Billboard Bits: Phil Lesh, AOL Music, Tokio Hotel

Grateful Dead principal Phil Lesh has been diagnosed with prostate cancer, according to a post on his Web site.

Grateful Dead principal Phil Lesh has been diagnosed with prostate cancer, according to a post on his Web site. The 66-year-old artist, who had a liver transplant in 1998, will have surgery in early December. "I fully expect to have a rapid and complete recovery," he writes. "I am feeling energetic as always, and all my scheduled appearances will occur as planned."

Among those appearances is an autograph signing on Tuesday (Oct. 31) at Amoeba Music in San Francisco. Lesh will be promoting the DVD "Phil Lesh & Friends Live at the Warfield," which is due Tuesday via Relix Records.

Lesh is urging men to make prostate health top of mind, especially as they age. "Speak to your doctor about having periodic regular PSA screening for early detection of prostate cancer -- you may save your own life," he says.

-- Jonathan Cohen, N.Y.

AOL Music is looking to expand its audience beyond the pop crowd by developing new programming aimed at indie rock music fans.

As part of the initiative AOL on Oct. 26 launched a weekly Web-only video show called "The DL" hosted by Sara Schaefer of the comedy troupe Upright Citizen's Brigade. The show, available at, will feature a mix of blog-style editorial, video clips, and user generated content.

The DL joins a new slate of indie rock-focused programming initiatives that includes The Interface, a weekly audio and video podcast featuring live in-studio artist interviews and performances available for free and in MP3 format.

-- Brian Garrity, N.Y.

German teenage pop/rock band Tokio Hotel has joined the select group of acts donating recordings of John Lennon songs to human rights organization Amnesty International's Web site
Make Some Noise. Download sales of the Lennon covers support Amnesty's global work. Other participating acts include the Cure, the Black Eyed Peas and Maroon5.

Tokio Hotel's version of Lennon's "Instant Karma" appeared on the site a few weeks after the band clocked one year on Germany's Media Control charts with debut album "Schrei" (Island/Universal). Released in September 2005, it topped the charts in Germany and Austria. The label says shipments have passed 400,000 units in Germany alone.

"Instant Karma" marks the act's English-language debut, but an international version of the album in English is being considered. "Tokio Hotel has the potential for success internationally and in the U.S.," Universal Music Germany president/CEO Frank Briegmann says.

-- Wolfgang Spahr, Hamburg