Billboard Bits: Chuck Berry, Slayer, Ween
News on Chuck Berry, Johnnie Johnson, Slayer, WeenA federal judge has ruled that pianist Johnnie Johnson can proceed with his lawsuit against Chuck Berry. Johnson sued the rock 'n' roller last November seeking millions of dollars in past royalties for songs Johnson says he co-wrote with Berry, including "Roll Over Beethoven" and "Sweet Little Sixteen."
Berry's attorneys were seeking a dismissal of the case and cited a three-year statute of limitations on copyright claims. Judge Donald J. Stohr ruled Monday that Johnson may attempt to show why the statute of limitations should not apply. Stohr also ordered Berry to turn over all of his financial records showing the royalties he has received over the years.
Johnson alleges he often composed the music on piano, then Berry converted it to guitar and wrote the lyrics. Berry even wrote the classic "Johnny B. Goode" as a tribute to Johnson.
Blaming the shift on packaging and artwork concerns, Slayer has moved the release if its eighth album, "God Hates Us All," from its scheduled July 10 release to an ambiguous late August time frame. The delay will also allow producer Rick Rubin to spend time remixing some of the tracks on the album, which will be released via his American Recordings label. "It'll be worth the wait," Slayer guitarist Jeff Hanneman said in a statement.
The band will perform material from the album during its stint on the five-week Extreme Steel tour. Featuring fellow metal acts Pantera, Static X, Skrape, and Morbid Angel, the tour kicks off June 20 in New Haven, Conn.
-- Barry A. Jeckell, N.Y.
While work progresses on cult rock duo Ween's next studio album, the group recently recorded a cover of Atlanta Rhythm Section's "Champagne Jam" for the forthcoming film "Run Ronny Run," featuring cast members of the former HBO sketch comedy series "Mr. Show." Ween will also be contributing music for the second season of the Fox TV series "Grounded for Life."
As for upcoming shows, Mickey "Dean Ween" Melchiondo reports that "there's gonna be more people from mainland America" than native Alaskans at Aug. 17-18 gigs in Girdwood, Alaska. "I was hoping we'd be playing to a bunch of Eskimos and commercial crab fisherman, but it looks like it will just be the same old assortment of hippies smoking one hitters and doing the hippy dance instead," he writes on the group's official Web site.
As previously reported, Restless will release a remastered, expanded edition of Ween's 1990 debut album, "God Ween Satan - The Oneness," later this summer. "It sounds about 100 times better," Melchiondo writes. "I'm not just saying this because I want you to buy it either; it really sounds like night and day."
-- Jonathan Cohen, N.Y.
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