John Wetton dies; King Crimson veteran

Prog rocker John Wetton, a veteran of the classic early 1970s lineup of King Crimson, has died at age 67. Wetton, a singer and bassist, also is known for his role in the bands Asia and U.K. He also worked with Roxy Music, Uriah Heep, Family and Wishbone Ash. With King Crimson, Wetton performed on the albums "Larks' Tongues in Aspic," "Starless and Bible Black" and "Red" -- all considered prog classics and among the band's best albums. The lineup drew on Eastern European influences and was known for instrumental improvisation. Frontman Wetton collaborated on songs for the "Red" era King Crimson with his friend Richard Palmer-James. King Crimson leader Robert Fripp compared the loud and heavy playing style of Wetton and drummer Bill Bruford to "a flying brick wall." That version of … [Read more...]

Doors, Dead, Cream debuts turn 50

1967 ushered in the psychedelic era, loudly announced by a series of historic recordings. Fifty years on, we're invited to celebrate the debut albums by the Doors, the Grateful Dead and Cream via splashy deluxe editions. Other key reissues due in the year's first quarter come from Soft Machine, the Who, Jimi Hendrix, Sun Ra, the Yardbirds, Procol Harum and Pink Floyd. The Doors' debut album -- home of "Light My Fire" and "The End" -- returns March 31 in a three-CD plus LP package dubbed "The Doors: 50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition." The reissue features the compact disc premiere of the original mono mix, which also can be found on the box set's vinyl disc. The package includes a CD of the "The Matrix" live performance from March 1967, made up of eight songs from the debut album. … [Read more...]

Rock Hall welcomes prog rockers Yes

Prog rock greats Yes, electronic pioneers Kraftwerk, magic carpet merchants Steppenwolf and Brit oracles the Zombies have been short-listed for 2017 entry into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Other rock acts of note include Electric Light Orchestra, MC5, Jane's Addiction and Pearl Jam. Update: Yes finally made it into the Rock Hall, as well as Electric Light Orchestra and Pearl Jam. Other inductees for the 2017 ceremony are Journey, Tupac Shakur, Journey and Joan Baez. /update Yes' exclusion from the Rock Hall has long been a sore spot with fans of prog -- its "Close to the Edge" is widely considered the top album in the genre. The band's many members over the decades include Rick Wakeman, Jon Anderson, Bill Bruford and Steve Howe. Yes continues to tour, although the classic … [Read more...]

Waters tour to cover U.S. in 2017

Roger Waters is following up his journey to the California desert with a 40-date tour of North America, to begin in late May. The "Us + Them" tour -- the name a riff on the Pink Floyd song -- is keyed to the release of a new Waters album, his first studio effort since 1992's "Amused to Death." Tickets go on sale for the Waters tour Friday, Oct. 21. Presales begin Monday, Oct. 17, and there is a Citi Private Pass tie-in. The tour won't focus on a specific album, such as the epic and sometimes controversial "The Wall" tours of 2010-13. "It'll be a mixture of stuff from my long career, stuff from my years with Pink Floyd, some new things," Waters said. "Probably 75% of it will be old material and 25% will be new, but it will be all connected by a general theme." Know for … [Read more...]

Pink Floyd’s ‘Early Years’ on 27 discs

A head-spinningly comprehensive look at Pink Floyd's early years is due in November. The 27-disc box set includes more than 11 hours of audio and 14 hours of video/AV. "The Early Years: 1965-1972" packs in 10 CDs, eight Blurays, nine DVDs, five 7-inch singles on vinyl. Expect to pay more than $600 for the exhaustive box set, although prices of large sets do tend to drop somewhat leading up to release. Also planned for Nov. 11 is a double-CD set of highlights dubbed "Cre/ation." Pink Floyd, which appears to be done as a band, also is engaged in a major reissue of its catalog on vinyl. The "Early Years: 1965-1972" box set material is separated into seven volumes, six of which will hit the market individually next year. The bonus "Contin/uation" CD/DVD/Blu-ray disc package is … [Read more...]

Live Zeppelin, Beatles, Crimson for Q3

Got live if you want it: Stand by for in-concert recordings by Led Zeppelin, the Beatles, King Crimson, Iron Butterfly, Yes and ELP. Other key releases for 2017's third quarter include works by Frank Zappa, Gong, the Byrds, the Turtles and Sun Ra. Led Zeppelin's formative years are celebrated on "The Complete BBC Sessions," the return of a 1997 set being expanded and remastered. The rest of Zeppelin's catalog just enjoyed similar treatment, and guitarist Jimmy Page again supervises the audio on the new set. The "BBC" collection -- spanning 1969 through 1971 -- will feature eight unreleased tracks, including several versions of "Communication Breakdown" and "What Is and What Should Never Be." Of particular interest to collectors will be three tracks from the "previously 'lost' … [Read more...]

Led Zeppelin wins ‘Stairway’ copyright case

Rock powerhouse Led Zeppelin triumphed in its defense of the originality of "Stairway to Heaven," as a Los Angeles jury found the band did not rip off the song's opening theme. Led Zeppelin, whose songwriting ethics have been called into question over the decades, scored a victory when it counted, as millions of dollars were at stake in the copyright case brought by a trustee for the estate of Spirit's guitarist Randy California. The song in question was Spirit's instrumental "Taurus," an atmospheric 3-minute instrumental on Spirit's debut album, released in 1968. It is mostly known to Spirit fans. The global hit "Stairway to Heaven" debuted on Led Zeppelin's fourth album, in 1971. "We are grateful for the jury's conscientious service and pleased that it has ruled in our favor, … [Read more...]

Pink Floyd resurrects vinyl catalog

Pink Floyd plans to reintroduce its vinyl catalog, with the 180-gram releases flowing throughout 2016. The first batch of releases, due in early June, contains "The Piper at the Gates of Dawn," "A Saucerful of Secrets," the double-LP live/studio set "Ummagumma" and the film soundtrack to "More." The albums, being issued by Pink Floyd Records, have been remastered "from the original analogue tapes" by James Guthrie, Joel Plante and Bernie Grundman. The releases appear to be stereo only. The vinyl catalog will be reproduced throughout 2016, with release dates announced "at regular intervals," the Pink Floyd web site says. "Special care" will be taken to preserve original elements. The vinyl releases are to be manufactured and distributed by Sony Music, except for the U.K. and … [Read more...]

‘Stairway to Heaven’ leads to jury trial

A federal judge has ordered a jury trial in the dispute over authorship of Led Zeppelin's classic rock staple "Stairway to Heaven." The legal action was filed several years ago by the estate of Randy California, guitarist for the Los Angeles band Spirit. The suit alleges that defendants Robert Plant and Jimmy Page copped the opening finger-picked section of "Stairway" from Spirit's "Taurus," which was recorded in 1967. Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones and the band's distributor Warner Music were dropped from the case in the April 8 ruling by U.S. District Judge Gary Klausner. The jury trial is scheduled to begin May 10. The lawsuit was filed in May 2014, although the songs' similarities have long been debated. There were statute of limitations issues in the dispute, but … [Read more...]

Keith Emerson of ELP, the Nice dies

Keyboardist Keith Emerson, whose work with the Nice and Emerson, Lake & Palmer linked modern rock with centuries of classical music, has died. He was 71. The progressive rock star reportedly died of a single gunshot wound to his head, which police said appeared to be self-inflicted. He was found at his home in Santa Monica, California. "We ask that the family's privacy and grief be respected," the band wrote in confirming news of Emerson's death. Bandmate Carl Palmer said Emerson "was a gentle soul whose love for music and passion for his performance as a keyboard player will remain unmatched for many years to come." Emerson, Lake & Palmer was one of the top arena-rock acts of the early 1970s, releasing the key progressive rock albums "Tarkus" and "Brain Salad Surgery." While … [Read more...]

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