Billboard Bits: Bono/Stipe/Moby, Crowes, Napster, Rammstein

News on Bono/Stipe/Moby, Crowes, Napster, Rammstein

Michael StipeU2 frontman Bono, R.E.M. lead singer Michael Stipe, and electronica maven Moby made unannounced appearances last night (Oct. 29) in New York, at the second of two anti-violence benefit concerts organized by the Beastie Boys. Prior to the Beastie Boys' headlining set, Moby and Stipe took the stage for a cover of the Velvet Underground's "All Tomorrow's Parties," with Moby on acoustic guitar.

Pandemonium ensued when Bono strutted on stage halfway through Moby and Stipe's version of Neil Young's "Helpless," carrying a sign with the song's title written on it. The unlikely trio then segued into the opening verse of Bob Dylan's "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" and then left the stage, with Stipe and Moby arm-in-arm. As reported yesterday, proceeds from the two shows will benefit Sept. 11 relief efforts via the New York Association for New Americans and the New York Women's Foundation.

U2 was in the area for sold-out shows at New York's Madison Square Garden and the Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford, N.J. Earlier on Monday, the full band performed "New York" and "Stuck in a Moment You Can't Get Out Of" on "The Late Show With David Letterman." Stipe and R.E.M. played a secret gig of their own last week at Seattle's Crocodile Caf?.

-- Hillary Geronemus, N.Y.

The Beastie Boys show wasn't the only one to feature a notable guest spot last night (Oct. 29) in New York, as Gov't Mule guitarist Warren Haynes joined the Black Crowes for a cover of Fleetwood Mac's "Oh Well" at the Beacon Theater. The sold-out show, the Crowes' fourth at the venue in the past month, ran more than two hours thanks to a host of long jams, including a 16-minute version of opener "My Morning Song." The tour ends tomorrow (Oct. 31) in Boston. Meanwhile, Haynes has announced details for his 13th annual Christmas Jam, set for Dec. 21 at the Asheville (N.C.) Civic Center. Aside from Gov't Mule, the show will feature performances by Phil Lesh & Friends, Drivin' and Cryin', Edwin McCain, Black Crowes guitarist Audley Freed, Allman Brothers Band bassist Oteil Burbridge, Col. Bruce Hampton, Widespread Panic bassist Dave Schools, and others to be announced. Gov't Mule's new ATO album, "The Deep End," was released last Tuesday. The set features guest appearances by such bass all-stars as the Who's John Entwistle, Cream's Jack Bruce, Phish's Mike Gordon, and Primus/Oysterhead's Les Claypool.

At the Webnoize conference yesterday (Oct. 29) in Los Angeles, Napster CEO Konrad Hilbers said that a major hurdle to the launch of his company's music subscription service is content, Billboard Bulletin reports. "Our primary focus now is obtaining licenses for [that] content," said Hilbers, who believes the Redwood City, Calif.-based service will launch "probably in the first quarter of next year." Napster has received additional funds from Bertelsmann as part of the media giant's recent deal to license technology from the file-swapping service. Napster continues to be widely used in Europe, although online file-sharing has dropped by nearly 50% since U.S. courts declared that the service was breaching copyrights, according to a new report from research firm Jupiter MMXI, the European arm of Jupiter Media Metrix Inc. The survey says that of the 4.5 million European homes where music files were swapped in August, Napster was used in 4.7%. Although it now operates a restricted service and is banned from distributing unauthorized music -- an activity that led to nearly 80 million registered users worldwide at its peak in February -- Napster remains Europe's most popular peer-to-peer (P2P) music destination. Its reach exceeds the 1.5% share for Vivendi Universal's and 1.7% for Netbroadcaster. It also outstrips new Napster clones MusicCity Morpheus (2.2%) and Audiogalaxy (3%).

German hard rock act Rammstein has left the Pledge of Allegiance tour due to a serious illness in the family of guitarist Paul Landers. According to a statement, the other five members considered completing the tour without Landers but have instead decided to return to Germany. The trek, co-headlined by Slipknot and System Of A Down, closes Friday (Nov. 2) in State College, Pa. Rammstein is hoping to return to the U.S. at "some point in the not too distant future," according to the statement. The group has an extensive run of European dates lined up for next month, beginning Nov. 10 in Paris, but it is unclear if those shows will be affected by Landers' situation. Rammstein's latest Universal album, "Mutter," debuted at No. 77 on The Billboard 200 in April and has sold 139,000 copies in the U.S., according to SoundScan.