By DENNIS DAILY, United Press International  |  March 24, 2003 at 2:10 PM
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The annual Houston Rodeo has gone into the record books and so has a performance by the mega-group Alabama. According to rodeo officials, the Alabama concert, the big closing event of this year's festival, sold out with more than 69,000 patrons going through the turnstiles at Reliant Stadium. The band paid tribute to American military personnel during the performance. In the audience was former President George Bush. The concert came in the early days of what Alabama says will be a farewell concert tour. After a multi-week hiatus, Alabama hits the road again as its farewell gets into high gear. The next venue is Birmingham, Ala., where the band performs on June 21. The tour wraps up during the Thanksgiving weekend in Chicago.


The Rolling Stones have reconfirmed they plan to play two concerts in Hong Kong and two in China, regardless of the war in Iraq. Additionally, there have been concerns about the deadly pneumonia outbreak in southern China that has prompted a warning from the World Health Organization. One associate of the group tells Billboard magazine the Stones feel that "as long as there isn't a war in the country they are performing in, then they will be there." The first concert will be April 1 in Shanghai, the second April 4 in Beijing. The shows will mark the Stones' first concerts on the Chinese mainland. Some of the Stones' songs that have a highly sexual content -- such as "Brown Sugar," "Honky Tonk Woman," "Beast of Burden" and "Let's Spend the Night Together" -- may be excised from the playlist. The show in Beijing will be in the Workers' Arena, an 8,000-seat venue. Some tickets will go for as much as $360.


Tired of seeing scalpers work his concert sites, rocker Tom Petty has set up strict procedures for buying his latest tickets. Published reports say fans who purchased tickets over the weekend for Petty's upcoming concert with the Heartbreakers in Chicago had to follow a purchase plan. About 10 days ago the initial batch of tickets went on sale for $50.50 via a local radio station. Just days later scalpers who apparently purchased big chunks of those tickets, put ads in Chicago media offering them at inflated prices. When the weekend sale took place, it was "two tickets per person." Additionally, the tickets will be held at the venues for upcoming concerts until just before the concerts and a photo ID will be required for pickup. One promoter was quoted as saying it's not fair for people who can only come up with $50 to have to pay more to see Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.


Officials in Pittsburgh say a huge memorial service is being planned to honor the late public TV children's personality Fred Rogers. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has learned the event is being planned because of a tidal wave of comments and requests from thousands of fans. The specifics of the tribute are being handled by Rogers' old company, Family Communications. That group says the service will be held May 3 in Heinz Hall in downtown Pittsburgh. As more details on the service are announced we'll relay them to you.


Children's author Dr. Mary Koski's will make a personal appearance this week in the Phoenix area. Meanwhile, her literary star is rising quickly and so are sales of her book. Koski, according to the Arizona Republic, plans a public appearance at the Kids Out West store in a Scottsdale shopping center later this week. The author is the recent recipient of the prestigious National Parenting Center's Seal of Approval for her newest book, "Impatient Pamela Wants a Bigger Family." The publication says the book deals with adoption and families of various sizes. A previous book, "Impatient Pamela Calls 911," won a previous Seal of Approval. Several month ago C-Span's "Book TV" show did a segment on Koski. She's also been a guest on more than 400 talk shows.


Due to the popularity of our recent cross-country bus trip questions, we will continue it this week, pairing more famous people. Today's question is: "If you had to spend a week sitting on a cross-country bus with a single seat-mate, which of these two would you chose -- Franklin Roosevelt or Winston Churchill?" Put BUS6 in the subject line and send to via the Internet.


Last week we asked if you are renting your home or apartment on a yearly contract basis or on month-to-month. Here, from our usual random sampling of the e-mail inbox are the results:

-- Only 35 percent said they were on a yearly lease.

-- 45 percent rent month-to-month.

-- The remainder were either planning to move or in the process of home hunting.

TOMORROW: Do-it-yourself car repair. GBA

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