Quick Takes On Freddie Mercury, The Rolling Stones, Neil Diamond And Sammy Hagar
Coming to DVD and Blu-ray on September 2nd is Queen's The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert. The legendary tribute show was held on April 20th, 1992 at London's Wembley Stadium and featured surviving Queen members Brian May, Roger Taylor, and John Taylor memorializing Mercury, who had died the previous November of AIDS at age 45. Special guests appearing at the show -- which is now spread over three DVD's -- include Elton John, Roger Daltrey, David Bowie, Robert Plant, Mick Ronson, Guns N' Roses, George Michael, Metallica, Ian Hunter, Def Leppard, Annie Lennox, Tony Iommi, Extreme, Bob Geldof, Liza Minnelli, and many more. The collection comes with a handful of bonus features, including several soundcheck performances. (Vintage Vinyl News)
Roger Taylor told us that his greatest pride is that 40 years on, the band and Freddie Mercury still resonates with Queen's die-hard fan base -- along with millions of new fans every year: "He's bigger now than he ever was. It's absolutely true, and that makes me sort of proud. And I think that is one of the reasons why. . . I think you come to a realization that it's really, that is what you are -- it's what you've done -- but that defines what you are, and be content with that, and make it good. And I'm very proud of the fact that, y'know, our music is still on the radio and that Freddie is still a part of popular culture and I feel that I've done something, then."
The Rolling Stones have signed on with BMG, part of German publisher Bertelsmann, to administer the band's music catalogue. Starting on July 1st, BMG will takes full responsibility of handling Mick Jagger and Keith Richards' songs from 1983 until the present -- as well as sharing responsibility for the "Glimmer Twins'" shares in their pre-1983 works. The company's primary responsibility will to market and license the Stones' music for TV and films, as well as "ensuring the writers are paid promptly and accurately for their use on the fast-growing number of digital music services." (Reuters)
Mick Jagger told us that -- for better or worse -- he's always kept his ears on the pulse of what's going down musically on the street and in the clubs: "You think you've invented some great new style (laughs) which someone's done five years ago. They say, 'Oh well, sorry, well, that's been done to death!' 'Oh, 'thought that was new.' 'No.' That's a joke, but that can happen, y'know? I'm not saying you have to be a slave, I don't think you need to be a slave to new things, necessarily, but in pop music, y'know, I think it's good to keep your ear on the ground, some."
Neil Diamond is saluting the city of Boston, whose Red Sox have adopted his 1969 classic "Sweet Caroline" as their very own. Diamond will release his new song, "The Freedom Song (They'll Never Take Us Down)," on July 2nd, and donate all proceeds directly to the Boston One Fund and The Wounded Warriors Project. Diamond will premiere the song live on July 4th in Washington, D.C., during the Washington Nationals-Milwaukee Brewers baseball game and during PBS' A Capitol Fourth program broadcast from the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol.
Diamond, who in the days following the Boston Bombing appeared at Fenway Park to perform "Sweet Caroline" explained, "I was moved by the unity and the attitude of the people in Boston. And that's really all a songwriter needs, is to be inspired. It doesn't happen very often but when it does you have to follow that muse and I did. . . I didn't know exactly what would happen with this song, but I did know I had to write it. So I set out on that creative journey of writing something that would lift people up, lift their spirits in the way that mine was lifted when I flew to Boston to sing at the Red Sox game." (The Associated Press)
Neil Diamond told us that he's always taken pride in his songwriting but never tries to guess exactly where his songs come from: "I have no idea where they come from. It's my own experiences, my dreams, my wishes, my regrets. That's what songs are made of, conversations between people."
Sammy Hagar will release a star-studded solo set on September 24th, called Sammy Hagar And Friends. Among the high-profile guests included on the album as performers and/or writers is Journey's Neal Schon, Heart's Nancy Wilson, Hagar's Chickenfoot bandmates Michael Anthony, Chad Smith, and Joe Satriani, along with Kid Rock, Ronnie Dunn, along with various members of Montrose. The album will feature covers of Bob Seger's "Ramblin' Gamblin' Man" and Depeche Mode's "Personal Jesus." Hagar said of the new collection: "I start going, and these songs turned out so good, I said, 'I'm gonna make a record.' I kept writing and asking friends to write with me, and I had a bunch of friends who came out and wrote and sang with me." (Ultimate Classic Rock)
Although Sammy Hagar has a personal relationship with everyone appearing on the new album, when we last caught up with him, he had nothing but praise for Kid Rock: "I just want to say something about Kid Rock. I was blown out of the water by that guy. I mean, look, I've seen him on TV, I saw him early on do a couple of songs, he's jammed with me here in Detroit three or four times. But I had no idea that he was that good. The guy is really the real deal. I think he's found something real important for rock."