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The Eagles' Don Henley to Present Robert Redford with Environmental Honor at Boston Benefit Event


Jmaes Glader; Marc HomDon Henley will present actor/director Robert Redford with a special honor recognizing his support for environmental causes during an intimate benefit concert The Eagles are playing on September 16 in Boston.  Redford will receive the Walden Woods Project's 2014 Global Environmental Leadership Award, which acknowledges a person or organization that demonstrates "represents vision, creativity, dedication and sacrifice in addressing global environmental challenges."

The show will take place at Boston's Citi Performing Arts Center/Wang Theatre, and will raise money for the Walden Woods Project.  That's the organization Henley founded in 1990 to oversee the protection of the Walden Pond area in Concord, Massachusetts, made famous by 19th century author Henry David Thoreau.  The charity also supports various environmental initiatives that are in line with Thoreau's naturalist beliefs.

"Bob Redford was an environmentalist long before the well-being of our natural resources became an international concern," says Henley in a statement.  "Whether he is defending the integrity of the public lands we leave as our legacy to future generations; whether he is lobbying Congress for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, fighting for the protection of the dwindling herds of America's iconic wild mustangs or advocating for measures to curb climate change, he puts the full measure of his time and talent, and the force of his convictions, behind all the compelling environmental causes he supports."

Tickets for the benefit event go on sale this Monday, August 4, at 10 a.m. ET at CitiCenter.org, Ticketmaster.com and by phone at 800-745-3000.  Tickets also can be purchased in person at the Wang Theatre Box Office starting this Tuesday at 12 p.m. ET.

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Ex-Alice Cooper and Lou Reed Guitarist Dick Wagner Dead at 71


Image Courtesy of Dick WagnerDick Wagner, the virtuoso rock guitarist known for his work with Alice Cooper and Lou Reed, passed away on Wednesday morning in Scottsdale, Arizona, at the age of 71.  The Detroit Free Press reports that Wagner died of respiratory failure at Scottsdale Healthcare Shea Medical Center, after spending two weeks in the facility's intensive care unit following heart surgery.

Wagner played on many of Cooper's albums during the 1970s and '80s, and co-wrote many of the shock rocker's songs, including such well-known tunes as "Only Woman Bleed," "I Never Cry" and "You and Me."  In addition, he lent his guitar talents to Reed's acclaimed albums Berlin and Rock 'n' Roll Animal, and also worked with such other stars as Aerosmith, KISS, Peter Gabriel, Daryl Hall & John Oates and Rod Stewart.

Dick battled a number of health issues in recent years.  In 2007, he suffered a heart attack and a stroke.  Then, in 2011 he was diagnosed with NPH, or normal pressure hydrocephalus, a condition caused by a build-up of spinal fluid in the brain that left him partially paralyzed.  The condition was successfully treated with a shunt in his brain, and Wagner was able to return to music again during the last few years.

Wagner wrote a well-received autobiography in 2012 titled Not Only Women Bleed: Vignettes from the Heart of a Rock Musician, and last year he wrote and produced a star-studded benefit single titled "If I Had the Time (I Could Change the World)" that raised money for the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.  He also remained active as a producer, songwriter and recording artist in conjunction with a multi-faceted music company he co-founded called Desert Dreams Records.

Wagner's family and Desert Dreams Records posted a message paying homage to the rocker on his official website that reads, "Dick had a huge heart, which is perhaps why it gave him so much trouble, it was simply too full of love, of music and life.  His creativity and passion will live on forever in the legacy he has left for us, in his music and his words."

The tribute continues, "He was a fighter, but in the end his body couldn't keep up with his spirit, and so he lays to rest.  Dick said in 2013, 'Love is in the air. Breathe deep.'  Take Dick's advice into your own hearts, and notice all of the beauty in the world, even when it seems cruel and unfair."

Wagner's manager and business partner Suzy Michaelson tells the Detroit Free Press that a memorial event for Dick will be organized in Michigan, where he grew up.

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Robert Plant "Disappointed and Baffled" by Jimmy Page's Critical Remarks


York Tillyer; Ross HalfinLed Zeppelin fans know by now that chances of the surviving band members playing together again have seemed pretty slim lately, so they likely won't be surprised by Robert Plant's latest comments about the matter.  In a new interview with U.K. magazine Uncut, the singer addressed remarks guitarist Jimmy Page made to The New York Times in May expressing frustration that Plant didn't want to take part in a new Zeppelin reunion.

"I feel for the guy," the famed frontman declared.  "He knows he's got the headlines if he wants them.  But I don't know what he's trying to do.  So I feel slightly disappointed and baffled."

Plant also revealed that he actually reached out to Page "a couple of years ago" and offered to collaborate with him, but was rebuffed.

"I said [to Jimmy], 'If you've got anything acoustic, let me know.  I'll give it a whirl," he recalled.  "It was hands across the water.  But he walked away.  Just walked away."

As for a new full-fledged Led Zeppelin project, however, Plant said, "[W]e couldn't do anything proper.  The weight of expectation is too great."

In the New York Times article, Page referred to a 2013 comment Plant made that appeared to suggest he was open to another Led Zeppelin reunion.  "I was told last year that Robert Plant said he is doing nothing in 2014, and what do the other two guys think?  Well, he knows what the other guys think.  Everyone would love to play more concerts for the band," said Jimmy, adding, "He's just playing games, and I'm fed up with it."

Plant initially responded to Page's comments during a media event prior to a performance with his current band, The Sensational Space Shifters, at Morocco's Mawazine Festival.  "I think he needs to go to sleep and have a good rest, and think again," said Robert.  "We have a great history together and like all brothers we have these moments where we don't speak on the same page but that's life."

Plant's new solo album with the Space Shifters, Lullaby and…the Ceaseless Roar, will be released on September 9.

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Santana's "Corazón" Album Certified "U.S. Latin Double-Platinum"; Band Adds Fall Dates to Tour


RCA/Sony Latin IberiaCorazón, Santana's first-ever Latin album, is a big success.  The record, which was released in May, has just been certified U.S. Latin double-platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America for sales of 120,000 in this country.

The album features legendary guitarist Carlos Santana collaborating with a variety of special guests, including Gloria Estefan, Ziggy Marley, R&B singer Miguel, rap star Pitbull, jazz great Wayne Shorter, award-winning Colombian rocker Juanes and more. Corazón, currently is #4 on Billboard's Latin Albums chart, and has spent six weeks at the top of the tally since its release.

Santana recently added a series of North American fall tour dates in support of Corazón, running from a September 25 concert in Albuquerque, New Mexico, through an October 12 performance in Verona, New York.  The band currently is in the middle of a summer trek that includes joint shows with Rod Stewart and headlining dates promoting the album.

Here are all of Santana's upcoming tour dates; Corazón Tour shows unless noted:

7/29 -- Salt Lake City, UT, Red Butte Garden
*7/31 -- Eugene, OR, Matthew Knight Arena
8/1 -- Auburn, WA, White River Amphitheatre
*8/2 -- Vancouver, Canada, Rogers Arena
*8/4 -- Calgary, Canada, Scotiabank Saddledome
*8/5 -- Edmonton, Canada, Rexall Place
*8/8 -- Winnipeg, Canada, MTS Centre
*8/10 -- St. Paul, MN, Xcel Energy Center
*8/12 -- Englewood, CO, Fiddler's Green
*8/14 -- Kansas City, MO, Sprint Center
8/15 -- New Buffalo, MI, Four Winds Casino - Silver Creek Event Center
*8/16 -- Rosemont, IL, Allstate Arena
*8/19 -- Washington, DC, Verizon Center
*8/20 -- Wantagh, NY, Nikon at Jones Beach Amphitheatre
9/25 -- Albuquerque, NM, Sandia Casino
9/27 -- Austin, TX, ACL Live Theatre
9/28 -- Midland, TX, Wagner-Noel PAC
9/30 -- San Antonio, TX, Tobin Center for Performing Arts
10/1 -- Houston, TX, Bayou Music Center
10/3 -- Tulsa, OK, Brady Theater
10/4 -- Thackerville, OK, WinStar World Casino and Resort
10/5 -- Rogers, AR, Walmart Amphitheatre
10/7 -- Peoria, IL, Peoria Civic Center Theatre
10/8 -- Milwaukee, WI, Riverside Theatre
10/11 -- Niagara Falls, NY, Seneca Niagara Casino Events Center
10/12 -- Verona, NY, Turning Stone Resort & Casino Event Center

* = with Rod Stewart.

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Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers to Debut "Hypnotic Eye" Songs on ABC's "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" Thursday


Image Courtesy of Mary Ellen MatthewsTom Petty & the Heartbreakers will celebrate the release this week of their new album, Hypnotic Eye, when they pay a visit to ABC's Jimmy Kimmel Live! on Thursday night.  The band's appearance will feature the debut live performance of some songs from the album, which hit stores on Tuesday.

In addition, Petty & the Heartbreakers will chat with Jimmy Kimmel during the program.  The group will launch a North American tour in support of Hypnotic Eye this Sunday in San Diego.  The trek is plotted out through an October 10 gig in Los Angeles.

Jimmy Kimmel Live! airs weeknights at 11:35 p.m. ET/10:35 p.m. CT.

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The E Street Band's Steven Van Zandt Says He's Helping Darlene Love Record Star-Studded Solo Album


Gurtman and Murtha Artist Management; NBC Photo/Heidi GutmanThe E Street Band's Steven Van Zandt has revealed that he's overseeing a new album by famed 1960s pop/soul singer Darlene Love.  During a red-carpet event in New York City this Monday, Van Zandt told Rolling Stone that he first promised Love he'd make a record with her about thirty years ago, so he's excited about finally getting the project off the ground.

Little Steven reported that he and Elvis Costello are both writing songs for the album, and said he also has talked to his band mate Bruce Springsteen about contributing a tune.  In addition, Van Zandt told Rolling Stone that he's contacted some of the best-known pop composers of the '60s -- including Carole King, the team of Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann, and Mike Stoller of Lieber and Stoller fame -- about lending their talents to the record.

"Everybody I know that is a great songwriter, I'm talking to," said Steven.  "We're hoping to have an all-star album for Darlene, which she deserves."

He added that he's planning to work on the project in his own studio and hopes to have it completed "in time for Christmas" or by "the first of the [new] year."

Love probably is best known for being one of the key voices behind Phil Spector's Wall of Sound hits, including her solo holiday classic "Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home)" and The Crystals' "He's a Rebel" and "He's Sure the Boy I Love."  She also was one of the stars profiled in last year's Oscar-winning documentary about backup singers, Twenty Feet from Stardom.  Darlene was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2011.

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Roger Daltrey Sings with Joan Jett at Teen Cancer America Benefit Show in Philadelphia


Teresa Aguilar/AEG LiveThe Who's Roger Daltrey played a rocking concert at the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia on Monday night that raised money for the Teen Cancer America charity he co-founded with band mate Pete Townshend.  The event included a very special onstage collaboration, as Joan Jett, who opened the show with her group The Blackhearts, joined Daltrey during his encore for a rendition of the Eddie Cochrane classic "Summertime Blues."

Roger's set was made up mostly of well-known Who songs, including "Behind Blue Eyes," "Pinball Wizard," "Squeeze Box," "You Better You Bet," "Who Are You" and "Baba O'Riley," although he did close out the show with a rendition of his 1980 solo hit "Without Your Love."  In addition, Who touring guitarist Simon Townshend, Pete's brother, took over vocals on the band's Who's Next gem "Going Mobile."  Fan-filmed video of Daltrey's performance with Jett can be viewed now on YouTube.

The benefit specifically raised funds for The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, which in conjunction with Teen Cancer America is building a unit geared toward the needs of teenagers and young adults fighting cancer.  Teen Cancer America executive Howard Jaffe told ABC News Radio that the sold-out event helped the organization reach its goal of $250,000 for the facility.  In addition, Jaffe revealed that Jett, a native of the Philadelphia area, donated all of the proceeds brought in by sales of her merchandise at the concert to the cause.

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Heart Extends U.S. Tour Itinerary into November


Image Courtesy of Norman SeeffHeart currently is playing a run of late-summer U.S. concert in the Midwest and Northeast that winds down on August 13 in Kettering, Ohio, but the Rock and Roll Hall of Famers have extended their 2014 itinerary well into the fall.  The Wilson sisters and their band will launch a West Coast tour that's mapped out from a September 13 concert in Saratoga, California, through a September 26 show in Pomona, California.

That outing also will make stops in a couple of other California cities, as well as in Oregon and Washington.  In addition, Heart has a few shows lined up in October and November in Arizona, Texas, Kansas and Florida.

As previously reported, Heart also will headline the inaugural Grammy Festival at Sea: Women Who Rock event, which sets sail from Miami on November 4 and visits Grand Bahama Island and Nassau in The Bahamas before returning to port on November 8.  The nautical musical extravaganza, which celebrates Grammy-winning and -nominated female artists, also will include performances by Emmylou Harris, The Indigo Girls, Joan Osbourne, Shawn Colvin, Estelle and Skylar Grey.

Here is Heart's complete list of upcoming tour dates, according to the band's official website:

7/29 -- Vienna, VA, Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts
7/30 -- Columbus, OH, Ohio State Fair
8/1 -- Anderson, IN, Hoosier Park Racing & Casino
8/2 -- New Buffalo, MI, Four Winds Casino & Resort
8/3 -- Highland Park, IL, Ravinia Festival
8/5 -- Lewiston, NY, Artpark
8/6 -- Watertown, NY, Watertown Fairgrounds Arena
8/8 -- Red Bank, NJ, Count Basie Theatre
8/9 -- Baltimore, MD, Pier Six Pavilion
8/11 -- Morristown, NJ, Mayo Performing Arts Center
8/13 -- Kettering, OH, Fraze Pavilion for the Performing Arts
9/16 -- Saratoga, CA, The Mountain Winery
9/18 -- Seattle, WA, The Showbox (Market)
9/20 -- Troutdale, OR, Edgefield
9/22 -- Bend, OR, Les Schwab Amphitheater
9/23 -- Jackson, CA, Jackson Rancheria Casino Hotel
9/25 -- Santa Rosa, CA, Wells Fargo Center for the Arts
9/26 -- Pomona, CA, Los Angeles County Fair
10/18 -- Scottsdale, AZ, Go AZ Motorcycle Racetrack - Bob's Biker Blast
10/21 -- Midland, TX, Wagner Noel Performing Arts Center
10/24 -- Salina, KS, Stiefel Theatre for the Performing Arts
11/4-8 -- Miami, FL, Grammy Festival at Sea: Women Who Rock
11/11 -- Clearwater, FL, Ruth Eckerd Hall

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Second Installment of Led Zeppelin Reissue Campaign Arriving in October


Atlantic/Swan SongThe Led Zeppelin reissue campaign will continue this fall, when the band releases remastered and expanded versions of their fourth and fifth studio albums, 1971's Led Zeppelin IV and 1973's Houses of the Holy.  The deluxe sets, which will hit stores on October 28, will include bonus discs featuring previously unreleased mixes and studio outtakes.

As with the first installment of the reissue series, which came out in June, the new releases will be available in a variety of formats.  These include a single CD version; a deluxe edition, which boasts the "companion" audio disc; vinyl versions of those two packages; and a Super Deluxe Boxed Set, which contains the album and the companion audio, both on CD and vinyl, plus an 80-page book of rare and unseen photos, a digital download of the music, and a high-quality print of the original album cover.  The reissues are available for pre-order now at LedZeppelin.com.

Led Zeppelin IV, which also sometimes is referred to as the "Runes" album or "Zoso," topped the Billboard 200 upon its 1971 release and went on to sell 23 million copies in the U.S., making it the third most-successful album ever in the country.  Among the many classic songs featured on the record are "Stairway to Heaven," "Rock and Roll," "Black Dog," "Misty Mountain Hop," and "Going to California."  The companion disc included with the deluxe reissue of the album feature alternate mixes of all eight tracks.

Houses of the Holy also reached #1 on the Billboard album tally, and has sold more than 11 million copies since its 1973 release.  Among the well-known Zeppelin tunes on the track list are "Over the Hills and Far Away," "Dancing Days," "The Song Remains the Same," and the reggae-influenced "D'yer Mak'er."  Alternate and/or rough mixes of seven of the record's eight songs are featured on the reissued version's companion disc.

Here's a rundown of all the "companion audio" you'll get with the Led Zeppelin IV and Houses of the Holy reissues:

Led Zeppelin IV: Companion Audio Disc
"Black Dog" -- Basic Track with Guitar Overdubs
"Rock and Roll" -- Alternate Mix
"The Battle of Evermore" -- Mandolin/Guitar Mix from Headley Grange
"Stairway to Heaven" -- Sunset Sound Mix
"Misty Mountain Hop" -- Alternate Mix
"Four Sticks" -- Alternate Mix
"Going to California" -- Mandolin/Guitar Mix
"When the Levee Breaks" -- Alternate UK Mix

Houses of the Holy: Companion Audio Disc
"The Song Remains the Same" -- Guitar Overdub Reference Mix
"The Rain Song" -- Mix Minus Piano
"Over the Hills and Far Away" -- Guitar Mix Backing Track
"The Crunge" -- Rough Mix - Keys Up
"Dancing Days" -- Rough Mix with Vocal
"No Quarter" -- Rough Mix with John Paul Jones Keyboard Overdubs - No Vocal
"The Ocean" -- Working Mix

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Purported Madonna Demos Leak Online


Mert & Marcus/Warner Bros. RecordsA couple of purported Madonna demos from the early 1990s have surfaced online.

Idolator.com notes that the tunes, titled "Shame" and "You Are the One," were produced by Shep Pettibone, who worked on Madonna's 1992 album, Erotica.  Both tracks have been linked in the past to "The Rain Tapes," a collection of demo snippets from the Erotica era.

Madonna is currently focusing on a new album.  Earlier this month, she hinted on Instagram that one of the songs she's working on may be titled "Messiah."

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Kansas Welcomes New Keyboard Player, David Manion, to Band's Lineup


Current Kansas Lineup (Chipster PR)Kansas has announced another addition to its lineup in the wake of singer/keyboardist Steve Walsh's decision to leave the band.  Earlier this month, the veteran prog rockers revealed that Ronnie Platt, former frontman of the group Shooting Star, will be taking over Walsh's lead-vocal duties soon, and now Kansas has announced via its Facebook page that David Manion "will be handling the main keyboard parts for the band on stage."

Manion is a founding member of longtime Kansas bassist Billy Greer's side project Seventh Key.

He says in a statement, "To say how excited I am for the opportunity to be playing keyboards with Kansas would be the understatement of my life…It truly is a dream come true.  To be a part of a band with a 40-year history, with so many albums out, and one that has proven to have put so much of the 'prog' in progressive music since virtually the beginning of the genre, is the greatest feeling I have had in quite some time."

Kansas drummer Phil Ehart says about Manion joining the group, "It's going to be great having David up on stage.  He's a world class keyboard player and a longtime member of the Kansas family."

Adds Greer, "I've been working with David since the mid eighties…For me, he has always been the 'go to' guy when any keyboard work was needed…David has done a phenomenal job on all the Seventh Key stuff and will bring the same integrity to the music of Kansas!"

Both Manion and Platt will make their live debut with Kansas at a September 12 concert in Oklahoma City.  Walsh revealed his decision to resign from Kansas in late June.  His last performance with the band is scheduled for August 16 in Sioux City, Iowa.

Meanwhile, Greer has sent a statement to MelodicRock.com expressing his feelings about Walsh's departure from Kansas.  "It really saddens me to see Steve leave the band," he writes.  "I have about a 34 year history with Steve, so, it makes it extra hard to see him go.  I owe a lot my success in the music business to Steve and for that I am very grateful.  To me he is still one of the greatest voices in rock 'n roll!"

He adds, "I wish him all the best, love him like a brother and will be there for him if he ever needs me!"

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Eric Clapton Says He Hopes JJ Cale Tribute Album Will Introduce Fans "to the Way He Made Things Sound"


Bushbranch Record/Surfdog RecordsEric Clapton's star-packed JJ Cale tribute album, The Breeze: An Appreciation of JJ Cale, hits stores today.  Joining Clapton on the collection of compositions by the late Oklahoma-based singer/songwriter are Tom Petty, Mark Knopfler, Willie Nelson and John Mayer, as well as many other respected musicians.

In a promotional video focusing on the making of the album, Clapton explains that he was more interested in capturing the sound of Cale's own records rather than he and his fellow collaborators putting their spin on the tunes.

"I thought it was the respectful thing to do, rather than just say…'Never mind all that.  I'm gonna do it the way I do everything,'" he notes.  "If you've never heard of JJ Cale, when you hear this record, you will be introduced to the way he made things sound.  And I thought that was as important as anything else."

The music and playing of Cale, who died of heart failure at age 74 in July 2013, were major influences on Clapton's post-1960s recordings.  JJ wrote two of Eric's best-known tunes -- "After Midnight" and "Cocaine" -- while Slowhand's 1977 hit "Lay Down Sally" was clearly inspired by Cale laidback country-blues style.

In the video, Eric reveals that the idea for the tribute album starting taking shape around the time of Cale's funeral.

"After the funeral, we gathered again to McCabe's [guitar shop in Los Angeles,] and I heard myself say that apart from family, the most profound effects of people passing on me were [blues legend] Freddie King and JJ," he declares.  "So those characters, for some reason, have been very, very deep in my musical psyche."

Soon, Clapton teamed up with his longtime co-producer Simon Climie and, along with engineer Alan Douglas, and, as he explains, they "began to create the framework for this album."

Of the various stars who lent their talents to the record, Eric singles out Mayer as someone whose contributions he was particularly impressed with.  The pop-blues virtuoso sings and plays guitar appears on three songs on The Breeze -- "Magnolia," "Lies" and "Don't Wait."

"He cut all those tracks in about an hour, first or second take, and I was gobsmacked," says Clapton.  "Y'know, [I have] a new respect for John, 'cause he's extremely gifted."

Mayer, meanwhile, is mutually complimentary of Clapton, praising him for the respect he shows the musicians who came before him.

"This kind of project continues to speak volumes about Eric and where he sees himself in the lineage of music," Mayer points out in the video.  "He's never denied being a recipient of inspiration.  He's never denied being a student of the blues, and that really inspired me to see myself as somewhere in…the ongoing lineage."

The Breeze is available as a standard CD, vinyl LP and digital download.  In addition, separate deluxe multiple CD and vinyl LP packages can be purchased at Surfdog.com.  The deluxe CD box set offers a bonus disc of original recordings by Cale, including three previously unreleased tracks; a specially designed USB drive featuring digital versions of The Breeze and the Cale tunes as well as a video interview with Clapton; six collectible lithographs; and a 20-page book.

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Eric Clapton & Friends The Breeze An Appreciation of JJ Cale - EPK (5 minutes) from Surfdog Records on Vimeo.

 

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Man Who Defrauded Investors with Fake Pearl Jam, R.E.M. Concert Sentenced to Prison


Image Courtesy Cass Bird/Warner Bros. RecordsA man who claimed to be organizing a benefit concert featuring Pearl Jam, R.E.M. and Bruce Springsteen has pleaded guilty of defrauding 30 investors out of a half-million dollars, and has been sentenced to just under four years in prison.

According to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Vancouver musician Kasey Anderson pretended to be organizing a concert and album to benefit the West Memphis Three, a trio of men who were convicted as teenagers in 1994 of the 1993 murders of three boys. 

Their convictions were the subject of outrage, and prompted public support for the men from many -- including Eddie Vedder -- who believed they had been wrongly convicted.  Prosecutors in the Kasey Anderson case alleged that Anderson capitalized on that sentiment when approaching potential investors posing as various music industry bigwigs, promising to stage a concert and album to benefit the three men, who were freed after more than 18 years in prison when newly uncovered DNA evidence did not match prosecutors' allegations.

When trying to score additional funds from prospective investors, Anderson made a variety of bogus assertions -- including that he had firm commitments from Pearl Jam, Johnny Depp and Tom Petty; that Springsteen was working on a collaboration with Lady Gaga for the benefit album; and that Springsteen had also collaborated with Arcade Fire on two additional album tracks.

In all, prosecutors say Anderson bilked investors out of more than $525,000.  In a letter to the court following his conviction, Anderson apologized and called himself "a deeply flawed and mentally ill person who made some terrible choices, causing so much emotional and financial damage to others...but I believe I have much to offer my community."  Anderson also said he "want[ed] so badly to make it right."

Of the more than $525,000, only $160,000 has been recovered.  The Post-Intelligencer notes that none of Anderson's investors have been repaid in full, and most have received nothing back at all.

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Neil Young Lends Support to New Kickstarter Campaign Seeking to Save the Rainforest


Image Courtesy of Danny ClinchEarlier this year, Neil Young successfully used the Kickstarter website to help fund his high-resolution audio player Pono, and now the folk-rock legend is lending his support to a new campaign on the site that seeks to use modern technology to help save the world's endangered rainforests.

The Rainforest Connection initiative involves retrofitting old smartphones with a solar-powered energy source and placing them in forests where illegal logging is taking place.  The devices will be able to pick up the sounds of vehicles, chainsaws, distressed animals and other telltale signs of unlawful activity and thereby notify authorities of the location of the improprieties.  In addition, the phones will provide valuable data to scientists by allowing them to track various endangered animals.

In a video promoting the campaign, Young says, "Climate change is the defining issue of the 21st century.  There are a lot of factors, but forests are one of the big ones.  There is a technology that is a connection between the rainforest and you.  This technology enables the forest to talk to the world.  When the forest is threatened the forest can speak, and you can hear it."

The Rainforest Connection's current Kickstarter initiative, which ends on Tuesday at 9:50 a.m. ET, already has surpassed its initial goal of $100,000 that will allow organizers to deploy devices in Africa.  If the campaign ends up raising $165,000, devices will be able to be installed in Brazil's Amazon region, while $200,000 will allow for the initiative to expand into Indonesia.

Young has penned a letter to his fans who had backed the Pono project asking them to consider contributing $10 or more to the Rainforest Connection campaign.  Those who do will receive a high-resolution download of rainforest sounds.  The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer also has donated 10 limited-edition Pono players to be used as gifts to donors who give generously to the initiative.

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Paul McCartney to Reissue Expanded Versions of Two Classic Wings Albums in September


Concord Music Group/MPL CommunicationsTwo new installments in Paul McCartney's ongoing reissue campaign will be released on September 23.  The classic Wings albums Venus and Mars and At the Speed of Sound, which originally were released in 1975 and 1976, respectively, are the latest archival McCartney projects scheduled to be released in remastered and expanded form.

The albums will be available in multiple formats, including a two-CD Standard Edition, a Deluxe Edition featuring two CDs and a DVD, a vinyl set packaged with a download card, and digital versions of both the Standard and Deluxe Editions.

The three-disc versions of Venus and Mars and At the Speed of Sound both will feature a bonus CD with demo recordings and previously unreleased tracks, as well as a DVD containing footage filmed around the time of each album's release, some of which hasn't been seen before.  The Deluxe Editions' packaging will include a hardbound book offering rare photos, new interviews with Sir Paul, in-depth information about the albums and a variety of archival material.

Venus and Mars and At the Speed of Sound both topped the Billboard 200 chart following their respective releases.  Venus and Mars features the hit "Listen to What the Man Said," as well as such gems as the title track, "Rock Show," "Magneto and Titanium Man" and "Letting Go."  The reissue's bonus CD includes the non-album 1974 single "Junior's Farm."  At the Speed of Sound boasts two songs that reached the top five of the Billboard Hot 100 in 1976, the chart-topping "Silly Love Songs" and the #3 hit "Let 'Em In," while the reissue's extra audio disc features demo versions of those tunes.

The two new reissues will join five other albums that have been released in expanded form as part of the Paul McCartney Archive Collection: Band on the Run, McCartney, McCartney II, RAM and Wings over America.

Here are the complete track lists of the Deluxe Editions of Venus and Mars and At the Speed of Sound:

Venus and Mars
CD 1 -- Remastered Album:
"Venus and Mars"
"Rock Show"
"Love in Song"
"You Gave Me the Answer"
"Magneto and Titanium Man"
"Letting Go"
"Venus and Mars (Reprise)"
"Spirits of Ancient Egypt"
"Medicine Jar"
"Call Me Back Again"
"Listen to What the Man Said"
"Treat Her Gently/Lonely Old People"
"Crossroads"

CD 2 -- Bonus Audio:
"Junior's Farm"
"Sally G"
"Walking in the Park with Eloise"
"Bridge on the River Suite"
"My Carnival"
"Going to New Orleans (My Carnival)"
"Hey Diddle" (Ernie Winfrey Mix)
"Let's Love"
"Soily" (from One Hand Clapping)
"Baby Face" (from One Hand Clapping)
"Lunch Box/Odd Sox"
"4th of July"
"Rock Show" (Old Version)
"Letting Go" (Single Edit)

DVD -- Bonus Film:
Recording "My Carnival"
Bon Voyageur
Wings at Elstree
Venus and Mars TV Ad

At the Speed of Sound
CD 1 -- Remastered Album:
"Let 'Em In"
"The Note You Never Wrote"
"She's My Baby"
"Beware My Love"
"Wino Junko"
"Silly Love Songs"
"Cook of the House"
"Time to Hide"
"Must Do Something About It"
"San Ferry Anne"
"Warm and Beautiful"

CD 2 –- Bonus Audio:
"Silly Love Songs" (Demo)
"She's My Baby" (Demo)
"Message to Joe"
"Beware My Love" (John Bonham Version)
"Must Do Something About It" (Paul's Version)
"Let 'Em In" (Demo)
"Warm and Beautiful" (Instrumental Demo)

DVD -- Bonus Film:
"Silly Love Songs" Music Video
Wings over Wembley
Wings in Venice

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Expanded Version of "Woodstock" Documentary Due Out on Blu-ray This Tuesday


Warner Home VideoA new limited-edition Blu-ray featuring the Director's Cut of Woodstock: 3 Days of Peace and Music, the Oscar-winning documentary about the historic 1969 rock festival, will hit stores this Tuesday.  The updated Woodstock video will include all of the content featured in 2009's 40th Anniversary Ultimate Collector's Edition, plus a bevy of previously unreleased performances from the concert.

Among those newly added performances are songs by Crosby, Stills & Nash, The Who, Santana, Jefferson Airplane, Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Joan Baez, Melanie and Sha Na Na.  In addition, the updated collection comes packaged with replicas of Woodstock festival tickets, a reproduction of a Life magazine article about the event and an iron-on patch of the Woodstock logo.

Like the 2009 version of the video, the 40th Anniversary Limited Edition Revisited Blu-ray includes a four-hour-plus-long Director's Cut of the film, 18 bonus performances and a number of documentary featurettes offering up interviews with a variety of celebrities.

Directed by Michael Wadleigh, Woodstock: 3 Days of Peace and Music showcased highlights from the Woodstock Music and Art Fair, held August 15-18, 1969, at Max Yasgur's dairy farm in Bethel, New York.  In addition to the aforementioned artists, the event's lineup included Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Joe Cocker, Ten Years After, Richie Havens, Country Joe and the Fish and many more.

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Jon Anderson Officially Announces Formation of New Group with Violinist Jean-Luc Ponty


Images Courtesy of Glass Onyon PRSince parting ways with Yes in 2008, Jon Anderson has mainly focused on recording and touring as a solo artist, but the famed prog-rock singer has now announced the formation of a new band with innovative French jazz/rock violinist Jean-Luc Ponty.  The Anderson Ponty Band will be performing newly arranged versions of songs by both Jon and Jean-Luc, and also will create brand-new music.

Ponty has collaborated with many well-known artists over the years, including Frank Zappa, Elton John and the Mahavishnu Orchestra.  The Anderson Ponty Band's lineup also features guitarist Jamie Dunlap, who also is a film and TV composer probably best known for his work on South Park, as well as three musicians who previously have worked with Ponty and many other stars -- keyboardist Wally Minko, bassist Baron Browne and drummer/percussionist Rayford Griffin.

"A breakthrough feeling came as I sang with Jean-Luc's music," says Anderson in a statement, "to be in a band again is very exciting on many levels, we will play and sing our way around the world and have fun, for music is pleasure, music is all that is, music is God."

In September, the ensemble is planning to spend three weeks recording, rehearsing and performing at Wheeler Opera House in Aspen, Colorado, and the group has scheduled its first public concert at the venue on September 20.  The Anderson Ponty Band intends to complete its debut album in Los Angeles and release it sometime early next year.  A documentary about the making of the record is in the works, and the band also plans to shoot promotional videos and live performances for upcoming release.  In addition, the collective is organizing a world tour that is tentatively scheduled to kick off in March.

To help raise funds for the multifaceted project, the Anderson Ponty Band has launched a Kickstarter campaign.  Fans who contribute money to the initiative will receive a variety of different rewards depending on the amount they donate.  Among the goodies being offered are digital downloads; CD, DVD and vinyl packages; collectible posters; signed sheet music; VIP concerts tickets; meet-and-greets with the group's members; and more.

You can find out additional info about the Anderson Ponty Band at the group's official Facebook page.

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Susan Sarandon Reveals She Once Had an Affair with David Bowie


Jimmy King; ABC/Randy HolmesIn the 1983 film The Hunger, Susan Sarandon portrays a doctor who has an affair with a female vampire played by French actress Catherine Deneuve, but it turns out Sarandon had a real-life hunger for one of her other co-stars -- David Bowie.  In a new interview with The Daily Beast, the Academy Award winner reveals that she had a fling with the rock legend, who she says was one of the few "famous, pretty interesting" stars with whom she's gotten involved.

Sarandon showered some high praise on Bowie, saying, "He's worth idolizing.  He's extraordinary."  She adds, "Bowie's just a really interesting person, and so bright.  He's a talent, and a painter, and…he's great."

The 67-year-old actress explains that her relationship with Bowie took place during "a really interesting period" in her life, which came after her 1979 divorce from actor Chris Sarandon and before she met Italian director Franco Amurri, the father of her first child, daughter Eva Amurri.  She recalls about that time, "I wasn't supposed to have kids, and I'm the oldest of nine and had mothered all of them, so I wasn't ever in a mode to where I was looking to settle down and raise a family."

Sarandon, of course, later went on to have a long relationship with actor Tim Robbins, with whom she had two sons.

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Billy Joel Sells His Hamptons Beach House for More Than $19 Million


Lloyd Bishop/NBCBilly Joel has finally succeeded in his long quest to sell his mansion in the village of Sagaponack in New York's ritzy Hamptons area.  The New York Post reports that the oceanfront bungalow-style residence, which the Piano Man first put on the market about five years ago, was bought recently for a bit under its $19.95 million asking price.

As previously reported, Joel bought the home, which originally was owned by late Jaws star Roy Scheider, in 2007.  Two years later, the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer sought to sell the property for $22.5 million.  He eventually dropped the price to $16.8 million, and then took it off the market before re-listing it in March of this year for $23.5 million.  He subsequently reduced the asking price to $19.95 million last month.

The 5,500-square-foot mansion features with four bedrooms, four-and-a-half baths, a butler's pantry and a state-of-the-art kitchen created especially for Joel's then-wife, chef Katie Lee, by celebrity designer Nate Berkus.

By the way, Joel isn't moving out of the Hamptons altogether: He still has a residence in the swanky village of Sag Harbor.

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Elton John Let Writer of His Biopic Read His Private Diaries


Joseph Guay/Capitol RecordsElton John's upcoming movie biography Rocketman will cover the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer's life story "from birth to rehab."  That's according to Lee Hall, the man who's writing the film.

Hall, who also penned the movie Billy Elliot and then worked with John to turn it into an ultra-successful musical, tells the BBC that Rocketman will be "an absolutely huge, crazy Technicolor affair."  While also dealing with Elton's childhood and his rise to fame, Hall says, it won't shy away from the darker parts of his life, such as the singer's self-confessed "monstrous" behavior when he was in the throes of drug addiction.

Hall says John provided him with plenty of material for the movie, and gave him "incredible free rein."  He explained, "One day, he took me to his house and opened a safe and he had all his private diaries that nobody had seen from when he was in rehab and left me there to read all this stuff."

Hall added, however, that Elton has "never commented once on the script," and "hasn't interfered at all" in terms of how he's being depicted.

John will be portrayed by The Dark Knight Rises actor Tom Hardy in Rocketman, which will begin shooting in late 2014.  Elton's original music will be used, but it's not clear whether Hardy will perform the songs or simply lip-sync.  Either way, Hall says of the movie, "It's fantastic, it's all singing, all dancing."

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