Billboard Bits: Bon Jovi, Montgomery Gentry, Gil Melle

News on Bon Jovi, Montgomery Gentry, Gil Melle

JoviNew Jersey-based rock act Bon Jovi will on Nov. 14 join a club that includes Bing Crosby, Johnny Cash, Stevie Wonder, Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra when it is presented with the American Music Awards' special Award of Merit. The honor will be conveyed during the 32nd annual event, which will be broadcast live on ABC (tape delayed on the West Coast).

The Award of Merit is presented in recognition of "outstanding contributions to the musical entertainment of the American public." Others who have been honored include Michael Jackson, Irving Berlin, Ella Fitzgerald, Chuck Berry, Paul McCartney, the Beach Boys and Willie Nelson.

As previously reported, the AMAs will feature performances by Usher, and Alicia Keys, Snoop Dogg and Pharrell, Maroon5, John Mayer, Lenny Kravitz, Fantasia, Twista, Josh Groban, Toby Keith, Jessica Simpson, Gwen Stefani, Usher, Kanye West and Gretchen Wilson. Comedian Jimmy Kimmel will host the show at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles.

-- Barry A. Jeckell, N.Y.

GentryLexington, Ky.'s Rupp Arena will play host to the 2nd annual Montgomery Gentry & Friends Rockin' New Year's Eve Party. The Dec. 31 show will also feature sets by Southern rock stalwart Lynyrd Skynyrd, Trace Adkins and Blue County. Tickets priced at $51.50 and $38.50 go on sale Nov. 13 via Ticketmaster and the venue's box office.

After a Nov. 9 appearance during the
Country Music Association (CMA) Awards, Montgomery Gentry will set sail on a Nov. 18-22 Carnival Cruise Lines itinerary to Cozumel. The duo is also among the first acts confirmed to perform during Texas' San Antonio Stock & Rodeo Show in February, along with Reba McEntire, Brad Paisley, Joe Nichols, Rascal Flatts, Gary Allan, Terri Clark, Bill Cosby and the Steve Miller Band.

-- Barry A. Jeckell, N.Y.

GilBaritone saxophonist Gil Melle died Thursday of a heart attack at his home in Malibu, Calif., at the age of 73. The first Caucasian artist to be signed to noted jazz label Blue Note, Melle was also a visual artist who designed album covers for Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk and Sonny Rollins, as well as himself.

Among his many accomplishments, Melle built his own electronic instruments and was a member of the Electronauts, the first all-electronic jazz ensemble to perform at the Monterey Jazz Festival. In the 1970s, he turned to composing film and television scores, including the 1971 big screen adaptation of Michael Crichton's "The Andromeda Strain" and "The Six Million Dollar Man" series.

After recording for Prestige and Verve, Melle returned to Blue Note, which released 1991's "Mindscape."

"Gil Melle was a true Renaissance man, a multi-talented artist," said current Blue Note President Bruce Lundvall, "He was one of [label founder] Alfred Lion's protégés and remained a great friend of the label right up until his passing."

-- Barry A. Jeckell, N.Y.