Plus Keith Richards' autobiography, Annie Lennox's clothing
It was chronic constipation, not the tens of thousands of drugs he took, that killed Elvis Presley. That’s the claim of George Nichopoulos – the famous “Dr. Nick” who prescribed more than 10,000 pills to Presley in 1977 alone – who, surprise, surprise, is promoting a new book. Never mind that Elvis had 14 drugs in his body when he died, including 10 times the prescribed amount of codeine and toxic levels of Quaaludes, according to Peter Guralnick’s legendary Elvis biographies. And the good doctor is conveniently overlooking the fact that such sedatives cause constipation. Finally, Dr. Nick goes on to blame Elvis’ death on his refusal to have a colostomy. He makes Michael Jackson’s doctor, Conrad Murray, look positively classy.
A lot of fuss has been made about the producers of “The Hurt Locker” going after fans who illegally download it. Good luck with that. Bootlegging of movies and music continues unabated, and the famed site The Pirate Bay has even posted a blog mocking all attempts to shut it down.
Too bad David Crosby has already used the title “If I Could
Only Remember My Name.” Keith Richards is putting out his autobiography soon. Some of it was from memory, some of it came from "talking to some of the people that were there and their
version of events to try and correlate it all was very interesting, a kind of
kaleidoscopic bunch of experiences."
Finally, Annie Lennox – one of the best singers and humanitarians in music – worked a couple of days in a used-clothing shop, selling off her own wardrobe for charity.
Ronnie James Dio succumbs to cancer
NEW YORK — Even as he endured grueling chemotherapy treatments to rid his stomach of cancer, Ronnie James Dio showed the fiery passion that made him a metal legend, flashing his famous devil's horns signal as he lay in a hospital bed.
"This hasn't really been a problem for me. Cancer? I'll kick the hell out of you," declared Dio in March in an interview with KIAH-TV in Houston, where he was being treated for the disease. "I refuse to be beaten in any shape or form so I'm going to beat you, too."
But on Sunday, Dio – whose famous wailing vocals gave Black Sabbath a second life – succumbed to the disease, at age 67.
"Today my heart is broken," Wendy Dio, his wife and a manger, wrote on the singer's website. "Many, many friends and family were able to say their private goodbyes before he peacefully passed away.
"Ronnie knew how much he was loved by all," she continued. "We so appreciate the love and support that you have all given us ... Please know he loved you all and his music will live on forever."
His publicist Maureen O'Connor said he died in Los Angeles.
Later Sunday, Black Sabbath bandmate Geezer Butler posted a picture of Dio on his website, with the caption: "Goodbye My Dear Friend."
Dio revealed last summer that he was suffering from stomach cancer shortly after wrapping up a tour in Atlantic City, N.J., with the latest incarnation of Black Sabbath under the name Heaven And Hell.
Though Dio had recently undergone his seventh chemotherapy treatment, he was hopeful to perform again. Earlier this month, Heaven And Hell canceled its summer tour, but Dio did not view being sidelined as a permanent thing.
"Wendy, my doctors and I have worked so hard to make it happen for all of you, the ones we care so much about, that this setback could be devastating, but we will not let it be," he said in a statement. "With your continued love and support, we ... will carry on and thrive. There will be other tours, more music, more life and much more magic."
Dio, who grew up in upstate New York in the town of Cortland, had his first taste of rock fame as the lead singer of the band Elf. From there, the spotlight grew, and in 1975, he became the first lead singer of Rainbow, the heavy metal band put together by guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, who had just quit Deep Purple. Dio recorded three albums with the group until creative differences led him to leave.
But there was another band that needed his help. In 1980, after Ozzy Osbourne left the hugely successful and groundbreaking metal band Black Sabbath, the band tapped Dio to fill his spot.
In an interview, Dio acknowledged how difficult it was to step into the shoes of such a famous frontman.
"Ozzy especially had some real staunch fans, and for someone else to come into Sabbath, God, that was sacrilegious," he said.
Instead of serving as just a placeholder with the band, however, he united with them to create the album "Heaven And Hell," considered by many critics to be one of the finest heavy metal albums ever.
His time with the band would be known as "Black Sabbath, the Dio years," touching off an intense debate among fans as to which singer was the true essence of the band, a discussion that lasts even to this day.
His tenure with the band was on-and-off, though. His first stint with the band lasted only two years.
He also enjoyed a successful solo career with his self-titled band, Dio, in between his three runs with Black Sabbath (1980-82, 1992, and 2007-09, when the band toured as Heaven And Hell, to differentiate it from Osbourne-led versions of Sabbath).
Many of his most memorable songs revolved around the struggle between good and evil, including his signature tune "Heaven And Hell." He also drew heavily on medieval imagery in songs like "Neon Knights," "Killing The Dragon" and "Stargazer."
Besides his growling voice, he became known for making the "devil horns" sign a heavy metal signature – a sign he said came from his Italian grandmother, who used it to ward off evil.
"He possessed one of the greatest voices in all of heavy metal and had a heart to match it," said Twisted Sister guitarist Jay Jay French, whose band toured with Dio since 1983 and was to do so again this summer at European rock festivals. "He was the nicest, classiest person you would ever want to meet."
Motley Crue's Nikki Sixx, whose band toured with Dio, said he was shocked to learn of his death.
"Ronnie was one of the kindest souls I have ever met and his talent was beyond inspirational to so many of us," he said in a statement. "I still have this image of him standing on stage in front of 100,000 belting out 'Man on the Silver Mountain' and remember the shivers it sent up my spine. He will be missed by all of us.
Dio organized an all-star charity collaboration in 1986 called "Hear N' Aid" to raise money for famine relief in Africa, styled on the successful "We Are The World" campaign of a few years earlier.
His solo hits included "Rainbow In The Dark," "The Last In Line" and "Holy Diver."
His last album was Heaven And Hell's "The Devil You Know," released in April 2009.
In addition to his wife, Dio is survived by son Daniel, grandchildren Julie and Joey, and father Pat.
Gillian Welch sideman/collaborator leads Americana Music Association Awards nominations
The Dave Rawlings Machine has netted four nominations for the upcoming Americana Music Association Awards, while Ryan Bingham and Ray Wylie Hubbardscored three nods each when the nominees were revealed Wednesday (May 12).
Emmylou Harris and Todd Snider announced the nominations during a breakfast sponsored by BMI and held at the W.O. Smith Music School in Nashville.
The Carolina Chocolate Drops, who earned a nod for duo or group of the year, opened the proceedings with a lively five-song set that had many in the crowd tapping their feet and shooting videos with their cell phones.
Winners will be announced Sept. 9 at Nashville's Ryman Auditorium during a show hosted by Jim Lauderdale. The awards presentations will be the high point of the 11th annual Americana Festival and Conference taking place Sept. 8-11 at the Sheraton Nashville hotel.
In town to play the Grand Ole Opry, the Carolina Chocolate Drops gave the crowd a delightful short course in the string band music of the 1920s and '30s, opening with "Don't Get Trouble in Your Mind" and rolling through "Your Baby Ain't Sweet Like Mine" (which they played on the Tuesday night Opry), the instrumental "Genuine Negro Jig" (the title song from their current album) and "Cindy Gal" (which they learned from a 91-year-old African American fiddle player in North Carolina). The trio concluded with the sassy woman's revenge song, "Hit 'Em Up Style," originally recorded by R&B singer-songwriter Blu Cantrell.
Here is the complete list of nominees:
Album of the Year
The List, Rosanne Cash
A Friend of a Friend, Dave Rawlings Machine
Downtown Church, Patty Griffin
A. Enlightenment B. Endarkment (Hint: There Is No C), Ray Wylie Hubbard
"The Weary Kind," written by Ryan Bingham and T Bone Burnett, performed by Ryan Bingham
"Drunken Poets Dream," written by Hayes Carll and Ray Wylie Hubbard, performed by Ray Wylie Hubbard
"Ruby," written by Dave Rawlings and Gillian Welch, performed by the Dave Rawlings Machine
"I and Love and You," written and performed by the Avett Brothers
Ray Wylie Hubbard
New and Emerging Artist
Duo or Group
The Avett Brothers
Carolina Chocolate Drops
Dave Rawlings Machine
Smash Hits joins Spin with online archive
Not just hallucinations, but actual vision. Also, meet the funniest rock 'n' roll attorney in the world.
The Grateful Dead as the first social media users? The Atlantic makes a pretty persuasive argument that instead of being a bunch of stoned-out hippies, “business scholars and management theorists... are discovering that the Dead were visionary geniuses in the way they created ‘customer value,’ promoted social networking, and did strategic business planning.”
Had to be accidental, don’t you think?
As the countdown to Tom Petty's new album "Mojo" continues, Petty continues to leak songs. Here's another killer, "I Should Have Known It." The great Mike Campbell cuts loose.
“Let It Be” finally turns 40, the first posthumous album from the Beatles, released just weeks after they announced their breakup. And 40 years later it's still nowhere near as bad as John Lennon claimed.
Joe Walsh threatened to sue a political candidate with the same name for using “Walk Away”
as a campaign theme and daring to change the lyrics as well. This guy’s lucky Joe didn’t pull out
his chainsaw. He did, however, pull out the most hilarious lawyer in the world,
Peter Paterno, whose cease-and-desist letter is a work of comic art. Excerpts: “As a former
Presidential candidate, Joe Walsh knows how tough it is to get elected” and a
hope that “we don’t have to go all Jackson Browne on you.” Read the whole thing here.
Three of the four members of The Fray studied the music business in college classes, and even that didn't help. They just got a legal setback after discovering that a former manager owns 50% of their publishing.
Got some time to kill? The BBC has produced a six-hour documentary on the Rolling Stones, streaming from their website.
Finally, there’s a tribute concert to the late, great Alex
Chilton being put together in Memphis on May 15 with members of Big Star,
R.E.M. and more. Details here.
Plus a quick overview of modern music plagarism and more.
This list is a little dated, but makes the feisty argument that Led Zeppelin’s “Physical Graffiti,” Nirvana’s “Nevermind,” The Who’s “Tommy” and the entire Grateful Dead catalog are among the worst albums of all time.
Coldplay alleged ripping off of Joe Satriani made headlines last year, but they're hardly the only modern-rock band taking, um, "inspiration" from songs that came before. Check out this montage of lifted lines and riffs.
The name Rick Roberts might not ring many bells because he has stayed underground for so long. He was the main singer and songwriter for Firefall, the guy behind the songs "You Are the Woman," "Strange Way" and "Just Remember I Love You." He also did a couple of solo albums that have been long out of print, but they're available now. Maybe you don't remember Roberts' name, but you might recognize the people who played on those solo albums - Joe Walsh, Don Henley, Bernie Leadon, Jackson Browne, Randy Meisner, Al Perkins, Chris Hillman, David Crosby, Joe Vitale and more.
Finally, Muse has put a full concert up streaming online. Enjoy.