Sunday June 25th, 2006
New CD's this past week:
- Donell Jones - Journey of a gemini
- Smokey Robinson - Timeless love
Music news headlines this week:
Kool & The Gang Co-Founder Charles Smith Dies
Claydes Charles Smith, a co-founder and lead guitarist of the group Kool &
the Gang, has died. He was 57.
Smith died in Maplewood, N.J., on Tuesday after a long illness, according
to publicist David Brokaw, who did not know the cause of death.
"We've lost a member of our family, as well as an infinitely creative and
gifted artist who was with the band from the very beginning," band manager
Tia Sinclair said in a statement.
Kool & the Gang grew from jazz roots in the 1960s to become one of the
major groups of the 1970s, blending jazz, funk, R&B and pop. After a
downturn, the group enjoyed a return to stardom in the '80s.
Smith, who was known as Charles Smith, wrote the hits "Joanna" and "Take
My Heart," and was a co-writer of others, including "Celebration,"
"Hollywood Swinging" and "Jungle Boogie."
Born on Sept. 6, 1948, in Jersey City, he was introduced to jazz guitar by
his father in the early 1960s. Later in that decade he was in a group of
New Jersey jazz musicians, including Ronald Bell (later Khalis Bayyan),
Robert "Kool" Bell, George Brown, Dennis Thomas and Robert "Spike"
Mickens, who became Kool & the Gang. Other members would include lead
singer James JT Taylor.
Illness forced Smith to stop touring with the group in January. He is
survived by his six children and nine grandchildren.
Famous Friends Honor Billy Preston
Little Richard and Joe Cocker joined hundreds of friends and relatives of
Billy Preston in celebrating his musical legacy during an upbeat funeral
wednesday (June 20) in Inglewood, Calif.
A brass band played "Amazing Grace" during a service filled with tributes
to the prolific songwriter and musician who played with the Beatles so
often he was sometimes called the fifth member of the band.
Preston died June 6 in a hospital in Scottsdale, Ariz., at age 59. He
battled chronic kidney failure, received a kidney transplant in 2002 and
had been in a coma since November.
"He made that piano walk and talk," Little Richard, who toured with
Preston in the early 1960s, told the crowd that filled Faithful Central
Bible Church's Tabernacle Worship Center. "There's nobody in this world
who could play the piano like Billy Preston."
Cocker sang the ballad "You Are So Beautiful," which Preston wrote but was
made famous by the raspy-voiced singer.
The mourners also heard letters written by Paul McCartney, the Rolling
Stones and others who toured with Preston. "I am deeply saddened to lose
such a wonderful friend," McCartney wrote. "I love you Billy."
Bonnie Raitt, also in a letter, said Preston was "one of the most soulful
artists I ever knew."
In addition to his healthy solo career, Preston toured and recorded with
the Rolling Stones and performed in recording sessions with Aretha
Franklin, Sly and the Family Stone and Bob Dylan. His duet with Syreeta
Wright, "With You I'm Born Again," became a favorite at weddings.
New Kelis Album Bumped To August
Originally due June 13, R&B singer Kelis' fourth album, "Kelis Was Here,"
will now arrive Aug. 22 via Jive. The set boasts guest turns by Too Short
and Nas -- Kelis' husband -- and production from Raphael Saadiq, Cee-Lo
and will.i.am, among others.
Kelis also recently recorded with producer Scott Storch. The artist will
kick off a European trek Saturday (June 24) at the Openair Frauenfeld
Festival in Frauenfeld, Switzerland, followed by dates in cities such as
London, Amsterdam and Berlin. The tour winds up July 8 in Novi Sad,
"Kelis Was Here," which was initially titled "The Puppeteer," will be the
follow-up to 2003's "Tasty" (Star Trak/Arista), which peaked at No. 27 on
The Billboard 200 and has sold 524,000 copies in the United States,
according to Nielsen SoundScan.
The disc also spawned the hit single "Milkshake," which reached No. 3 on
the Billboard Hot 100.
J, Epic, and Legacy Records Join In The Release Of The Ultimate Luther
Celebrating the extraordinary artistry and impact of the legendary
superstar, J, Epic, and Legacy Records will join in the release of The
Ultimate Luther Vandross on August 22nd. A first-of- its-kind, career
spanning collection, the eighteen-track album is drawn from the
multi-talented singer/songwriter and producer's recordings for both J
Records and Epic Records. The CD will include two previously unissued
cuts, "Shine" (produced by Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis), the first single from
the album and "Got You Home." "Shine" is already being blasted on the
airwaves as radio stations across the country have jumped the gun and
added it prior to its official impact date of June 19th. The overwhelming
response from radio programmers includes comments from "it's the hottest
adult song of the year" to "it's another great record from Luther!"
The Ultimate Luther Vandross features all of Luther's chart topping
singles including the Grammy-winning No. 1 pop/R&B smash, "Dance With My
Father," the title track for Luther's 2003 platinum-plus J Records album;
1989's Grammy-winning Epic hit, "Here And Now" and "Endless Love," Luther's
1994 million-selling duet with Mariah Carey. The CD also includes J hits
"Take You Out" and "I'd Rather" and Epic '80s and '90s singles, "Never Too
Much," "Give Me The Reason," "Any Love" and "Power Of Love/Love Power."
The powerhouse album also reprises such Vandross classics as "A House
Is Not A Home," "Wait For Love" and "Superstar/Until You Come Back To Me"
alongside key album cuts such as Luther's 2003 duet with Beyonce, the cover
of the Roberta Flack/Donny Hathaway classic "The Closer I Get To You," "Buy
Me A Rose" and "Think About You," all taken from Luther's last studio
Luther Vandross was undeniably one of the most significant vocalists of
our time. Since the 1981 platinum-selling release of Never Too Much,
Luther's recording career spanned over two decades and resulted in a
lifetime of chart topping hits. Through the 1980's, he recorded a string of
platinum albums, including Forever, For Always, For Love, Busy Body and The
Night I Fell In Love. He scored his first Grammy Award in 1989 with "Here
And Now." 2003's Dance With My Father received 4 Grammy Awards and has
generated worldwide sales exceeding 3 million copies. Collectively,
Luther's body of work has sold in excess of 30 millions records worldwide,
winning eight Grammy Awards, numerous Soul Train, BET, NAACP Image Awards
and American Music Awards.
The release of The Ultimate Collection just over a year after his death
is a solid reminder of the creative genius, soulful magic and sheer
artistry of Luther Vandross, an unforgettable presence and one of the most
influential vocalists of our time.
Beyoncé Ambushed By Peta Members
Singer/actress Beyonce, her mother and business partner Tina Knowles, and
sister Solange thought they were going to sit down to a nice dinner with a
couple of contest winners at Manhattan hotspot Nobu last week. Instead,
they wound up ambushed by a pair of anti-fur crusaders.
The House Of Dereon fashion founders were told that their Thursday night
dinner guests were winners of an eBay auction for VH1's Save the Music
Foundation. It turns out the pair were also hidden-camera-carrying members
of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), who within minutes
of ordering their meals struck up a discussion about the use of fur in
Beyonce's clothing line.
One woman began badgering the Knowles about methods of animal slaughter,
and then pulled out a portable DVD player to show the women a tape of
Pamela Anderson's attack on the fur industry, which features graphic
footage. At that point Mama Knowles pulled the plug and asked them to
leave, and they were escorted out of the restaurant by security.
The whole bizarre incident was captured in a three-minute tape that can be
viewed on TMZ.com.
Meanwhile, Beyonce's new single "Deja Vu" featuring Jay-Z should be
hitting radio this month. The track is from her second solo album B'Day,
due September 5th.
Prince Makes Surprise Appearance With Maceo Parker
Prince surprised fans last Thursday night at an outdoor concert in
Brooklyn, New York, when he jumped onstage during a performance by veteran
funk saxophonist Maceo Parker. The Minneapolis-based superstar and members
of his touring band entered unannounced from the wings at the Prospect
Park Bandshell during the opening night of the Celebrate Brooklyn concert
series, according to a New York Times report.
Prince's last-minute appearance seemed to surprise even Parker, a longtime
member of James Brown's band, who also makes a cameo on Prince's new 3121
album. With guitar in hand, Prince struck up a version of the album's
funky "Get On The Boat," giving Parker a chance to recreate his on-record
solo. After a few choruses, Prince exited after spending just seven
The artist was in New York for a live performance segment for Good Morning
America in Manhattan's Bryant Park on the morning of Friday, June 16th.
Photos of the performance can be viewed at the show's website,