Monthly Archives: August 2011

Amy Winehouse and Tony Bennett Duet on ‘Body and Soul’

Amy Winehouse may be gone, but her voice lives on in her duet with Tony Bennett. The jazzy “Body and Soul,” off the legendary crooner’s upcoming “Duets II” (out Sept. 20), is the pop singer’s final recording — at least until her stolen demos inevitably leak.

The track was recorded last March at Abbey Road Studios in London, and hearing it, one can hardly believe this is the same woman who couldn’t even get her words out while taking the stage in June. Many of Winehouse’s performances the last two years have been more or less a mess, which is why it’s so surprising to hear her majestic voice sounding the way it once was.

All proceeds from the sale of the song will go to the Amy Winehouse Foundation — which, as of now, has yet to be formed, as someone besides Amy’s parents has already registered that name. Oh, dear.

Bruno Mars Sues His Publisher

Grammy winner Bruno Mars is asking a judge to free him from his publisher, Bug Music, Inc. In a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court last Tuesday, Mars — whose real name is Peter Hernandez — says that his contract with Bug ended on May 12, 2011, because the publisher didn’t exercise its option to continue it.

Mars’s lawyer, Michael J. Niborski of the law firm Pryor Cashman LLP, wrote that Bug initially acknowledged that Mars fulfilled his part of the contract, and that in order for deal to remain in effect, Bug would have to officially extend its option to continue. But after Mars told Bug that he wanted out, Bug “shifted gears, and suddenly argued that (Mars) had not, in fact, met the minimum release requirements,” Niborski wrote. Representatives of Bug did not return calls.

The Bug Music website continues to list Mars as a client. Released in October, Mars’ debut album, “Doo-Wops & Hooligans,” peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard 200, while yielding its Honolulu-raised maker a Grammy for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance on the single “Just the Way You Are.”

Rod Stewart’s Strip Act: Rock legend kicks off 2-year stand at Caesars Palace

There was a point in Rod Stewart’s opening night show at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace during his classic “Every Picture Tells a Story,” when he flashed up a photo of himself and buddy Elton John from the early ’70s on the huge screen at the back of the stage. You can bet that 40 years ago, neither one of them thought that the site of their musical future would be on the Vegas Strip. Yet here they both are. On Aug. 24, Stewart began a two-year, 52-date residency at the 4,000-seat Colosseum. John returns next month for a new run at the same venue following his extremely successful “Red Piano” show that ran from 2004 to 2009.

The energetic show focused on Stewart’s radio hits of the ’70s and ’80s. Noticeably missing were any songs from his five-album “Great American Songbook” series of standards that revitalized his career during the past decade. This was a rock show, meant to show off the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer’s vital, still great, raspy chops. The only time he seemed to struggle vocally was during his lovely rendition of Tom Waits’ “Downtown Train” when he was competing with his own band to be heard. He also seemed eager to prove that he’s far from needing to just stand in one spot on stage and croon. During “Hot Legs,” he kicked autographed soccer ball after autographed soccer ball into the audience, often bouncing them off his knee before sending them into the balcony. Stewart is just the latest superstar to headline Vegas since Celine Dion transformed the town — and entertainment — in 2003.

“It all started with Celine, that was the roll of the dice,” Randy Phillips, chief executive of concert promoter AEG Live told MSN Music prior to the start of Stewart’s show. Before Dion, epic stars such as Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley performed during the ’60s and ’70s primarily in 1,200- to 1,800-seat showrooms, often to the sound of waiters taking drink orders and clinking glasses. AEG built the more traditional, $105 million Colosseum theater specifically for Dion’s five-year run. “Celine also began the massive production since we married her to a Cirque du Soleil style show,” Phillips said. Also important in the paradigm shift is that Dion signed her exclusive Vegas deal at a time when she was still vital in radio, which helped break the stigma that no artist who was in the full flush of her career would park herself at Vegas. Her run proved so popular (and lucrative), that soon, other huge names followed at the Colosseum and other venues on the Strip, including Cher, John, Bette Midler, Prince, Santana and Garth Brooks. The latest superstar who announced a Vegas stint was Shania Twain, who will start a two-year stint at the Colosseum in December 2012. Still on AEG’s dream list, according to company executives, who admit none of them are likely, are Neil Diamond, Lionel Richie and Paul McCartney.

Stewart’s remaining 2011 dates are Aug. 27-Sept. 11, and Nov. 3-20.