News in Review: Smashing Pumpkins, David "Fathead" Newman, John Martyn, Rothbury Music Festival

First Appeared in The Music Box, April 2009, Volume 16, #4

Written by John Metzger

Fri April 3, 2009, 04:30 AM CDT

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...And Then There Was One

Smashing Pumpkins - Zeitgeist

Rumors long have surfaced of Billy Corgan’s unwavering need to control every aspect of the Smashing Pumpkins’ existence. When the group enters the recording studio later this year to record the follow-up to its 2007 effort Zeitgeist, he either will take all of the credit for its success or all of the blame for its failure. On March 20, in an announcement made on the Smashing Pumpkins’ website, Corgan stated that drummer Jimmy Chamberlin, who had been the only other founding member to remain with the outfit, had departed. No reason was provided, but this is the second time that Chamberlin has left the group. He did not participate in the recording of its 1998 outing Adore. As the ’90s came to a close, bass player D’Arcy was replaced by Melissa auf der Maur. As for guitarist James Iha, he opted not to join Corgan when the Smashing Pumpkins reunited in 2005.

Cancer Takes David "Fathead" Newman

David Fathead Newman - Diamondhead

After battling pancreatic cancer, saxophonist David "Fathead" Newman passed away on January 20. He was 75. In his long and productive career, Newman had performed with the likes of Aretha Franklin, B.B. King, and Joe Cocker. Nevertheless, he remained best-known for his 12-year stint in Ray Charles’ band. Newman and Charles were kindred spirits, close friends, and frequent collaborators. When Newman decided to front his own outfit, his pal not only helped him to secure a record deal, but he also leant his name to the endeavor — Fathead: Ray Charles Presents David Newman.

John Martyn Dies from Pneumonia

John Martyn - Solid Air

On January 29, songwriter John Martyn succumbed to pneumonia at a hospital in Ireland. He was 60. Much like J.J. Cale, Martyn was an uncompromising soul, whose work was idolized by a slew of big-name artists including U2, Eric Clapton, Phil Collins, John Paul Jones, and Portishead. Martyn spent the first 15 years of his career working with Warner Bros. and Island Records, where he explored the common ground shared by folk, blues, jazz, and dub. He released Solid Air, his most successful outing, in 1973. The set featured May You Never, a song that Clapton popularized when, four years later, he incorporated it into the framework of Slowhand. Since leaving Island in the early 1980s, Martyn had been working far outside the major-label system. This, combined with his independent spirit, meant that he never again received much attention from the masses. At the time of his death, Martyn was in the process of recording a new album.

Rothbury Line-Up Revealed

Bob Dylan - Tell Tale Signs

On July 2-5, 2009, the Rothbury Music Festival will return to the Double JJ Ranch in Rothbury, Michigan. The Dead, Bob Dylan, and Willie Nelson will anchor the festival, and in total, more than 60 artists will perform over the course of the four-day weekend. String Cheese Incident, The Black Crowes, Son Volt, and The Hold Steady are among the other acts that are slated to appear. The Rothbury Music Festival’s emphasis upon staging an environmentally sustainable, community-minded event places the gathering in a class of its own.

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Of Further Interest...

Music News: Jeff Beck / Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Billy Powell, Steve Martin

Music News: U2, Michael Jackson, Bob Dylan, Dewey Martin, Pitchfork Music Festival

Music News: XTC, Bob Dylan, Buddy Holly, Jackson Browne

Music News: Stephen Malkmus, Bruce Springsteen, The Killers

2008 in Review: Music News

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