Billboard Bits: Chris Whitley, Billy Joel, Tool

News on Chris Whitley, Billy Joel, Tool

Singer/songwriter Chris Whitley has been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. Whitley's brother Dan reported on the artist's official message board that the disease in its late stages and that Whitley is currently in home hospice care. The artist was reportedly a heavy smoker.

"As I type this Chris is resting peacefully and is in little physical pain," Dan Whitley wrote last Friday. "At one point today he grabbed my hand firmly as I spoke to him, looked at me and smiled his usual knowing smile but that is all and that was quite enough."

In October, Whitley canceled his fall tour dates due to an unspecified illness. The artist's eleventh album, "Soft Dangerous Shores," was released in July; a new release, "Reiter In," is due in mid-December on vinyl and will appear on CD sometime next year.

-- Katie Hasty, N.Y.

Billy Joel's first
tour in nearly eight years is being greeted enthusiastically by ticket buyers. A Jan. 23 date for Madison Square Garden in New York sold out quickly, and within 90 minutes, new dates for Jan. 26 and Feb. 2 followed. Joel sold two shows for the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia (March 7, 13), plus a Jan. 19 show in Boston at TD Banknorth Garden and a Jan. 10 date in Jacksonville, Fla., at Veterans Memorial Arena.

Sources say talks are underway to possibly add more dates in several markets. The tour begins in Florida in early January and will include 30-plus dates.

The last time Joel toured solo was 1998-99, when he grossed $47 million from 64 shows that drew 1.1 million people, according to Billboard Boxscore.

-- Ray Waddell, Nashville

Volcano will on Dec. 20 release short form DVD singles for the Tool songs "Schism" and "Parabola." Beyond the video clips for the tracks, the DVDs will feature previously unreleased audio remixes plus commentary.

"Schism" and "Parabola" are drawn from Tool's most recent studio album, 2001's "Lateralus." The set has sold 2.3 million copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan. According to Tool's
Web site, the group is also at work on a comprehensive live DVD, but no release date is set.

-- Jonathan Cohen, N.Y.