Ringo and His All-Starr Powerpuff Girls?
by Steve Smith, 2/7/2013
Ringo Starr has recorded an original song for the Cartoon Network’s super CG revival of its popular cartoon series, “The Powerpuff Girls,” about three lab-created little girls who save the world on a weekly basis, according to a press release from the network. The special will premiere later this year.
In the upcoming special, Ringo performs “I Wish I Was A Powerpuff Girl” and he also provides the voice of Fibonacci Sequins, who is called “Townville’s most famous flamboyant mathematician.”
Ringo is no stranger to cartoons/animated motion pictures or kid shows.
While English actor Lance Percival provided Ringo’s voice on ABC’s “The Beatles” Saturday morning cartoon show from 1965-1967, and Liverpool-born actor Paul Angelis did that chore on The Beatles’ authorized 1968 animated extravaganza, “Yellow Submarine,” John, Paul, George and Ringo all appeared in the flesh at the end of the hit movie.
Ringo’s Kids’ Television Career
Ringo also served as narrator for 52 episodes of the BBC children’s series, “Thomas the Tank Engine,” from 1984-1986 and again for an episode in 2007 and again in 2009. Before that, in 1989, he portrayed Mr. Conductor in 20 episodes of another kid’s show, “Shining Time Station,” that aired on PBS and again the next year in the PBS TV movie, “Shining Time Station: ‘Tis a Gift.”
In other children-oriented TV fare, he played the Mock Turtle in a 1985 all-star version of “Alice in Wonderland”; and a mummy at a Halloween party in a 1998 episode of the sitcom, “Sabrina, The Teenage Witch,” that reunited several cast members from “Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In,” with whom Ringo guested in a Feb. 20, 1970 episode of the landmark NBC ensemble comedy series.
An actor with a nearly half-century career in front of the camera, Ringo just finished “Slum Rocks!” with Kevin Bacon, Julianne Hough, Matthew Broderick, Brooke Shields and Fran Dresher; and is set to play a Buddhist monk in the upcoming film, “Rockland,” according IMDb.com
The 72-year-old Beatle is currently touring Australia, New Zealand and Japan with his All-Starr Band that includes singer-guitarist Todd Rundgren, former Santana and Journey lead singer-organist Greg Rolie, singer-guitarist Steve Lukather of Toto and Richard Page, former lead singer and bassist for Mr. Mister. The tour run ends March 1 in Osaka.
In other Ringo news, while he’s Down Under, an exhibit of his computer-generated art will premiere on February 16 at the Silver K Gallery in Melbourne. The exhibit will run through April 28. Proceeds from the sale of his artworks will benefit his Lotus Foundation, a non-profit that helps numerous social welfare projects.
Ringo’s also got a new DVD coming out. A lifelong country fan, in June and July 1970, only months after the breakup of The Beatles, Ringo came to Nashville to record his second solo album, a country record, “Beaucoups of Blues,” with some of the city’s and country music’s finest players, including pedal steel guitarist Pete Drake (who produced), Charlie Daniels, guitarists Jerry Reed and Sorrells Pickard, Elvis’ drummer D.J. Fontana and his backup singers The Four Jordanaires, harmonica player Charlie McCoy, and standup bass player Roy Huskey, Jr.
Last year, he returned to Nashville to record and film “Ringo at the Ryman,” a DVD starring Ringo Starr and His All-Starr Band, featuring the same current lineup that’s on tour, will be released March 11. Ringo played Nashville’s fabled 2,362-seat Ryman Auditorium that was built in 1891 and was formerly the Grand Ole Opry House from 1943-1974.
For the occasion, he included several of his and The Beatles’ countrified classics, including his concert opener, Carl Perkins’ rockabilly “Matchbox” that the group recorded in 1964 (The Beatles had been performing the song since their pre-Ringo Hamburg days), as well as his own “Don’t Pass Me By,” and Johnny Russell and Voni Morrison’s “Act Naturally,” that was a No. 1 country hit for Buck Owens in 1963 before Ringo et al recorded it in June 1965 and released it as the B-side to “Yesterday.”
Other highlights include Rolie showcasing Santana’s “Black Magic Woman” and “Evil Ways,” Rundgren’s “I Saw the Light” and “Bang the Drum All Day,” Luthaker’s “Africa” and “Rosanna,” Page’s “Kyrie,” and guest Joe Walsh of The Eagles (and also Ringo’s brother-in-law), digging out his James Gang classic, “Rocky Mountain Way.” Nashville musical guests include Vince Gill, Brad Paisley, Kix Brooks of Brooks and Dunn, and The Raconteurs’ Brendon Benson.
Will Christine McVie rejoin Fleetwood Mac?
In a recent interview with Britain’s Sun, drummer Mick Fleetwood said he hopes to bring singer-songwriter-keyboardist Christine McVie out of retirement. She left the band in 1998, but after a 2004 solo album failed to chart here and hit only No. 133 in the U.K., she retired. It’s been said by band members that the main reason for her departure was her well-known fear of flying, and that she has remained on good terms and in touch with her former band mates.
However, Fleetwood is encouraged, saying, “I’m seeing Chris here in London before I leave and even though she loathes flying and she’s never been back to the United States since the day she left (the group), she is getting on a plane and flying to Hawaii with me. I’m going to hold her hand all the way, even if I have to handcuff it.”
He continued, “She’s going to come and stay for three weeks in Maui. I’m getting goose bumps just thinking about it. John (McVie, her former husband and Mac bassist) is going to come over from Honolulu to see her and then she’s going to L.A. to see Stevie (singer Nicks). Who misses her terribly and is really excited to see her. But it’ll be her decision. We’d make her very welcome if she wanted to creep on that stage again.”
Fleetwood Mac’s 48-date US tour kicks off April 4 at the Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio and includes stops at the Hollywood Bowl on May 25, the Honda Center in Anaheim on May 28, with a return to SoCal later in the year with shows on July 3 at Staples Center in Downtown L.A. and July 5 at the Viejas Arena in San Diego.
Sting and Elton John among Grammy performers
Sunday’s Grammy Awards (televised on CBS) offered teamings of veteran artists with the younger set, including Sting, who sang with Rhianna and Bruno Mars, and Elton John with 21-year-old fellow Brit hitmaker Ed Sheeran, who sang Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here” with a band that included Floyd drummer Nick Mason at the closing ceremony for last summer’s London Olympics and written or co-written songs for One Direction (the single “Little Things” that hit No. 1 in the UK) and “Everything Has Changed” for Taylor Swift’s current CD, “Red.”
Other performers include Swift, The Black Keys, Jack White, Kelly Clarkson, Dierks Bentley and Miranda Lambert, fun., The Lumineers, Mumford and Sons, Frank Ocean, Carrie Underwood, Alicia Keys, Maroon 5, and Justin Timberlake, who is emerging from a five-year layoff. The B-52′s play the official Grammy after-party.
Among the presenters were Prince, Beyonce, Jennifer Lopez, Carly Rae Jepsen, Katy Perry, Faith Hill, Tim McGraw, and Keith Urban.
Wings’ McCullough suffers brain damage
Henry McCullough, the original lead guitarist in Paul McCartney’s post-Beatles group, Wings, suffered brain damage as a result of a heart attack he suffered in November, McCullough’s Wings drummer Denny Seiwell tells the online music website Something Else.
“Unfortunately, we just got some bad news on Henry’s condition. By the time the ambulance got there, because of the lack of oxygen from the period of the heart attack through first treatment, he’s suffered significant brain damage,” he said.
He added that the 69-year-old McCullough’s longtime partner, Josie, still holds out hope for a recovery. “Josie is still very hopeful, but some of the doctors, according to friends, don’t think that he’s going to have much of a recovery. He’s going to need constant care the rest of his life.”
McCullough first drew worldwide attention as lead guitarist for Joe Cocker’s Grease Band. Aside from playing on Cocker’s first two albums, the long blond-haired McCullough appeared with Cocker at Woodstock before 400,000 in August 1969 and in the Academy Award-winning documentary that made Cocker an overnight sensation with his intense version of Lennon-McCartney’s “With a Little Help from My Friends.”
In 1971, McCartney invited the guitarist to join the new band he was putting together called Wings. McCullough accepted and was with the ex-Beatle for two years. Two weeks prior to Wings leaving for Lagos, Nigeria, to record “Band on the Run,” McCullough left the band. He and McCartney had disagreements over the group’s musical direction. While with Wings, he left his mark with his guitar work on such hits as “My Love,” “Hi, Hi, Hi” and “Live and Let Die.”
Reg Presley of The Troggs dies
Reg Presley, lead singer of British Invasion group The Troggs, best known for “Wild Thing,” died at his home in Hampshire, England, at age 71 of cancer, following a series of strokes over the past year, reports the Britain’s Sky News.
Presley fronted The Troggs for nearly 50 years, from its formation in 1964 until late 2011. In January 2012, he posted a letter to his fans on the band’s website announcing his retirement, writing, “I was taken ill whilst doing a gig in Germany in December. During my stay in hospital, tests showed that in fact I have lung cancer. I am receiving chemotherapy treatment and at the moment not feeling too bad. However, I’ve had to call time on The Troggs and retire.”
First Wave of the British Invasion Bands
The Troggs invaded the United States in the wake of The Beatles and had three hits here, “Wild Thing,” its follow-up single, “A Girl Like You,” and the softer, more delicate ballad, “Love is All Around.” Back home, the quartet had eight Top 40 hits, six of which went Top 10. But, like many British Invasion acts, by 1968, the hits ended.
The Troggs’ first biggie, the pounding, “Wild Thing,” hit No. 1 here over the summer of 1966. It also hit made it to the top of the charts in Canada, Australia and New Zealand, but peaked at No. 2 in the band’s native UK. The everlasting party song was written by the American Chip Taylor, who is actor Jon Voight’s younger brother.
The follow-up single to “Wild Thing,” “A Girl Like You,” with it’s hum-along verses, was written by Presley. In the UK, this is the one that made it to No. 1. Over here, it stalled at No. 29.
The groups’ final hit in America, “Love is All Around,” also written by Presley, presented the band in a different light to American audiences used to the gruff garage rock sound of the first two hits. The song had legs: it was released in October 1967 but didn’t peak until May 1968 when it hit No. 7.
BBC 6 Music program host Marc Riley said of Presley, “He was engaging, and at the same time, having been so influential, he was so humble and so likable.”
Tony Orlando leaving Branson
Tony Orlando announced that after performing lengthy Christmas show runs for the past 20 years in the resort town of Branson, Missouri, that caters to families, Baby Boomers and seniors, this Christmas show will be his last there, according to KOLR 10 News and Ozarks First.
The 68-year-old former leader of Tony Orlando and Dawn is near the end of a three-year contract with the Lawrence Welk Resort Theatre. He said in a release from the Welk organization that it was time to take his show, “Tony Orlando’s Great American Christmas” “out to America.” A spokesman for the theatre said that Orlando will be “a friend for life.”
Orlando will continue to tour the US and Canada as he has for decades. “Tony Orlando’s Great American Christmas” will run 20 performances from November 5-30 at the Welk Theatre.
Doors drummer Densmore’s book looks at band rift
The Doors drummer John Densmore will release a second memoir detailing his life with and without the group, focusing on the rift that developed with keyboardist Ray Manzarek, guitarist Robby Krieger. The book, “Unhinged,” comes out in April on Amazon’s CreateSpace and Kindle Direct Publishing. His first autobiography, “Riders on the Storm: My Life With Jim Morrison and The Doors,” was published in 1991.
The Doors officially broke up in 1973, two years after iconic frontman Jim Morrison’s tragic, suspicious and still-inconclusive death in his Paris apartment on July 3, 1971 at age 27 (no autopsy was performed because the medical examiner said there was no evidence of foul play).
The three surviving members reunited several times for various Doors-related projects and events from 1973 through 2000 when they taped a “VH1 Storytellers” episode, using numerous singers in Morrison’s stead.
But trouble was brewing. The trio were approached with big buck offers to use The Doors songs in commercials. Manzarek and Kreiger loved the idea. Densmore didn’t.
All three approved “Riders on the Storm” for use in a Pirelli Tires commercial, but only in England. Then, in 2002, they were approached by Cadillac. The car company wanted to use the song that got the band its first airplay, “Break on Through (To the Other Side).”
The money wasn’t just big, it was huge: $15 million, especially for a single that peaked at only No. 126 on Billboard’s Hot 200 pop singles chart. Again, Manzarek and Kreiger were each in favor of the deal. Densmore was not. A staunch environmentalist, Densmore refused to go along with a deal that would help sell big expensive gas-eating cars.
Among other things, Densmore’s newest memoir looks at his disagreements with the band, including the lawsuit he filed to stop the other two from performing as The Doors of the 21st Century, as well as the twosome’s suit against Densmore for more than $40 million.
All-star tribute to Cowboy Jack Clement
Legendary Nashville producer-songwriter Cowboy Jack Clement was feted at that city’s War Memorial Auditorium. Among those paying tribute onstage and on video to the 81-year-old who discovered Jerry Lee Lewis when he was a staff producer and engineer at Sam Phillips’ Sun Records Studio in Memphis included U2 leader Bono (Clement engineered “Rattle and Hum” that was recorded at Sun Studios in 1987-1988), Taylor Swift, Marty Stuart, John Prine, John Hiatt, Kris Kristofferson, Vince Gill, the duo of Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell, T-Bone Burnette, The Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach and former President Bill Clinton and First Lady Michelle Obama, reports Rolling Stone.
Emmylou Harris charged with hit-and-run driving
Emmylou Harris was charged with misdemeanor hit-and-run driving by Los Angeles County District Attorney, according to TMZ.
She was charged after an incident back in October on the 405 freeway in which the California Highway Patrol reported the 65-year-old 12-time Grammy winner hit another car and drove away in her rental car. Her rep called it, “just a garden-variety accident that happens every day on the 405.” The spokesperson added that Harris wasn’t even aware that she hit anyone. If convicted, the Country Music Hall of Famer whose first eight albums were certified gold faces up to six months in jail.
Randy Travis pleads guilty, is sentenced
Country star Randy Travis pleaded guilty to drunk driving back in August and was sentenced to 180 days in jail. However, if he stays clean for the next two years, spends at least 30 days in an in-house treatment facility, pays a $2,000 fine and completes 100 hours of community service, he can avoid the six months behind bars, according to the New York Daily News. In addition, the 53-year-old Texan must install an ignition interlock device to any vehicle he drives over those next two years. The device will measure his blood alcohol level before he’s able to start said vehicle.
Travis was arrested for driving while intoxicated on August 7 last year after he crashed his car in a construction zone. The local Grayson County police found him lying naked in the middle of the road and smelling of alcohol. In addition, when officers tried to arrest him, he reportedly threatened their lives. Earlier in the evening he allegedly walked naked into a convenience store and demanded cigarettes form the cashier, who called the police. Travis left the store when he realized that he didn’t bring his wallet and had no money.
His lawyer told People magazine, “He’s given up drinking alcohol. He’s drinking eight glasses of water a day or more. He’s on a strict exercise regimen. He’s in the best shape he’s ever been in his life.”
Since 1978, Travis has sold more than 25 million records, scored 22 No. 1 hit singles and six No. 1 albums and he’s won six Grammy Awards.
Jimmy Vaughn stricken by heart attack
Organizers of the Mahindra Blues Festival in Mumbai, India, are telling the world that guitarist Jimmy Vaughn, an original member of Texas blues rockers The Fabulous Thunderbirds and the older brother of the late guitar great Stevie Ray Vaughn, suffered a “serious heart attack,” according to VVN Music.
A post on the fest’s website said that Jimmie Vaughan was admitted to Pomona Hospital Medical Center on Jan. 23 for a heart attack. The post continued: “He had a coronary angioplasty and stent placement. He is still in the hospital but recovering and has been advised by his cardiologist to rest at home for a month. He regretfully had to cancel a scheduled trip to the Mahindra Blues Festival in Mumbai, India as a result.”
The news of Vaughn’s condition comes as his old band, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, announced that it is releasing its first album in a decade.
The group, fronted since its formation in 1976 by singer-harmonica player Kim Wilson, will release the 10-cut “On The Verge” on March 19. The band has already begun a tour promoting the upcoming release. The tour includes stops on March 13 at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa and on March 16 at Santa Monica College.
Orioles singer-songwriter Gregory Carroll dies
Singer-songwriter Gregory Carroll, founder of the early ’50s doo-wop group The Four Buddies and then a member of a bigger doo-wop outfit, The Orioles, died at age 83 at his home in Creston, North Carolina, after an aneurysm.
With The Four Buddies, Carroll sang second tenor and scored a No. 2 R&B hit in 1951 with “I Will Wait,” before quitting the group in 1953 to join The Orioles. He joined that group just in time to record their biggest hit, “Crying in the Chapel” that hit No. 1 on the R&B chart and No. 11 on the pop chart.
Carroll made his biggest mark in 1963 when he and singer Doris Troy co-wrote the smash, “Just One Look.” Troy’s version reached No. 1o on the pop chart and remains a pop standard. The next year, The Hollies recorded the song and their take made it to No. 2 on the UK singles chart and marked their first US chart appearance when it hit No. 98 on the Billboard Hot 100 pop chart.
The Hollies version was released again in the US in 1967 and this time it almost made the Top 40, peaking at No. 44. Linda Ronstadt recorded the song and released it as a single in 1979, hitting No. 5 on the adult contemporary chart and No. 42 on the Hot 100.
10,000 Maniacs cancel U.S. tour
Alt rockers 10,000 Maniacs were forced to cancel their upcoming winter American tour because guitarist Jeff Ericson needed emergency back surgery, reports the Asbury Park Press. The tour was to run predominantly in New England, Indiana and Illinois. The band said the tour will be rescheduled later this year.
The band formed in Jamestown, New York in 1981 and has released seven studio albums since 1983. “Music from the Motion Picture,” the band’s first since 1999, is due to come out on Feb. 26. IN 1993, their live take on “MTV Unplugged” on Bruce Springsteen and Patti Smith’s “Because the Night” with then-singer Natalie Merchant hit No. 11 on the Hot 100 pop chart, No. 7 on the alt rock chart, No. 9 on the adult contemporary chart and No. 10 on the Canadian pop singles chart.
Among the recently released albums, digital reissues and deluxe box sets are “All that Echoes,” the sixth studio release from operatic-voiced Josh Groban, that includes his take on Stevie Wonder’s romantic 1972 ballad, “I Believe)When I Fall in Love it Will Be Forever)” and Jimmy Webb’s “The Moon’s a Harsh Mistress”; “Two Lanes of Freedom,” Tim McGraw’s 12th studio CD since 1993, includes “Highway Don’t Care” with Taylor Swift, and Keith Urban on guitar; a 2-CD, “Electric,” from famed English guitarist, the founder of Brit folkies Fairport Convention-turned-Nashville transplant, with Alison Krauss on “The Snow Leopard”; “Without a Net,” the first album in seven years from 79-year-old jazz fusion sax icon Wayne Shorter, features his take on the title cut from the 1933 Astaire-Rogers musical, “Flying Down to Rio”; “Smokey Mary,” from New Orleans singer-pianist-actor Harry Connick, Jr.; a 28-track, 2-CD, “Sunshine Boy: The Unheard Studio Sessions & Demos 1971-1972,” from country folkie Townes Van Zandt; “The Afterman: Descension,” progressive rockers Coheed & Cambria bookend to last year’s “The Afterman: Ascension”; “Wonderful, Glorious,” from LA alt rockers Eels; the 16-song “Greatest Hits” from Jewel; “Forever Endeavor,” from Canadian folk-pop artist Ron Sexmith; “Bastards” are remixed versions of the songs on Bjork’s 2011 “Biophilia” CD.
Among the new DVDs are “Paul Williams Still Alive,” a docu-reality update on the man who wrote “We’ve Only Just Begin” and “Rainy Days and Mondays” for The Carpenters, “An Old Fashioned Love Song” for Three Dog Night, “You and Me against the World” for Helen Reddy and co-wrote the Oscar-winning “Evergreen,” with “A Star is Born” leading lady Barbra Streisand.
Classic acts from the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s continue to perform. Here’s what one of them is doing.
Jazz guitarist and singer George Benson, a 10-time Grammy winner, began his professional career as a 20-year-old in 1963 but he didn’t really hit pay dirt until 13 years later, in 1976, when he released “Breezin’.”
The LP was recorded with hotshots including Phil Upchurch on rhythm guitar and super bassist Stanley Clarke and drummer Harvey Mason, Sr., topped Billboard’s pop, jazz and R&B charts and went 3x platinum, huge for a jazz album. The album included a pair of hit singles, the Bobby Womack-penned title cut that became a smooth jazz standard, and Leon Russell’s “This Masquerade,” a Top 10 pop and R&B hit. “Breezin”‘ won the Grammy for Best Pop Instrumental Album, and “This Masquerade” won Record of the Year.
Through 1983, his next four studio albums went either gold or platinum.
However, it was his 1978 live LP, “Weekend in L.A.,” that gave Benson the song for which he is best known. The platinum album, recorded at the Roxy on the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood with his band that still included Upchurch, Mason and Clarke, included Benson’s exuberant take on The Drifters’ hit, “On Broadway,” composed by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil with help from Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. Benson’s take made it to No. 7 on the pop chart and No. 2 on the soul chart and gets continuous radio airplay to this day. It also netted him a Grammy for Best R&B Vocal Performance.
He scored a few other hits during this time, including his 1980 single, “Give Me The Night,” that reached No. 4 on the pop chart and No. 7 in the UK. The 1981 double album “best of” “George Benson Collection” also was certified gold, while another compilation, “The Greatest Hits of All,” hit No. 3 on the jazz chart in 2003.
Since 1983, he’s had a streak of 14 straight studio albums hit the jazz albums Top 10, including eight that made it all the way to No. 1.
Now 69, Benson remains busy. He’s recording an album of the music of Nat King Cole and on Sept. 11 he’ll headline “George Benson: An Unforgettable Tribute To Nat King Cole” at the Hollywood Bowl. Four-time Grammy-winning jazz singer Dianne Reeves is also on the bill.
Prior to that, he’s got five dates on his calendar, including at the McCallum Theatre for the Performing Arts in Palm Desert on Feb. 16, at the Montbleu Casino in Lake Tahoe the following day, and at the New Orleans Jazz Fest on April 26. He’ll be performing his Nat King Cole tribute in Morocco on May 24-25. His last concert date so far on his schedule will find him in Brazil on Sept. 15 at the huge Rock In Rio festival.
Steve Smith writes a new Classic Pop, Rock and Country Music News column every week. Like, Contact him by email at Classicpopmusicnews@gmail.com.