For The Record: Quick News On Howard Stern, Ludacris, Beach Boys, Afroman, Sharon Osbourne, Beck & More

Increased FCC scrutiny to clean up the airwaves prompted the ousting of controversial radio host Howard Stern‘s syndicated show from six Clear Channel-owned stations. After an interview with Rick Solomon, the purveyor and co-star of the infamous Paris Hilton sex tape, went over the line and was deemed offensive to blacks and women by Clear Channel executives, the show was pulled from stations in Orlando, Florida; Fort Lauderdale, Florida; San Diego; Pittsburgh; Louisville, Kentucky; and Rochester, New York. Infinity broadcasting, a subsidiary of MTV’s parent company, Viacom, syndicates the morning program nationwide from New York’s WXRK-FM. …

The president of Northeastern University in Boston has canceled an April 2 concert by Ludacris that was to be the headlining event for the school’s annual Springfest festival. President Richard M. Freeland cited riots by students after the New England Patriots’ Super Bowl victory in which one person died. School officials called the move a “postponement,” saying a concert of this size could happen again if the student body worked with the school to improve its relationship with the community. … One of the most legendary unreleased records of all time, the Beach BoysSmile, will finally hit shelves in the fall, 37 years after its intended release. Currently touring behind the record in the U.K., Brian Wilson recently entered the studio with original lyricist Van Dyke Parks to complete the material and sift through the hours and hours of recorded material that was scrapped in the spring of 1967 due to Wilson’s growing drug problems and mental-health issues. …

Estelle Axton, co-founder of influential soul label Stax Records, died at the age of 85 on Tuesday at a hospital in Memphis. Starting in 1957, Axton helped build the label into a hit factory with artists like Otis Redding, Booker T. & the MG’s and the Bar-Kays. Axton is also credited with maintaining a sense of harmony between black and white musicians during a time of racial prejudice. … Pre-production is under way on “Hip-Hop Cops,” a movie spotlighting a division of the New York Police Department focused on rap-related crimes whose existence the NYPD has always denied. Radar Pictures will distribute the film, which looks past the police upward to City Hall. …

Beck, the Polyphonic Spree and the Electric Light Orchestra will appear on the soundtrack to “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” a film by Michel Gondry, the director of videos by the White Stripes and Björk. The film, which stars Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, Elijah Wood and Kirsten Dunst, opens March 19, while the soundtrack streets March 16. … Metal matriarch Sharon Osbourne will play a lesbian bartender in an episode of NBC’s Will & Grace, set to air March 25. The episode was taped last week. …

Following up his 2001 album, The Good Times, was not one of the many things Afroman forgot to do because he got high. The toke-happy MC will drop his new LP, Afroholic: The Even Better Times, on April 20, through his own Hungry Hustler Records. … Wilco will play six shows in April before performing at Coachella on May 1. The dates will start on April 21 in Columbia, Missouri, and run through April 29 in Tucson, Arizona. …

Richard Hayne, Urban Outfitters’ chairman, has made an enemy of Ministry‘s Al Jourgensen with that “Voting Is for Old People” T-shirt. In a letter to Hayne sent Wednesday, the singer wrote, “Mr. Hayne, I am sure I don’t have to give you a history lesson regarding the incredible amount of lives lost fighting for the right to vote in America alone. I am shocked and appalled at your recklessness. I see your actions as a blatant attempt to quash the efforts of Punkvoter.com, Music for America, Rock the Vote, and other pro-youth-vote organizations. It is public knowledge that you contribute to the Republican Party. Could this be the motivation behind your anti-vote strategy to suppress the youth vote you have so much influence over?” … Kinks singer Ray Davies may have been hurt worse than most expected when he was shot in the leg in New Orleans last month, according to a statement released by his spokesperson. Because of ongoing treatment, Davis was forced to cancel his appearance at the 14th annual Tibet House Benefit concert, which took place Wednesday at New York’s Carnegie Hall. …

2.25.2004

With his song “Dirt Off Your Shoulder” already getting airplay on urban radio, Jay-Z is setting his sights on rock fans, too. Next week he’ll release the Rick Rubin-produced song “99 Problems” to rock radio stations with the hope they’ll play the guitar-and-drums-driven cut. An accompanying black-and-white video was shot in Brooklyn, New York, last week. …

Ludacris and Chingy‘s Disturbing Tha Peace concert lived up to its name Monday night in Rapid City, South Dakota, as 14 people were arrested during and after the show. “A majority of the concert attendees were well-behaved, but some acted out their aggression in a violent manner,” the police chief told The Rapid City Journal, though he also noted most of the infractions were for alcohol or drugs. With approximately 6,000 people in attendance at the show, the ratio of attendees to arrests was about on par with an average big-city sporting event. … 50 Cent is eyeing July 4 for the follow-up to Get Rich or Die Tryin’. “I’m gon’ stick to the script,” he said recently. “What works, works, so I’m gon’ do what I do, but I’m in a different position, so I got a lot of different things to write about.” …

Mary J. Blige recently shot the video for her next single, the P. Diddy-produced “It’s a Wrap.” “I co-directed it,” she said. “It’s my first one.” … Michelle Branch is fighting for the rights of the innocent. The singer/guitarist is playing a benefit concert April 1 in New York to raise funds for the Innocence Project, a not-for-profit legal clinic which assists prisoners who can be proven not guilty through DNA testing. Tickets go on sale March 1. …

Billy Corgan recently took to his Web site (www.billycorgan.com) to reveal the reason the Smashing Pumpkins parted more than three years ago. “The truth of the matter is that James Iha broke up the Smashing Pumpkins. Not me, not Jimmy [Chamberlin], but James. Did it help that D’Arcy was fired for being a mean-spirited drug addict, who refused to get help? No, that didn’t help keep the band together, not at all,” he wrote. “Many friends at the time suggested letting James leave, so Jimmy and I could continue on under the name. But I was too loyal to the man I had started the whole thing with, and so I protected him until the very end.” … Members of Good Charlotte, the Used, Story of the Year, A Static Lullaby and Hazen Street are among the bands lending efforts for the Concert for Compassion, a benefit set for March 28 at the Oak Canyon Ranch in Irvine, California. Proceeds from the event will benefit Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty, an organization dedicated to stop product-testing on animals. …

Twista has launched a line of diamond-studded rims called Kamikazes, in honor of his recent #1 album of the same name. He also recently collaborated with Elephant Man and is helping fellow Speedknot Mobstaz member Liffy Stokes finish his solo album. … Memphis Bleek is taking a cue from Jay-Z. The Memph Man has enlisted one of The Black Album‘s producers, 9th Wonder, to produce the bulk of his next LP. Bleek says he hopes to have the project in stores by June. …

Weezer singer Rivers Cuomo recently joined former bassist Matt Sharp onstage, apparently marking the end of a long legal and personal feud. Sharp was performing solo on the CSU Fullerton campus when Cuomo sat in for four songs, including “Say It Ain’t So,” “Undone (The Sweater Song)” and a new collaboration between the two. … Sebadoh are launching their first tour in five years, starting in St. Louis on April 19. Frontman Lou Barlow said in a statement that the show will feature “Jake Loewenstein and me with some simple non-electronic percussion we recorded on my trusty Tascam Porta-One cassette four-track. … We strip the songs down but I’d like to think it still ‘rocks.’ ” Barlow said he had “no plans for another Sebadoh record but who knows? I don’t.” The 16-date trek wraps May 8 in Nashville. …

More than a month of new dates have been added to the SnoCore Tour, which features Trapt, Smile Empty Soul, Finger Eleven and Strata. The trek, which launches March 4 in Washington, D.C., now runs through May 21 in Los Angeles. … Smile Empty Soul, meanwhile, shot a video for their next single, “Silhouettes,” last week in Los Angeles. Marc Webb (Good Charlotte, Green Day) directed the clip. … Sixpence None the Richer, best known for the smash single “Kiss Me,” are breaking up after 10 years together. In a letter to CCM magazine, founding guitarist Matt Slocum said the group will release one more album and support it with a final tour as a thank-you to fans. …

Producers the Matrix (Avril Lavigne, Hilary Duff) have recruited singer/songwriters A.K.A. and Katy Perry to join the collective for an album, due in the summer, and subsequent tour. Both the London-born A.K.A., who is signed to Clive Davis‘ J Records, and Perry, a protégé of producer Glen Ballard, will continue to work on solo albums. … Pearl Jam bassist Jeff Ament is training to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro from February 29 to March 14. Ament will travel to Tanzania and ascend the mountain for the fund-raiser Climb for the Children 2004, an activity coordinated by the charity Save the Children. Fans can sponsor Ament at http://savethechildren.org …

Little Steven Van Zandt, guitarist of the E Street Band and host of the syndicated “Little Steven’s Underground Garage,” is launching another radio venture. “Come Memorial Day I’m gonna launch a 24/7 channel on satellite radio,” he said. “It won’t be me, but the format [will be] playing all 50 years of rock and roll, and emphasizing all these new bands.” Van Zandt is also working on converting his radio show to a TV series, which would be his second. He of course also stars in “The Sopranos.” “I think it’s gonna be one of our best years,” he said of the show. “Actually, Frankie Valli from the Four Seasons is doing a couple of shows. It’s great.” … If you ever thought your band was bigger than the garage from whence it originated, sign up to match chops and licks in the Underground Garage Battle of the Bands, a competition organized by Van Zandt. Submissions are being accepted and regional, 20-band face-offs will be held in cities nationwide beginning in mid-April. More details are available at www.rockingarage.com. …