bob Seger at #6 and Paul McCartney at #7. In November, Seger and his Silver Bullet Band finished up their Roll Me a farewell tour.

"The touring landscape in 2019 was dominated by Elton John and The Rolling Stones," says StubHub exec Jeff Poirier. "The legends they are, fans flocked to see them throughout the entire year as they did with so many legacy rock acts."

Here's the list of the top 10 acts who sold the most concert tickets on StubHub in the U.S. in 2019:

1. Elton John
2. The Rolling Stones
3. Queen
4. Billy Joel
5. Ariana Grande
6. Bob Seger
7. Paul McCartney
8. Garth Brooks
9. Luke Combs
10. Justin Timberlake

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

You can tell everybody: Original handwritten lyrics to "Your Song" sell for over $235K at auction

ABC/Randy HolmesWith Elton John having quite the moment thanks to the movie Rocketman, his sold-out farewell tour and his best-selling autobiography, it's no wonder there's lots of call for Elton memorabilia at auction.

The original handwritten lyrics to "Your Song," scrawled by Bernie Taupin, sold at Bonhams auction house Monday for just under $237,600. The lyrics were the first and only draft -- as fans know, Bernie handed the lyrics to Elton, who wrote the music for the song in about 10 minutes.

If you own a copy of Elton's 1975 album Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Copy, a picture of this very same lyric sheet appears in the insert material.

At the same sale, the original handwritten lyrics to "Bennie & the Jets" sold for just under $87,600, and the lyrics to "Border Song," with annotations by Elton, went for more than $31,000. That lyric sheet was a rare example of Elton and Bernie actually writing a song together: As fans know, it's extremely rare for Elton to ever write lyrics.

The lyric sheets were all sold by Maxine Taupin, Bernie's ex-wife, who inspired many of his songs, including "Tiny Dancer." She also suggested the titles of the songs "Harmony," "Love Lies Bleeding" and, most famously, "The Bitch Is Back."

Recalling the origin of the latter tune's title, Maxine told The Hollywood Reporter, "When Elton came back from one particular tour, Bernie and I went over to visit him. He was telling us about what went on, how exhausted he was and this happened and this didn't and just on and on and on."

"I looked over at Bernie and rolled my eyes and said, 'Oh, the bitch is back.' And we all just started laughing hysterically."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

The Who schedules intimate London-area show in February in honor of new studio album

Rick Guest/Interscope Records The Who has announced plans to play what's being billed as the band's "most intimate show in 40 years." To celebrate the recent release of their new studio album, WHO, the group will play a one-off acoustic concert at the Pryzm nightclub in the London suburb of Kingston upon Thames on February 14, 2020.

The event coincides with the 50th anniversary of the classic Who concert album Live at Leeds. Tickets for the show will be go on sale on Wednesday, December 11, at 11 a.m. U.K. time via BanquetRecords.com. Several ticket bundles will be available pairing passes to the concert with copies of the WHO CD or vinyl picture disc.

Regarding the album, founding Who guitarist/songwriter Pete Townshend said, "There is no theme, no concept, no story, just a set of songs that I (and my brother Simon) wrote to give [frontman] Roger Daltrey some inspiration, challenges and scope for his newly revived singing voice."

He added, "Roger and I are both old men now, by any measure, so I've tried to stay away from romance, but also from nostalgia if I can. I didn't want to make anyone feel uncomfortable. Memories are okay, and some of the songs refer to the explosive state of things today."

In related news, WHO is on pace to become the band's first #1 album in the U.K. since September 1971, OfficialCharts.com reports. As of Monday, the record, which is The Who's first studio effort since 2006's Endless Wire, was just under 6,000 chart sales ahead of the #2 album, Robbie Williams' The Christmas Present.

The Who's only album ever to hit #1 on the U.K. Official Albums Chart was Who's Next.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Joni Mitchell to receive prestigious Les Paul Innovation Award at 2020 NAMM TEC Awards

Credit: Norman SeeffJoni Mitchell will receive the Les Paul Innovation Award at the 35th annual NAMM Technical Excellence & Creativity (TEC) Awards, scheduled for Saturday, January 18, 2020, in Anaheim, California.

The honor, named after late electric guitar and multi-track recording pioneer Les Paul, recognizes people or institutions that have made a significant impact on the world of audio production and technology.

"Thank you for this honor," says the lauded Canadian singer/songwriter. "I'm grateful for being appreciated."

Notes Michael Braunstein, executive director of the Les Paul Foundation, which presents the honor, "[Joni] has been a trailblazer and a true renaissance woman -- a songwriter, musician, producer and influencer who made her mark with very influential songs in the '60s. She has pushed the boundaries of what it means to be a female singer-songwriter over the course of her four decade career, and like Les Paul, she's never been scared to take creative risks."

Starting as an introspective folk singer and songwriter, Mitchell branched out into rock and jazz, while always being considered among the strongest, most poetic lyricists of her time. Joni also is an accomplished painter. Her many career achievements include induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Songwriters Hall of Fame and Canadian Music Hall of Fame.

The TEC Awards will be held during the third day of the 2020 NAMM Show, the popular music-equipment trade show that runs from January 16 to January 19. The awards recognize "outstanding achievement in audio technology and production."

Among the 2020 nominees for awards in the various Creative Achievement categories are Paul McCartney, Fleetwood Mac, Elton John, and the Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody. Check out the full list of nominees at TECAwards.org.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Paul McCartney teaming with Netflix to create animated film based on his 2005 children's book 'High in the Clouds'

Mary McCartney/MPL Communications

A new animated film High in the Clouds, based on a 2005 children's book of the same name co-written by Paul McCartney, is being produced by Netflix in partnership with the French movie company Gaumont.

McCartney will contribute original songs and soundtrack music to the film, which he's also co-producing.

High in the Clouds is an adventure story about a teenage squirrel named Wirral who gets caught up with a gang of rebellious teen animals that live in the clouds after he unintentionally angers a local tyrant named Gretsch, an owl who fancies herself a wonderful singer and who steals the voice of anyone who upstages her.

The movie will be directed by Timothy Reckart, whose previous credits include Head Over Heels and The Star. The screenplay is being penned by Jon Croker, who also has worked on such movies as Paddington, Paddington 2 and Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.

"We are thrilled to be partnering with Netflix. They complement what is already an amazing team with Gaumont and we can think of no one better to be working with to bring our film to a global audience," McCartney says in a statement. "I've always loved animated films and this is a hugely important passion project for me. I can't wait for the world to see it."

Adds Netflix executive Gregg Taylor, "Bringing the world a new animated film from the heart and mind of the brilliant Paul McCartney is undoubtedly one of the greatest thrills we've experienced at Netflix."

McCartney first announced in 2013 that he was planning to develop an animated version of High in the Clouds. A different production team and screenwriter were attached to the project at the time.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Sting to receive Global Citizen's Artist of the Year award in London on Friday

Kevin Kane/Getty Images for the Rainforest FundA day after Sting hosted his star-studded benefit concert in New York City to benefit his Rainforest Fund foundation, he's just been announced as the winner of a prize honoring his environmental efforts over the years.

The Global Citizen organization will give the former Police frontman its Artist of the Year Prize, which honors a creative individual or group using their platform and their work to create change -- not only through conversation but also through meaningful impact. 

Specifically, Sting is being honored for using his fame to raise awareness of the plight of the rainforests, and using his Rainforest Fund to preserve more than 33 million acres since 1989.

The award comes with a $150,000 prize, which Sting will donate to the Fund.

Sting will accept the prize at a December 13 ceremony in London hosted by John Legend, where both artists will perform.  Jennifer Hudson, Coldplay's Chris Martin, British stars Jorja Smith and Stormzy, and R&B stars H.E.R. and Raphael Saadiq are also on the bill for the event at the Royal Albert Hall. 

Game of Thrones stars Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Lena Headey are among the presenters, alone with actors Kal Penn, Connie Britton and Catherine Tate.

Filmmaker Richard Curtis of Love Actually fame will be named Global Citizen of the Year at the ceremony.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Film documenting star-studded 2016 Ray Manzarek tribute concert to be screened across the globe in February

Trafalgar Releasing/Doors Property L.L.C.A concert film and documentary focusing on a star-studded 2016 tribute to late Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek will be shown in select theaters around the world on February 12, 2020, which would have been Manzarek's 81st birthday.

The Doors: Break On Thru -- A Celebration of Ray Manzarek features footage from a show held February 12, 2016, at the Fonda Theatre in Los Angeles that saw surviving Doors guitarist Robby Krieger and drummer John Densmore reuniting to honor their old band mate with a variety guest musicians.

Other stars who took part in the concert were Foo Fighters' Taylor Hawkins and Rami Jaffee, Stone Temple Pilots bassist Robert DeLeo, Paul McCartney touring guitarist Brian Ray, Jane's Addiction drummer Stephen Perkins, Gov't Mule/former Allman Brothers Band singer/guitarist Warren Haynes and X's Exene and John Doe.

The movie features performances of a bevy of classic Doors songs, and also boasts interviews with the performers and behind-the-scenes footage from the event.

"It was such an honor to play with these world-class musicians in a tribute to our magical keyboard player," Densmore says of the concert.

The flick had its world premiere in April 2018 at New Jersey's Asbury Park Music & Film Festival.

Tickets for the screenings of The Doors: Break On Thru -- A Celebration of Ray Manzarek are available now at TheDoorsFilm.com.

Manzarek died of bile duct cancer in May 2013. He was 74.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Roxette singer Marie Fredriksson dies at age 61

Marie Fredriksson, Per Gessle; Phil Dent/Redferns

Singer Marie Fredriksson, who with Per Gessle was one-half of the hitmaking pop duo Roxette, has died at age 61.

"It is with great sadness we have to announce that Marie Fredriksson of Roxette has passed away in the morning of December 9, following a 17-year long battle with cancer," reads a statement from Fredriksson's management company. 

The statement goes on to say Fredriksson was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2002, which was successfully treated, resulting in a return to performing in 2009.  "But by 2016, the show was finally over when Marie's doctors advised her to stop touring and focus on her health," the statement says.

"Thank you, Marie, thanks for everything," says Per Gessle, in the same statement.  "You were an outstanding musician, a master of the voice, an amazing performer...You were the most wonderful friend for over 40 years. I'm proud, honoured and happy to have been able to share so much of your time, talent, warmth, generosity and sense of humour. All my love goes out to you and your family. Things will never be the same."

Formed in 1986 in their native Sweden, Roxette scored a series of international hits in the late 1980s and into the 1990s, including four Billboard #1 singles: 1987's "It Must Have Been Love," 1988's "Listen to Your Heart," 1989's "The Look" and 1991's "Joyride."

Even as their popularity waned, Roxette continued to tour and record with occasional breaks, including during Fredriksson's initial cancer diagnosis and treatment.  Their most recent album, Good Karma, was released in 2016.

Fredriksson leaves behind a husband and two children.  "The funeral will take place in silence with only Marie's closest family present," the statement reports.


Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved. 

We'll be together: Sting hosts Bruce, Mellencamp, Eurythmics, James Taylor & more at 30th anniversary edition of Rainforest Fund benefit concert

Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for The Rainforest FundMonday night in New York City, Sting and some of his famous pals staged the 30th anniversary edition of his Rainforest Fund charity concert, which he and his wife Trudie Styler have been hosting on and off since 1989.  On the red carpet, Sting told ABC Audio that, sadly, trying to save the rainforest seems to be a never-ending task.

"We've won a lot of battles in the struggle to save our planet, but, you know, we can't be complacent. We may well be losing the war because our politicians aren't addressing it," Sting said. "And some of them are saying it's a hoax. Some of them are actively pursuing the destruction of the planet."

He added, "So, you know, I think you have to be optimistic, but at the same time, it's getting harder and harder."

This year's show, dubbed We'll Be Together after the Sting song of the same name, featured even more of a star-studded lineup than usual: It was hosted by Robert Downey Jr. and, in addition to Sting, it featured performances by Bruce Springsteen, John Mellencamp, James Taylor, Bob Geldof, Shaggy, Ricky Martin, Darryl McDaniels of Run-DMC and a reunited Eurythmics.  The duo of Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart haven't performed together since 2014.

"This is an interesting thing to do from both of our perspectives," Dave Stewart told ABC Audio. "About two years ago, we were just messing about and making little films and playing. And this is the first real opportunity of somebody directly going, 'Guys, will you play as Eurythmics?' And we're like, 'Oh, well, go on then!'" 

Sting said of the event, "We're creating community, and everybody who comes and joins us in this family is part of us. And my friends come...and everyone, if we hadn't met before, becomes our friend, so it's a lovely feeling. It really is."

What makes it even more special, Sting noted, is that in 30 years, these concerts have never been released on record or on video.

"One of the lovely things about this concert, which attracts people, is we don't record it," he said. "You know, it's a one-off and there's no cameras flying everywhere. It's the relationship between the artist and the audience. And that's what people like."

So that means that only a lucky few got to see an amazing lineup of performers and songs.  Here's who sang what:

Robert Downey Jr. & Pose star MJ Rodriguez: "Addicted to Love"
Sting & Shaggy: "Englishman in New York"
James Taylor: "Your Smiling Face" and "Up on the Roof" (Drifters cover)
Bob Geldof: "I Don't Like Mondays" and "What's So Funny About Peace, Love and Understanding" (Elvis Costello cover)
Shaggy with Sting: "Electric Avenue" (Eddy Grant cover)
Joe Sumner (Sting's son): "Ashes to Ashes" (David Bowie cover)
Italian singer Zucchero: "Misere"
Debbie Harry: Medley of "Call Me" and "Rapture"
DMC: "Walk This Way"
James Taylor: "Never Die Young"
Sting: "We'll Be Together"
Ricky Martin: "Cup of Life" and "Livin' La Vida Loca"
Sting: "Sledgehammer" (Peter Gabriel cover)
Adrienne Warren, star of the Tina Turner Broadway musical Tina: "The Best"
John Mellencamp: "Jack and Diane"
John Mellencamp & Bruce Springsteen: "Pink Houses"
Eurythmics: "Would I Lie to You," "Here Comes the Rain Again" and "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)"
Bruce Springsteen: "I'm On Fire"
Bruce Springsteen & John Mellencamp: "Glory Days"
Bruce Springsteen: "Dancing in the Dark"
Finale with everyone: "Don't Stop Believing" (Journey cover)

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

The Cars' Elliot Easton to perform at L.A.-area charity concert paying tribute to The Lovin' Spoonful

Wild Honey PresentsCars guitarist Elliot Easton is among the many musicians who will help pay tribute to the influential 1960s pop-rock group The Lovin' Spoonful at a charity concert scheduled for February 29 at the Alex Theatre in Glendale, California.

Easton, Smithereens drummer Dennis Diken and various other artists will perform with the event's house band: The Wild Honey Orchestra, a rotating collective of Los Angeles-area musicians. A number of to-be-announced guest singers also will take part in the event.

The show will feature renditions of more than 30 Lovin' Spoonful songs, including classics like "Do You Believe in Magic," "Summer in the City," "You Didn't Have to Be So Nice" and "Darling Be Home Soon."

The concert will raise funds for the Autism Think Tank, a non-profit organization that brings together top specialists via an online conference to work on solutions to issues faced by young people with autism.

Tickets for the event will go on sale to the general public this Friday, December 11, at the Alex Theatre's box office and AlexTheatre.org. Pre-sale tickets will be available starting Wednesday, December 11. You can check out some pre-sale packages by visiting GoFundMe.com.

During the last few years, The Wild Honey Orchestra has staged a variety of tribute concerts to raise money for the charity, including concerts celebrating the music of The Beatles, The Kinks, Big Star, The Band and Buffalo Springfield.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Sting mourns rapper Juice WRLD, who sampled his song

Harrison Cooney/Walt Disney World Resort

Sting is one of the many musicians who are mourning the passing of rapper Juice WRLD, who died over the weekend at age 21 after suffering a "medical emergency" shortly after landing at a Chicago airport.  In case you're wondering why a 68-year-old British rock icon even knows who Juice WRLD is, well, there's a strong connection between them.

Juice's number-two hit "Lucid Dreams" was based around a sample of Sting's 1993 song "Shape of My Heart." The former Police frontman tells Billboard, "This is such a tragic loss for the world of music, a young life with so much potential and a unique and precious talent."

Sting adds, "'Lucid Dreams' was my favorite of all the many interpolations of 'Shape of My Heart,' it will resonate for many years to come. My sincere condolences to the family."

The Rock & Roll Hall of Famer said via a spokesperson that reports that he was suing Juice over the song are "simply untrue."

Juice WRLD, born Jarad Anthony Higgins, had just celebrated his 21st birthday on December 2. After suffering a seizure, he was pronounced dead at a local hospital.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


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