2007 in Review: Music News
First Appeared in The Music Box, January 2008, Volume 15, #1
Written by John Metzger
Mon January 7, 2008, 06:45 AM CST
On January 5, after the new Congress began its legislative session by making Nancy Pelosi the first woman to hold the post of Speaker of the House, a band featuring Bob Weir, Mickey Hart, Bruce Hornsby, Bill Kreutzmann, Warren Haynes, and Mike Gordon performed a two-set concert in Washington, D.C. in celebration of the victory. The show included the Grateful Dead's Truckin', Touch of Grey, and U.S. Blues, Hornsbyís The Way It Is, and a cover of the seminal New Orleansí hit Iko Iko that featured a special appearance by Wyclef Jean. The evening ended with a sing-along rendition of Carole King's You've Got a Friend.
Rumors, once again, began to circulate regarding a reunion by The Police. By the end of the month, it had been confirmed that the group was rehearsing in Vancouver for a full-blown tour as well as an appearance at the 49th Annual Grammy Awards ceremony.
On January 13, Sly Stone briefly joined his sister Vet and the Family Stone Band on stage during a gig in California. Sporting the same blond mohawk that he had worn at the 48th Annual Grammy Awards, Stone indifferently performed a rendition of Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin) before slipping away. He returned later in the show to flash a peace sign with his fingers during I Want to Take You Higher.
V2 Records announced a major restructuring that was designed to allow the label to focus on catalogue sales rather than new releases. President Andy Gershon as well as 35 others lost their jobs on Friday, January 12 as part of the deal. V2ís Chief Operating Officer Michael Olsen assumed control of the company and began to manage it from an office in Nashville. Artists from The White Stripes to Moby were left without a home. V2 initially was formed to emphasize catalogue sales, so in a sense, this was a back-to-basics move.
Hammersmith Palais, the 90-year-old London venue that was immortalized by The Clash in (White Man) in Hammersmith Palais, was slated for demolition. Music fans lost a bid to save the west London institution that had hosted concerts by the Rolling Stones, U2, and countless other acts. The area will be redeveloped with a restaurant and office space.
With only 34.1 million records sold, January proved to be the worst month ever for the music industry. This was a precipitous and perhaps disastrous decline of 40 percent compared to sales volumes in 1997.
Deborah Koons Garcia, the widow of the late Jerry Garcia, filed suit against the limited liability corporation that currently is overseeing the business aspects of his estate. According to the suit, the corporation that was established shortly after his death was scheduled to dissolve on December 31, 2005.
A separate lawsuit was filed against Koons Garcia as a means of extending the life of the business entity. In particular, Keelin Noel Garcia has alleged that Koons Garcia was not being financially responsible in her oversight of the former Grateful Dead guitaristís estate.
Super Bowl halftime shows typically are a joke. Be it the "wardrobe malfunction" that turned Justin Timberlake and Janet Jacksonís performance into a public spectacle; Paul McCartney's safe, but somewhat limp stroll through a few of his greatest hits; or the ridiculous promotion for an updated version of The Blues Brothers, there has been little substance or impulsiveness behind the entertainment that has been provided. Even the Rolling Stones, which stuck to its usual game plan, found itself heavily censored.
Leave it to Prince, an artist who has had more than his share of controversy, to put it all into perspective. Amidst the worst possible conditions, as a torrential downpour threatened to electrocute the entirety of his entourage, his purple majesty turned in a riveting performance that was rivaled only by U2's post-9/11 salute. In a mere 11 minutes, Prince managed to conjure Ike & Tina Turner with a soul-infused rendition of Proud Mary; reincarnate Jimi Hendrix with a blues-y romp through All Along the Watchtower; invoke the Foo Fighters' with an angst-filled version of Best of You; and party like it was 1984 by covering a trio of tunes from his seminal soundtrack to Purple Rain (Letís Go Crazy, Baby Iím a Star, and the title track). An underrated performer and guitarist, Prince proved that family entertainment need not be lifeless and dull, though, for the record, he did manage to sneak a phallic representation into the show.
At the 49th Annual Grammy Awards ceremony, the Dixie Chicks snared five honors ó including Album of the Year, Record of the Year, and Song of the Year ó for its work on Taking the Long Way, while the Red Hot Chili Peppers received four nods ó including Best Rock Album ó for Stadium Arcadium.
Apple Inc. and The Beatlesí organization Apple Corps Ltd. reached a settlement regarding usage of the name "Apple." Under the agreement, the computer company will own the name and license it back to The Beatlesí label.
Former Soundgarden front man Chris Cornell terminated his relationship with Audioslave. He stated that disagreements over musical and business decisions were the reasons for his departure.
In an unusual move, OzzFest announced that all tickets to its summer extravaganza would be given away for free. Heavy sponsorship deals were struck to make up for the lost revenue.
Shortly after announcing that David Lee Roth would rejoin his former band for the first time in 23 years, Van Halen scuttled plans for its summer tour. Eddie Van Halenís ongoing battle with alcohol addiction was rumored to be the reason that the plug was pulled after a single rehearsal. A few weeks later, Van Halen checked himself into a rehab facility.
Trey Anastasio entered a plea of not guilty in response to the charges of drug possession and driving while impaired that had been filed against him after an arrest in December 2006. Heroin and prescription painkillers reportedly were found in his car.
R.E.M., Patti Smith, Van Halen, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, and The Ronettes were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The ceremony was held on March 12 at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York, NY. The Stooges, the Dave Clark Five, Chic, and Joe Tex also were nominated, but they failed to obtain enough votes to be inducted. A tribute to the recently departed Ahmet Ertegun, who spearheaded the creation of the museum and served as the chairman of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation, also was part of the festivities.
Continuing a trend among the jam band circuitís elite outfits, Blues Traveler front man John Popper was arrested on March 7 and charged with possession of a controlled substance as well as possession of drug paraphernalia. However, it was the other items found in Popperís vehicle that were most alarming about the incident.
Popperís car, a black Mercedes SUV, was clocked at 111 mph on I-90 near Spokane, Washington. After being pulled over, the police officers and their dog searched the vehicle and found a small amount of marijuana. They also unearthed numerous secret compartments that yielded four rifles, nine handguns, a switchblade knife, a Taser, and night vision goggles. The SUV also was equipped with flashing emergency headlights, a siren, and a public address system. Popper told the officers that he collected weapons and that he had outfitted the vehicle to help him survive a natural disaster. Brian Gourgeois, who had been driving the car, also was arrested.
Once again, the United States has taken an embarrassing stance on global warming. Led by Senators James Inhofe (R-OK) and Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Congress and the National Park Service denied the founders of Live Earth access to Washington D.C.ís National Mall for the purpose of holding the concert that had been scheduled for July 7. Events, which were designed to heighten public awareness of global warming, were confirmed for all of the other six continents, including Antarctica.
Inhofe, who, in the past, has called global warming "the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people," objected to holding the concert on public grounds. The organizers had offered $1.5 million to pay for police and security for the show, and it would not have cost taxpayers a cent. In a statement to the Los Angeles Times, Marc Morano, the GOP communications director for the Environment and Public Works Committee, stated that Inhofe disapproved of "having any events on the Capitol grounds that are either highly partisan or politically controversial ó and the proposed Gore concert is both."
Global warming universally has been accepted as a fact by the scientific community. The only debate regarding its existence has come from Congress and the lobbyists and pseudo-scientists who have been bought and paid for by the coal and oil industries. Other venues along the East coast were pursued, including Shea Stadium in New York City, and Senators Harry Reid and Olympia Snowe had introduced a resolution to allow the concert to be held on the Capitolís west lawn, which Inhofe effectively stalled. Live Earth eventually settled for holding the concert at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
Carlos Santana announced plans to open a chain of Mexican restaurants in Northern California. The dining facilities were named Maria Maria.
In celebration of its 50th anniversary, the legendary Stax label was resurrected by the Concord Music Group. Fifty of the companyís biggest hits were compiled for Stax 50, a new retrospective that was issued on March 13.
On March 19, Phil Spectorís murder trial began. The fabled producer was charged with homicide after actress Lana Clarkson was found dead of a gunshot wound inside his home in Alhambra, Calfornia.
On March 31, Billy Joe Shaver was charged with assault and possession of a weapon in a prohibited place. Shaver shot Billy Coker in the face near a bar in Lorena, Texas. Shaver claimed that Coker had a knife and that he had acted in self-defense.
During the first quarter of 2007, CD sales declined 20 percent from the previous yearís volume. If digital downloads are included in the figures, the drop still reached roughly 10 percent.
Aaron Sorkin, creator of the critically acclaimed television programs Sports Night and West Wing, signed an agreement with the Flaming Lips to write an adaptation of the groupís Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots for Broadway. Des McAnuff was hired to direct the musical.
On April 10, Johnny Cashís home in Hendersonsville, Tennessee burned to the ground. Flammable wood preservatives were responsible for the inferno. Bee Gee Barry Gibb had purchased the lot in 2006, and he was in the process of renovating the house when the fire occurred.
Neil Aspinall announced that he was retiring as head of The Beatlesí label Apple Corps. Jeff Jones, an executive vice president for Sony BMG Legacy, was hired to replace him. Aspinall had been in charge of Apple Corps since it was formed in 1968. No reason was given for his departure.
In response to charges of gun possession and transportation of marijuana, Snoop Dogg was sentenced to five yearsí probation and 800 hours of community service. He had been arrested in October 2006 at Burbank, Californiaís Bob Hope Airport.
On May 13, Bo Diddley suffered a stroke and was rushed to the Shand Medical Center in Omaha, Nebraska. Diddley, who is 78, has a history of diabetes and high blood pressure. He later was transferred to a hospital near his home in Gainesville, Florida.
On May 22, the Smashing Pumpkins returned to the stage for the first time in seven years. Performing in Paris, the reconfigured group, which featured Billy Corgan and Jimmy Chamberlin along with newcomers Jeff Schroeder and Ginger Reyes, delivered a three-hour set that featured most of the groupís well-known hits.
In response to declining record sales, widespread piracy, and consumer indifference, Warner Music Group announced that it was laying off 400 workers.
Nostalgia is a lucrative business, but Nevada became the latest state to fight back against the outfits that utilize the names of classic bands but donít have any original members in their lineups. Under a new initiative, these groups have to identify themselves as "tributes" or "salutes."
The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences announced that it would be adding an award for Best Zydeco and Cajun Folk Album to the Grammy nomination and awards ceremonies in 2008. The addition of the new category follows more than six years of lobbying by Terrance and Cynthia Simien on behalf of Louisiana's zydeco and Cajun communities.
As June concluded, CD sales continued to plummet. Over the course of the first half of 2007, the industry experienced a 15 percent decline, while digital sales remained flat.
On July 7, Live Earth events around the globe went off without a hitch. Concerts were held in an array of locations, including East Rutherford, New Jersey; Sydney, Australia; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; London, England; and Tokyo, Japan. Performers from Pink Floyd to Wolfmother, from Smashing Pumpkins to Kanye West, and from Madonna to Linkin Park came together to raise awareness about global warming.
On July 7, Snow Patrolís Tom Simpson was arrested when he failed to meet a court date that stemmed from the charges of cocaine possession that had been filed against him in 2006.
On August 8, singer Amy Winehouse was hospitalized and treated for exhaustion.
The Rolling Stonesí Keith Richards sold the rights to his yet-to-be-penned autobiography for $7.3 million. Richards will work with journalist James Fox to create the tome, which is slated for release by Little, Brown in 2010.
For the second time, Ray Davies missed a court date regarding the trial of his accused shooter. As a result, all charges were dropped against Jerome Barra. In 2004, Davies was shot in the leg during an attempted holdup in New Orleans. He publicly stated that he was not given enough notice to secure travel from London to New Orleans for the purpose of addressing the court.
Mark Karan announced that he was taking a temporary leave of absence from Ratdog in order to receive treatment for a lump on his neck. Karan was diagnosed with throat cancer, and he remains under the care of his physician. In the meantime, guitarist Steve Kimock was added to Ratdogís lineup.
Three months after having a stroke, Bo Diddley suffered a heart attack. On August 24, the legendary blues man had complained to his physician that he was experiencing a headache and nausea . He recuperated at the North Florida Regional Medical Center in Gainesville, Florida.
Six months after Eddie Van Halen entered rehab, David Lee Roth and Van Halen announced plans to reunite for a fall tour.
Led Zeppelin announced that it would reunite for a performance at Londonís O2 Arena on November 26. The concert was meant to pay tribute to the late Ahmet Ertegun. All proceeds from the event were donated to the Ahmet Ertegun Education Fund.
In a bid to compete with iTunes, online retailer Amazon launched a new store that was dedicated to music downloads. Its mp3s featured no copy protection, and they were priced 10 cents lower than their counterparts on iTunes.
Phil Spectorís murder trial ended in a hung jury. After the presiding judge declared a mistrial, prosecutors vowed to file new charges.
On September 30, Radiohead announced plans to issue its new album In Rainbows via its own website. In a unique twist, fans were allowed to select how much they wanted to pay for the endeavor. A version of the outing that included eight extra songs, a vinyl copy of the outing, and a book were also made available for $80. In Rainbows officially went on sale through standard retail outlets on January 1, 2008.
On October 4, the RIAA won a lawsuit against Jammie Thomas. She was the first person to fight back against the organization in court. In less than day, the jury returned its verdict, awarding the RIAA with $222,000 in damages in response to Thomasí illegal sharing of music files.
Renowned director Martin Scorsese announced plans to film a documentary on the life of George Harrison. Both Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr have agreed to participate in the project, and footage will be culled from Harrisonís family archive.
On October 18, troubled singer Amy Winehouse was arrested in Bergen, Norway for possession of marijuana. She was in the midst of her European tour.
Carlos Santanaís wife Deborah filed for divorce on October 19. The couple had been married for 34 years, and "irreconcilable differences" was given as the reason for the split.
The Sex Pistols reunited for a brief reunion tour that was designed to celebrate the 30th anniversary of its classic Never Mind the Bollocks, Hereís the Sex Pistols.
Anybody who has tried to purchase concert tickets either by phone or via the internet from Ticketmaster knows how impossible a task it can be to obtain good seats. Thanks to U.S. District Judge Audrey Collins, life is about to become at least a little bit easier. Collins issued a preliminary injunction against RMG Technologies, banning the company from supplying automated bots to ticket scalpers and brokers. These software programs are capable of logging onto Ticketmasterís website and purchasing tickets at a phenomenal rate. According to Ticketmaster, up to 80 percent of tickets for an event are purchased in this fashion. The company long has had an uneasy but beneficial relationship with brokers and scalpers, but now under public pressure, Ticketmaster finally decided it was time to fight back by filing the lawsuit against RMG that resulted in the injunction.
Jimmy Page broke his finger, which postponed the planned reunion of Led Zeppelin until December.
Building upon their collaboration in July at the Crossroads Music Festival in Chicago, Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood announced that they would reunite for a trio of shows at Madison Square Garden in February 2008. Nearly 40 years ago, the duo had formed the supergroup Blind Faith.
Donovan and David Lynch announced plans to open a transcendental meditation college in Scotland. The school will be named the Invincible Donovan University.
Keyboard player Danny Federici departed from the E Street Band. Federici is suffering from melanoma and needed to take time off to receive treatment.
The long-awaited release of The Beatlesí catalogue through iTunes was been pushed back until 2008. In recent months, the solo works of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr were all made available through the download store.
In response to declining record sales, Island Def Jam let almost a dozen people go, including Rob Stevenson, Vice President of A&R, who had signed the Killers. The company is expected to focus primarily on hip-hop and R&B acts.
Sony BMG began laying off workers in early December. The job losses were centered around its Epic and Columbia labels, which many expect will be merged into a single division in 2008. In related news, Universalís Geffen, Interscope, and A&M divisions also made preparations to reduce labor costs, and EMI likely will follow suit. By some accounts, CD sales declined 19% in 2007.
On December 10, Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, and John Paul Jones reunited as Led Zeppelin to perform a one-off concert at Londonís O2 arena. It was their first full-length show in nearly 30 years. John Bonhamís son Jason sat in on drums throughout the two-hour event, which boasted 16 classic cuts, including Kashmir; Dazed and Confused; Whole Lotta Love; Stairway to Heaven; Good Times, Bad Times; and Rock and Roll.
On December 13, The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation announced its slate of inductees for 2008. Leonard Cohen, The Dave Clark Five, Madonna, John Mellencamp, and The Ventures were chosen for recognition by the organizationís team of 600 voters. In addition, Little Walter will be recognized as a sideman, and the production duo of Gamble & Huff will receive the Ahmet Ertegun Award. A ceremony will be held at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York, New York on March 10.
According to Pollstar, The Police, not surprisingly, was the biggest grossing concert tour of 2007. The group hauled in $131.9 million over the course of its 54 shows. By contrast, Kenny Chesney came in second with $71.1 million. Justin Timberlake, Celine Dion, Van Halen, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, Rod Stewart, Genesis, Josh Groban, and Rascal Flatts were ranked in the third through tenth spots, respectively.
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