A Bridge Too Far

chappaquiddick

Nearly 50 years after Senator Ted Kennedy drove his 1967 Oldsmobile Delmont 88 off the one-lane bridge on the Massachusetts island of Chappaquiddick, the tragedy that sparked a never-ending political drama is getting the Hollywood treatment.

The first trailer for "Chappaquiddick," opening April 6, recounts the events of July 18, 1969. Kennedy had hosted a small party for six young women who had worked on his brother Robert's presidential campaign the previous year. He was driving Mary Jo Kopechne, 28, back to her hotel when his car plunged into a tidal channel. Kopechne drowned; Kennedy swam to shore and didn't report the accident for 10 hours.

Kennedy, 37, would eventually plead guilty to leaving the scene of an accident; he received a two-month suspended jail sentence. But the notorious Chappaquiddick "incident" would ultimately derail his plans to run for President in 1972.

The film, directed by John Curran, is described as "relentless, and edge-of-your-seat absorbing" by New York magazine's Vulture website.

"Chappaquiddick" stars Jason Clarke ("Zero Dark Thirty") as Kennedy, Kate Mara as Kopechne and Bruce Dern as Kennedy family patriarch Joseph P. Kennedy Sr.

By Kevin Haynes |

Wowie Zowie

frank-zappa

Frank Zappa's memorable 1973 stint at the Roxy Theatre in Los Angeles is being commemorated in exquisite detail in a seven-CD box set, "The Roxy Performances."

Available February 2, the new package features all four Roxy shows by Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, along with soundcheck tracks, recordings from a film shoot and songs that the band was working on at a nearby studio.

"This box contains some of the best nights of music Los Angeles has ever seen with their ears at an historic venue," boasts Ahmet Zappa, one of the late rocker's four children and executor of his father's estate. "Hold on to your hotdogs, people. This box is the be-all end-all. This is it. This is all of it. It's time to get your rocks off for the Roxy."

Zappa's two-night stint at the Roxy on December 9-10, 1973 was distilled into the 1974 live album "Roxy & Elsewhere" and two albums that were released more than 20 years after the 52-year-old musician died of prostate cancer in 1993, 2014's "Roxy by Proxy" and 2015's "Rox the Soundtrack."

Photo: WireImage

By Kevin Haynes |

Cher Gets the Party Started

cher

With her usual flair and flippancy, Cher crashes the party in "Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again," the upcoming sequel to the 2008 movie starring Meryl Streep.

The first trailer for the ABBA-licious musical shows Cher in oversized shades and a blonde wig making a dramatic entrance at an outdoor family gathering. "Let's get the party started!" she announces.

"Grandma," says her pregnant granddaughter, played by Amanda Seyfried, "you weren't invited."

Cher, 71, slides her sunglasses down her nose and smiles. "That's the best kind of party, little girl."

The second "Mamma Mia!," coming to theaters July 20, also stars Christine Baranski and Julie Walters as Streep's best friends, along with Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, Andy Garcia and Stellan Skarsgard.

Photo: Universal Pictures

By Kevin Haynes |

Wenner Cashes Out

jann-wenner

Fifty years after it was kick-started for $7,500 by Jann Wenner in San Francisco, Rolling Stone has turned over control to Penske Media Corporation.

No details on the sale price have been released, but the one-time rock and roll bible is reportedly valued at $100 million.

In addition to its new 51-percent stake in Rolling Stone, Penske owns the venerable trade publications Variety and WWD as well as the online magazine Deadline.com.

Last year, Singapore-based BandLab Technologies bought 49 percent of the biweekly magazine.

Wenner, 71, remains editorial director of Wenner Media, which will maintain "editorial oversight" of Rolling Stone.

Photo: Getty Images

By Kevin Haynes |

Do It Again

Photo of Donald FAGEN and STEELY DAN

As far as Donald Fagen is concerned, Steely Dan is history. True, he intends to return to the stage to sing 1970s hits like "Reelin' in the Years," "Rikki Don't Lose That Number" and "Peg." But the soon-to-be-70-year-old musician says the death of longtime partner Walter Becker in September may very well prompt a name change on the marquee.

"I would actually prefer to call it Donald Fagen and the Steely Dan Band or something like that," Fagen says in a wide-ranging interview for the Rolling Stone Music Now podcast. "To me, Steely Dan was just me and Walter, really—it was like a concept we had together."

That concept originated in 1972 and spawned nine sophisticated, jazz-infused pop albums, starting with 1972's "Can't Buy a Thrill" and ending with 2003's "Everything Must Go."

Fagen says he wanted to add one more studio album to the Steely Dan discography, but Becker wasn't up for it. "Walter had some health problems" dating back to 2011, Fagen says. "I think just being ill for so long, he had a little bit of a personality change and he was much more isolated, and he kinda wasn't that interested in working on Steely Dan records anymore."

When Fagen found out Becker was "really ill" in August, he visited his friend's New York City apartment, where Becker died of esophageal cancer on September 3. He was 67.

"I could see he was really struggling," recalls Fagen. "When I put a chair next to the bed, he grabbed my hand. It was something he had never done ever before. And we had a great talk…

"He was very weak, but he was still very funny," Fagen adds. "I'm really glad I had those hours."

By Kevin Haynes |

Throwback: The Bangles

Photo of Bangles

If not for a ferry full of wobbly passengers, arms akimbo as they fought to maintain their balance, we never would've learned to "Walk Like an Egyptian."

The Bangles' biggest hit, inspired by songwriter Liam Sternberg's observation of a bumpy boat ride, strutted to No. 1 exactly 31 years ago on December 20, 1986.

After recording a demo with alt-country singer Marti Jones, Sternberg offered the jaunty tune to Toni Basil ("Mickey"), who decided to pass. Fortunately, the Bangles were looking for one more song to complete their second album, 1986's "Different Light."

Guitarists Susanna Hoffs and Vicki Peterson and bassist Michael Steele each sang one chattering verse, with drummer Debbi Peterson relegated to the oh-way-oh backing vocals. The delegation of vocals was reportedly a source of friction among the quartet, who made it clear that "Walk Like an Egyptian" was their least favorite song on the new album.

Ironically, it soon made history as the first No. 1 hit by an all-female band playing their own instruments. It was also the Bangles' most successful single, outperforming their rendition of Prince's "Manic Monday," which peaked at No. 2 in April.

"Walk Like an Egyptian," fueled by an insanely popular music video highlighted by Hoffs' sexy side-eyed glances, had the run of the Billboard Hot 100 for four weeks and went on to become the top single of 1987.

Photo by Rob Verhorst/Redferns

By Kevin Haynes |

Paul's 1965 Christmas Tape

Portrait At The Piano

Long before Paul McCartney was simply having a wonderful Christmastime, he sent a quirky recording to his three fellow Beatles just in time for the holidays—an 18-minute mélange of music and chatter that has now surfaced online.

McCartney made three copies of the tape in 1965 and gave one each to George Harrison, John Lennon, and Ringo Starr.

"It was just something for the mates, basically," explains Sir Paul who played the role of a Top 40 deejay touting some of his favorite hits. "It was like a magazine program, full of weird interviews, experimental music, tape loops, some tracks I knew the others hadn't heard."

The playlist starts with Nat King Cole's "Unforgettable" and moves on to "Someone Ain't Right" by Peter and Gordon (for whom McCartney wrote the 1964 No. 1 hit "A World Without Love"), "I Get Around" by the Beach Boys, "Heat Wave" by Martha and the Vandellas, and "Down Home Girl" by "that group that was once popular in the 1960s," the Rolling Stones.

"It was really a kind of stoned thing," says McCartney, "something crazy, something left field, just for the other Beatles, a fun thing which they could play late in the evening."

Now, 52 years later, so can you.

Photo: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

By Kevin Haynes |

A Salute to Sir Elton

CHINA-ENTERTAINMENT-RIGHTS

Two days after honoring the year's best music, the Grammy Awards will pay tribute to one of the best musicians in modern history, Elton John.

"Elton John: I'm Still Standing—A Grammy Salute" will be taped January 30 at The Theater at Madison Square Garden, two nights after the 60th annual Grammy Awards, which will be broadcast live from MSG on CBS at 7:30 p.m. ET.

The all-star salute, which will air at a later, unspecified date, will feature Miley Cyrus, John Legend, Coldplay's Chris Martina and Sam Smith, among others.

"Sir Elton John is an international music legend who has captivated audiences across generations for more than five decades," said a statement issued by Recording Academy president Neil Portnow. "His creativity, dynamic presence and melodic virtuosity have positioned him as a cultural icon, and the Recording Academy is pleased to honor his immeasurable contributions to the music community."

Sir Elton, 70, has been nominated for nearly three dozen Grammy Awards since 1971, when he was in the running for Best New Artist. He has won five times and also been honored with the 1999 Grammy Legend Award.

Interestingly, none of John's Grammy wins have been associated with his 30 studio albums and singles. He won his first Grammy for "That's What Friends Are For," the 1987 collaboration with Dionne Warwick, Gladys Knight and Stevie Wonder. He later won for an instrumental composition with Irish flutist James Galway and the Broadway soundtrack for "Aida" as well as the singles "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" from "The Lion King" and "Candle in the Wind 1997," which John performed at Princess Diana's funeral.

Photo: STR/AFP/Getty Images

By Kevin Haynes |

On the Feast of Little Steven

Little Steven Performs in Concert in Barcelona

Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul are punking out on the holidays with a new version of the Ramones' "Merry Christmas (I Don't Want to Fight Tonight)."

The group fronted by E Street Band guitarist and headscarf aficionado Steven Van Zandt steals from Phil Spector's "wall of sound" playbook, embellishing Joey Ramone's 1987 ditty with sleigh bells, a backing chorus that echoes an early 1960s girl group, and all the trappings of a Springsteen track. There are rolling drum fills, a bellowing sax solo, and a glockenspiel left over from "Born to Run."

"It's our tribute to the Ramones," Van Zandt tells Rolling Stone, noting that the song was recorded live two weeks ago at a Disciples of Soul tour stop in the Netherlands. "We're keeping their music alive."

Little Steven even wrote a third verse for the song, which the Ramones first released as the B side to their 1987 single "I Wanna Live."

"I channeled Joey and wrote what I feel is the third verse he would have written," says Van Zandt. "His brother, Mickey [Leigh], heard the record and gave me his blessing."

'Tis the season.

Photo by Jordi Vidal/Redferns

By Kevin Haynes |

Throwback: Billy Paul

Photo of Billy PAUL

During the holiday season in 1972, "Me and Mrs. Jones" had a thing going on, big-time.

Billy Paul's sultry ballad about the highs and heartache of an extramarital affair soared to No. 1 and steamed up the penthouse for three solid weeks, starting on December 16.

Thanks to "Mrs. Jones," Paul thought he had a thing going on with the music industry too. He won the 1973 Grammy for Best R&B Vocal Performance by a male and was mentioned in the same breath as Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder.

But, like most hot affairs, Paul's fling with the charts turned out to be more like a one-night stand. The Philadelphia-born soul singer, who died in April at the age of 81, never had another hit.

Photo by Gems/Redferns

By Kevin Haynes |

Extremely Rare LP for Sale

Prince Live In LA

Wanna buy a 30-year-old Prince album on vinyl?

The so-called "Black Album"—it had no title, just an all-black cover—is in pristine condition, sealed by the manufacturer.

And it can be yours for a mere $20,000.

But you better hurry. There's only one copy left on Record Mecca, the online site that has already sold two of the three extremely rare copies that were recently discovered.

Record Mecca and Rolling Stone detail the elaborate background story on the 1987 album, but here's the gist. Prince decided to surprise fans with a new album 30 years ago this month, but then changed his mind a week before "The Black Album" was scheduled to hit stores.

As a result, Warner Bros. Records was ordered to destroy all 500,000 records, CDs and cassettes at factories worldwide.

Only three copies of the vinyl pressing had surfaced over the years, establishing "The Black Album" as one of the rarest, most coveted albums in the world for collectors.

Earlier this month, however, a former Warner Bros. executive found two sealed cardboard mailers in his closet. Inside, were a total of five copies of "The Black Album."

Cha-ching!

The owner kept two and sent the other three to a former colleague, who now runs Record Mecca. He quickly sold two for $15,000 each and is willing to part with the final known copy for $20,000.

Operators are standing by…

Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

By Kevin Haynes |

The Brave Ones

clint-eastwood

Director Clint Eastwood's new movie, "The 15:17 to Paris," is a true story with a twist, a drama starring the three real-life American heroes who thwarted a terrorist on a Paris-bound train in 2015.

The first trailer for the film, which premieres February 9, shows non-actors Anthony Sadler, Alek Skarlatos and Spencer Stone playing themselves with convincing ease.

The three friends were vacationing in Europe when they confronted a train passenger armed with an AK-47 assault rifle, a Luger pistol and a knife. Their swift, brave action no doubt saved lives on a train packed with 500 travelers.

The screenplay for "The 15:17 to Paris" is based on last year's book of the same title, written by the three heroes with the help of author Jeffrey E. Stern.

Eastwood's previous movie mined similar turf last year. "Sully" told the story of Captain Chesley Sullenberger's dramatic landing of a US Airways flight on the Hudson River in 2009. The heroic pilot, however, didn't play the title role—it went instead to a guy named Tom Hanks.

Photo by Mike Windle/Getty Images for Spike TV

By Kevin Haynes |

Throwback: Marvin Gaye

marvin-gaye-1968

Psst. Word on the street is it's been 49 years since Marvin Gaye's "Heard It Through the Grapevine" climbed to No. 1 on December 14, 1968, clung tight to the top spot for a Motown-record seven weeks and entwined itself in the soundtrack of our lives.

The soul classic was written in 1966 by Barrett Strong and Norman Whitfield, whose other hit Motown collaborations included "Papa Was a Rolling Stone," "Ain't Too Proud to Beg," "Just My Imagination" and "Money (That's What I Want)."

But "Grapevine" took a while to grow on music lovers. It was first recorded by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles and the Isley Brothers, but neither version was released. Gaye took the next crack at it in 1967, yet Motown chief Berry Gordy vetoed it as a single in favor of another song, "Your Unchanging Heart."

A gospel version by Gladys Knight and the Pips clambered up to No. 2 on the pop charts in December 1967, but that just seemed to whet the public's appetite for the tale of betrayal, included on Gaye's 1968 album "In the Groove," which was subsequently renamed "Heard It Through the Grapevine."

It was the first of three No. 1 hits for Gaye, who at that point in his career had already racked up 23 Top 40 singles. In 2011, Rolling Stone listed "Grapevine" at No. 81 on its list of the 500 Greatest Song of All Time.

Rumor has it Gaye got screwed—his timeless lament should've ranked a lot higher.

By Kevin Haynes |

Bon Jovi Rocks

bon-jovi

The prayer that Bon Jovi's been living on has finally been answered. The New Jersey band will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall Fame next year, along with the Cars, Dire Straits, the Moody Blues and Nina Simone.

The Cleveland institution will also honor gospel pioneer Sister Rosetta Tharpe with the Early Influence award.

To qualify for induction, artists had to release their first single or album 25 years ago. Bon Jovi, the top choice last week in the Hall's online poll of fans, put out its self-titled debut album in 1984 and scored its first Top 40 hit, "Runaway."

The Class of 2018, culled from 18 nominees, is almost a perfect reflection of the fan vote. The only fan favorite that didn't get in was Judas Priest, which got beat out in the end by Nina Simone.

The five winners will be officially inducted April 14 at Cleveland's Public Hall. The ceremony will be shown at a later date on HBO.

Photo by Raphael Dias/Getty Images

By Kevin Haynes |

Chicago's Finest

chicago-terrykath

Long gone but never forgotten by some of rock's greatest guitarists, a founding member of Chicago Transit Authority is fondly remembered in "Chicago: The Terry Kath Experience," a documentary produced and directed by his daughter, Michelle Kath Sinclair.

For everyone wondering "Terry who?," get ready to say, "Wow, I didn't know that."

Kath, who accidentally shot himself to death in 1978 at 31, sang some of Chicago's signature hits, including "Colour My World" and "Make Me Smile." He played the dazzling guitar solo that cut through Chicago's trademark brass in "25 or 6 to 4." And he famously inspired awe in Jimi Hendrix, who saw CTA perform at Los Angeles' Whisky a Go Go in the late 1960s.

"Your guitar player is better than me," Hendrix told Chicago saxophonist Walt Paradizer.

That high praise is echoed throughout the documentary, available now on DVD and Blu-Ray and streaming on Amazon, iTunes and other platforms.

"Chicago: The Terry Kath Experience" features interviews with original Chicago members like Robert Lamm and Peter Cetera as well as some of the guitarists who admired his work, including Jeff Lynne, Mike Campbell of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and longtime friend Joe Walsh.

"He was such a monster on guitar," says Walsh. "He studied all kinds of different styles…He was just a total experimenter. And you can hear that in his records."

By Kevin Haynes |

Helen Mirren Rules!

helen-mirren

Will Helen Mirren reign again as Queen Elizabeth II?

An incredibly reliable source—Claire Foy, who plays the young queen in "The Crown"—says she expects Dame Helen to ascend to the throne in future seasons of the hit Netflix series. Season two of the critically acclaimed drama began streaming last week.

"It's definitely not a done deal, but I'd put money on it," Foy, 33, said on Bravo's "Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen."

Mirren, 72, won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her portrayal of the British monarch in "The Queen," a 2006 drama about the Royal Family in the days after Lady Diana was killed in a car crash.

Foy will be succeeded by British actress Olivia Colman in seasons three and four of "The Crown." If Foy's hunch proves true, Mirren would take over in season five and beyond.

By Kevin Haynes |

Throwback: 'Faith'

george-michael

Thirty years ago today. George Michael's profession of "Faith" ascended to the top of the Billboard Hot 100, where it would reign for a solid four weeks and establish the 24-year-old heartthrob as one of the most popular singers on the planet.

The title track of Michael's first solo album also served as a declaration of independence, one year after the demise of his five-year collaboration with Andrew Ridgley in Wham!

The demarcation point between boy band and solo artist can actually be heard on the record. Just before the chukka-chukka Bo Diddley beat of the acoustic guitar that introduces "Faith," a church organ swells to the tune of Wham!'s 1984 hit "Freedom."

"It represents the way I feel at the moment," Michael said shortly after the release of the song that would go on to become Billboard's No. 1 hit of 1988. "[Faith] is kind of another word for my hope and optimism."

Sadly, superstardom didn't sit well with Michael. The self-proclaimed homebody battled for years to come to grips with drugs, alcohol and his homosexuality. Michael was 53 when he died in his sleep at home in England on Christmas Day last year. The coroner cited natural causes brought on by heart trouble and a fatty liver.

Photo: Getty Images

By Kevin Haynes |

Runaway Trains

neil-young-2014

Neil Young is chugging to the bank with nearly $300,000 after auctioning off more than 230 pieces of his extensive collection of Lionel model trains.

The top-priced items at Saturday's sale by Julien's Auctions in Los Angeles included a prototype Lionel 1954 Western Pacific 6464-100 Boxcar that sold for $11,250 and a custom-painted Commodore Vanderbilt Hudson locomotive that fetched an even $10,000.

Young, 72, is a longtime toy train enthusiast. He owns seven model train patents and is a member of Lionel's board of directors.

The auction house reports that Young also sold his customized 1953 Buick code 76X Roadmaster Skylark convertible for $400,000. A variety of guitars, amps and microphones were also auctioned.

Young says a portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Bridge School in Hillsborough, California. The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and his ex-wife, Pegi, helped establish and fund the school in 1986 for children with severe speech and physical impediments.

Photo by Angela Weiss/Getty Images

By Kevin Haynes |

Re-Make/Re-Model

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Roxy Music is celebrating its art rock roots with the equivalent of a coffee table book, "Roxy Music: 45th Anniversary Edition."

The British band fronted by debonair Bryan Ferry is reissuing its self-titled 1972 debut album in various formats, including a Super Deluxe edition that features three CDs, a DVD with a 5.1 surround sound mix and a 136-page hardcover book.

"Roxy Music: 45th Anniversary Edition" will also be available to stream or download beginning February 2 as well as in a two-CD deluxe edition and on 180-gram vinyl.

The Super Deluxe set presents remastered versions of all 10 "Roxy Music" tracks on one disc. Disc 2 is packed with demos and outtakes while Disc 3 features "The BBC Sessions," including a radio concert from March 8, 1972.

In addition to the surround-sound mix, the DVD offers nine videos culled from 1972, including four that aired on French TV from the Bataclan in Paris.

The band fondly recalls its early heady days and the making of its first album. "We stepped into Command Studios with a complete album in our heads (and half the next one)," says saxophonist Andy Mackay, "and it only needed the tape to start running. No album was as easy to record again."

Photo by Paul Natkin/Getty Images

By Kevin Haynes |

Fire and Ice

i-tonya

"I, Tonya," a new movie about the most notorious ice capade in figure-skating history, may inspire viewers to do a reverse triple-axel on their opinion of Tonya Harding, who allegedly orchestrated the 1994 kneecapping of rival Nancy Kerrigan.

The biopic, opening in theaters nationwide on Friday, stars Margot Robbie of "Suicide Squad" as Harding, whose husband and bodyguard were ultimately convicted of the attack. Harding pleaded guilty to hindering prosecution and was banned from her sport for life.

But the real story is more complicated than the era's media reports, which depicted an Olympic showdown between a jealous white-trash skater and a stuck-up ice princess.

Rolling Stone critic Peter Travers calls the movie "a raunchy, demented, dark-comic dazzler."

"'I, Tonya' is funny as hell," he concludes, "but the pain is just as real. You'll laugh till it hurts."

Allison Janney, who plays Harding's mother, says the documentary approach directed by Craig Gillespie ("Lars and the Real Girl") has the power to change minds nearly 25 years later. She empathized with Harding when they met.

"I just wanted to give her a hug," Janney said on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show," "'cause back when we first heard about this story we were told what to think about her and we were told she was a villain.

"Actually, it was more complicated than that," the actress added, "And I think people come away with a lot more compassion for her."

Janney also reports that "I, Tonya" has already received an enthusiastic thumb's up from Harding herself.

"She loved the movie," said Janney.

Photo: Neon

By Kevin Haynes |