Rocker Bob Seger is set to release his first studio recording in eight years. The Old Time Rock & Roll hitmaker's new album, Ride Out, will hit stores on 14 October (14) and will feature covers of John Hiatt's Detroit Made and Wilco and Billy Bragg's California Stars.
A statement from Seger reads: “I feel really good about this record. This album touches on how I think a lot of us feel about finding our place in a more complicated world - from how we appreciate things as simple and pure as love, to navigating through the corruption and violence that permeates the news. It sums up a lot of feelings I have about a variety of subjects.”
Veteran entertainers Barbra Streisand and Barry Manilow are bringing the likes of Elvis Presley and Whitney Houston back from the dead to feature on their respective duets albums. The Funny Girl icon has been working on Partners for the past two years and on Monday (11Aug14), she unveiled the cover art for the project, revealing a collaboration with the King.
Details about the duet have yet to be released, but he won't be the only big name featured on Partners - Streisand has also headed into the studio with Stevie Wonder, Billy Joel, Lionel Richie, Babyface and Italian opera singer Andrea Bocelli, as well as her younger contemporaries Michael Buble, Josh Groban, Blake Shelton, John Mayer and John Legend.
Her singer son Jason Gould, whose father is actor Elliott Gould, will also make an appearance on the September (14) album after previously joining his famous mum onstage during her U.S. and European tours in 2012 and 2013.
Meanwhile, Manilow has also headed down the collaboration route for his next release, which will be fully comprised of duets with late legends.
In a message on his Facebook.com page, the singer reveals he wasn't completely sold on the idea of another all-star duets album, so he decided to draw inspiration from beyond the grave.
He writes, "I came up with a weird idea: What if I could make duets out of my favorite songs by artists that are no longer with us? What if I could I actually sing with John Denver, Whitney Houston or Judy Garland?
"Well, after months of creating brand new duet arrangements of famous songs done by these legendary artists, I did. I actually sang with them. And we're just about done with the album...
"The album is a miracle. It's been a huge undertaking, musically and technically.
"It was an honor singing with Whitney (I ran for the Kleenex when I heard her voice!), Dusty Springfield, Louis Armstrong and more. I hope you'll like this one. I'm very proud of it. The release date is sometime in late October."
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).
Model Christie Brinkley paid tribute to her ex-husband Billy Joel's late mother by writing a heartfelt letter praising the family matriarch. The Piano Man's mum, Rosalind Nyman Joel, died aged 92 on Sunday (13Jul14) at a hospice in Long Island, New York.
Brinkley and Joel's marriage ended 20 years ago, but the blonde beauty was moved to write an Instagram.com post about her former mother-in-law, who was grandmother to the former couple's daughter Alexa Ray Joel.
Along with a youthful black and white photo of Rosalind, Brinkley added in the caption, "At sad times we look for ways to find the good to lift our spirits, So I have only to imagine what Rosalinda's Eyes have seen to find cause to celebrate a life well lived!
"Just in this year alone she saw her son, (Billy Joel) receive the Kennedy Center Honor, the highest cultural honor possible, from the President of the United States no less, and Rosalind greatly appreciated the arts (sic)!
"She also saw her son get a regular gig at Madison Square Garden (where he already holds a record and where Roz is welcomed on a first name basis!). And her eyes sparkled with pride and joy as the former Gilbert and Sullivan chorus girl, watched her granddaughter Alexa perform at the famed Cafe Carlyle surrounded by a large group of her friends enjoying themselves.
"I know as a mom myself that when you see your kids happy healthy and enjoying their passions you feel content and happy. Rosalinda's Eyes will live on not only in the song inspired by her, but in Billy, and Alexa... and Nanny Roz herself would find that worth celebrating. #cherishedgrandmother #restinpeace (sic)."
New Zealand music producer Peter Dawkins has died following a fall at his home in Australia. The 68 year old, who had been suffering from Parkinson's disease, passed away on Friday (04Jul14) due to injuries he sustained in an accident at his home in the Blue Mountains.
Dawkins started his career as a drummer in bands such as Me And The Others, and The New Nadir, touring in Europe in the 1960s and performing with guitar legend Jimi Hendrix in London.
He later moved behind-the-scenes in the music industry and is best known for his stellar career Down Under, producing 20 number one hits and more than 50 albums which achieved chart success.
He produced music for acts including Spectrum, Dragon, John Farnham, Australian Crawl, Ross Ryan, Air Supply, Slim Dusty and Billy Thorpe, and also started two record labels and opened a studio.
After Dawkins' diagnosis with Parkinson's disease, his friends in the music industry released a tribute album to raise money for his medical care.
Pop punk Billy Idol is to release his first album in almost a decade to coincide with his autobiography. The White Wedding singer is planning to release the untitled, Trevor Horn-produced record in October (14), as Idol's self-written memoir Dancing With Myself hits stores.
The former Generation X frontman, who is currently on tour in Europe, will release music from the new album later this summer (14).
Smashing Pumpkins drummer Mike Byrne has quit the group. Frontman Billy Corgan has confirmed the news in a new interview, weeks after it was revealed Motley Crue star Tommy Lee has been working with the band on new tracks.
Corgan tells Music Radar, "Let's just say that Mike, like Elvis, has left the building."
Lee plays drums on nine songs on the band's upcoming album Monuments To An Elegy, and recently told Billboard, "I think he (Corgan) has probably the best record he's ever written. These are, like, epic, goose-bump songs."
Further details of Byrne's departure were not available as WENN went to press. The drummer appeared on two Smashing Pumpkins albums - 2009's Teargarden by Kaleidyscope and 2012's Oceania.
Rockers Smashing Pumpkins have enlisted Motley Crue legend Tommy Lee for the band's upcoming ninth album.
Frontman Billy Corgan posted a snap of him in a recording studio with Lee on Wednesday (07May14) and revealed the drummer will perform on all nine tracks slated to appear on the band's next record, Monument To An Elegy.
Alongside the image, uploaded to the band's official website, Corgan writes, "Here's a shot from the mission out west. Just finished round 1 of tracking drums with Tommy Lee for the new the (sic) Smashing Pumpkins album. Shockla-locka-boom. Yes, that T Lee for all 9 songs of 'Monument To An Elegy.'"
Lee's band Motley Crue are gearing up to hit the road for a farewell tour with Alice Cooper later this year (14).
Lucasfilm/20th Century Fox via Everett Collection
When the cast of Star Wars: Episode VII was finally revealed on Tuesday after months of rumors and speculation, the Internet's reaction quickly switched from one of excitement to one of confusion. “Hang on a second,” everyone said, “where are all the women?”
Of the seven new actors added to the franchise, only one of them, Daisy Ridley, is a woman. And while her inclusion means that Episode VII has twice as many female leads as the original trilogy (thanks to Carrie Fisher reprising her role as Princess Leia), the female population of that galaxy far, far away is desperately lacking in representation. Director J.J. Abrams does seem to be attempting to balance out the cast, though, as The Hollywood Reporter revealed that he’s still looking for another female lead, and though no information has been released about the role yet, some are speculating that it could be the same part that producers met with Lupita Nyong’o about just before the Oscars.
But just opening up more roles for women in the franchise isn’t enough to fix the standing issues with its female characters. The films’ lack of women has long been a point of contention among fans and critics, many of whom were hoping that Abrams would diversify the universe when he took the helm. But the quality of female roles is just as much of a problem as the quantity of women present. Thus far, none of the films have featured more than one female lead, and while she was given plenty of depth attention, her like-gendered supporting players were one-dimensional and got a minimal amount of screen time. All of which means that even though we might be getting another female lead, there’s still no way to predict how well Star Wars VII will handle its female characters. There hasn’t been much in the Star Wars cinematic universe to suggest that this new character will be just as three-dimensional and compelling as the one that Ridley is set to play, or vice versa.
There’s no doubt that Leia is a great female character, but the few other women who appeared in the films were as well-rounded or interesting. Similarly, Padme Amidala was given plenty of attention in the Prequel Trilogy, but it’s hard to name another female character off the top of our heads that had the same amount of depth or development (maybe Yaddle). The odds are stacked against Episode VII when it comes to female roles, and even though Abrams seems to be taking steps to bring more women into the franchise, he doesn’t have the greatest track record with multiple interesting female characters either.
His most recent sci-fi franchise, Star Trek, does have a great female lead in Uhura, who is just as complex and engaging as the men she works with on the Enterprise. The other female characters, however, haven’t fared as well. The two only two other women who played a major role in the films’ plots both unnecessarily appeared in their underwear: Gaila, the green girl who spent the night with Kirk, and Carol Marcus, whose nudity was used to liven up a bit of exposition. Even though Carol played a much larger role in the film than Gaila did, she was primarily there as a plot point to help reveal Admiral Marcus’ betrayal and give his battle with the Enterprise an added layer of emotion. That lack of dimension frustrated many fans, who felt that she didn’t add anything to the film overall and were insulted by the fact that her primary function was to look pretty. It would have been easy to give Carol some depth – after all, she’s a science officer whose father turned out to be the enemy – but it seemed as if the films didn’t think they could support two interesting female characters.
Abrams’ TV shows haven’t done much to disprove that theory, either. Even though Alias centered on the compelling, complex Sydney Bristow, there weren’t any other female characters that received the same kind of attention. Most of the female characters that did play a major role on the show died, leaving Sydney surrounded by a supporting cast of men. His most recent show, Fringe, also had issues with developing female characters, as Astrid’s personal life and background weren’t explored with much depth, despite her being one of the leads on the show.
None of this bodes particularly well for the way female characters will be handled in Episode VII. Since she was cast first, it’s likely that Ridley’s character will be playing the Leia-role this time around, while the character that has yet to be cast will be more of a secondary, supporting lead. Based on the way those female supporting roles have been treated by Abrams and the Star Wars franchise, it’s hard to feel a great deal of confidence that we’ll see a second woman with just as much character development and depth as Ridley’s.
It’s easy to find blockbusters that are filled with female characters that exist to play the hero’s girlfriend or add some sex appeal to what would otherwise be a film dominated by guys. Star Wars has the opportunity to put female characters at the forefront of a major franchise, characters that are just as interesting and exciting and complex as the men. To simply ignore that opportunity in order to stick with the “one woman” rule that the original trilogy established is pointless and it’s insulting to the legions of female fans who have waited to see more women given the chance to shine in these films. The Expanded Universe is filled with well-written female characters, many of whom, like Mara Jade and Jaina Solo, are fan favorites. Star Wars fans want to see more women brought to the forefront of the series, both in numbers and in complexity.
The news that Episode VII plans to add more female characters is a good thing, even if it does feel a little bit like damage control right now. But just casting more women isn’t enough if it means that most of them are relegated to looking pretty in the background. We want to be excited about the film and the new female characters, but it's hard to muster up any enthusiasm for the same old thing we've seen already in blockbuster after blockbuster.
Tony Award winner Billy Porter scrapped plans to perform tracks from his new album at a launch party in New York City on Monday (14Apr14) to rest his voice. The musical theatre star, who picked up a Tony Award last year (13) for his role in Cyndi Lauper's Kinky Boots, held a celebratory bash at the Big Apple's Bar Nana for industry insiders and fans to mark the release of his latest record, Billy's Back on Broadway.
He was scheduled to sing some of the album's tracks, but reportedly pulled out of performing to save his voice.
A source tells New York Post gossip column Page Six, "(He decided to) rest his voice... He has a lot coming up, so he decided to spend the night chatting with friends and have people listen to his new album... but unfortunately he didn't get to serenade the group."