R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck pleaded not guilty today (July 31) to assault and other charges stemming from an alleged air rage incident during a flight to Britain in April. Buck, 44, made a brief appearance at Isleworth Crown Court in West London and was ordered to reappear for trial on Nov. 12. He was released on bail of approximately U.S. $29,000. Buck's wife, Stephanie, accompanied him to the hearing.
Like many a bluesman of yore, Chris Whitley has faced his share of demons -- and stared at least most of them down. Since his still-revered Columbia debut of 10 years ago, "Living With the Law," the Texas-born singer/guitar slinger has trod an utterly artful, individual path, sometimes troubled but never betraying the rare talent and authentic spirit that has won him friends and fans far and wide -- among them names from Bruce Springsteen and Keith Richards to Alanis Morissette and Dave Matthews.
Liverpool pop threesome Atomic Kitten sold nearly 142,000 copies to score its second consecutive U.K. No. 1 yesterday (July 29) with a cover of the Bangles' "Eternal Flame" (Innocent/Virgin). Rival female trio Destiny's Child had to settle for a No. 2 debut with the single "Bootylicious," which hit No. 1 on The Billboard Hot 100 last week.
Modern rock veterans Better Than Ezra have lined up a host of tour dates in support of their new Beyond album, "Closer," due Aug. 7. The trek begins July 28 in Omaha, Neb., and runs through an Oct. 26 date in Birmingham, Ala.
Leon Wilkeson, bassist of legendary southern rock act Lynyrd Skynyrd, died in his sleep Friday in his room at the Sawgrass Marriott Resort & Beach Club in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. He was 49. A St. Johns County medical examiner reported yesterday (July 29) that Wilkeson was apparently suffering from chronic liver and lung disease and likely died of natural causes.
U.K. electronic rock act Sneaker Pimps has signed a four-album worldwide deal with Tommy Boy Music, Billboard Bulletin reports. The first album under the deal, "Bloodsports," is due Oct. 30, featuring production work by the group and Flood (Depeche Mode, U2) and Jim Abyss (Bjork). The group, which now consists of lead singer/guitarist Chris Corner, drummer Dave Westlake, keyboardist Liam Howe, and bassist Joe Wilson, plays a handful of European festival dates starting Aug. 2 in Algarve, Portugal.
Ruthless Records has filed a multiple-count breach-of-contract lawsuit against the rap group Bone Thugs-N-Harmony seeking undisclosed "substantial" damages, Billboard Bulletin reports. The suit, filed July 25 in Superior Court of the State of California for the County of Los Angeles, alleges that the group delivered material for only three of the six albums stipulated by a recording and publishing contract signed on May 1, 1994.
While accounts vary in the U.K. media about the health of George Harrison, the ex-Beatle continues to turn up as a treasured guest on various recordings. Next up is an apperance on guitar on "Anna Julia," the forthcoming single by ex-Traffic member Jim Capaldi. The cut also features Deep Purple drummer Ian Paice and backing vocals by ex-Jam/Style Council leader Paul Weller.
Children's television network Nickelodeon is partnering with Jive Records -- home of teen pop sensations 'N Sync, Backstreet Boys, and Britney Spears -- to create Nick Records. "Music plays a vibrant part in the lives of our audience," said Albie Hecht, president of Nickelodeon's film and entertainment departments. "We are excited to launch a record label that will once again put Nickelodeon in the leadership position in entertainment for kids and tweens."
Twenty-four years since the inception of the prominent breakdancing collective the Rock Steady Crew, its members are still holding strong and giving back to the hip-hop community that raised them. The anniversary was celebrated last week with a basketball tournament on Thursday, a film festival on Friday, free performances by DJs Tony Touch, Cucumber Slice, and Afrika Bambaataa on Saturday, and a star-studded show last night (July 29) at New York's Manhattan Club.
After stumbling on 1999's Beta Band—an eccentric album that was as frustratingly self-indulgent and impenetrable as it was occasionally fresh and brilliant—the Beta Band returns with a renewed focus, as well as its most fully realized set to date.