For The Record: Quick News On Willie Nelson, Avenged Sevenfold, Britney Spears, Chris Gotti, Black Crowes & More

Nelson releases cowboy valentine; Head Automatica in for A7X/Coheed tour; IRS holds Gotti's money.

Presumably as a Valentine’s-Day nod to “Brokeback Mountain,” Willie Nelson released a cover of the 1981 song “Cowboys Are Frequently Secretly Fond of Each Other” via iTunes on Tuesday. The song was written by Texas singer/songwriter Ned Sublette (who has said he always imagined Nelson singing it) and was also covered by ’90s gay punk outfit Pansy Division. Nelson’s version was debuted on Howard Stern’s satellite-radio show on Tuesday. …

Avenged Sevenfold and Coheed and Cambria have tapped the support acts for their forthcoming co-headlining spring tour. Head Automatica will open on all of the dates between the tour’s launch on April 7 in Poughkeepsie, New York, through April 27 in San Jose, California. Eighteen Visions will take over on April 28 in San Diego and stay on through the final scheduled show on May 19 in New York. …

U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta marked the start of Child Passenger Safety Week on Monday by making an example of Britney Spears. “Recent photos of Britney Spears driving with her infant son on her lap are troubling,” Mineta said while announcing a new proposal to improve car-seat safety. “And while Ms. Spears has acknowledged her mistake, her actions still send the wrong message to millions of her fans. … No matter who you are, there’s absolutely no excuse for this display — not instinct, not fear, not even reckless paparazzi. It’s irresponsible to compromise the safety of a child for the sake of the moment.” …

It’s been more than two months since Chris and Irv Gotti were cleared of federal money-laundering charges, but according to Chris Gotti’s attorney, Gerald Shargel, there’s some unsettled business between his client and the Brooklyn, New York, U.S. attorney’s office. The government, he explained, hasn’t returned the $35,000 in cash that federal agents seized more than three years ago from a safe inside Chris’ office during a raid of the Inc.’s headquarters. The government said the money, sequestered “for evidentiary purposes,” would be returned within six weeks. But that deadline passed and the cash remains in an IRS bank account. Last week Shargel filed a motion requesting that the cash be returned. A spokesperson for the U.S. attorney’s office could not be reached for comment. …

Singer Chris and guitarist Rich Robinson will be leaving the rest of the Black Crowes behind to embark on a road trip across the U.S. as a duo. The Robinsons’ run of acoustic shows, billed Brothers of a Feather: An Acoustic Evening With Chris and Rich Robinson of the Black Crowes, will feature the pair performing cuts from their catalog, tackling covers and debuting some new Crowes material. The 10-gig trek kicks off April 13 in Brooklyn, New York, and wraps up on April 25 in Los Angeles. … 3 Doors Down will perform for the general public in the Middle East for the first time on March 16 at the Desert Rock Festival in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The show kicks off a 13-city tour that wraps April 4 in Wolverhampton, England. …

The Academy Is … will release an acoustic EP called From the Carpet on various Web sites February 21. The collection includes three tracks from the band’s debut album, Almost Here, as well as two new songs and a cover of John Lennon’s “Working Class Hero.” … Brooklyn’s French Kicks are heading to Los Angeles to begin work on their third full-length, according to their label, Star Time International. The band will once again team with producer Doug Boehm, who helmed the sessions for their 2004 album, The Trial of the Century. The Kicks currently have 16 songs written for the new album, and they hope to have it in stores by the summer. …

Sinéad O’Connor is going back on the road. She’s heading to the U.S. with Sly and Robbie in tow to play more reggae tunes from her album Throw Down Your Arms. O’Connor’s seven-city tour kicks off Monday in Houston and wraps up March 1 in San Francisco. … Built to Spill have rolled out 37 North American tour dates, beginning with a performance in Minneapolis on April 11 — the same day the band’s new album, You in Reverse, hits stores. The trek is set to hit Chicago, Detroit, New York, Boston, Dallas and Washington, D.C., before winding down on May 20 in Austin, Texas. You in Reverse, Built to Spill’s first LP since 2001’s Ancient Melodies of Earth, will contain 10 tracks, including “Goin’ Against Your Mind,” “Wherever You Go,” and “Mess With Time.” …

President Bush presented National Medals of Science and Technology to 15 honorees Monday, including a leader in organ-transplant advancements, the developer of a high-yield wheat that could feed millions around the world — and “Star Wars” director George Lucas. Lucas accepted the medal on behalf of his Industrial Light and Magic, honored for 30 years of innovation in visual effects and technology for the film industry. … Actor Phil Brown, best known for his role as Luke Skywalker’s Uncle Owen in “Star Wars,” died Thursday of pneumonia, according to The Associated Press. He was 89. Brown worked in film and theater for more than 60 years, but he’s best remembered for his role in the 1977 blockbuster. …

Brooklyn avant-electro rockers TV on the Radio are gearing up for the May release of their still-untitled second full-length (their first since 2004’s Shortlist Music Prize-winning Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes) by hitting the road. Their tour with Baltimore’s Celebration kicks off April 21 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and runs until May 6 in Vancouver, British Colombia. More dates are expected to be announced shortly. …

02.13.2006

Britney Spears plans to visit Mardi Gras in New Orleans on February 28, and “Good Morning America” will be there to broadcast her appearance as part of its coverage of the city’s celebrations. “It is so important for this amazing city to continue its annual traditions, and I am really looking forward to being involved,” Spears said in a statement. The singer will bring “surprises” for a group of “very deserving young residents.” …

The autopsy and toxicology test results for “Reservoir Dogs” actor Chris Penn were released Monday (February 13), with the Los Angeles county coroner’s office concluding that the 40-year-old’s January 24 death was an accident. Although Penn had several prescription medications in his system, including the highly addictive Promethazine, it was an oversized heart that has been ruled as the primary cause of death. A full coroner’s report, containing additional details, is expected to be released in a few weeks. …

Jennifer Lopez is appealing to Hispanics to donate bone marrow during a February 24-25 drive in New York for 29-year-old Janet Ovalles, who is suffering from blood cancer. Doctors say Ovalles’ only chance for survival is a marrow transplant, and most matches come from people with the same ethnic background. In a statement released by DKMS, the German bone-marrow-donor center organizing the drive, Lopez said, “I am a young Hispanic woman, so is Janet. I could empathize with her situation so much.” … Snoop Dogg is also using his free time for a good cause. He’s hosting the Rapper’s Challenge Texas Hold ’Em Tournament, a one-day event in which poker players and celebs alike will bluff their way toward $25,000 and $50,000 prizes. The no-limit game will take place May 5 in the Port of Miami aboard a casino ship; Snoop’s Uncle Reo will cook BBQ on the top deck. … Christina Milian has set an April 25 release date for her third album, So Amazin’, produced by the team behind “Lean Back,” Cool and Dre. Christina shot the video for the first single, “Say I” featuring Young Jeezy, in Los Angeles over the weekend with Ray Kay (Destiny’s Child’s “Soldier”). In July Milian will return to theaters with “Pulse,” a horror thriller based on the Japanese film “Kairo.” …

Hilary Duff will serve as honorary starter and Fantasia will sing the national anthem for the California Speedway Auto Club 500 on February 26. Hilary will be joined at the Fontana, California, track and on the starter’s stand by sister Haylie Duff, and together they’ll tour the track during driver introductions. One week after the Daytona 500, Auto Club 500 is the second race of the season for the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series. … After finishing the current Wu-Tang Clan reunion tour, Ghostface Killah will hit the road on a 32-date North American headlining trek, kicking off March 5 in Pittsburgh and wrapping up April 23 in Buffalo. Ghost is promoting Fishscale, due March 28 and featuring the single “Back Like That” featuring Ne-Yo. … 3 Doors Down frontman Brad Arnold was injured in a car crash earlier this month, according to the band’s Web site. The one-car accident occurred February 1 on a rainy road in Mississippi, and Arnold required stitches for his injuries. He is expected to make a full recovery. His wife, who was driving the vehicle, was not injured. 3 Doors Down canceled their February 4 performance at Bud Bowl, a pre-Super Bowl event in Detroit, due to the crash. …

Drummer Christopher Emery has left American Head Charge, although it’s unclear whether he quit or was fired. The band’s bassist Mr. H.C. Banks III and singer Martin Cock said they axed Emery for “major irresponsibility, decreased drumming ability and an inflated sense of entitlement,” according to a joint statement. “It turns out Chris was thinking of leaving anyway, although we only just found out by his posting on our Web site,” the statement read. Emery had said he quit the band in a post that hit the site over the weekend, in which he stated, “I’m tired of watching drugs and alcohol destroy everyone around me, including myself.” … P.O.D. will hit the road this spring with Pillar, the Chariot and Maylene and the Sons of Disaster as part of the Warriors Tour 2: Guilty by Association run. No word yet on when the tour starts or how many cities the trek will encompass. … Papa Roach, who’ve been working on their forthcoming sixth album, have posted on their Web site a video shot during the band’s latest studio sessions. A series of videos is set to appear on the site as the Roach get further along in the process. The disc should be in stores before the end of the year. … The Offspring have started work on their next studio LP, the follow-up to 2003’s Splinter. In a post on the band’s Web site, lead singer Dexter Holland said he and guitarist Noodles hit the studio to begin recording demo material. There’s no word yet on when the Offspring plan to release the effort or when its official recording will begin. “[It’s been] a blast,” Holland wrote. “It feels good to get back in the studio and do some recording and just be a band, you know? I’m sure you do if you’re in a band.” …

The Sounds — whose Dying to Say This to You is due March 21 — are teaming with Morningwood for a 40-date North American tour beginning March 22 in Los Angeles. Action Action are also on the bill. … Stereolab will release Fab Four Suture — a collection of six singles previously available only as 7-inches, as well as six never-before-heard tracks — March 7. Look for the album to include “Get a Shot of the Refrigerator,” “Whisper Pitch” and “I Was a Sunny Rainphase.” … She’s only 19 years old (in about a week she’ll be 20), but Charlotte Church is already writing her memoirs (again). The singer’s just inked a deal with Orion to write her life story, which she’s calling rather straightforwardly “Charlotte Church: The Autobiography.” This would, of course, be her second such autobio, since she released “Voice of an Angel: My Life (So Far)” in 2001. … Bassist Jimmy MacDonough has quit Megadeth, but no explanation has been offered for his unexpected departure. In his place, Megadeth frontman Dave Mustaine has hired James LoMenzo, who has done time with Zakk Wylde’s Black Label Society, White Lion and David Lee Roth. … Former Sunny Day Real Estate frontman Jeremy Enigk will release his second solo album and follow-up to 1996’s Return of the Frog Queen this summer. The singer/guitarist, also of the Fire Theft, will tour Europe in July and the U.S. in August.

[This story was originally published at 5:26 p.m ET on 02.14.2006]