Country music veteran George Riddle has lost his battle with throat cancer at the age of 78. The singer/songwriter passed away on Saturday (19Jul14), two months after undergoing surgery to treat his condition.
Riddle began his career as a musician in the 1960s, performing with the late George Jones, and went on to land a regular gig playing the fiddle at country music mecca the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee.
As a songwriter, he penned tracks for his close friend Jones, Ray Charles, Tammy Wynette and Melba Montgomery, who turned his tunes The Greatest One of All and Hall of Shame into chart hits.
He was also a beloved classic country radio DJ in his native Indiana.
Rock icon Billy Joel is set to be honoured with America's prestigious Gershwin Prize for Popular Song.
The Piano Man star has been selected as the 2014 recipient of the Library of Congress award, which is named after iconic composer George Gershwin and celebrates the lifetime achievements of a living musical artist.
Librarian of Congress James H. Billington says, "Billy Joel is a storyteller of the highest order. There is an intimacy to his songwriting that bridges the gap between the listener and the worlds he shares through music. When you listen to a Billy Joel song, you know about the people and the place and what happened there. And while there may be pain, despair and loss, there is ultimately a resilience to it that makes you want to go to these places again and again."
"Importantly, as with any good storyteller, the recognition experienced in a Billy Joel song is not simply because these are songs we have heard so many times, but because we see something of ourselves in them."
A flattered Joel adds, "The great composer, George Gershwin, has been a personal inspiration to me throughout my career and the Library's decision to include me among those songwriters who have been past recipients is a milestone for me."
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member will be presented with the accolade at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. in November (14).
Previous recipients include Paul Simon, Sir Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder and Carole King, who made history last year (13) as the first woman to ever claim the Gershwin Prize.
SLASH, Joan Jett and Billy Corgan were honoured with career achievement prizes at the inaugural Alternative Press Music Awards (APMA) in Cleveland, Ohio on Monday night (21Jul14). The former Guns N' Roses star was presented with the Guitar Legend Award by Aerosmith rocker Joe Perry, Jett accepted the Icon Award, and Smashing Pumpkins rocker Corgan was handed the Vanguard Award during the ceremony at Voinovich Park, behind the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame building.
Corgan said of the awards ceremony, "What's great about Alternative Press is it still kind of stands for the alternative counter culture. Maybe it's not as much of a counter culture as it once... I'm happy to just be part of the alternative culture," while Slash added in a post on Twitter.com, "Receiving the Gtr (Guitar) Legend award from APMA was quite the honour. Receiving it from friend & mentor Joe Perry put it over the top."
Other winners included Panic! At The Disco frontman Brendon Urie, who won the Best Vocalist prize and took to the stage to perform Frank Sinatra classics Luck Be A Lady and Fly Me To The Moon with the Contemporary Youth Orchestra.
The show, hosted by Blink-182 star Mark Hoppus, also included performances from The Misfits, Fall Out Boy and Joan Jett & The Blackhearts.
Actor Neil Patrick Harris has landed a role in the new American Horror Story series after writing to creator Ryan Murphy and asking for a part.
The former How I Met Your Mother star, who is currently starring on Broadway in Hedwig & the Angry Inch, recently told Entertainment Weekly Radio that he had penned a request note to Murphy, suggesting himself for upcoming series, Freak Show.
He said, "I wrote a letter to Ryan asking if I can be in it, even though I wasn't even available to be in it. To do one that involves any kind of freak, circus nonsense is going to be so unsettling to watch."
Murphy caught wind of the radio chat and has since responded to Harris via Twitter, writing, "@ActuallyNPH of course you can be on Freak Show! I have a role I think you'd love."
Harris previously worked with Murphy in an episode of Glee, for which he won an Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series in 2010.
This Post Contains Spoilers for the Upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy!
With all of the attention surrounding the Avengers franchise in the last few days, Marvel wanted to make sure the world didn’t forget that they have another team of superheroes hitting screens in just a couple of weeks. And the way they chose to go about that was by revealing a cast list that let some of the most exciting, buzzed about and truly bizarre cameos in Guardians of the Galaxy slip to the entire Internet. According to Stitch Kingdom, cult favorite Nathan Fillion will be appearing as “Monstrous Inmate,” – which is a bit of a letdown, considering the amount of press his cameos has generated over the past few months – Stan Lee will play “Xandarian Ladies Man,” and Howard the Duck will be making an appearance as himself.
Yes, you read that last sentence correctly: Howard the Duck will be in Guardians of the Galaxy. It hasn’t be revealed why, when, or how he will make a cameo, but he will be there, and Stitch Kingdom has the casting scroll to prove it. But as absurd as it seems to have Howard the Duck, who despite his divisive feature film is a Marvel fan favorite, appear in Guardians of the Galaxy, it doesn’t even come close to topping the list of the most bizarre character crossovers and cameos. Seriously, there are things out there that are stranger and more confusing than the prospect of Howard hanging out with Rocket and Groot. Don’t believe us? Take a look for yourself:
Charles Barkley and Godzilla The union of the five-time NBA All-Star and two-time Hall of Famer and the giant mutant lizard that has been known to both spit fire and shoot lasers from his eyes was originally conceived as a Nike ad, and later expanded into a comic book. Because nothing says “cool sneakers” like a basketball-playing kaiju that can’t actually fit his giant feet into shoes. Also, who was buying that comic book?
Spider-Man and Ren and Stimpy There was once a time when you hadn’t properly made it until your cartoon got its own comic book. Unfortunately, some shows just aren’t meant to be read, and Ren & Stimpy is one of them, so when the comic book (unsurprisingly) failed to sell, they brought in the big guns: Spider Man. In true Ren & Stimpy fashion, Spidey took on Powdered Toast Man, that beloved vigilante superhero/breakfast food spokesman. If you’ve ever wanted to know what it was like to read a 12-year-old's fever dream, this is the comic for you.
Superman and the Quik Bunny Spider-Man isn’t the only superhero to succumb to some very obvious product placement. Superman one teamed up with the Quik Bunny, purveyor of powder that makes your milk brown, in order to fight the Weather Man, a lame villain with fourth-tier powers and a costume that made him look like he was starring in a community theater production of Robin Hood. At least Spider-Man had the dignity of fighting with a fictional breakfast-hero.
Inspector Gadget and Mario and Luigi Remember the Super Mario Bros. Super Show!? No? Well, that’s probably for the best, but it does mean that you missed seeing Inspector Gadget, the world’s more over-equipped and incompetent detective, get his various malfunctioning parts fixed by Mario and Luigi, who are supposed to be plumbers. You probably wouldn’t be surprised to find out that it goes horribly wrong, to no-doubt hilarious consequences. Clearly, the moral of this episode was to play to your strengths, and maybe not to call a plumber to fix a wire problem.
Archie and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles On some level, this one probably makes some sense. After all, Archie and his friends are teenagers, and so are the Ninja Turtles. Both groups like pizza and video games and, from the looks of the cover, dance parties. But what’s really strange about this crossover is that it happened as the result of the Turtles being spit out by a giant cow head, which apparently allowed them to hop through various dimensions. Mutant ninja turtles or no, there had to be an easier way to get these guys to Riverdale.
Arthur and Mr. Rogers In what is perhaps the most well-meaning, mild-mannered crossover of all time, Mr. Rogers appeared on an episode of Arthur that centered around Arthur being embarrassed that the friendliest man on television was going to be staying at his house. Of course, this conflict is solved with a charming heart-to-heart that taught children that real friends don’t make fun of their friends for what they like. Unless that thing is Transformers. Not even Mr. Rogers can endorse Michael Bay.
Marvel Superheroes and Guiding Light You know who’s really into comic books and superheroes? The kind of people who religiously watch daytime soap operas – we’re assuming that was the pitch that got Guiding Light to team up with Marvel on a crossover episode that saw soccer mom Harley Davidson Cooper gain superpowers after being struck by lightning on Halloween night and transform into Guiding Light. (Seriously.) The saddest part of this is that Marvel clearly didn’t learn anything from their failed experiment at reaching a new audience, since they had the Thor announcement revealed on The View.
Batman and Robin and Scooby Doo When it comes to crime-fighting teams, there are two that stand above everyone else: Batman and Robin and the Mystery Gang. So teaming them up on The New Scooby Doo Movies to uncover a hooded counterfeiter who’s been sending the Penguin and the Joker fake money makes perfect sense, right? Sure, if you live in a world where Mrs. Baker is on the same level of super villainy as two of the most iconic comic book villains of all time. Fun fact: this episode was so poorly received that Batman later made fun of it in an episode of his own.
Cartoon All-Stars to the RescueThe plot of this movie sees cartoon favorites like Winnie the Pooh, Alvin and the Chipmunks, the Muppet Babies, the Looney Toons, and the Smurfs come to life in order to convince Michael to stop smoking pot, drinking, and stealing from his sister’s piggy bank for drug money. Because if anything is going to convince someone to stop doing drugs, it’s a bunch of cartoon characters who suddenly come to life and sing songs about life choices. Clearly, all D.A.R.E. really needed to be effective was Daffy Duck.
Beyonce is to take up a place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nearly 20 years before she is eligible for admission as bosses launch an exhibition dedicated to the pop superstar.
The singer's stage costumes from her 2013 Super Bowl performance will be put on display at the institute's museum in Cleveland, Ohio alongside pieces from music legends including Michael Jackson and David Bowie.
The exhibition will also feature the iconic leotard she wore in her Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It) video, an outfit from her Crazy in Love promo and a Givenchy gown worn to the 2012 Met Gala in New York City.
Curator Meredith Rutledge-Borger says of the exhibition, "We felt that (Beyonce) really needed to take her rightful place alongside Aretha Franklin and the Supremes and Janis Joplin."
A spokesperson for Beyonce adds, "For an artist to be able to have a presence where all of her idols and mentors live, it is a big deal. It's very meaningful to an artist when you feel like you've accomplished certain levels and to be asked to be part of this before she's eligible, I think that's really special."
Beyonce will first become eligible for a place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2022 as a member of Destiny's Child, and as a solo artist in 2027. The Beyonce show will debut at the museum on Tuesday (22Jul14).
Rocker Gene Simmons has dashed Kiss fans' hopes of an original line-up reunion following the group's Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction in April (14), insisting there's "not a chance" of a get together. As Simmons and frontman Paul Stanley prepare for a residency in Las Vegas while touring with Def Leppard, devotees are hoping that Ace Frehley and Peter Kriss will join them onstage - but the bassist insists current bandmates Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer will never be replaced.
He tells The Tampa Tribune, "We've already danced that dance three different times. No way will we reunite. It wouldn't be fair to Tommy and Eric. It wouldn't be right."
Simmons and Stanley refused to perform at the Hall of Fame gala after learning Thayer and Singer would not be honoured alongside Frehley and Kriss.
The bass player adds, "We only did the induction with Ace and Peter because the fans wanted it. But it was a slap in the face that they didn't acknowledge Tommy and Eric. They've been in the band longer than Ace and Peter."
MGM via Everett Collection
Veteran stage and screen icon Elaine Stritch has died at the age of 89. The actress passed away at her home in Birmingham, Michigan on Thursday (17Jul14).
The star, known for her brash attitude and sharp tongue, began her career with her first stage role in 1944 and made her Broadway debut in Loco just two years later (46).
She went on to become a regular in New York's famous theatre district, featuring in a hit 1952 revival of the musical Pal Joey and landing her first leading Broadway role in Goldilocks in 1958. Her other theatre credits include parts in Noel Coward's Sail Away, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and Stephen Sondheim's 1970 musical Company, a role she reprised in 1972 when it opened in London's West End.
She later won high praise for her one-woman show Elaine Stritch at Liberty, for which she won a Tony Award in 2001. During the production, in which she recounted her life story, Stritch revealed she had tried and failed to win the role of Dorothy Zbornak in hit TV series The Golden Girls, a job which went instead to Bea Arthur.
Her early TV appearances came on shows like The Growing Paynes, Studio One and the classic British comedy series Two's Company. In more recent years, she appeared in U.S. soap One Life to Live, 3rd Rock from the Sun and Law & Order, while she earned an Emmy Award playing Alec Baldwin's mother on 30 Rock.
Stritch's filmography included parts in the 1957 remake of A Farewell to Arms, The Perfect Furlough, Providence and Woody Allen films September (1987) and Small Time Crooks (2000). She also portrayed Winona Ryder's grandmother in Autumn in New York and Jane Fonda's acerbic mum in 2005's Monster in Law.
The actress, who was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame in 1995, bid farewell to fans with her Movin' Over and Out concert series in the Big Apple in April, 2013, before moving to Michigan to spend more time with her family.
Hollywood actress Maggie Gyllenhaal is hiding a secret smoking habit.
The Dark Knight star, who is a mother to two young daughters, insists she doesn't puff on cigarettes regularly, but often falls "off the wagon" and buys a pack.
She tells Britain's Stylist magazine, "I don't smoke cigarettes officially but now and then I fall off the wagon. I can't keep it up at home. I can't smoke as a mother - it's too much sneaking around... I'm buying cigarettes and I'm like, 'What am I doing? Pull it together!'"
Courtesy Everett Collection
Legendary blues rocker Johnny Winter has died, aged 70.
The veteran musician passed away in Zurich, Switzerland, according to Blabbermouth.net, but no more details about his death were available as WENN went to press.
Motley Crue rocker Nikki Sixx was among the first to pay tribute to the star, writing in a post on Twitter.com, "So bummed to hear about Johnny Winters (sic) passing. I spend (sic) many many years soaking up his music late into the night. #Original #TheBlues."
Winter began his music career as a teenager, landing a record deal at the age of 15 with his band Johnny & the Jammers, and he later released his first solo album, The Progressive Blues Experiment, in 1968. He became a big success with his second record, Johnny Winter, in 1969 and was among the performers at the iconic Woodstock music festival that year.
He continued to enjoy success in the 1970s, and turned to production, heading into the studio with Muddy Waters. Three of the albums they worked on together won Grammy Awards. Winters also received a number of Grammy nominations for his own records, but failed to win.
He is believed to have performed with Jimi Hendrix in a number of jam sessions which became unofficial bootleg recordings after they were stolen from the guitar legend's home after his death.
In later years, Winter was inducted into the Blues Foundation Hall of Fame.
Winter's death comes just weeks before he was due to release a new album, Step Back, which features stars including Eric Clapton, ZZ Top rocker Billy Gibbons and Aerosmith's Joe Perry.
The record is slated to hit shelves in September (14).