Billboard Bits: Les Paul, RCA, NBA Finals

News on Les Paul, RCA, NBA Finals

LesAs tipped here in April, guitar legend Les Paul will celebrate his 90th birthday with his first new studio album since 1978's "Guitar Monsters," a collaboration with Chet Atkins. Les Paul & Friends' "American Made, World Played" is due Aug. 30 via Capitol/EMI.

The album will boast such collaborations as "Love Sneakin' Up on You" with Sting and Joss Stone, "Fly Like an Eagle" with Steve Miller, Eric Clapton on "Somebody Ease My Troublin' Mind," Jeff Beck on "Good News," ZZ Top's Billy F. Gibbons on "Bad Case of Lovin' You" and Buddy Guy, Keith Richards and Rick Derringer on "Good Morning, Little Schoolgirl."

Tomorrow (June 7) will see an expanded reissue of 1992's "Les Paul With Mary Ford: The Best of the Capitol Masters." Paul will also be honored June 9 with the Sammy Cahn Lifetime Achievement Award at New York's annual Songwriters Hall of Fame event.

-- Jonathan Cohen, N.Y.

DavidRCA Records is gearing up for a busy fall schedule of anticipated rock releases, including as-yet-untitled new albums from Irish singer/songwriter David Gray (Sept. 13) and Kentucky-based quintet My Morning Jacket (Sept. 20), New York outfit Stellastarr*'s "Harmonies for the Haunted” (TBA) and,
as first reported here, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club's "Howl."

All the artists are planning live dates ahead of the releases. Gray will perform today (June 6) at the Love Music Hate Racism festival at London's Finsbury Park, while My Morning Jacket is gearing up for its third performance in a row at the annual Bonnaroo Festival this weekend in Tennessee.

With drummer Nick Jago back in the fold, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club will return to live duty during a seven-date U.K. tour that begins June 11 in Nottingham.

-- Jonathan Cohen, N.Y.

StevieAlthough it won't be known until late tonight (June 6) whether the Detroit Pistons or the Miami Heat will face the San Antonio Spurs in the National Basketball Association's (NBA) championship finals, the list of musical artists taking part in the first three games is set. Stevie Wonder, Will Smith, Alanis Morissette and Kelly Clarkson have all been drafted to perform before the games, which will be broadcast live on ABC.

Smith will perform his latest single, "Switch" before players are introduced for Thursday's game one. Canadian-born Morissette, who became a U.S. citizen earlier this year, will deliver the National Anthem prior to tip-off.

Sunday's game two will feature Clarkson singing the anthem via satellite from the Persian Gulf, where she is in the midst of a USO tour. The third game, set for June 14, will find Wonder performing the anthem and "So What the Fuss" from his forthcoming album, "A Time 2 Love."

-- Barry A. Jeckell, N.Y.