Sunday June 11th, 2006                                                  HOME


New CD's this past week:

None to report

Music news headlines this week:


Keyboard Player / Singer Billy Preston Dead At 59

Electrifying keyboard player Billy Preston, who was dubbed the "fifth
Beatle" for his work on some of the band's most storied projects, died
Tuesday at age 59. Preston, who had such hits as Will It Go Round in
Circles, Outa-Space and Nothing from Nothing in the 1970s, was considered
one of the world's greatest organists for the way he'd make his Hammond
B-3 sing whether he was playing rock, soul, blues or gospel.
reston had battled chronic kidney failure and had been in a coma since
November. He had received a kidney transplant in 2002. He was taken to a
hospital Saturday in Scottsdale, Ariz., after his condition deteriorated,
said his manager, Joyce Moore.
Preston — instantly recognizable with his huge Afro and gap-toothed smile
—toured with Ray Charles and Little Richard in the early 1960s before
hooking up with The Beatles. He backed them on the albums Let It Be, Abbey
Road and the White Album. He also appeared in films with the band and
continued playing and touring with individual members after the band broke
he Houston-born Preston also collaborated with Aretha Franklin, Bob Dylan,
Sly Stone, Sam Cooke, Quincy Jones, Sammy Davis Jr., the Jackson 5, Barbra
Streisand and others. He was a child prodigy who at 10 played with gospel
greats Mahalia Jackson and the Rev. James Cleveland. Two years later, he
played blues great W.C. Handy as a child in the 1958 film St. Louis Blues.
He was a regular on the pioneering live-TV rock show Shindig in the
mid-'60s. His early albums included The Most Exciting Organ Ever and
Wildest Organ in Town.
Preston's solo breakthrough came in 1972 with the I Wrote a Simple Song
album, which included the Grammy-winning Outa-Space. Later that year he
put out Music Is My Life, featuring Will It Go Round in Circles. He also
won another Grammy in 1973 for his participation in the George
Harrison-led Concert for Bangla Desh album.
Starting in 1974, he and his band the God Squad spent three years opening
for the Rolling Stones. He played on such Stones albums as Sticky Fingers,
Exile on Main Street and Bridges to Babylon. "Billy was a fantastic and
gifted musician ... a superb singer in both recording sessions and
onstage," Stones frontman Mick Jagger said in a statement.
He also thrived as a songwriter; he wrote Joe Cocker's You Are So
Beautiful and scored a huge hit with his duet with Syreeta, With You I'm
Born Again. He wrote theme songs for such films as In the Heat of the
Night and Slaughter.


Blige Continuing 'Breakthrough' On Summer Tour

With her 2005 Geffen album "The Breakthrough" continuing to fly off
shelves, R&B superstar Mary J. Blige will hit the road in North America
this summer in support of the project. Dates get underway July 14 in
Maryland Heights, Mo.; Jaheim and LeToya Tuckett will open.
Nearly 30 dates are set through Sept. 8 in Concord, Calif., for the
Breakthrough Experience outing, which will primarily visit arenas and
outdoor amphitheatres. Beforehand, Blige will embark on a five-date
European tour starting Sunday (July 11) in Paris.
She will also perform June 24 at Chicago's B-96 Summer Bash alongside
Chris Brown, Ne-Yo, Pink and Sean Paul and July 1 at Houston's Essence
Music Festival.
"The Breakthrough" has sold 2.3 million copies in the United States,
according to Nielsen SoundScan, and jumps 38-30 in its 24th week on The
Billboard 200.

Former Manager Sues Ashanti

A former manager for the R&B singer Ashanti who claimed to have been
instrumental in the singer's career sued her yesterday (June 6), seeking
millions of dollars in damages for breach of contract.
In the Manhattan federal court suit, former manager Linda Berk said she
had guided Ashanti, 25, from an unknown minor to a "music and
entertainment superstar" before her contract was cut short in May 2003.
Berk and Ashanti met in 1993 and signed an initial contract in 1999 that
agreed Berk would act as a co-manager with Ashanti's mother Tina Douglas.
Four years later she was informed the contract would be terminated, the
suit said.
"The contract naturally expired and we didn't renew it," a spokesperson
for Ashanti said.

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