Billboard Bits: Slash, Blues Foundation, and more

News on Slash, Blues Foundation, Toby Keith, Gatlin Brothers

SlashFormer Guns N'Roses guitarist Slash is the latest musician to sign onto the upcoming Michael Jackson tribute shows taking place Sept. 7 and 10 at New York's Madison Square Garden. "I am so excited about working with my dear friend Slash again," Jackson said in a statement. "He is a brilliant guitarist whom I really admire, and I look forward to having Slash perform with me again on these two special nights."

The pair -- who worked together on Jackson's 1991 album "Dangerous," as well as on Jackson's long-delayed new release -- are scheduled to perform "Beat It" and "Black & White" during both shows. "It's going to be a blast being onstage again with Michael," added Slash, who joins a cast that includes dozens of stars. "He truly is one of the greatest talents known. Michael is timeless, classic and resilient."

Tickets for the two shows -- which range from $45 to $2,500 -- went on sale today (July 31). At deadline, only a scant few remained for the first show, and only a limited number for the second, according to a source at the venue.

-- Barry A. Jeckell, N.Y.

The Blues Foundation will present its annual lifetime achievement award to singer/guitarist and Billboard Century Award honoree Buddy Guy and Sun Records founder Sam Phillips Oct. 22 at the House of Blues in Los Angeles. Previous recipients include Ray Charles, Ruth Brown, Etta James, Bobby "Blue" Bland, Ahmet Ertegun, B.B. King, and the late John Lee Hooker.

Country stars Larry Gatlin and Toby Keith, singer/actress Nell Carter, and the U.S. Marine Band performed as part of a patriotic TV special taped at the White House last night (July 30). Gatlin sang "God Bless America," while Keith performed a Stephen Foster medley. Carter, who starred in the "Gimme a Break" TV series, sang "The Battle Hymn of the Republic." Also on the bill was TV actor Gerald McRaney, star of the TV series "Major Dad." The event, with President George W. Bush as host, marked 200 years of performances by the Marine Band at the White House. The band was first invited by President John Adams to play at a White House New Year's Day reception in 1801. "In Performance at the White House" will be aired on PBS stations Sept. 6.

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