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Rock News: Music's high and low notes

By JOHN SWENSON, United Press International   |   July 18, 2002 at 3:00 AM   |   Comments

JACKSON EXPANDS LEGAL TEAM

Michael Jackson, locked in a bitter dispute with his record company, Sony, has hired Los Angeles lawyer Martin Singer to join a legal "dream team" with O. J. Simpson attorney Johnnie Cochran, reports the New York Daily News. Singer, who also represents Bruce Willis, Eddie Murphy and Russell Crowe, "is exploring a lawsuit against Sony," according to The News.

Singer told the News Sony "failed to properly market" Jackson's last album, "Invincible."

"He had the biggest TV special in 2001," Singer said. "Sony did not buy one commercial on that special. Why would they not do that? It may not be in their economic interests for the album to do well."


STRICKEN GUITARIST ADDRESSES FANS

Widespread Panic lead guitarist and co-founder Mike Houser revealed, in an emotional statement to his fans, he has missed several shows on the band's current tour because he is suffering from terminal cancer.

Houser has not played with the band since July 2, prompting rumors about his condition. "As some of you know, I have contracted a terminal form of cancer," Houser revealed on the band's Web site. "I want to assure all of you that all that can be done has been done, and I want to thank all of you who have contributed information, medicine, and so on.

"As for me, I am at my home in Athens, Ga., surrounded by my family and being well taken care of. In the words of Lou Gehrig, 'Though some of you may have thought I have caught a bad break, I feel like the luckiest man in the world.'

"Between my best friends, J.B., Todd, Sunny, Dave and JoJo, and you, our friends, and best support group in the world, I feel strong and well taken care of. I have hopes of playing again soon although I can't say for sure when or where, and I hope to see you all there," the statement said.


P. DIDDY GETS REAL

MTV's next pop star reality series will be centered on the everyday home life of rapper P. Diddy.

Sean "Puffy" Combs will follow the lead of the Ozzy Osbourne family saga, "The Osbournes," as the next musical celebrity with a production crew in his living room.

The show is slated for a debut this fall. David Lee Roth, Motley Crue's Tommy Lee and even Liza Minnelli are in the wings as "real" wannabes.


GREG BROWN TRIBUTE ALBUM DUE

Lucinda Williams, Ani DiFranco and Iris Dement head an all-star cast of women performers participating in a tribute to acclaimed songwriter Greg Brown.

Red House Records has announced a Sept. 10 release date for "Going Driftless: An Artist's Tribute to Greg Brown," which features women singer/songwriters performing their favorite Greg Brown songs. The complete list of artists featured on the compact disc also includes Ferron, Eliza Gilkyson, Pieta, Zoe & Constie Brown (Greg's daughters), Gillian Welch, Lucy Kaplansky, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Shawn Colvin, Victoria Williams, Karen Savoca, Robin Lee Berry and Leandra Peak.

The CD's title is taken both from a Brown song, "Driftless," and the Driftless Region, a borderland where Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois run together -- a favorite place for Iowan Brown.

The track selections cover the gamut of Brown's recordings, including songs from his albums "The Poet Game" (1994), "The Iowa Waltz" (1981), "Further In" (1996), "Dream Café" (1992), "One Night" (1982), "Over and Under" (2000), "Slant 6 Mind" (1997) and "One More Goodnight Kiss" (1988).

Royalties from the album will go to The Breast Cancer Fund of San Francisco in the memory of Widdie Hall, founder of the listening room, The Folkway, in Peterborough, N.H. See breastcancerfund.org.


LIVING TRIBUTE TO MASTER PERCUSSIONIST

Legendary percussionist Babafemi Akinlara will be the subject of a living homage on July 20 in New York. Akinlara played on the two groundbreaking albums by Olatunji, "Drums of Passion" and "More Drums of Passion." He played in Tunji's ensemble at the 1964 World's Fair at Flushing Meadow Park in New York.

Akinlara's credits also include work with Harry Belafonte and Gato Barbieri. He is one of the most highly respected drummers in the Santeria and Palo traditions as well. The tribute will take place at the Point CDC at 8 p.m. For more information call the Point at 718-542-4139.

© 2002 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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