Billboard Bits: Backstreet Boys, Kiss, Big Pun, and more

News on Backstreet Boys, Kiss, Big Punisher, Paddy MoloneyC

While in the New York area for two concerts this week, the Backstreet Boys will perform two songs in Manhattan's Rockefeller Center for NBC's "Today Show," to be broadcast tomorrow (Feb. 6) from 7-9 A.M. EST. The chart-topping boy band will play the second of two shows tonight at the Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y. Its current tour comes in support of "Black & Blue" (Jive), which is No. 22 in its 10th week on The Billboard 200.

Founding Kiss drummer Peter Criss says he still wants to continue on the band's ongoing farewell tour, but band leaders Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley don't want him around. As previously reported, the band has recruited one-time drummer Eric Singer to fill Criss' spot for its upcoming dates in Japan and Australia. In a statement released over the weekend, Criss said Simmons and Stanley cut short negotiations for him to perform on the tour. "It is unfortunate that Gene and Paul chose to terminate their association with me for the Japan and Australia tour dates. I am healthy and will truly miss performing," he said. "We were in the middle of negotiating and there was an offer taken off the table," Criss' lawyer Mike Celli said without disclosing details of the talks. There is a possibility that Criss could return for the rest of the tour, he added.

Family, friends and fans of late rapper Big Pun (real name: Christopher Rios) will gather in New York tomorrow (Feb. 5) to commemorate the first anniversary of his death. The 698-pound Rios, known for his imaginative lyrics and smooth delivery, was 28 when he died of complications from obesity last February. A mural painted last year at 163rd Street and Westchester Avenue in the city's borough of the Bronx will be whitewashed and a Bronx-based hip-hop graffiti artist will paint a new mural. As previously reported, "Endangered Species," a collection of Big Pun singles, new songs, collaborations, and unreleased music will be released in early April by Loud Records.

Chieftains founder Paddy Moloney will on Wednesday (Feb. 7) perform a rendition of "America The Beautiful" on the uileann (elbow) pipes prior to the launch of the STS-98 space shuttle from Cape Canaveral, Fla. "I have always dreamed of being the first musician to play on the moon. Playing at the shuttle launch is the closest I have come so far, but someday, I hope to get there," Moloney said in a statement. The Chieftains resume touring in support of last year's "Water From The Well" Feb. 25 with a show at the Wharton Center in East Lansing, Mich. The RCA album is nominated for a best world music album Grammy.