Billboard Bits: So Solid Crew, Yoko Ono, Barnes

News on So Solid Crew, Yoko Ono, Prentiss Barnes

So SolidAshley Walters, a member of controversial South London garage collective So Solid Crew, has been remanded in custody after pleading guilty in a London court yesterday (March 4) to possession of a prohibited firearm. Walters (aka Asher D) pleaded not guilty to using the weapon to threaten a traffic warden, following a fracas in the capital last July.

The judge told Southwark Crown Court that Walters faces a "substantial custodial sentence" for the offense. Bail has been refused, and the case has been adjourned until March 25.

So Solid Crew has been accused of attracting guns at its performances, after two people were shot last year at a show at the Astoria venue, resulting in the cancellation of subsequent gigs. The band's "21 Seconds" (Relentless/Independiente), which topped the U.K. singles chart, won a Brit Award last month for best video.

-- Lars Brandle, London

Yoko Ono has rented a Picadilly Circus billboard to deliver a message of peace to the thousands who pass through the busy London intersection every day. The simple poster bears just one line from "Imagine," written by her late husband John Lennon: "Imagine all the people living life in peace." "After the horrible events of Sept. 11, I thought it was a very important time to remind people of this message, because the world needs peace," she said. Ono has posted similar billboards in New York's Times Square and in Tokyo, and she bought a full-page ad in The New York Times to share the same message shortly after the terrorist attacks that felled the World Trade Center and damaged the Pentagon. She has also rented New York billboard space to offer Christmas greetings to her fellow New Yorkers.

Prentiss Barnes, who sang with the Moonglows, has been selected as the first honoree of the This Magic Moment Preservation Trust. The 77-year-old singer has "given audiences the priceless gift of music without ever receiving proper credit or royalties," said William H. Morris Jr., a Jackson, Miss., business executive and founder of the trust fund. With donations from citizens and businesses, the fund will give yet-to-be-determined aid, including stipends, to other musicians. "I do have others in mind," Morris said. "We are formulating a process for them to apply for an honorarium." The nonprofit Community Foundation of Greater Jackson, headed by former Jackson mayor Kane Ditto, will manage the trust fund. Actor Morgan Freeman is honorary chairman of next month's fund-raising event in Jackson that will recognize Barnes, who was a bass singer for the Moonglows, and is an inductee of the Vocal Group hall of fame and a Rhythm and Blues Foundation Pioneer. The group's R&B and doo-wop recordings include "Blue Velvet," "Most of All," "We Go Together," and "Ten Commandments of Love." The act disbanded in the mid-1960s, and Barnes went solo.

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