Billboard Bits: Will Smith, Joey Ramone, Area2

News on Will Smith, Joey Ramone, Area2

Will SmithTwo days before the new Will Smith single was to have been "officially" released to radio by Columbia, U.S. top 40 stations have begun spinning it. Although the official release date is tomorrow (May 9), a number of stations began playing "Black Suits Comin' (Nod Your Head)" yesterday morning after it was made available as an exclusive streamed preview on an AOL and Netscape "First Listen" feature.

The song, the theme to the upcoming film "Men in Black 2," is from Smith's album "Born To Reign," due June 25. The "Men in Black 2" soundtrack will hit stores July 2. A 12-inch vinyl single of "Black Suits Comin'" is due June 11.

"Born To Reign" is the follow-up to 1999's "Willennium," which debuted at No. 5 on The Billboard 200 and has sold 2.1 million copies in the U.S. to date, according to SoundScan. It featured Smith's first No. 1 Hot 100 hit, "Wild Wild West."

-- Sean Ross, Airplay Monitor

RonnieRonnie Spector is the first performer confirmed for the second annual Joey Ramone Birthday Bash, which, as first reported here last month, is set for May 19 at New York's Bowery Ballroom. The late Ramone's mother Charlotte Lesher and brother Mickey Leigh are organizing the show, which will raise funds for the not-for-profit Lymphoma Research Foundation. Ramones creative director Arturo Vega is also staging a Joey-centric concert on the same night at the nearby CBGB club.

In related news, Sanctuary is eyeing an August release date for the DVD "Life's a Gas -- Joey Ramone's Birthday Bash." The video sports clips from last year's tribute concert of the same name, which featured performances from Blondie, Cheap Trick, and the Damned. Rare Ramone footage and personal messages from Joe Strummer, Green Day, and Metallica will also be included. Proceeds will benefit the Lymphoma Research Foundation.

Ramone died of lymphoma last April. A posthumous solo album, "Don't Worry About Me," was released earlier this year by Sanctuary.

-- Jonathan Cohen, N.Y.

AshContrary to reports that U.K. rock outfit Doves would be joining the bill, fellow U.K. act Ash will round out the lineup for Moby's Area2 festival, which kicks off July 28 in Bristow, Va. Ash joins Moby, David Bowie, Busta Rhymes, and Blue Man Group on the main stage, while Dieselboy, Tiesto, John Digweed, DJ Dan, the Avalanches, and Carl Cox will play the dance stage.

"The lineup might change a bit for certain cities," Moby writes on his official Web site. "But I'm 99.9999999% sure that this is the lineup for Area2. And as I'd said before, it kicks ass. So come and dance and have fun and sit in the sun and meet nice people and listen to amazing music and see some really amazing performances."

As previously reported, Ash's latest album, "Free All Angels" is due June 25 in North America via a new deal with Kinetic. The set topped the British album chart when it was released last year in Europe on Infectious. In North America, the album will come bundled with a DVD featuring four music videos, three B-sides, live performance clips, and a 25-minute documentary.

-- Jonathan Cohen, N.Y.


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