International Beat: Tito Puente, Asha Bhosle, Enrique Iglesias ...

New York Post reports that bandleader Puente was longtime cocaine addict.

The New York Post's Page 6 gossip column reported that bandleader Tito Puente, who died May 31 at the age of 77, was a longtime cocaine addict. "He was a cocaine addict for 40 years," said Christopher John, a former publicist for the mambo king. "It was absolutely a daily thing. But it was a quiet, functioning addiction." Puente's assistant, Nadien Gautier, denied the accusation. ...

Asha Bhosle, the Indian singing star celebrated in the hit single "Brimful of Asha" by Anglo-Indian band Cornershop, will make a rare appearance outside her homeland when she performs Sept. 16 at Wembley Arena in London. Bhosle, one of the famous singing voices of India's "Bollywood" film industry, last appeared in England 12 years ago. The singer, according to the "Guinness Book of Records," has the most-recorded voice in the world, having sung an estimated 12,000 songs in 18 languages. ...

Enrique Iglesias was named Male International Artist of the Year at the Chinese Music Honors, hosted by MTV-China. He was one of only two non-Chinese acts to be honored — the other being Denmark's Aqua, who were named Band of the Year. Female International Artist of the Year was China's Coco Lee. (Sonicnet.com's parent company, Viacom, also owns MTV.) ...

Reggae star Ziggy Marley has denied a report that he and his band, the Melody Makers, pulled out of an Austrian festival to protest the government's links to Joerg Haider, leader of the far-right Freedom Party. Last month festival organizers issued a statement giving that as the reason for Marley's withdrawal. Marley told the Associated Press, however, that "I had already told my management that we just wanted a small tour. I had heard something about Haider and some Nazi connection, but that's not the main reason" for the cancellation, which Marley said was due to an overloaded tour schedule. Marley and the Melody Makers begin their European tour June 20 in Germany. ...

Veteran reggae artist Buju Banton has inked a deal with Anti Inc., a subsidiary of the punk label Epitaph, which will release his new album Unchained Spirit on July 25. Guests on the disc include Rancid's Tim Armstrong, Stephen Marley, Luciano and Gramps of Morgan Heritage. A U.S. tour is scheduled to begin in mid-August. ...

World music will invade British cricket pitches this summer. During intermissions and after play during international matches in England, entertainment will be provided by a variety of artists. Los Van Van, Jazz Jamaica and reggae artists Dillinger, Trinity, U-Brown and the Blood and Fire Sound System are set to perform August 3–6 at Manchester's Old Trafford ground. The Wailers and Beenie Man will play London's Oval ground Aug. 31–Sept. 3. ...

Malian guitarist Ali Farka Toure will tour the United States in July and August. Toure, who won a Grammy Award in 1995 for his Talking Timbuktu collaboration with American guitarist Ry Cooder, is set to play 12 dates, beginning July 21 in Washington, D.C., and ending Aug. 10 in Columbus, Ohio. He will be accompanied by his protégé, Afel Bocoum. Toure's most recent album is Niafunke (World Circuit/Nonesuch), and Bocoum has released Alkibar on the same label. ...

Indian sitar star Anoushka Shankar will tour the United States later this year in support of her as-yet-untitled new release on the Angel label. The tour, which begins Aug. 19 in San Diego and ends Nov. 4 in Tucson, Ariz., may feature appearances by her father, sitar master Ravi Shankar. ... Rockers, one of the more influential reggae films of all time, will be re-released to a new generation of reggae lovers. ...

Senegalese star Baaba Maal, who played at the United Nations earlier this month, is touring West Africa. Playing concerts in cities and rural areas, Maal plans to meet with village youths and elders to increase understanding of AIDS and HIV via screenings of the video Staying Alive, an Emmy- winning documentary produced by MTV, UNAIDS and the World Bank. The tour wraps in Farafenni, Gambia, on June 24. ...

— sonicnet.com staff report