Cher is being pushed to the brink by the looming deaths of her beloved mother, Georgia Holt, and her ex-hubby, rocker Gregg Allman, and pals fear she’s on the verge of going to pieces.
“Cher probably wishes she could ‘turn back time’ now because the thought of losing both her mom and Gregg is breaking her heart,” a source confides to RadarOnline.com. “She just wants to be there for them both in what could be the last days of their lives.
“She knows she has to be strong. She’s trying to hold it together.”
The double health crisis forced the 70-year-old Beat Goes On singer to cancel a cherished film project because Georgia, 90, and Gregg, 69 — who was diagnosed with hepatitis C and underwent liver transplant surgery seven years ago — have both tragically taken a turn for the worse.
“Georgia is living with Cher at her Malibu mansion,” notes the source. “She’s got the best care that money can buy, and she’s comfortable. Cher’s always been very close to her mom, so this is very difficult.”
Meanwhile Gregg, father of Cher’s son Elijah, 40, canceled all of his shows this year because of “serious health concerns.”
“Cher’s been told that he’s dying and doesn’t have long to go,” confesses the source. “They’ve had some rocky times, and he put her through hell during their marriage. But she’s forgiven him everything.”
As Radar reported previously, Cher and Elijah have feuded in the past, so the insider says Cher wants to be as supportive as possible for both men.
“It’s all water under the bridge. Now she’s got to be strong for their son, Elijah.”
Cher also still mourns the ski-accident death of first hubby Sonny Bono in 1998. Sonny masterminded their rise to stardom as pop duo Sonny & Cher before becoming a congressman and was the father of her other child, daughter Chastity, who underwent sex-swap treatments and now is a 48-year-old man named Chaz.
“She lost Sonny a few years back, and she and Chaz still grieve,” says the source. “Now she’s in fear of losing Gregg and her mom. All her loved ones are leaving her. It’s really sad.”
The family death spiral forced Cher to pull out of Flint, a Lifetime movie about the water poisoning crisis in Flint, Mich.
The movie starts shooting in April in Toronto, Canada. Cher was the star and a producer. The film will delve into the scandal and cover-up and was a passion project for her.
Her role as a Flint resident was written specifically for her, but “she didn’t want to be shooting a film while all this is going on,” says the source.
“She feels very strongly about the subject matter. So she hated having to let it go, but she’s needed here at home now. She wants to be there for her loved ones.”
Cher describes the film as a “project so near and dear to my heart … I was truly looking forward to helping tell this story.
Presented by The Griper – E.Cowan
Written by radaronline.com
“Mr. Warmth” forged a career when he turned the table in his hecklers, going on to insult everyone he encountered — even Frank Sinatra.
Don Rickles, the rapid-fire insulting machine who for six decades earned quite a living making fun of people of all creeds and colors and everyone from poor slobs to Frank Sinatra, has died. He was 90.
The legendary comic died Thursday at his home in Los Angeles of kidney failure, publicist Paul Shefrin announced.
Sarcastically nicknamed “Mr. Warmth,” Rickles had mock disdain for stars, major public figures and all those who paid to see him, tweaking TV audiences and Las Vegas showroom crowds with his acerbic brand of takedown comedy. A good guy and devoted husband away from the stage, Rickles the performer heartlessly laid into everyone he encountered — and they loved it.
After toiling in relative obscurity for years as a more conventional stand-up comedian, Rickles unwittingly discovered his biggest laughs came when he turned the table on his hecklers. His career then skyrocketed after he insulted the hot-tempered Sinatra, who normally did not take kindly to such treatment.
When the superstar singer and actor walked into a Hollywood club in 1957 where Rickles was performing, the comedian greeted the “Chairman of the Board” from the stage: “Make yourself at home Frank. Hit somebody.” Sinatra roared — with laughter.
With Sinatra’s endorsement, Rickles began his comedic assault on people famous and not so famous — Jews, Asians, African Americans, the Irish, Puerto Ricans, red-headed women, short guys, you name it — with tremendous results. He referred to stupid people as “hockey pucks,” and in 1959, he signed for his first Las Vegas appearance, in the lounge of the Hotel Sahara.
In 1985, when Sinatra was asked to perform at Ronald Reagan’s second Inaugural Ball, he insisted that Rickles accompany him for a comedy routine. Rickles, naturally, did not spare the president (“Am I going too fast for you, Ronnie?” he asked) and considered that performance among the highlights of his career.
Rickles was still going strong in June 2012 when, during the American Film Institute’s tribute to actress Shirley MacLaine, he joked that he “shouldn’t make fun of the blacks. President Obama is a personal friend of mine. He was over to the house yesterday, but the mop broke.”
Rickles honed his reputation in numerous appearances on The Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts that ran on NBC from the mid-1970s to the mid-80s. The specials provided a perfect venue for Rickles to unleash his caustic brand of humor on such visiting dignitaries as Sinatra, Reagan, Bob Hope, Lucille Ball, Kirk Douglas, Sammy Davis Jr. and Mr. T.
Johnny Carson provided Rickles a late-night stage by making him one of The Tonight Show’s most-frequent guests. On one memorable moment in 1968, Rickles cozied up to a half-naked Carson during a sketch with two Japanese female masseuses and said, “I’m so lonely, Johnny!” Carson threw him in a bathtub. More recently, he was a regular guest on Late Show With David Letterman, in which the CBS host treated Rickles like royalty.
Rickles intermittently played in movies, highlighted by Kelly’s Heroes (1970), where he co-starred with Clint Eastwood as Sgt. Crapgame, an Army black-marketer who had no compunction about cutting favorable deals with the Nazis.
He also played opposite beach bunny Annette Funicello in such movies as Pajama Party (1964) and Beach Blanket Bingo (1965), appeared as a Vegas slime-ball in Martin Scorsese’s Casino (1975) and voiced the cranky Mr. Potato Head in the Toy Story films.
He was still regularly working and had a recent gig touring with Regis Philbin.
Donald Jay Rickles was born in the New York borough of Queens on May 8, 1926. Following high school, he served in the U.S. Navy during World War II, then studied acting and graduated from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.
At age 32, Rickles landed a small part in Robert Wise’s submarine drama Run Silent, Run Deep(1958), starring Clark Gable. Two years later, he was cast in The Rat Race with Tony Curtis and Debbie Reynolds.
Not surprisingly, Rickles found there weren’t many leading roles for a paunchy 5-foot-6 balding man. So, he worked up a nightclub act. After his Sinatra encounter, he perfected his bite and would land gigs in all the Vegas hotels: the Riviera, the Golden Nugget, the Desert Inn and the Sahara.
Rickles would come onstage accompanied by the old Spanish bullfight song “La Virgen de la Macarena,” a subtle signal that someone was about to be metaphorically gored.
Flush with his casino successes, Rickles cut two best-selling comedy albums in the ’60s: Hello, Dummy! and Don Rickles Speaks.
Success as a star of his own TV series eluded him. He played Naval Petty Officer Otto Sharkey in NBC’s CPO Sharkey, which ran from 1976-78, and a used car salesman and father of Richard Lewis in Daddy Dearest, quickly canceled by Fox in 1993. He had two series titled The Don Rickles Show; each ran a handful of episodes. For one season in the ’80s, he hosted ABC’s Foul-Ups, Bleeps & Blunders with singer Steve Lawrence.
Rickles’ TV guest appearances include episodes of The Twilight Zone, Wagon Train, Burke’s Law, The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Beverly Hillbillies, Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C., I Dream of Jeannie, I Spy, Get Smart(alongside his buddy, Don Adams), Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In, Sanford and Son, The Bernie Mac Show and Hot in Cleveland.
In 1965, Rickles married Barbara Sklar, who survives him. The couple, who often vacationed with deadpan comic Bob Newhart and his wife, Virginia, had two children, Mindy and Larry. His son, who produced the HBO documentary Mr. Warmth: The Don Rickles Project, died in December 2011 at age 41.
Other survivors include his son-in-law Ed and grandchildren Ethan and Harrison. Funeral services will be private. Donations cane be made to the Larry Rickles Endowment Fund at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.
Presented by E.Cowan
Written by hollywoodreporter.com
The way he tells it, Dave Davies has been making music based on psychic connections for more than half a century. “I’ve always been an intuitive kind of person,” he tells Rolling Stone with a broad smile. “I can tell when something is happening out of the ordinary.” He pauses and searches for an example from his years as the Kinks’ wild-child guitarist. “I got a rush when Ray played the riff for ‘Sunny Afternoon’ on piano before it was a song. I looked at him, and whoosh. And there are times when Ray and I got a kind of telepathy onstage.
“I also have that with Russ,” he continues, referring to his son, who has made a career for himself in electronic music. “He plays something special, and when that moment happens, we both know it. But there’s no language – just feeling. Music is a phenomenal art and force.”
Dave and Russ recently collaborated on Open Road, an album of nine generally melancholy rock songs on which the elder Davies waxes nostalgic about his growing-up years, winsome emotions and the elusive nature of love. It’s not far removed from the topics he sang about on his earliest breakout songs, 1967’s elegiac drinking song “Death of a Clown” and the following year’s powerful ode to a lost love, “Susannah’s Still Alive.” At age 70, he sings lyrics like, “In my heart, I’m just a boy with worn-out shoes, playing the blues” on Open Road’s understated lead track “Path Is Long” with a deeper, more pensive introspection than he could muster in his younger years.
It’s a mood that imbues his every word, especially in conversation. During a wide-ranging interview in a private room of New York City’s Gibson Guitars Showroom, where he’s been rehearsing with his solo band, he reveals an almost sage-like demeanor, speaking carefully and philosophically. His personality is bright, except for when conversation turns to talk of a Kinks reunion, which causes him to close off slightly. But whether it’s discussing Russ or Ray, conversation about the Davies family seems to make Dave the happiest. Music, for him, is about understanding the human condition.
“All the important Kinks songs captured aspects of greater things about people in a very simple way,” Dave says. “I think that’s what we strive for as artists: to try and capture those feelings in a very simple way and open up doors to relationships and connections with each other.”
On “Path Is Long,” you sing, “It’s not where you’ve been or how much money you’ve made/It’s how you’ve lived.” What does that lyric mean to you? How have you lived? That song is a reflection. When I look back, I don’t think about the places I’ve been touring all over the world. You meet lovely people, strange people and assholes [laughs]. But what I think about is what you get on the journey. The song is about how life changes you as a person. I’ve always been a deeply feeling person, even as a kid. I decided to see where the song took me, and it’s good to hold onto that innocence when you’re writing. We really didn’t know where it would go. It’s different than forcing it. Sometimes the best things happen to you when you’re not in control of what’s going on.
Can you think of another time you wrote a song where you just let it happen? “Strangers” [on Lola Versus Powerman …] came out of that place. It’s great to work with a feeling of melancholy. I think it opens up a lot of creative areas. I think melancholy is really important. It’s how you deal with it. People get depressed or upset – that’s what we do as humans. It’s OK to be angry. But we need to look into why we’re angry.
That makes me think of your song “Death of a Clown.” That’s disillusionment. I get inspired by all kinds of innocence. It’s beautiful. That fragile clumsiness that comes out of not knowing how to do something is always my main source of inspiration. You can see it in great art. Van Gogh had that innocence.
It’s important to reflect and to meditate about, “Where the fuck am I? What am I doing? Why am I here?” and all that stuff.
You seem to be reflecting a lot on this album. You have the song “Don’t Wanna Grow Up,” and in “Path Is Long,” you say you feel like a boy playing blues on a Harmony guitar. When you put yourself in that place, that frame of mind, you remember things you’ve forgotten. When I sing, it’s a bit like making a movie. You go back and see these characters in your mind’s eye. You resurface memories but go through them with new emotions, because you’re different today than you were 50, 60 years ago. You’re learning something different through your emotional environment. When I was singing “Path Is Long,” I had a lot of tears and anger. I realized that if only we’d simplified certain aspects of our lives, maybe we’d be happy.
If you could go back to when you were 16 and everything was blowing up with the Kinks, how would you advise yourself? I wouldn’t say anything. It’s like repainting a painting. Why go back and touch up a bit?
Well, you were saying you think about things differently now. Only based on the connection I have of how I felt then coupled with my emotions as a 70-year-old man. There is a world of difference in the emotional connection you have with it. It’s like you’re watching yourself as a kid but you can’t do anything about it because it’s gone. Memory should stay like that.
Talking about your life, it seems like you weren’t so interested in staying innocent then, between sex, drugs and rock & roll. Well, there are so many elements that play a part in that fragile existence. We all have our own stories to tell. A lot of it was disillusionment. I was a young man. I fell in love at 14 and, of course, in those days, you’re “too young.” I used to listen to a record that my sisters had – Nat King Cole, “Too Young.” My mom used to play it a lot. It’s beautiful. “They say that you’re too young to really be in love.” That kind of loss fascinated me because it actually helped me when I was really young. Me and this girlfriend at school fell in love and it all went to shit. She got pregnant and had a baby, and the parents separated us. It’s normal now but in those days, it was quite scandalous.
It shattered you. You wrote many songs, like “Susannah’s Still Alive” and “Funny Face,” about it. Yeah, I did. Nearly every song. When I went to write a song, those feelings came up. Like what the hell can we do with these feelings when they come up? You have to search for ways of dealing with these invisible energies. Maybe as a species, we’ve had a great lacking in the ability to know what to do with these things. It’s either a downfall or our saving grace.
The Kinks in 1968. “You have to search for ways of dealing with these invisible energies,” Dave Davies says of channeling emotion into song. Hulton Archive/Getty
How did collaborating with your son on Open Road come together? My son and I had done an experimental album before under the name the Aschere Project. Russ was really eager to write actual rock songs this time. He’s good at creating landscapes in music, and he threw a few ideas and song titles out and it gave me a place to work from. Russ is a bit of a perfectionist, and I like to do things really quick. It took us a good year to finish, from start to finish, but it was worth it.
When we got over the father-son thing, it became a proper project. It helps to have that feeling of trust with people you know so well; you’re bonded emotionally to start with. It was like that in the early days with me and Ray: that automatic, unspoken trust. If gives you a feeling that you can do anything.
Did you spend a lot of time teaching music to Russ when he was growing up? I mean, of course there’s always music there. It’s inevitable he grew up with the Kinks music. I think he started working on music at 11 or 12, but he got an early aptitude for electronic music. I think he had a bit of classical training at school.
Are all your children musically inclined? Most of them are. It’s inevitable they pick it up. I have a son by a different relationship in L.A. named Daniel Davies. Guitar is his main focus. He’s been touring with a friend of mine who I used to hang out with when I lived in L.A., [director] John Carpenter. And he’s made a couple of albums.
My parents were quite a lot older than me. I was the last of eight kids, so they could have been my grandparents. So I thought when I have kids, I want to have them young, so I can have a different relationship with them. And I made sure that the kids in my first marriage called me Dave. I wanted to be close to them.
You were 16 years old when the Kinks took off. Did you worry about your kids being swept away like you? You can’t protect your kids from some things. I wanted my kids to learn things.
It’s like with my parents. They wanted me to have a proper job. It was my older sisters who helped, saying I should get a guitar. My sister Peg’s husband was a really good guitar player; still is. Me and Ray both used to go to his flat and listen to his music playing. He introduced us to Django Reinhardt and Big Bill Broonzy. With Big Bill, it was like, “What is this?” Apart from his great voice, he did everything. He was an all-around musician, singer, songwriter, everything. A lot of his songs fell in line with the emotion of growing up in a working-class family in London. You hear stories about how your uncle can’t get a job on the railway at King’s Cross; it was like Big Bill Broonzy’s “Get Back.” Like, you’ve got to stand in line to get a job: “If you’re white, you’re all right/If you’re brown, stick around/But if you’re black, oh, brother, get back.” They were inspiration behind a lot of Kinks music, when you think of songs like “Get Back in Line.” It’s like On the Waterfront, which was a really powerful film for Ray and I growing up.
Movies played a big part in our musical creative process growing up. Films like Saturday Night, Sunday Morning. It was an old English, black-and-white film, and it was based on the working-class culture that was breaking out for the first time ever. My mom and dad, they lived through two world wars right on their doorstep in London. There’s a big backstory behind all this.
uence you discovered from the movies is Chuck Berry. Oh, that was a big, big moment. Ray and I went to a local cinema in Muswell Hill, and there was a film called Jazz on a Hot Summer’s Day. Seeing him was one of those moments. He was just so great. He was playing with all these jazz snobs, but he knew what he had. He knew what he was doing. It was a moment of pure joy and it was a big turning point for us. I think what really impressed me about that film was the contrast between what he was doing against the backdrop of everything that went before with jazz. I thought it was really magnificent.
I met Chuck in the late Eighties, but he was grouchy, miserable and didn’t really want to talk. But the fact that I met him, I didn’t give a shit.
Incidentally, what’s going on with the movie based on the Kinks, You Really Got Me? I spoke to Julien [Temple, director] five or six months ago, and he said they were still working on a script [laughs]. But Ray and I met with the writers more than a year ago, and I thought they’d nailed the script then. But it’s not ready. Julien is working hard.
Why do you think your parents encouraged you and Ray musically? My mom was a tough, working-class woman who had a really rough life. She was pretty tough and smart. I think she sensed that Ray and I had a different mind or way about doing things and she encouraged it. She maybe thought it was an opportunity for something bigger in their lives, rather than being an accountant or working at a factory, which would have been normal for kids like me.
Your mom also tolerated you electrocuting yourself when you hot-rodded your guitar amp wrong, sending you flying across the living room. I didn’t know anything about electricity. I was more into science fiction than music then. When I’d go over to my sister’s husband’s house, he’d show me guitar chords but he also showed me how to make a guitar pickup because he was an electronics whiz as well. He had this old turntable and you would spin the wire around. My eyes were opened. I thought it was fucking amazing.
With the amp, I didn’t like the way it sounded. So I figured, how can I change it? Eventually I tried something different.
I had just started to learn to shave, so I looked at the razor blade and thought, “Oh, what would happen if I cut the speaker?” I didn’t think it would work, really. But luckily it did. When it happened, and I got the distortion, it was a magic moment. I got a rush.
You’ve been credited with creating that distorted sound that came to define hard rock. How do you feel about that? It became too slick. I used to like the rougher sounding stuff. When punk rock came in, it had more feeling and edge. I found pristine metal and rock to be a bit fake. It was “ugh.”
Didn’t Jimi Hendrix compliment your guitar sound on “You Really Got Me”? No, what he said was that “You Really Got Me” was a landmark record. We sat next to each other on a plane going to Sweden to do some TV thing, and we didn’t say much but we talked a bit about guitars. Being a young kid, I didn’t have an incredible vocabulary, so I just sort of huffed and puffed a very ordinary conversation apart from that.
What do you remember about your first tour of the U.S.? It was immense. I was running around Detroit taking film. I was a bit disappointed though when I came here because growing up, I knew Rick Nelson and all these records with guitar playing, James Burton and the blues, Muddy Waters, and all these people, and I never saw them playing any of it on the radio. I’d thought Americans were ahead of the game culturally and I realized they were behind in a way. I found out that what we were doing as young English musicians was more ahead of the curve than the Americans.
Since you did so much reflecting while making Open Road, has it made you look at the Kinks differently? Yeah. I mean, Ray and I get along good. We talk a lot but we’re older. We’re old men. There are connections that are ageless, timeless. We’ve always had a special relationship. There’s such a bond of love there, and everything else pales into insignificance in a way.
Why do you think there were so many disagreements in the Kinks, not just between you and Ray but also between you and drummer Mick Avory? With Mick, we were really good friends. Maybe too close. It was like brothers. Maybe it’s not always good to be that close. He’s a different person to me and I’d find that sometimes I didn’t get anything back from him.
And I think the thing with me and Ray was that Ray could be very one-track-minded on ideas. That’s how he functions, but he had this way of working where I felt I was there to support him. Which I have. There was a period where I felt like all my energy was being sucked down like a drain. That isn’t a good thing all the time. We can’t function in these family groups without some human give and take.
You did some demos with Ray a few Decembers ago. What became of those? I don’t know if we’ll ever get around to recording them. It was good. He came up with an idea, a bit like the way me and Russ had been working. I can’t tell you what the idea was, because I’ve been sworn to secrecy, but I liked the concept. It gave me something to work with. We came up with a few songs and some lyrics and had a nice interaction. So he’s got demos on his computer, and I’ve got them on mine in a different form. I hope we’ll get together and do something with them, but who knows.
Why is it “who knows”? Why isn’t there more of an urge to get together and do it? I really don’t know. From my part, I’d love it. I’m ready for it. A couple of years before the Russ thing, I was ready for it then, but then Russ helped me with these songs.
With Ray, for the last few years, we’ve been close but we mainly talk about football and a bit of music. Music is almost like a burden. It’s nicer to talk about other people than music.
“We can’t function in these family groups without some human give and take,” Davies says of his relationship with his brother, Ray. Bobby Bank/WireImage.com
He recently said that when people ask him about a Kinks reunion, he thinks that people just want to see the fights rather than a musical reunion and that people should be happy the music exists. Is that how you feel? I think with reunions, the Kinks have an amazing legacy. Why fuck it up by getting ourselves together to make a few bucks? Some things are best left alone. I’m saying that and half of me is saying it would be good to do a show or a TV thing. Or one song.
There are a lot of different aspects to not doing a reunion. If my contribution was respected not just as part of a collaboration but financially as well … no man is an island. We like to think we’re in control of our lives, but it takes many elements and people.
You feel like things weren’t equal in the Kinks? Yeah. But I could see why because in that enthusiasm of getting an idea to fruition, you sometimes have to use people. Using people isn’t necessarily a negative thing. In any group, you need to work out who does what.
Is the fact that things aren’t equal the thing holding up a reunion? Yeah, maybe. I don’t know. It’d be lovely to do something, but he’s a bit of a control freak. When I was working with Russell on Open Road, I didn’t feel like I had to fight for my space. Creativity suffers when you’re thinking about how to fight for that. Maybe some people thrive in those situations but I don’t.
Do you feel like it’s been 50/50 in the Kinks? In some things, yeah. I remember when we cut “Tired of Waiting,” I knew it was going to be a hit. When I sat around Ray playing “Sunny Afternoon,” I knew it was going to be big. I could spot those moments. But when I felt an imbalance, I can’t function. I think we all have to learn how to function emotionally. We’re never really taught.
It just occurred to me that maybe the holdup is that things don’t seem even between you. I’m not sure Ray really wants to do it. I think rightly so he’s reached a pinnacle of success as a writer. I’m only surmising, but maybe that’s really important to him. That’s OK. So I don’t have a problem with that. Maybe whatever the Kinks means to him is good enough.
Maybe the thought of rehearsing … “OK, we’ll do one gig. What’s going to be in the set?” The first thing that comes into my mind is “Big Sky.” That would be fun. But physically wanting to do it, maybe he doesn’t want to do it at all. I don’t know if it matters. Obviously financially it would, but maybe the music is best left alone. I don’t know. I mean, I’m up for whatever we can conjure up between us that’s worthwhile.
Is it true that in the early days Ray would give you the music to record and do his vocals later, sort of presenting it in parts? No. It was different depending on the songs. There was a pattern in the early days. He’d call me and he’d play it on the piano, and we’d work it out and then we’d call the band in and it would really grow. It takes people to be part of that. And when there’s an imbalance of what people are getting from it … maybe we’ve all suffered emotionally and not gotten what we need in different ways.
Have you ever talked about this with him? Not really. The exercise of talking about it is kind of pointless. It’s like we know already. We do have that telepathy.
Presented by E.Cowan
Written by rollingstone.com
NBC has ordered an additional two episodes of it’s revival of comedy “Will & Grace,” Variety has confirmed, lifting the limited series’ total order to 12 episodes.
In January, NBC announced that it would reunite the cast and creators of the classic multicamera sitcom for a 10-episode run. The limited series will reunite Emmy winners Eric McCormack, Debra Messing, Sean Hayes, and Megan Mullally with series creators Max Mutchnick and David Kohan, who will serve as showrunners and executive producers. James Burrows, who directed the entire eight-season run of the original series, will serve as director and executive producer on the revival. Universal Television will produce and distribute the new episodes.
NBC began discussions with the cast and creators in September, after they reunited to shoot a surprise 10-minute episode related to the presidential election.
Airing on NBC from 1998 to 2006, “Will & Grace” was one of the first broadcast programs to feature gay series regulars. The comedy starred McCormack and Messing as the titular best friends — one a gay man, the other a hetero woman. Hayes and Mullally played their friends Jack and Karen. Over the course of its initial run, “Will & Grace” won 16 Primetime Emmy Awards.
Presented by The Griper – E.Cowan
Written by variety.com
The most ambitious reissue yet of an individual album from the Beatles’ catalog is coming May 26 with an expanded and newly remixed edition of the Fab Four’s 1967 pop masterpiece, “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.”
Consistently ranked by critics and fans among the most influential rock albums of all time, “Sgt. Pepper” is being reissued in multiple formats and editions, including new stereo and surround-sound audio mixes along with nearly three dozen previously unreleased recordings from the same sessions.
“It’s crazy to think that 50 years later we are looking back on this project with such fondness and a little bit of amazement at how four guys, a great producer and his engineers could make such a lasting piece of art,” Paul McCartney writes in a new introduction for the anniversary edition of a project that started out as his baby.
In a 1970 interview with Rolling Stone, John Lennon said, “It was a peak. Paul and I were definitely working together.”
Ringo Starr, the quartet’s other surviving member, writes in his introductory remarks to the new edition that “‘Sgt. Pepper’ seemed to capture the mood of that year, and it also allowed a lot of other people to kick off from there and to really go for it.”
Indeed, the Doors’ drummer, John Densmore, told The Times recently, “We were working on our second album, ‘Strange Days’ [in 1967] and while we were working on it, we got an early copy of ‘Sgt. Pepper’ and we just died. That made us experiment more, inspired us to try the Moog synthesizer, made us generally be wild and just say ‘What the hell?’”
Purists still love to debate whether “Rubber Soul,” “Revolver” or “Abbey Road” are more consistently creative works than “Sgt. Pepper,” and McCartney has often said there are days he leans toward any of those four as his favorite of the band’s studio works during its relatively short but astonishingly fertile seven-year career as a recording unit.
But dozens of musicians, producers, record executives, music writers and others polled by Rolling Stone magazine in 2012 place “Sgt. Pepper” at the pinnacle of the publication’s list of the “500 Greatest Albums of All Time,” lauding it as “simply the best of everything the Beatles ever did as musicians, pioneers and pop stars, all in one place.”
Breaking from a long-standing tradition of avoiding fanfare over significant anniversaries since the group disbanded in 1970, McCartney, Starr, Lennon’s widow, Yoko Ono, and George Harrison’s widow, Olivia, this time gave approval for the grand-scale look back at “Sgt. Pepper.”
Giles Martin, the son of the Beatles’ original producer, George Martin, has collaborated again with veteran Abbey Road studios engineer Sam Okell on the new stereo and 5.1 multi-channel mixes of the album.
Perhaps the most tantalizing element for Beatles aficionados is the word that Giles Martin and Okell created the new stereo mix with direct transfers from the original four-track tapes, rather than the two-track master that has been the basis of all previous stereo versions of “Sgt. Pepper” for the last 50 years.
Why so much attention to a new stereo version of an album that has been available in stereo for five decades?
In 1967, George Martin and the Beatles spent the vast majority of their time focused on the monaural mix, which was still the dominant playback format in England at that time. The group members by and large were not even present during mixing of the stereo version of the album.
Hence the new anniversary edition is an attempt to create a mix closer to what the world might have heard if the Beatles and George Martin had cared about stereo at that point.
Among other facets of the new version, it restores the original playback speed of the ballad “She’s Leaving Home” rather than using the slowed-down version most listeners have heard on the existing stereo mix.
The “Anniversary Editions” of “Sgt. Pepper” will include a single CD version with the new stereo mix (priced at $18.98 on Amazon) and a deluxe two-CD and digital version ($24.98) containing 13 alternate takes of all the “Sgt. Pepper” songs in the original sequence plus five additional takes.
Those five takes are two previously unreleased versions of “Penny Lane” and three of “Strawberry Fields Forever,” songs recorded at the beginning of the “Sgt. Pepper” sessions but issued as a double-sided single four months before the album came out to help satiate fans’ demands for new Beatles music.
The two-LP vinyl deluxe version ($38.98) will have everything on the double CD and digital versions except the “Penny Lane” and “Strawberry Fields Forever” mixes.
There also will be a six-disc “super deluxe” edition ($149.98), housed in a 12-by-12-inch box with lenticular artwork of pop artist Peter Blake’s iconic cover image of the Beatles surrounded by more than 60 figures from then-contemporary pop culture to ancient history.
That set includes the new stereo mix on one CD and two CDs with 33 more recordings from the “Sgt. Pepper” sessions, most previously unreleased. A fourth CD contains direct transfers of the original mono mix of the full album and the extra “Strawberry Fields Forever” and “Penny Lane” tracks, a U.S. promotional mono mix of “Penny Lane” and early mono mixes of “She’s Leaving Home,” “A Day in the Life” and “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds.”
The latter had been thought lost but was discovered during the research process for the anniversary edition.
The set’s fifth and sixth discs are a Blu-ray and DVD with the new high-resolution surround-sound mixes of the album, high-res audio versions of the new stereo mix and “Penny Lane” and “Strawberry Fields Forever” and various video features including a newly restored 25th anniversary documentary about the making of the album that aired in 1992 but was never released on home video.
After its release, “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” spent 15 weeks at No. 1 on Billboard’s U.S. album sales chart, the longest reign in the top spot of any of the group’s albums. It was No. 1 for 27 weeks on the British sales ranking and has sold more than 11 million copies in the U.S. alone over the ensuing half a century, according to the Recording Industry Assn. of America. It won Grammy Awards for overall album and pop album of the year and was voted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.
As Rolling Stone put it in its assessment five years ago, “Sgt. Pepper” is “the most important rock ’n’ roll album ever made, an unsurpassed adventure in concept, sound, songwriting, cover art and studio technology by the greatest rock ’n’ roll group of all time.”
Presented by E.Cowan
Written by latimes.com
Two pros — director Barry Levinson and comedy giant Billy Crystal — have come aboard a new feature film comedy called Revival. Written by Phil Primason (5 Doctors), the premise is hi-lar-ious: A once-legendary Broadway composer who (after a bitter public divorce) gets stuck composing jingles to make ends meet finds out that a Staten Island high school is staging his most famous musical, and he becomes obsessed with shutting it down.
In the meantime, all the money does earn writing stupid jingles goes to keep his only friend — his old, incontinent dog Julius — alive. Oh, yeah, and Crystal’s character, who is trying to kick his smoking habit by using electronic cigarettes, finds himself becoming addicted to the vaporless replacements.
We hear that the script is great, so much so that Crystal is now attached to star, Levinson to helm and both are coming on as producers. The project has not been set up, but with this package it probably will be snatched up in a hurry.
Surprisingly, neither Levinson nor Crystal have worked together before, though they were two of five executive producers on the comedies Analyze This and Analyze That in which Crystal starred with Robert De Niro.
Levinson’s highly anticipated Wizard Of Lies, which stars De Niro as Bernie Madoff and tells the story of the fraudster and his Ponzi scheme, will bow May 20 on HBO.
Crystal, who was just in The Comedian and is a beloved comedic character on the big screen, also won critical raves for his heart-touching, Tony Award-winning 700 Sundays. The autobiographical one-man show about him and his Dad also aired on HBO.
Presented by E.Cowan
Written by deadline.com
Bill O’Reilly is being accused of sexually harassing a woman – and she’s telling all on the disturbing incident.
Dr. Wendy Walsh explained to reporters today how she was a “single mother looking for work” when she met him at the Bel Air hotel for dinner in 2013.
She explained how he became “very hostile, very quickly” when she refused to go to his hotel room.
Her attorney Lisa Bloom blasted Fox News on Monday during a Good Morning America appearance for blaming low ratings as the reason Dr. Walsh was asked to stop appearing on The O’Reilly Factor.
“This is typical Fox News behavior,” Bloom slammed. “Going after anyone who dares to speak out against sexual harassment. Even my client Wendy Walsh, who is not suing, who is not asking for a dime.”
She says Fox News stopped asking her to be a contributor on the network after she refused to go to O’Reilly’s hotel suite.
“The network has become the Bill Cosby of corporate America,” Bloom said in a press release over the weekend. “How many women must come forward before Fox News complies with the law and respects women.”
But her tirade didn’t end there, as Bloom said on CNN’s Reliable Sources, “How many women have to come forward? How many millions of dollars have to get paid before Fox News takes sexual harassment seriously?”
The GMA appearance comes days after news broke that five women – Rachel Witlieb Bernstein, Andrea Mackris, Rebecca Gomez Diamond, Juliet Huddy and Lauren Dhue – had been paid $13 million in settlements by the network against O’Reilly.
Bloom explained her client stayed quite because she “was scared, because she did not want to be in the middle of a situation that she’s in now with everyone contacting her online.”
They are asking for an investigation into the alleged sexual harassment at Fox News.
“The problem is not just sexual harassment, it’s that so many of these women have been driven out of their jobs, their careers in television over when they dare to speak out,” she said. “It is not normal what is going on at Fox News, and it is not legal.”
The comparison to Cosby, 79, comes the same day of his pretrial hearing for his sexual assault case. Cosby was charged with drugging and molesting Andrea Constand in 2004.
Presented by The Griper – E.Cowan
Written by radaronline.com
Gary Austin, the founder of the influential improvisational theater troupe The Groundlings, died on Saturday at Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles following a long illness. He was 75.
Austin had been battling cancer for several years, but remained active teaching and performing. His daughter, Audrey Moore, told Variety the Austin was surrounded by family members and friends who were serenading him.
Austin was a widely admired improvisational teacher of thousands of students, along with being a writer, director, and musical performer. His improvisational teaching technique involved creating scenes based on arbitrary suggestions with performers then committing to agreement on the premise of the story — no matter how far-fetched — and then performing to reflect the truth of the scene and characters.
His students included “Saturday Night Live” cast members Laraine Newman and Phil Hartman, Mindy Sterling, Helen Hunt, Paul Reubens, Jennifer Gray, and Helen Slater. Hunt, acknowledged Austin during her acceptance speech after winning the best actress Academy Award in 1998 for “As Good as It Gets,” saying, “I would like to thank my acting teachers — Lurene Tuttle, Gordon Hunt, Larry Moss, Gary Austin — for giving me a way to learn about myself and the world and a way to express myself.” His other students included Oscar nominees Lindsay Crouse and Pat Morita.
Austin, a native of Oklahoma, earned a degree in theater arts at San Francisco State in 1964 and broke into show business by becoming a stage manager for the improvisational comedy group The Committee. He started working with Second City’s Del Close to develop characters, improvised with the Comedy Store Players, and performed stand-up.
In 1972, he formed the Gary Austin Workshops, which began to perform at various venues in Hollywood. He founded The Groundlings in 1974, which moved into its current Melrose Avenue headquarters in 1975. Austin directed portions of Lily Tomlin’s Emmy-winning comedy special that year for producer Lorne Michaels, who asked him subsequently to come to New York to direct the cast of “Saturday Night Live,” but Austin opted to remain in Los Angeles to work with The Groundlings.
Reubens created his signature Pee-wee Herman character at the Groundlings in 1978, wearing a too-small gray suit that Austin used when he was auditioning for nerdy characters.
Austin left The Groundlings in 1979 due to creative differences, but returned to direct shows in 1990 and on several other occasions. He also wrote and performed two solo shows, “Church” and “Oil,” and had been recording an album of his songs with his wife, Wenndy McKenzie, and Matt Cartsonis.
Aside from McKenzie and Moore, Austin is survived by a sister, two brothers, a grandson, and three great-grandchildren. Funeral arrangements are pending. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made at https://www.youcaring.com/garyaustin-787562
Tributes began to appear on Saturday night. The Groundings Instagram page posted the messages “A vision, an inspiration, a father to us all, thank you. #RIPGaryAustin” and “RIP Mr. Gary Austin, the founder of The Groundlings Theatre. Our deepest condolences to his loved ones. Thank you for giving us a dream, a voice, a legacy and a family. You will be missed.”
Presented by E.Cowan
Written by variety.com
Recordings Van Morrison made for Bang Records in 1967, including an entire disc of tracks seeing official release for the first time, will feature on the upcoming reissue The Authorized Bang Collection. The compilation gathers songs the Irish singer-songwriter laid down during his brief period on legendary producer Bert Berns’ label.
The collection, due out April 28th, features three discs of music that Morrison recorded alongside Berns: The first disc focuses on the original masters from Morrison’s Bang sessions – including original mixes of songs like “Brown Eyed Girl,” “T.B. Sheets” and “Madame George” – while the second boasts rarities from the sessions.
The third disc – dubbed the Contractual Obligation Session, as it closed Morrison’s tenure with the label – contains 32 short, stripped-down and less-refined songs that were oft-bootlegged over the years but presented here in its best sound quality to date.
After leaving Them for a solo career in 1967, Morrison aligned with Berns’ Bang Records; Berns, who wrote tracks like “Twist and Shout,” “Piece of My Heart” and “Cry to Me,” produced Them’s 1965 hit “Here Comes the Night.” However, after the recording sessions, Morrison and Berns’ partnership fizzled. After Berns died unexpectedly in December 1967, Morrison entered a legal battle with the producer’s widow over his creative independence.
“Bert Berns was a genius,” Morrison said in a statement. “He was a brilliant songwriter and he had a lot of soul, which you don’t find nowadays.”
Presented by E.Cowan
Written by rollingstone.com
The Authorized Bang Collection Track List
Disc One – The Original Masters
1. Brown Eyed Girl [original stereo mix]
2. He Ain’t Give You None [original stereo mix]
3. T.B. Sheets [original stereo mix]
4. Spanish Rose [original stereo mix]
5. Goodbye Baby (Baby Goodbye) [original stereo mix]
6. Ro Ro Rosey [original stereo mix]
7. Who Drove The Red Sports Car [original stereo mix]
8. Midnight Special [original stereo mix]
9. It’s All Right [original stereo mix]
10. Send Your Mind [original stereo mix]
11. The Smile You Smile [original stereo mix]
12. The Back Room [original stereo mix]
13. Joe Harper Saturday Morning [original stereo mix]
14. Beside You [original mono mix]
15. Madame George [original mono mix]
16. Chick-A-Boom [original mono mix]
17. The Smile You Smile [demo]
Disc Two – Bang Sessions & Rarities
1. Brown Eyed Girl [original edited mono single mix]
2. Ro Ro Rosey [original mono single mix with backing vocals]
3. T.B. Sheets [Take 2] *
4. Goodbye Baby (Baby Goodbye) [Takes 10 & 11] *
5. Send Your Mind [Take 3] *
6. Midnight Special [Take 7]
7. He Ain’t Give You None (Take 4)
8. Ro Ro Rosey [Take 2] *
9. Who Drove The Red Sports Car (Take 6)
10. Beside You [Take 2] *
11. Joe Harper Saturday Morning [Take 2] *
12. Beside You [Take 5] *
13. Spanish Rose [Take 14] (4:23) *
14. Brown Eyed Girl [Takes 1-6] *
15. Brown Eyed Girl [Takes 7-11] *
* Previously unissued
Disc Three – Contractual Obligation Session
1. Twist And Shake *
2. Shake And Roll *
3. Stomp And Scream *
4. Scream And Holler *
5. Jump And Thump *
6. Drivin’ Wheel *
7. Just Ball *
8. Shake It Mable *
9. Hold On George *
10. The Big Royalty Check *
11. Ring Worm *
12. Savoy Hollywood *
13. Freaky If You Got This Far *
14. Up Your Mind *
15. Thirty Two *
16. All The Bits *
17. You Say France And I Whistle *
18. Blowin’ Your Nose *
19. Nose In Your Blow *
20. La Mambo *
21. Go For Yourself *
22. Want A Danish *
23. Here Comes Dumb George *
24. Chickee Coo *
25. Do It *
26. Hang On Groovy *
27. Goodbye George *
28. Dum Dum George *
29. Walk And Talk *
30. The Wobble *
31. Wobble And Ball *