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Aretha Franklin Helps Bid Farewell to Exiting US Attorney General Eric Holder

Lloyd Bishop/NBCAretha Franklin was a surprise guest at a farewell ceremony for outgoing U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder that was held Friday at the Justice Department.  The Queen of Soul belted out a rendition of "America the Beautiful" that featured some modified lyrics paying tribute to Holder.

During the song, Franklin sang of Holder's "courageous integrity," adding that "he's a warrior, yes he is."  President Obama, who took the podium to speak at the ceremony, swayed his head while Aretha sang.

Holder announced his resignation this past September, citing personal reasons.

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Stevie Wonder Being Sued for Millions by His Late Lawyer's Widow

Credit: Eddie WolflStevie Wonder is being sued by Susan Strack -- the widow of his longtime entertainment lawyer Johanan Vigoda -- who claims that the pop/soul legend owes her millions because of an agreement the singer made with her late husband that allegedly was to have continued after his passing. 

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Strack says her husband negotiated a contract with Wonder in which Stevie promised to Vigoda or his heirs  a six-percent fee on all revenues he earned.

Vigoda died in 2011 and the suit, which was filed Thursday in Nevada, claims payments to Strack stopped in 2013.  It also says reps for Wonder attempted to renegotiate the agreement in a way that would have greatly decreased the amount of money Susan would receive.  She's seeking at least $7 million in damages.

The lawsuit also claims that because of Wonder's blindness, Vigoda devised a unique way to ensure that the singer clearly understood the contracts he would sign.  This included having "a witness read to him the complete terms of each agreement," and once he found the terms acceptable, he'd affix "his mark to the agreement -- usually his fingerprint -- and the witness who read the terms to him also [would sign] the agreement below [Wonder's] mark."

Vigoda worked for Wonder for four decades, during which time, according to Strack's suit, Stevie's "deals with music companies went from oppressive to...among the most lucrative contract terms in the music industry."

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Aerosmith Announces New Tour Kickoff Date, Band Plans to Shake Up Set List on the Trek

Credit: Ross Halfin Aerosmith has added a new U.S. concert to its North American summer tour itinerary, a June 24 show at the Ford Center in Evansville, Indiana, which apparently will serve as the trek's kickoff date.  The performance is the eighth confirmed date of the outing, dubbed the Blue Army Tour 2015, which currently is mapped out through a July 22 show in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Tickets for the Evansville concert go on sale to the general public on Friday, March 6, at 10 a.m. CT.  VIP packages and pre-sale tickets for Aero Force One members will be available starting Tuesday, March 3, also at 10 a.m.

Joe Perry and Steven Tyler tell Rolling Stone that they're hoping to mix up the set list a bit on this tour, and add a few songs they rarely play.

"We've gotten too comfortable playing the same stuff," offers Perry.  "I'm looking at the set list for some of the last couple tours and they're all the same songs just in different order.  So we're going to put some time into rehearsal and change it up."

Adds Tyler, "We're gonna do deep.  People want to hear 'Sweet Emotion,' 'Dream On' and 'I Don't Want to Miss a Thing' -- all that over and over, and there are other songs of the cloth we were cut from.  Being in a band for 40 years, what is the passion, the impetus?  For me, it comes from rehearsing a few songs we used to play great and didn't give a s**t if other people cared about them."

Among the tunes Perry would like to work up are some gems from Aerosmith's first two albums, as well as 1989's "Monkey on My Back," 1993's "Fever" and 2001's "Beyond Beautiful."  Tyler, meanwhile, singles out 1976's "Sick as a Dog."

In other news, Rolling Stone reports that Tyler recently recorded what he describes as a "dark, smoky backroom rendition" of Aerosmith's "Janie's Got a Gun" for the similarly named film Jane Got a Gun.  The movie, which stars Natalie Portman and Ewan McGregor, is expected to hit theaters in September.  Steven also has begun work on his first-ever solo album.

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Brad Paisley Sends His Condolences to William Shatner

Image Courtesy Arista NashvilleBrad Paisley is one of the many celebrities reaching out to his friend William Shatner after the death of his Star Trek co-star Leonard Nimoy

“Thoughts &prayers with @WilliamShatner today. Sorry for your loss buddy. What a friendship you & Leonard had,” Brad tweeted, including a photo of the two during their Star Trek heyday. Nimoy, best known for playing Mr. Spock, passed away Friday morning. 

Brad and Shatner first combined their comedic talents in 2003, when the man who played Captain Kirk appeared in the video for “Celebrity.” Four years later, he also guested in the clip for “Online.” The “Crushin’ It” hitmaker returned the favor, contributing to Shatner’s 2011 album, and even making a guest appearance in his Broadway show Shatner’s World:  We Just Live In It the following year.

On his official Facebook page, Shatner said of Nimoy: "I loved him like a brother. We will all miss his humor, his talent, and his capacity to love."  The two remained close friends throughout their lives, with Shatner commenting that he and Nimoy became even closer following  the 1999 death of Shatner's third wife. Nimoy was 83.

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David Gilmour's Upcoming Solo Album "Sounds Fantastic," Says Collaborator Phil Manzanera

Credit: Piotr TarasewiczPink Floyd singer/guitarist David Gilmour has been working on a new solo album, and one of his frequent collaborators says the project is coming together nicely.

"It's going very well," longtime Roxy Music guitarist Phil Manzanera tells U.K. magazine Uncut.  "I think it sounds fantastic, people will be very happy."

Manzanera contributed his guitar and production talents to Gilmour's previous solo effort, 2006's On an Island, and also co-produced Pink Floyd's most recent album, last year's The Endless River.

Back in October, Gilmour told Rolling Stone he expected to release his new album sometime in 2015.  He also explained that he hoped to support it with "an old man's tour, not a 200-date sort of thing."

Manzanera also talked to Uncut about the status of Roxy Music, clarifying comments he'd made last year that were interpreted as an announcement that the band had officially retired.

"Last year, I said, 'I think our job is done.'  Everyone thought, 'Roxy's split -- again.'  Not at all!" he explained.  "If we fancied having another go, there's no rules…That's what's great about Roxy.  It's not over 'til you're 10 feet under."

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Aretha Franklin to Mentor Contestants on Next Week's "American Idol" Episodes

Credit: Matthew Jordan SmithDetroit has been hosting the early performance rounds of season 14 of American Idol, and now a Motown legend will pay a visit to the show to help guide the new crop of contestants.  Billboard reports that Aretha Franklin will appear as a guest mentor on both episodes of the Fox singing competition next week.

The shows, which will air Wednesday and Thursday at 8 p.m. ET, appropriately will feature the hopefuls singing classic Motown tunes.  The Queen of Soul also will be performing on the program, which is taking place at Detroit's Fillmore Theater.

The coming week will see the top 16 American Idol contestants singing for a chance to be part of the final 12.

Franklin previously appeared on American Idol on the season 12 finale, during which she performed live via satellite.

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Doobie Brothers Join Tortuga Music Festival Lineup; Add More Dates with Don Felder

Jim O'Shea/Courtesy Doobie BrothersThe Doobie Brothers are set to bring some classic rock to the third annual Tortuga Music Festival, a country music-themed event scheduled to take place April 11-12 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.  The festival, which benefits the Rock the Ocean Foundation, also will feature headliners Kenny Chesney and Zac Brown Band, as well as The Band Perry, Jake Owen, Little Big Town, Trace Adkins and a number other popular country acts.

The Doobies' appearance at the event could set the stage for an onstage reunion with one of the contributors to their recent duets album, Southbound, which features the band collaborating with various country stars on new versions of their classic songs.  Zac Brown Band was featured on the album's lead track, "Black Water."

Tickets for the event are available at TortugaMusicFestival.com.  The Rock the Ocean Foundation seeks to raise awareness about a various of ocean-related environmental concerns while providing support to various conservation initiatives.

Meanwhile, The Doobie Brothers have added several other dates to their busy 2015 U.S. tour itinerary, which now is scheduled through a September 19 appearance at the Ocean City Bikefest in Ocean City, Maryland.  Among the new shows are some additions to the recently announced series of spring performances that feature an opening set by ex-Eagles guitarist Don Felder.

Here is The Doobie Brothers' full confirmed itinerary, according to the group's official website:

2/27 -- St. Augustine, FL, St. Augustine Amphitheatre
2/28 -- Lakewood Ranch, FL, Winter Fest
3/1 -- Cocoa, FL, Party in the Park
4/11-12 -- Fort Lauderdale, FL, Tortuga Music Festival
4/22 -- Midland, TX, Wagner Noel Performing Arts Center
4/24 -- San Antonio, TX, Majestic Theatre
4/25 -- Grand Prairie, TX, Verizon Theatre
4/26 -- The Woodlands, TX, Woodlands Pavilion
4/27 -- Austin, TX, ACL Live at the Moody Theatre
5/1 -- Simpsonville, SC, Charter Spectrum Amphitheatre
5/2 -- Alpharetta, GA, Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre at Encore Park
5/3 -- Charleston, SC, Family Circle Stadium
5/6 -- Knoxville, TN, Tennessee Theatre
5/9 -- Nashville, TN, The Woods Amphitheatre at Fontanel
5/22 -- Charlestown, WV, Hollywood Casino Event Center
6/4 -- Lemoore, CA, Tachi Palace Hotel & Casino
6/12 -- Rancho Mirage, CA, Agua Caliente Casino
6/14 -- San Francisco, CA, Sigmund Stern Grove
6/16 -- Bend, OR, Lee Schwab Amphitheatre
6/20 -- Troutdale, OR, Edgefield
7/3 -- Milwaukee, WI, Summerfest
7/4 -- Blue Ash, OH, Red, White & Blue Ash
7/10 -- Detroit, MI, Rockin' on the Riverfront Fest
7/17 -- Walker, MN, Moondance Jam
7/18 -- Riverside, IA, Riverside Casino & Golf Resort
7/19 -- Norfolk, NE, Divot's Conference Center
8/25 -- Lewiston, NY, Artpark
8/26 -- Rhinebeck, NY, Dutchess County Fair
9/10 -- Arrington, VA, Lockn' Festival
9/19 -- Ocean, City, MD, Ocean City Bikefest

= with Don Felder

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Glam-Rocker Gary Glitter Sentenced to 16 Years for Sexual Abuse of Underage Girls

Peter Macdiarmid/Getty ImagesGary Glitter’s going to prison.  The 1970s glam-rock star was sentenced Friday in a British court to 16 years for sexually abusing three underage girls between 1975 and 1980.

Glitter, whose birth name is Paul Gadd, was convicted of attempted rape, four counts of indecent assault, and one count of having sex with a girl under 13.  He could have faced life in prison.

The 70-year-old was jailed for child sex offenses in Vietnam in 2006 and was released in August, 2008.

Glitter is best-known for his anthems “Rock and Roll Part 1” and “Rock and Roll Part 2,” as well as “Do Ya Wanna Touch Me (Oh Yeah),” which was a 1982 top-20 hit for Joan Jett & the Blackhearts.

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Whitesnake Paying Tribute to Deep Purple on Upcoming Studio Album; Announces North American Tour

Frontiers Records SrlWhitesnake pays homage to Deep Purple on a brand-new studio album titled, The Purple Album, which will be released on May 19.  The project features new versions of songs singer David Coverdale recorded with Deep Purple's Mark 3 and Mark 4 lineups during the mid-1970s before he formed Whitesnake.

The album will be available as a standard single CD featuring 13 tracks, and a deluxe two-disc set offering two bonus songs and a DVD that includes four music videos, a making-of documentary and an electronic press kit.

The original versions of the songs featured on The Purple Album first appeared on 1974's Burn and Stormbringer and on 1975's Come Taste the Band.

"It's a tribute.  A homage.  It's a huge thank you from me to Deep Purple for the opportunity I was given over 40 years ago," says Coverdale in a statement.  "As I said to [guitarist] Ritchie [Blackmore], you guys set me on an incredible journey that continues today and I couldn't have asked for better teachers.  The University of Deep Purple was an extraordinary, amazing school to learn from."

You can check out a new video of Whitesnake performing the Deep Purple song "Stormbringer" now on YouTube.

Whitesnake's current lineup -- Coverdale, guitarists Reb Beach and Joel Hoekstra, bassist Michael Devin and drummer Tommy Aldridge -- will support The Purple Album with a two-month North American tour that kicks off May 28 in Airway Heights, Washington, and runs through a July 25 concert in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Here is the band's full North American itinerary:

5/28 -- Airway Heights, WA, Northern Quest Casino
5/29 -- Tacoma, WA, Emerald Queen Casino
5/31 -- Vancouver, BC, Hard Rock Casino
6/2 -- Santa Rosa, CA, Wells Fargo
6/4 -- Las Vegas, NV, he Joint
6/5 -- Scottsdale, AZ, Talking Stick Pool Amphitheatre
6/6 -- Pala, CA, Pala Casino - Starlight Theater
6/9 -- Beverly Hills, CA, Saban Theatre
6/11 -- San Francisco, CA, Regency Ballroom
6/15 -- Colorado Springs, CO, Pikes Peak Center
6/17 -- Shawnee, OK, Grand Events Center
6/19 -- Biloxi, MS, Hard Rock
6/20 -- Houston, TX, House of Blues
6/22 -- Grand Prairie, TX, Verizon Theater
6/23 -- San Antonio, TX, Majestic Theater
6/25 -- El Paso, TX, Socorro Event Center
6/27 -- Greeley, CO, Greeley Independence Stampede
7/2 -- Rama, ON, Canada, Casino Rama
7/3 -- Sterling Heights, MI, Freedom Hill AMP
7/5 -- Northfield, OH, Hard Rock
7/7 -- Huber Heights, OH, Music Center @ The Heights
7/8 -- Wabash, IN, Honeywell Center
7/10 -- Mahnomen, MN, Shoot Star Casino
7/11 -- St. Paul, MN, Myth
7/14 -- Clear Lake, IA, Surf Ballroom
7/17 -- Geneva, IL, Geneva Music Park
7/18 -- Merrillville, IN, Star Plaza
7/20 -- Greensburg, PA, Palace Theater
7/22 -- Hampton Beach, NH, Hampton Beach Casino
7/24 -- Lincoln, RI, Twin River Casino
7/25 -- Atlantic City, NJ, Trump Taj Mahal

And here is the complete track list of The Purple Album:

"Burn"
"You Fool No One" (interpolating "Itchy Fingers")
"Love Child"
"Sail Away"
"The Gypsy"
"Lady Double Dealer"
"Mistreated"
"Holy Man"
"Might Just Take Your Life"
"You Keep On Moving"
"Soldier of Fortune"
"Lay Down Stay Down"
"Stormbringer"

Deluxe Edition Bonus Tracks:
"Lady Luck"
"Comin' Home"

Deluxe Edition DVD Content:
"Lady Double Dealer" -- Music Video
"Sail Away" -- Mix Music Video
"Stormbringer" -- Music Video
"Soldier of Fortune" -- Music Video
The Purple Album Behind the Scenes
The Purple Album EPK

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Permanent Elvis Presley Attraction Scheduled to Open in Las Vegas This April

Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino; Elvis Presley’s GracelandA new multifaceted exhibition featuring artifacts from Elvis Presley's Memphis home, Graceland, soon will be taking up permanent residence in the late King of Rock 'n' Roll's home away from home -- Las Vegas. 

The attraction, dubbed "Graceland Presents ELVIS: The Exhibition -- The Show -- The Experience," is scheduled to open on April 23 at the Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino, and will include a display of memorabilia never before shown outside of Graceland, plus video presentations, a variety of live shows celebrating the performer and more.

The exhibition's location was chosen because it's the site of the International Hotel, where Elvis gave more than 600 performances between 1969 and 1976.  The exhibit will encompass more than 28,000 square feet and will take visitors on a journey through Presley's life and career.  It will include a rotating selection of Elvis artifacts, including high school yearbooks, the singer's first gold album, his 1957 Harley Davidson motorcycle, vintage cars, jewelry and famous stage costumes.

Meanwhile, a renovated performance space rechristened the Elvis Presley International Showroom will host Elvis-themed live concerts on the very stage from which the rock legend himself entertained so many fans in Vegas. The first show, called "The Elvis Experience," will open April 23 and will feature a large-scale recreation of one of Presley's Las Vegas concerts.

Also opening on April 23 will be the "Elvis Presley's Graceland Wedding Chapel," a facility run by the company that oversees Elvis' estate -- Elvis Presley Enterprises.

A star-studded grand opening bash will be held at the Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino, with Elvis' ex-wife, Priscilla Presley, expected to be among the attendees.

To buy tickets for, and find out more details about, the upcoming Elvis Presley exhibition and related events, visit WestgateVegas.com.

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Watch Teaser Trailer for New Brian Wilson Biopic, "Love & Mercy"

Credit: Francois DuhamelThe upcoming Brian Wilson biopic, Love & Mercy, is slated to get its U.S. premiere on March 15 at the South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin, Texas, but you can get a first look at the movie now by checking out a new teaser trailer that's debuted online.  The clip shows glimpses of actors Paul Dano and John Cusack portraying the troubled Beach Boys mastermind at different periods in his life.

The video includes a montage of brief segments from the film set to the classic Beach Boys songs "Surfin' U.S.A.," "I Get Around" and "God Only Knows."  Among the events depicted in the trailer are an early concert by the band, a photo shoot for The Beach Boys' debut album, Dano as Wilson working on the group's influential Pet Sounds record, and Cusack as an older Brian interacting with his controversial therapist, Eugene Landy -- portrayed by Paul Giamatti.

As previously reported, following the South by Southwest screening, Love & Mercy will get its U.S. theatrical premiere on June 5.  Visit LoveandMercyFilm.com for more information.

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Tickets for Stephen Stills' Light Up the Blues Autism Benefit Concert Go On Sale Friday

Image Courtesy of Jensen CommunicationsOfficial details have been announced for Stephen Stills' third annual Light Up the Blues benefit concert, which is scheduled to take place April 25 at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre in Los Angeles.  Tickets for the star-studded event, whose lineup also includes Neil Young, Steve Earle and Shawn Colvin, among others, will go on sale this Friday at 10 a.m. PT at Ticketmaster.com, Ticketmaster outlets and the Pantages box office.

Stills and his wife, Kristen, organize the Light Up the Blues benefit, which raises funds for Autism Speaks, an organization that supports research and advocacy for people affected by the disorder and their families.

"We are so thrilled to be doing this benefit for the third time and, this year, at the iconic Pantages Theatre," Stephen and Kristen say in a joint statement.  "The last two years' Light Up the Blues benefits were such incredible, life-changing events for all involved.  We are so grateful to be able to bring such a special night of music to the entire community and to support Autism Speaks."

As previously reported, Jack Black will serve as emcee for the show, whose lineup also features The White Buffalo, Stephen's son Chris Stills and three music artists with autism -- Spencer Harte, Nick Guzman and Matt Savage.

The concert is held during Autism Awareness Month and helps draw attention to Autism Speaks' Light It Up Blue campaign, which enlists supporters to temporarily replace the white light bulbs at their homes or businesses with blue ones to promote the cause.

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Paul McCartney's Childhood Home Sells at Auction for About $231K

Image Courtesy of Countrywide Property AuctionsA house in Liverpool, England, where Paul McCartney spent some of his early childhood was sold at an auction on Thursday for 150,000 pounds, or about $231,000.  The auction was hosted by the city's famous Cavern Club venue.

According to the Liverpool Echo, bidding began at 100,000 pounds and escalated to the sale price in minutes.  The winning bidder was an anonymous local resident who was in attendance at the auction.

McCartney and his family moved into the residence, which is located at 72 Western Avenue in Liverpool's Speke neighborhood, when he was four years old and it reportedly is the first home in which he remembers living.  It features a lounge, dining room, kitchen and hallway on the ground floor, while the bedrooms and a family bathroom are located on the second floor.  In addition, gardens are located in the front and back of the house.

The sale was organized by Countrywide Property Auctions and real estate broker Entwistle Green, who also handled the auction of John Lennon's boyhood home at 9 Newcastle Road in 2013, and George Harrison's home at 25 Upton Green last year.

The Liverpool Echo reports that the seller of McCartney's former home, Peter Thompson, is happy about the sale and "hopes the new owner enjoys it as much as he did."

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Madonna Found Out Through Instagram that She'd Been Hacked, Says It Was "Pandemonium"

Interscope RecordsImagine being hacked, and then finding out about it on Instagram. That’s exactly what happened to Madonna in December. Dozens of demos she had recorded for her album Rebel Heart were leaked online, and the pop icon tells Time her Instagram followers were the ones who gave her the heads up.

“It was through Instagram that I found out my songs were leaking, because my fans were warning me,” she tells the mag. “Aside from the violation of having something stolen from me, suddenly, people were making comments on songs I had no intention of releasing. I thought, ‘Oh my God, I have to push myself into overdrive.’”

In the wake of the hack, she hustled to finish several of those songs and rushed out a six-track EP on iTunes to divert attention from the unfinished demos. “I didn’t sleep for weeks,” she says. “I didn’t see my kids. It was pandemonium, confusion, paranoia, hysteria.”

On January 21, an Israeli man was arrested in connection with the hack, but Madonna says she doesn’t expect this problem to go away any time soon. “I think it’s going to become pervasive in our society,” she says. “People make a living off it. It’s not like you’re a bank robber -- there’s some kind of honesty to that crime. With cybercrime, you don’t know who they are. People can hide so easily, and it’s really dangerous.”

The leak was a setback to be sure, but Madonna’s used to overcoming obstacles. The latest snafu happened at the Brit Awards Wednesday, when she took a nasty tumble during her performance of "Living for Love." She later addressed the fall on Instagram, "My beautiful cape was tied too tight! But nothing can stop me and love really lifted me up!”

Hear that, hackers? You can’t stop Madonna. Rebel Heart comes out March 10 and her interview with Time hits newsstands Friday.

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The U2 Joshua Tree Has Been Vandalized

Image Courtesy of Island RecordsThe famous Joshua tree in California's Mojave Desert that was immortalized on the cover of U2's 1987 album The Joshua Tree has been vandalized.  On the U2 fan forum atU2.com, user Hwy 190 writes that someone had hacked off one of the tree's limbs.

"This past Sunday, I made my proverbial yearly hike out to the Tree with my dog to reminisce only to find that some hack and I do mean hack, decided it was a bright idea to take a hacksaw to one of the Tree’s limbs -- evidently to remove an inch thick cross section as a souvenir," writes Hwy 190.

Consequence of Sound has posted a photo of the vandalized tree.

The Joshua Tree, which featured the singles "With or Without You" and "Where the Streets Have No Name," was U2's first #1 album on the Billboard 200.

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The Moody Blues' John Lodge Releasing New Solo Album, "10,000 Light Years Ago," in May

Esoteric AntennaMoody Blues singer/bassist John Lodge will release his second solo album, 10,000 Light Years Ago, on May 5, more than 38 years after his first solo effort, Natural Avenue, hit stores.  The new collection features eight original tunes, including the title track, which will be released as a digital single on April 14.

One of the undoubted highlights of 10,000 Light Years Ago is the tune "Simple Magic," which reunites Lodge with two former Moody Blues members -- flute player Ray Thomas and keyboardist Mike Pinder.  The album features a number of other guest musicians, including renowned rock guitarist Chris Spedding, who also contributed to Lodge's first solo effort.

Lodge says the music on 10,000 Light Years Ago was created using the same inspirations that guided him and his Moody Blues band mates when they recorded their classic 1967 album Days of Future Passed.

"The theme [of that album] encompassed the past, present and future experiences of our lives," he notes.  "When Days of Future Passed was successful, I knew that our decision to stick to our principles by writing and recording music we felt driven to create, was the right one.  Upon reflection, I suppose that in my work with The Moody Blues, and in my solo work, I have continued to stick to that principle."

Lodge is responsible for a number of The Moody Blues' best-known songs, including ""Ride My See Saw," "Isn't Life Strange," "I'm Just a Singer (in a Rock & Roll Band)," "Steppin' in a Slide Zone" and "Sitting at the Wheel."

Prior to the release of 10,000 Light Years Ago, Lodge will hit the road with The Moody Blues on a new North American tour that celebrates the band's recently released Timeless Flight -- Polydor Years box set.  The trek kicks off March 19 in Worcester, Massachusetts, and runs into May.  Check out all of the dates at MoodyBluesToday.com.

Here is the full track list of 10,000 Light Years Ago:

"In My Mind"
"Those Days in Birmingham"
"Simply Magic"
"Get Me Out of Here"
"Love Passed Me By"
"Crazy"
"Lose Your Love"
"10,000 Light Years Ago"

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Joey Kramer Says New "Aerosmith Rocks Donington" Concert Film Is "a Real Good Representation of the Band"

Image Courtesy of Fathom EventsThe big night is upon us, Aerosmith fans. The one-night-only screening of the band's new concert film Aerosmith Rocks Donington 2014 will take place tonight in hundreds of theaters across the U.S.

The movie captures Aerosmith performing a headlining set last June at the U.K.'s famed annual hard-rock extravaganza the Download Festival, held at Donington Park in Leicestershire, England. Drummer Joey Kramer recalls that the band gave an electric performance at the event.

"It's a real good representation of the band," Kramer tells ABC News Radio.  "It's the show that we were doing at the time and, you know, it's just really exciting to play in front of that many people."

Joey adds that the audience, which he estimates numbered about 100,000, "was really into it, so it was really exciting."

You can get a taste of that excitement by checking out a trailer for the film and a preview clip of Aerosmith playing "Mama Kin" on YouTube.  Among the many other classic tunes the Rock and Roll Hall of Famers performed during the show were "Walk This Way," "Dream On," "Sweet Emotion," "Love in an Elevator," "Janie's Got a Gun," "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" and "Dude (Looks Like a Lady)."

Aerosmith Rocks Donington 2014 is the first in a run of monthly cinematic concert events dubbed the "Classic Music Series."  The screenings will begin at 7 p.m. local time.  Visit FathomEvents.com for more information and to buy tickets.

In related news, the band is planning to release a DVD version of the film sometime in the spring.

Meanwhile, Aerosmith has plans to head back on the road this summer.  The rockers already have announced seven North American tour dates that stretch from a June 27 concert in Durant, Oklahoma, through a July 22 show in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Kramer tells ABC News Radio the band's itinerary eventually will be extended "'til the end of August."  You can check out all of Aerosmith's confirmed dates at Aerosmith.com/Tour.

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2015 Gathering of the Vibes Lineup Features Gregg Allman, Other Allman Brothers Band Alums

Courtesy of Gathering of the VibesThe initial lineup for the 20th annual edition of the popular music festival the Gathering of the Vibes has been revealed, and it includes several longtime members of The Allman Brothers BandGregg Allman, guitarist Derek Trucks and his current group Tedeschi Trucks Band, and founding Allmans drummer Jaimoe and his Jaimoe's Jasssz Band all will perform at this year's event, which will take place July 30 through August 2 at Seaside Park in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

The eclectic bill also features Grateful Dead drummer Bill Kreutzmann's new band, Billy & the Kids, as well as Weezer, Wilco, New Riders of the Purple Sage, The Gaslight Anthem, The String Cheese Incident, Ben Harper & the Innocent Criminals, Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, Zappa Plays Zappa featuring Dweezil Zappa, Dark Star Orchestra, Preservation Hall Jazz Band and more.  The festival, which began as a gathering for Grateful Dead fans who wanted to pay tribute to the late Jerry Garcia, also is planning to commemorate the band's 50th anniversary this year.

"There's an unmatched heart and soul to the Vibes community -- coming together each summer, catching up with friends on stage and off," says festival founder Ken Hays.  "Our 20th year together will be a truly inspirational and meaningful experience!"

Tickets and VIP passes for the 2015 edition of the fest can be purchased at GatheringoftheVibes.com.

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Marvin Gaye's Ex-Wife, Pop Star Robin Thicke Testify in "Blurred Lines" Copyright Infringement Trial

Motown; Harper SmithThe late Marvin Gaye's second wife, Janis, and contemporary pop/R&B star Robin Thicke took the stand in federal court in Los Angeles on Wednesday to testify with regard to the copyright infringement lawsuit Gaye's family filed claiming that Thicke's 2013 smash "Blurred Lines" borrowed improperly from Marvin's 1977 hit "Got to Give It Up."

Early in the day, Janis Gaye took the stand to say that at first, she thought "Blurred Lines" was great and had brought new life to "Got to Give It Up," but later realized that the tune's creators had not licensed the rights to her husband's song.

Thicke didn’t just testify, he also played a keyboard and sang a medley of tunes. During questioning from his own attorney, Thicke used a keyboard to demonstrate how he thought "Blurred Lines" and "Got to Give It Up" were not similar, in his opinion. He played snippets of both songs and said the bass line is not the same. "There's only one chord that's similar in the whole song,” Thicke testified.
 
Thicke then performed snippets of several songs, including Bob Marley’s “No Woman No Cry” and Michael Jackson’s “Man In the Mirror” to demonstrate that many hit songs share the same chord progression.

The singer also testified he “was not present when the song was created.” Thicke had previously stated in a deposition that not a single line of “Blurred Lines” was his idea, but he had filed court documents saying he co-created the song with Pharrell Williams.

Thicke stated that the reason he falsely claimed in media interviews that he was the brains behind the song was that after writing plenty of songs himself, “the biggest hit of my career was written by someone else and I was jealous and wanted credit.”

The singer also testified that statements he made in a deposition that he was “high and drunk” for every interview he did last year were true. “I had a drug and alcohol problem for the year and I didn’t do a sober interview. So I don’t recall many things that I said,” Thicke told the court.

Whether or not "Blurred Lines" was merely influenced by the feel of the Gaye hit, or actually infringes on the copyright of the earlier song by using its key musical elements -- especially its melody -- is at the heart of the arguments in the case, which is expected to last around two weeks.  One expert believes that the Gaye family doesn't really have a case.

"Nothing original has been copied by Robin Thicke,"  Professor Michael Harrington, Music Business Program chair at SAE Institute Nashville, tells ABC News Radio. "The only things that are similar, I think, are the style and the speed and the instrumentation. But that's really not enough."

But it remains to be seen whether or not the jury of five women and three men hearing the case will agree with Harrington's analysis.

At stake is an enormous portion of the money generated by Thicke's six-times-platinum single.  "It could be anywhere from a quarter to 25 percent of the money earned, to 100 percent, at the most crazy," says Harrington. "It could be very substantial."

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Eleven Pete Townshend Solo Albums Released Digitally Today as Part of New Reissue Campaign

Credit: Ross HalfinThe majority of Pete Townshend's solo catalog was re-released as digital downloads on Wednesday as part of a new campaign that will see the reissue of remastered and reworked physical versions of the Who guitarist/songwriter's albums over the next year or so.

The digital albums, which are available for purchase now via iTunes, include 11 titles in all, spanning Townshend's 1972 solo debut, Who Came First, through the 1994 demo compilation Scoop 3.  Among the other releases are Townshend's most successful solo effort, 1980's platinum-certified Empty Glass; Rough Mix, his 1977 collaboration with Faces/Small Faces bassist/singer Ronnie Lane; his gold-selling 1985 album, White City -- A Novel; and the 1986 concert album Deep End Live!, which featured Pete accompanied by a band that included Pink Floyd's David Gilmour.

The reissue of physical versions of Townshend's solo albums is expected to begin later this year and run into 2016.  It likely will include expanded editions of a number of the 69-year-old Rock and Roll Hall of Famer's releases.

Here's the full list of Townshend album's released digitally on Wednesday, February 24:

Who Came First (1972)
Rough Mix (1977)
Empty Glass (1980)
All the Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes (1982)
Scoop (1983)
White City -- A Novel (1985)
Deep End Live! (1986)
Another Scoop (1987)
The Iron Man (1989)
Psychoderelict (1993)
Scoop 3 (1994)

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