Willie Nelson’s Fight to Release ‘Red Headed Stranger’ – Book Excerpt

Today marks the release of Willie Nelson’s latest album, “Band of Brothers.” A collection of mostly Nelson-penned songs, the project stands among Nelson’s best late-career work.

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But in 1975, few in the music business knew what to make of Nelson. He was a gifted songwriter, but his own albums hadn’t sold well, he’d been dropped by his previous label, and he’d just handed in a stripped-down album called “Red Headed Stranger.” That album went on to become one of Nelson’s landmarks, effectively launching his career as a country superstar — but at the time, not everyone was convinced.

In this excerpt from “Bruce Lundvall: Playing by Ear,” the authorized biography by Dan Ouellette of the legendary record executive, Lundvall and Nelson talk about how “Red Headed Stranger” was recorded, received and almost rejected by some of the executives at Lundvall’s label, Columbia.

Willie Nelson was gone. While Waylon Jennings fought against the status quo of the early Seventies as an RCA artist, Nelson high-tailed it out of Nashville to his native Texas after

They Are the Champions A Queen + Adam Lambert Timeline

Adam Lambert is joining Queen on the road this summer, and while it’s one of the most anticipated tours of 2014, this trek has been a long time coming. Truly, from the moment Adam first entered America’s living rooms and the American Idol audition room five (yes, FIVE) years ago, he seemed fit for a Queen and destined to one day front the legendary glam-rock group.

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As we prepare for Queen + Adam Lambert’s tour starting June 19, let’s take a look back at all the (platform-booted) steps along Adam and Queen’s majestic journey.

Jan. 20, 2009: Adam auditions for Idol with “Bohemian Rhapsody”

On the San Francisco auditions episode of Season 8, Adam looked uncharacteristically casual with his hoodie and fresh-scrubbed face, but he sounded like a total glitter-rock showman when he magnificently belted out Queen’s most iconic multi-octave anthem. Adam actually tried out with Michael Jackson’s “Rock With You” at first, but that footage didn’t air until much later in the season; instead, it was his Queen audition that memorably introduced him to the world. And exactly three months later,

Johnny Depp Noodles With Willie Nelson

Willie Nelson’s Family band gained a new relative Tuesday night at the Blue Hills Bank Pavilion in Boston when cousin Johnny Depp joined the country legend onstage.

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The only mention made of the erstwhile Captain Jack Sparrow was when Nelson introduced the musicians, noting, “You got Johnny over here playing some guitar.”

The actor, in Boston shooting the Whitey Bulger film Black Mass, didn’t just make a cameo, instead remaining onstage for the entire 85 minute performance. Depp assiduously avoided the spotlight, however, content to add texture to classics like “On the Road Again” and “Crazy.”

At one point he simply stood back and contentedly watched as Nelson performed a moving rendition of “Always on My Mind.”

Nelson’s son Lukas did manage to coax Depp into playing one solo and engaging in a playful guitar call-and-response during a humid rendition of “Texas Flood.”

It’s not the first time that Willie Nelson has crossed paths with “Willy Wonka,” as the actor played with the Redheaded Stranger at Rodeo Austin back in March.

Sid Vicious and the aesthetics of punk rock

The hotel room was destroyed. A television lay shattered on the ground, surrounded by a shredded pile of photographs and Bible pages, soda cans and broken furniture. On the mangled hotel bed, the sheets were coiled up in a corner, still holding the form of the human responsible for this mess. Just down the hall, Billy Idol and guys from the Sex Pistols, Blondie and Adam & the Ants banged out loud and sloppy Stooges covers late into the night.

It’s a scene Sid Vicious might have loved if he’d lived to attend the Los Angeles art opening. After all, he was there when the real thing happened.

The Sex Pistols bassist remains one of rock ‘n’ roll’s seminal icons and dark cautionary tales. He was born John Ritchie in London and was dead at 21 of a drug overdose, and his brief two years in the band made him the living embodiment of the genre’s live-fast, die-young aesthetic.

PHOTOS: Iconic rock guitars and their owners

“Sid could barely play, but he became one of the most recognized figures of a movement,” said L.A. street-art impresario Shepard Fairey,

Concord Bicycle Music Acquires HighTone, Bandit Records Assets

Concord Bicycle Music continues its roll-up of indie labels with two more acquisitions, buying the HighTone record label catalog and the recorded music assets of Bandit Records, the late George Jones’ label imprint. Terms of the deals were not disclosed.

The catalog of HighTone, founded in 1983 by Bruce Bromberg and Larry Sloven, includes Americana and various other roots music from such artists as Rosie Flores, Dick Dale, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Dale Watson, Joe Lewis Walker, Tom Russell, Buddy Miller, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Joe Ely, Dave Alvin, Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown and Robert Cray. The catalog had been sold to Shout! Factory, which in turn was the seller in this current deal.

R.E.M. Taps Concord Bicycle to Handle Group’s Warner Bros. Catalog: Exclusive

Meanwhile, the Bandit Records catalog, obtained from Jones’ widow Nancy, includes about 140 songs from the late country artist, including such albums as The Rock, The Gospel Collection, Kickin’ Out The Footlights Again and Hits I Missed…And One I Didn’t. It also included an unreleased Jones duet collection featuring such artists as Leon Russell, Vince Gill, Keith Richards, Ricky Skaggs and Mark Knopfler.

“HighTone, and Bandit, represent an important niche in the American independent music culture and fits perfectly within our existing catalog,” Concord Bicycle Music chief

Best Country Music Albums of 2015

The best country music and Americana albums of 2015, chosen by Culture Editor Martin Chilton unless stated. There are 60 choices for the year. Five star reviews are at the top, otherwise numbers refers to the order in which the albums were reviewed and only ★★★★★/★★★★☆/and ★★★☆☆ albums are included.

1 ANGALEENA PRESLEY: AMERICAN MIDDLE CLASS (SLATE CREEK RECORDS) 
Angaleena Presley sings with a good mix of emotion and subtlety (especially on the affecting Better Off Red) on a highly impressive album that is full of powerful and mordant songs and fine musicianship. Presley wrote five of the 12 songs alone and used experienced hands – including Lori McKenna – on the other seven. The songwriting class shows. ★★★★★ Read the full review of American Middle Class

2 RHIANNON GIDDENS: TOMORROW IS MY TURN (NONESUCH RECORDS)
Rhiannon Giddens shows she can sing country music with great warmth in a version of Patsy Cline’s She’s Got You and delivers a stunning version of a Dolly Parton song. What I particularly liked about that cover was that she tackles one of the lesser-known songs from Parton – Don’t Let It Trouble Your Mind from 1969 – and absolutely nails it. There is

Adele’s ’25’ hit music streaming gains

Those are the two main findings of year-end figures released Wednesday by Nielsen Music, the company that tracks consumers’ spending and listening habits.

“We were awed by Adele’s record-crushing ’25,’ ” said Erin Crawford, Nielsen’s senior vice president of entertainment and general manager of music, in her overview of the company’s report.

Among the milestones that “25” registered:

— First week sales of 3.34 million copies, almost 40% higher than the longtime record holder, ‘NSync’s “No Strings Attached,” which sold 2.41 million copies during its first week of release in 2000.

— Sales of “25” constituted 41% of all albums sold during that week.

— In just six weeks, “25” has sold 7.44 million copies and is the only album in the Nielsen era dating to 1991 to sell more than a million copies in three separate weeks.

Otherwise, music streaming is where the industry saw its greatest gains, as audio streams increased 83% during the year, from 79.1 billion in 2014 to 144.9 billion last year, and video streams jumped even more, 102% from 85.4 billion two years ago to 172.4 billion in 2015.

Yet current hits were not

The Untold and Deeply Stoned Story of the First U.S. Rock Festival

On June 10th and 11th, 1967 — one week before the Monterey Pop Festival and two years before Woodstock — tens of thousands of Bay Area music fans converged on the Sydney B. Cushing Memorial Amphitheatre on Mount Tamalpais in Marin County, California, for the first U.S. rock festival. Conceived as a promotion for the KFRC 610 AM radio station, the Fantasy Fair and Magic Mountain Music Festival featured more than 30 acts, including the Doors, Jefferson Airplane, the Byrds and Captain Beefheart & the Magic Band, as well as a group of Hells Angels and an “acid doctor” to mitigate bad trips. Arguably, the festival was the true start of the Summer of Love, and this is its previously untold story.

Since it was overshadowed by Monterey Pop, Fantasy Fair has been largely forgotten (only snippets of film exist from the fest, and virtually no audio has survived). But to many of the artists and fans who were in attendance, it remains a pivotal moment of the counterculture takeover. Rolling Stone spoke to more than 40 artists, organizers and attendees to piece together the secret history of this landmark festival.

A NEW WAY TO BE

The Strange Case of Craig Campbell’s ‘Kisses’

Last month, Craig Campbell was watching the highest-charting single of his career, “Keep Them Kisses Comin’,” inch its way closer toward the coveted Top 10 on the Billboard Country Airplay chart. It was Number 13 and rising.

Prior to releasing the compact, uptempo tune (a radio-ready two minutes, 39 seconds), the singer’s best chart showing was his debut single, 2010’s “Family Man,” which peaked at Number 14. A Nashville journeyman by way of Georgia — a hotbed for today’s country chart-toppers — Campbell, one of the few singers to still sport a cowboy hat, has found the sweet spot between good ol’ boy and mature artist. Aside from the unfortunate “Fish,” a too bawdy for its own good lark in 2011, his songs have stood out from today’s homogenized country radio fare, especially the workingman’s prayer “Family Man” and the haunted love dream “Outta My Head.” The latter had a near record-breaking 54-week run on the charts.

With the strong showing of “Keep Them Kisses Comin’,” off his second album Never Regret, Campbell was poised to enter rarified country air. But then his record label, Bigger Picture Group, abruptly closed. The Georgian and his song were

Wilco’s Nels Cline Jams With the Les Paul Trio In New York

When he took the stage at Iridium in New York on June 16th, as this week’s guest with Monday night regulars the Les Paul Trio, guitarist Nels Cline sported an “Ecstatic Peace!” sticker on his Fender Jazzmaster – a reference to Cline’s long association with that record label’s founder, Sonic Youth guitar icon Thurston Moore. On an evening usually reserved for technical decorum and jazz standards – parameters set by the late Les Paul when he reigned on guitar and that bandstand every Monday from 1995 until his death in 2009 (and before that, downtown at Fat Tuesday’s) – Cline’s fashion accessory was practically a live grenade, a suggestion that trouble could go off at any moment.

But Cline – officially of Wilco but a diverse, dynamic explorer in avant-rock and experimental music for three decades – was a good sport and respectful searcher in this night’s second set. After the Trio, led by Paul’s longtime confederate, guitarist Lou Pollo, ran briskly through Tin Pan Alley for a few numbers, Cline came on and jumped back in kind to Django Reinhardt‘s 1937 romp “Minor Swing,” compressing the angular facility and often-violent tonality of his work in Wilco

Gregg Allman, ‘Midnight Rider’ Producers Facing Another Lawsuit

The Gregg Allman biopic Midnight Rider continues to find itself embroiled in legal drama. Following a February 20th train incident that resulted in the death of camera assistant Sarah Jones, the production company – Allman included – has been sued by Jones’ family and crewmembers who were injured when a freight train tore through their shooting location. Now, according to the Hollywood Reporter, makeup artist Antonyia Verna is suing the Midnight Rider production team alongside Allman himself.

Verna claims that, following the incident, she sustained “serious physical injuries, medical and other necessary expenses, post-traumatic stress, mental anguish, lost income, and mental and physical pain and suffering.” This new lawsuit comes nearly three weeks after hairstylist Joyce Gilliard also sued the production after suffering a fractured arm and post-traumatic stress following the accident. The Verna lawsuit also supplies more details regarding the February 20th incident; specifics that attempt to prove that Open Road Films and the freight company were negligent.

Once it became apparent that a train was heading toward their shooting location, Verna claims, crew members had less than 60 seconds to evacuate the scene. However, because running toward the coming train provided the shortest path

Cat and Mouse Deadmau5 Selling ‘Purrari’ Car for $380,000

It’s already been a good business week for Deadmau5, with his new double-LP, While(1<2), hitting shelves on Tuesday. But the electronic producer also has a more unexpected item for sale – his 2013 Ferrari 458 Spider F1 Edition, which is plastered with eye-popping graphics of the meme-friendly feline Nyan Cat. On Monday, Joel “Deadmau5” Zimmerman posted the fancy whip on Craigslist with an asking price of $380,000, noting that the vehicle “purrs like a nyancat,” could be shipped anywhere in North America and “can be fully factory restored. . . if you’re a pussy.” (Pun intended?) It also includes an iPod filled with Nyan Cat songs – and a chance to fly out to Toronto and join the musician for coffee.But that was just the innocent first chapter in this heated auto saga. Zimmerman first tweeted a link to the Craigslist ad, which specifies that “anything over 380” would go to the Toronto Humane Society.But he later issued an angry follow-up after Craigslist removed his listing.

After a day of bidding and headaches, Zimmerman then linked to a listing on Auto Trader, noting that “Purrari is back on” and thanking the site for stepping in. (For the record, do NOT contact the producer with unsolicited services or

TV on the Radio Talk ‘90210’ In ‘Sound Advice’ Sketch

TV on the Radio continue to do all the promotion that comes with releasing a new album without actually releasing a new album. The Brooklyn quintet has already lined up a good chunk of festival dates, including Pemberton, Riot Fest Denver, and the recently announced Treasure Island fest. Now, 4/5ths of the group (minus Dave Sitek) join Saturday Night Live cast member Vanessa Bayer in her comedic web series “Sound Advice.”

“So, is it hard to be in a band while also being full-time baristas,” Bayer’s “Janessa Slater” asks the Cookie Mountain crew. The video mostly consists of TVOTR’s puzzled reactions as Bayer’s “media coach” persona asks them about the lyrics of “Wolf Like Me” and calls their music “garbage.” In one enlightening moment, when asked which Beverly Hills 90210 character they most identify with, we learn that Tunde Adebimpe feels the closest connection with Ian Ziering’s Steve Sanders.

In addition to touring and making funny videos with SNL cast members, TVOTR are also at work on a new album, their first since 2011’s Nine Types of Light. The group dropped a pair of singles last summer – “Mercy” and “Million Miles” – and debuted new tracks

Lady Gaga ‘Judas’ Plagiarism Lawsuit Dismissed

Three years after Lady Gaga was accused of plagiarism and hit with a lawsuit, a judge has thrown the case out. In 2011, singer Rebecca Francescatti sued the Artpop singer, claiming that the Born This Way hit “Judas” was a rip-off of Francescatti’s own 1999 track “Juda.” The Hollywood Reporter writes that U.S. District Judge Marvin E. Aspen finally got around to listening to both tracks and concluded “as a matter of law that the two songs are not substantially similar.” The case was subsequently dismissed.

While the judge did acknowledge both songs had near-exact titles and four similar 16th notes, that was “not sufficient to give rise to a finding that the Gaga song has captured the total concept and feel of the Francescatti song” and “Judas” and “Juda” did not “share enough unique features to give rise to a breach of the duty not to copy another’s work.”

Whenever music copycat cases like this land in the courtroom, it’s extremely rare for the judge to side with the plagiarized party. For instance, the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Dani California” and Tom Petty’s “Mary Jane’s Last Dance,” two Rick Rubin-produced tracks, featured a nearly identical

Bjork Exhibition to Be Held at Museum of Modern Art in 2015

Next year, Björk’s influence on art will get its due. Beginning in March, the Museum of Modern Art in New York will hold a full-scale retrospective of the Icelandic musician’s works, titled Björk, which will include her contributions to performance art, recordings, film, costumes, instruments and visuals. It will be presented with a narrative, co-written by Björk and Icelandic writer Sjón Sigurdsson, that will include both biographical and fictitious events drawing from the two decades since she issued her 1993 breakthrough solo album Debut.

The exhibition will also feature the singer’s collaborations with video directors, photographers, fashion designers and other artists, and will end with a newly commissioned, immersive music and film experience that Björk made with director Andrew Huang (Atoms for Peace’s “Before Your Very Eyes,” Björk’s “Mutual Core”) and 3-D design company Autodesk.

“Björk is an extraordinarily innovative artist whose contributions to contemporary music, video, film, fashion, and art have had a major impact on her generation worldwide,” MoMA’s Chief Curator at Large, Klaus Biesenbach, who organized the exhibition, said in a statement. “This highly experimental exhibition offers visitors a direct experience of her hugely collaborative body of work.”

In

Inside Queen’s Huge Summer Tour With Adam Lambert

Like a lot of fans under a certain age, Adam Lambert first learned about Queen when he saw the “Bohemian Rhapsody” scene in Wayne’s World in 1992. “I said to my dad, ‘Who’s that?,'” Lambert says. “He was like, ‘You know those songs ‘We Will Rock You’ and ‘We Are the Champions?’ That’s the same band.’ I had no idea.”

It took another few years for Lambert to really delve into their catalog. “When I was older I got more into the history of rock,” he says. “I fell in love with the 1970s and I discovered more about Queen. The genius about the band is that they’re so versatile. There are songs in their catalog that are like beautiful lullabies, and then on the same album they can flip to a hardcore, more aggressive sound.”

By the time he auditioned for American Idol in 2009, the 26-year-old was such a huge fan that he performed “Bohemian Rhapsody” for the judges. “What’s happened since then is just surreal to me,” he says. “It’s so crazy that this came out of American Idol. I don’t think I would have seen it coming back then.”

On the Charts: Jack White Sets Vinyl Sales Record for ‘Lazaretto’

The streaming-music business continues to clank along on its road to The Future of the Record Business. Apple bought Beats Music, but has yet to say what it’ll do with it. Amazon recently unveiled its own modest service. And YouTube reps are saying its service will come out later this year as Deezer continues to expand to various countries. In the meantime, old-fashioned CD and download sales continue to plunge. Albums are down 15 percent, tracks are down 13 percent and record labels pray streaming catches on quick.

HOW AGAIN DO YOU CRAM THIS JACK WHITE LP INTO THIS IPHONE?: Jack White rides the vinyl wave to Number One this week, selling 40,000 old-fashioned LPs of Lazaretto (the biggest week for a vinyl since SoundScan began tracking sales in 1991) plus 41,000 CDs and nearly 57,000 downloads. Excuse the use of “old-fashioned” — Lazaretto LPs actually play in three separate speeds, contains hidden tracks and Side A is like reading the Old Testament since it plays from the inside out. The album is the former White Stripes frontman’s second Number One, selling exactly the same number of copies as his 2012 debut Blunderbuss, and it’s a huge accomplishment for an

Tiësto Celebrates ‘Paradise’ LP With Icona Pop, Hardwell at NYC Bash

When Tiësto plays a festival  in the next few months he’s got Electric Daisy Carnival, Ultra Europe, Tomorrowland and Made in America on his schedule  his sets last for little more than an hour. Last night, before a New York City gig celebrating the release of new LP A Town Called Paradise, rehearsals alone lasted three.

“I have eight live performers tonight,” the superstar DJ told Rolling Stone in between rehearsals and showtime. “When I don’t have them, I can just play whatever I want, but now every 10, 15 minutes somebody has to go on stage. It’s a lot harder to plan a set.”

After teenage wunderkind Danny Avila primed the crowd with some high-energy house, Tiësto, sporting a blue blazer and exuding a high school quarterback’s charm, began that set by walking to the DJ booth with his music already playing. Though he opened with the cinematic “Rocky,” one of the album’s few instrumentals, the man of the evening soon brought out Cruickshank to sing “Footprints,” a high school graduation speech set to EDM.

In between guests, Tiësto both previewed the rest of the album and touched upon older singles. All

Three Arrested Outside Taylor Swift’s Rhode Island Home

Three Rhode Island residents were charged with throwing beer bottles and hurling expletives at security officers patrolling outside the Watch Hill village property of country-pop superstar Taylor Swift on Sunday (June 15th).

The Westerley Sun newspaper reports that Michael Horrigan, 29, Tristan J. Kading, 28, and Emily E. Kading, 26, were each charged with disorderly conduct in the incident.

Police were contacted by Ryan Poirier, one of the singer’s security guards, who said the three suspects threw beer bottles onto the property in his direction and also “extended their middle fingers,” while shouting expletives at him. Poirier used his cell phone to capture photos of the incident.

Additionally, patrolman Matthew Hayden said as he and Poirier approached the trio to speak with them, Horrigan took off running, which prompted a call for backup to another officer. Meanwhile, the other two were taken into custody and identified as alleged perpetrators by Poirier. The three were transported to the Westerly police station, processed and charged with misdemeanor disorderly conduct. They were later released after promising to appear in court at a later date and were ordered not to trespass on Swift’s property.

This is the second

‘It’s Poppin’ Does Clint Dempsey Score With His New Single

On Wednesday, while recovering from a broken nose (and preparing for Portugal), U.S. soccer star/occasional rapper Clint Dempsey dropped a new single, “It’s Poppin,” which is available now through DeuceandXO.com. Here’s our take on the track.Before mocking Seattle Sounders “footballer” and U.S. National Team captain Clinton “Deuce” Dempsey as yet another athlete treating the culture like an egotistical indulgence, it’s important to remember that Deuce dropped “Don’t Tread” in 2006, one of the last records to feature Houston legend Big Hawk. (Hawk, a founding member of the Screwed Up Click and older brother to H-Town hero Fat Pat, was killed that May.) That puts him just a degree removed from the legacy of DJ Screw — real cred! — and although the song isn’t liable to transcend novelty, propelled as it is by its auteur’s profession, it’s also…not bad at all.

This is in part because the Texas rap blueprint has always been open to a degree of amateurism, a culture that was more about proximity and participation than any ideas about forward motion. After all, it’s a scene where the artists are more interested in elongating time, transforming bullshit sessions with friends — the wisecracks, the