NO MADONNA FOR BOY GEORGE
New York Post columnist Cindy Adams reported Madonna has a bit of theater critic in her. Boy George's semi-autobiographic play "Taboo," a hit in London and heading for Broadway, had a character that resembled Madonna in its original book before the Material Girl got wind of the fact and told the Karma Chameleon that she really did want to hurt him. According to Adams, Buy George turned the Madonna character into "a humorous Jerry Hall character." Adams also reported that Madonna "tangled with her director husband over the ending of their 'Swept Away' film." Their remake of the Lina Wertmuller steamer is widely rumored to be a real stinker. Madonna's video for "Die Another Day," the title track from the upcoming James Bond film in which she has a small part, debuted on MTV.
ELVIS HOLDS ON GAMELY
The Elvis Presley hits package, which kept the Rolling Stones from debuting at No. 1 on the British charts earlier in the week, pulled off the same trick on the U.S. charts by a narrow margin. The Stones' "Forty Licks" package fell about 30,000 copies short of toppling "Elvis 30 No. 1 Hits" from the first position on the Billboard Top 200. Right behind the Stones at No. 3 was West Coast rapper Xzibit's "Man vs. Machine," produced by Dr Dre; and the "American Idol: Greatest Moments" package at No. 4. The Dixie Chicks, second in last week's chart with "Home," dropped to the No. 5 slot.
Rhino Entertainment announced the third wave in its continuing reissue of the entire Elvis Costello catalog in expanded, remastered versions with the Nov. 19 release of "Mighty Like A Rose," "Imperial Bedroom," and "Armed Forces." Each album consists of two compact discs. Disc one is the album as originally released and disc two is comprised exclusively of bonus material from the Costello vaults. Every title contains in-depth liner notes by Costello himself as well as printed lyrics for all Costello-penned cuts. This is the first time 1991's "Rose" is available in an expanded version. The record includes two Paul McCartney songwriting collaborations, including the classic "So Like Candy", the Attractions-like "How To Be Dumb" and the acerbic, Beach Boys-inspired "The Other Side Of Summer." Included in the bonus disc's 17 cuts are the previously unreleased, Band-inspired "Just Another Mystery," a live version of "Couldn't Call It Unexpected No. 4" that closely duplicates the unamplified version with which Costello ends nearly all of his duo shows with Steve Nieve, along with collaborations with Rob Wasserman, Mary Coughlan and the Chieftains, three tracks from Costello's 1991 Unplugged session and eight home demos. "Imperial Bedroom" (1982) helped shape Costello's foray into Tin Pan Alley-style songwriting. The bonus disc has 16 previously unreleased tracks. "Armed Forces" (1979) includes of nine live tracks from the famous Hollywood High concert of 1978, only three of which were previously released, on a bonus 7-inch single packaged with the original American version.
Yoko Ono celebrated what would have been her late husband John Lennon's 62nd birthday Wednesday by presenting the inaugural $50,000 LennonOno Grant For Peace awards at the United Nations. Ono presented the awards to Israeli artist Zvi Goldstein and Palestinian artist Khalil Rabah. "I think (Lennon) would be pleased that the race of 'Imagine People' are growing and that we're all imagining peace together," said Ono. "I thought it would be very nice for an Israeli artist and a Palestinian artist to have an opportunity to communicate." Coincidentally, Lennon's murderer, Mark David Chapman, was denied parole Wednesday. The state parole board ruled that Chapman had to spend at least another two years in jail for the Dec. 8, 1970 murder. "Release at this time would deprecate the seriousness of your offense and diminish respect for the law," said the board's ruling.
ITALY LOVES THE BEATLES
Rome is celebrating a 17-day tribute to the Beatles in honor of the 40th anniversary of the band's first single, "Love Me Do," which cracked the British Top 20 in October of 1962. Beatles cover bands will perform tribute concerts on the back of trucks throughout the city as part of the event. "The Beatles were the symbol of their era," noted the official proclamation, "but their music and their success transcends their time to arrive at ours. The cultural objective of this project is to demonstrate the radical change of mentality and customs begun in the first years of the '60s and the developments of this revolution up to the present day." As part of the celebration, a mobile phone company is promoting Beatles-theme ringers in three styles: "Love Me Do," "Yellow Submarine" and "Hey Jude."
THERE IS ONLY ONE PIANO MAN
Michael Cavanaugh, the suddenly red-hot star of the Bill Joel musical, "Movin' Out," knows the audience's cheers are only a refection of their love for Joel himself. "That's fine if they think that," Cavanaugh told the New York Post, "but there's already a Billy Joel, and he's amazing -- to try to be him is a losing battle." Cavanaugh is an admitted lifetime Joel fanatic himself. At the age of 7 he was asked by his first piano teacher to play something, and Cavanaugh lit into Joel's pugnacious commentary on punk, "It's Still Rock 'n' Roll To Me." Joel has been keeping close tabs on his protege's progress. "I had a couple of lyrics I was singing wrong," said Cavanaugh, "and Billy's like, 'Man, I hate to bring it up, but this lyric Is different.'"
MUSICIANS HONOR TIM WHITE
Roger Waters, Billy Joel, Sting, James Taylor, John Mellencamp, Sheryl Crow, and Don Henley paid tribute to Timothy White, the late editor in chief of Billboard Magazine, a two "Music To My Ears" concerts in Boston and New York. The concerts were fundraisers to benefit White's family. White died June 27 of a heart attack in Billboard's New York office at age 50. "Just have a good time, because if Tim were watching he would want us to," Sting said in Boston. Taylor, a particular favorite of White's, played a cover of "Hound Dog" while Mellencamp performed "Paper in Fire" and "Pink Houses," featuring Patty Smyth on vocals. Henley and Sting teamed up on the Bob Marley-popularized "Get Up, Stand Up." All of the performers participated in the finale, a medley of the gospel hymn "This Train" and Sly and The Family Stone's "Everyday People."
JAMES TAYLOR ON WFUV
WFUV New York disc jockey Claudia Marshall aired an exclusive interview with James Taylor. Taylor spoke with Marshall for more than an hour, going in depth about his long-awaited, best-selling compact disc, "October Road." In the interview Taylor reveals details about how he writes his music and about how he keeps his career and his music fresh after all these years. "He tells a very funny story about devising a kind of contraption to keep track of the number of times he sings 'Carolina In My Mind'," said Marshall, who proudly admits she has every record Taylor's ever made and has attended his concerts religiously for more than 20 years. Taylor also plays several songs -- accompanied only by his guitar -- during the interview.
THE YEAR OF BONO
Bono, recently tabbed as the most powerful figure in popular music, also has been chosen as the 2003 MusiCares Person of the Year. Bono will be presented the award Feb. 21 during the Grammy week celebration in New York. Established by the Recording Academy in 1989, MusiCares works to focus the resources and attention of the music industry on human service issues that directly affect the health and welfare of the music community. "Bono is a living symbol of what the MusiCares Foundation and the Recording Academy stand for," Recording Academy Chairman Garth Fundis said in a statement. "His musical accomplishments are matched only by his endeavors to effect positive change on the human condition worldwide." Bono joins previous honorees Billy Joel (2002), Paul Simon (2001), Elton John (2000), Stevie Wonder (1999), Luciano Pavarotti (1998), and Phil Collins (1997).
Justin Guarini may have lost out in the "American Idol" competition to Kelly Clarkson, but he's going to get to make his full-length debut album first. Contest-winner Clarkson, whose single "A Moment Like This" has topped the charts in recent weeks, but her full-length debut is being held to next year. Meanwhile Guarini, 23, has been signed by RCA records to do his own album. "Justin already captured the imaginations of millions of 'American Idol' viewers," said RCA Music Group chairman Bob Jamieson. "We're confident he'll do the same with his music."
DEAD IS ALIVE
As promised after a successful reunion at Alpine Valley earlier this year, the surviving members of the Grateful Dead will tour together as the Other Ones beginning Nov. 14 in Roanoke, Va., and running through Dec. 6 in Oakland, Calif. Dead alumni -- Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart -- will be joined by keyboardists Rob Barraco and Jeff Chimenti and guitarist Jimmy Herring for 17 dates. Shortly after the 1995 death of guitarist/singer Jerry Garcia, the other members of the Dead went their separate ways, with some in-fighting among them. Weir formed RatDog, Lesh started Phil Lesh and Friends, Hart toured with Bembe Orisha and earlier this year Kreutzmann recorded with the TriChromes. The members got back together in August for a pair of shows at a two-day festival in Wisconsin. "The magic is back," declared Hart.
ESSENTIAL SANTANA SET
An overview of Santana's career is set for Oct. 22 release on Sony/Legacy. The 33-track, two-disc/two-cassette anthology collects classic album tracks and chart singles, from 1969's "Jingo," "Evil Ways" and "Soul Sacrifice" to 1987's "Blues For Salvador" and 1989's "The Healer," with blues legend John Lee Hooker. The new anthology will coincide with the release of a new studio album, "Shaman," the follow-up to the 14-times platinum "Supernatural." Nearly 33 1/3 revolutionary years after Santana's historic Saturday afternoon performance at the Woodstock Music and Arts Fair in 1969, the band's prodigious body of Columbia recordings over the next 18 years maintain a unique status as one of the most formidable catalogs in the history of modern popular music. Also included on the album are the Top 20 hits "Black Magic Woman," "Oye Como Va," "Everybody's Everything," "Winning," "Hold On," "Nowhere To Run" and "Say It Again."
GOV'T MULE'S DEEP END II
Gov't Mule will hit the road in support of "Deep End II," the second part of an album project dedicated to the memory of the band's late bassist Allen Woody. The group recorded a version of "Beautifully Broken" with bassist Stefan Lessard from the Dave Matthews Band for the "Last Call with Carson Daly" show. Gov't Mule kicks off its fall tour Wednesday at the Orpheum Theater in Boston. Due to a scheduling conflict, guest bassist Jason Newsted, formerly of Metallica, will not be playing with the band as originally planned. Bassists George Porter Jr. (The Meters) and Greg Rzab (Black Crowes) both will tour with the group and perform on a rotating basis.
CLAYPOOL ON THE ROAD
Les Claypool's Frog Brigade kicked off an extensive U.S. tour at the Crest Theatre in Sacramento, Calif., as "Purple Onion" entered the Billboard charts. Released on Claypool's own Prawn Song Records, the new album is one of the Top 200 selling albums nationwide in its first week out, and ranks among the Top 15 independent releases. The tour and chart success comes on the heels of critical praise for "Purple Onion," the first studio album of Claypool's solo career. Tour dates have been announced through the Nov. 24 performance in Minneapolis.
DIVAS LIVE ON DISC
Celine Dion, Shakira, The Dixie Chicks and Cher head the list of divas celebrated on "Divas Las Vegas," set for Oct. 21 release on Epic records. The collection was taken from the fifth annual "VH1 Divas Live," where leading female voices from a variety of musical genres came together for a high-voltage night. Dion, Shakira, The Dixie Chicks and Cher performed at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas May 23. Anastacia and Stevie Nicks joined them on stage. Collectively, these artists have sold more than 100 million albums worldwide. The past four "VH1 Divas" specials are among the top five highest-rated broadcasts in VH1's history. A portion of the proceeds from this compact disc/DVD will benefit the VH1 Save The Music Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the quality of education in America's public schools by restoring music programs and by raising public awareness about the importance of music participation for our nation's youth. Since 1997, VH1 Save The Music has provided more than $21 million in instruments to 900 public schools in 75 cities, an endeavor that has delivered musical instruction to 400,000 elementary school students.
SAXON RIDES AGAIN
Heavy Metal geezers Saxon are celebrating 21 albums and 23 years in the heavy metal business with "Heavy Metal Thunder," out Oct. 15 on SPV Music. Rather than assemble a greatest hits package the British rockers have gone back and selected some of their favorite songs and re-recorded them on disc one. Disc two features five tracks recorded in San Antonio, Texas, in early 2002, as well as a video track for "Killing Ground" recorded at the 2001 Wacken Open-Air Festival.