For The Record: Quick News On Ludacris, Kanye West, Pharrell Williams, Avenged Sevenfold, Social Distortion & More

Ludacris appears in court to defend 'Stand Up'; Pharrell LP gets new launch date; Avenged trade barbs with Dillinger Escape Plan.

Ludacris appeared in U.S. District Court in New York Tuesday as the 2004 suit accusing the rapper and Kanye West of ripping off the hook to “Stand Up” comes to trial, The Associated Press reports. The lawsuit claims that New Jersey rap group I.O.F. passed along demo tapes including the song “Straight Like That” to West and Ludacris, who then used the track’s lyrics and beat for “Stand Up.” Ludacris and West maintain that they didn’t hear “Straight Like That” until the suit was filed. The trial is scheduled to run through the week, and Ludacris and West — who was not in court on Tuesday — are expected to testify. If the rappers are found liable, damages will be assessed in a penalty phase. …

The debut solo album from Neptunes mastermind Pharrell Williams is finally (re)scheduled for release after months of delays. In My Mind is now expected to drop July 25, according to a spokesperson. It will include guest spots from Jay-Z, Daddy Yankee, Gwen Stefani and others and be preceded by the new single, “Number 1,” featuring Kanye West. …

A beef between Avenged Sevenfoldand the Dillinger Escape Plan is taking shape. According to Dillinger’s MySpace page, a feud had been festering for several months when Avenged frontman M. Shadows turned up the heat during a recent interview, saying Dillinger “make sh—y noises and try to pass it off as music.” “What about bands that make sh—y noise and try to pass it off as Guns N’ Roses?” a Dillinger MySpace post read in response. “This guy and his merry band of musical clowns get more hilarious by the minute. M. Shadows’ real name is Matt Sanders or some sh–.” With that in mind, Dillinger say they’ve decided to change their stage names in derision. “So, in his honor, our new names are officially as follows: G. Piranha, Blaster Master Weinman, Bullwhip Benoit, Corpsef—er Pennie [and] Leafeater Wilson. Those are going to be the names on our new CD — 100 percent serious.” …

Pete Yorn will spread the word about his forthcoming album, Nightcrawler, with a 36-gig acoustic tour that launches June 22 in Santa Barbara, California, and wraps August 12 in Asbury Park, New Jersey. Nightcrawler hits stores August 15. … Influential punks Social Distortion, will be back on the road for a two-week run this summer. The band’s trek kicks off July 3 in Las Vegas, with a handful of gigs booked through July 15 in Denver. The Supersuckers and Nine Black Alps will open. Social D are still working on material for the follow-up to 2004′s Sex, Love and Rock ‘n’ Roll.

Gorilla Biscuits are getting back together this summer for a 27-date U.S. tour that will coincide with the impending re-release of the hardcore icons’ classic 1989 LP, Start Today. The yet-to-be-scheduled reissue will feature in-depth liner notes by guitarist Walter Schreifels and a DVD featuring the band’s 2005 reunion set at New York’s CBGB. The tour kicks off August 4 in Asbury Park, New Jersey, and wraps up September 2 in New York. … Another recently reunited group, post-hardcore act Lifetime, have announced plans for a spate of gigs in July. The Bronx have been tapped to open five shows in Allston, Massachusetts (July 10); Buffalo, New York (July 13); Cleveland (July 14); Chicago (July 15); and Detroit (July 16). Details on additional dates will be announced in the coming weeks. …

You win some and you lose some — even when you’re Elton John. The singer accepted a $188,000 libel settlement from the British Daily Mail newspaper on Wednesday (May 24), AP reports. Daily Mail had claimed in a June 2005 issue that guests at a charity ball were forbidden to approach John, a report that caused the singer “considerable embarrassment and distress,” his lawyer noted in a hearing at London’s High Court. Other happenings across the Atlantic may also have Elton hurting. “Lestat,” the Broadway musical based on Anne Rice’s “The Vampire Chronicles” and featuring music by John and longtime collaborator Bernie Taupin, is closing after only 39 performances. The $10 million show’s curtain will drop for the last time Sunday. … Ian Copeland, a booking agent who represented R.E.M. and the Police, died Tuesday in Los Angeles, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Copeland — brother of Police drummer Stewart Copeland — succumbed to melanoma after battling the disease for many years. He was 57. …

After initially pushing back two Paris shows in order to allow guitarist Keith Richards to fully recuperate from brain surgery following his recent mystery accident, the Rolling Stones announced Wednesday that they will postpone 15 dates on their Bigger Bang European tour, according to a Reuters report. Richards, 62, is back in the U.S. recuperating from recent surgery in New Zealand to repair damage from a concussion allegedly sustained when he fell out of a coconut tree while on vacation in Fiji last month. The shows were supposed to start in Barcelona on Saturday and run through July 5 in Zagreb, Croatia. Rescheduled dates are expected to be announced before week’s end, with the tour slated to pick up again in early July at a yet-unannounced venue. …

Kaiser Chiefs singer Ricky Wilson was nearly killed in a hit-and-run accident in the British city of Leeds over the weekend. Wilson, who was struck by a car while walking in a crosswalk on Sunday evening, was spared serious injury by one of his patented onstage leaps, according to a post on the band’s Web site. “He’s the luckiest man alive, because he is still alive, it sounds daft, but a ‘Ricky trademark jump’ has probably saved his life,” the post read. “The jump meant he was flipped over the top of the car, hitting the windscreen, rather than getting trapped under it.” Wilson, who suffered a broken toe and bruises, was crossing on a green pedestrian light when he was struck by an unidentified driver; police are investigating the incident. Wilson is expected to be well enough to perform on the band’s upcoming dates June 2-4 in Holland and Germany. …

Nicole Richie and DJ AM are back off. The pair released a statement on Monday explaining that they have called it quits after a brief reconciliation. “We are confirming that we have amicably separated,” the brief statement read, according to AP. Richie and AM called off their nine-month engagement in December but were back together in recent months. … Former Spice Girl Geri Halliwell has named her baby daughter Bluebell Madonna, inspired by the flower and “the singer, whom I love,” she tells British magazine Hello! Bluebell was born May 14 in London.

05.23.2006

50 Cent was named Songwriter of the Year on Monday, as the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers presented its Pop Music Awards in Beverly Hills, California. Green Day‘s “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” shared Song of the Year honors with Mariah Carey‘s “We Belong Together” (written by Johnta Austin, Jermaine Dupri and Manuel Seal). Green Day also took the Creative Voice Award, while Annie Lennox was presented with the Founders Award. The ceremony featured a brief Eurythmics reunion, as Lennox was joined by guitarist Dave Stewart for a performance of her solo hit “Why.” …

Madonna is catching some heat from the Catholic League following the Sunday launch of her Confessions world tour, in which she wore a crown of thorns and sang “Live to Tell” while hanging from a mirrored cross. “When the Material Girl first embraced Kabbalah, we thought her newfound faith would inspire her to show some respect for religion,” said Bill Donohue, who heads up the Catholic civil-rights organization, in a statement issued Monday. “But I guess you really can’t teach an old pop star new tricks. Madonna has been spicing up her act with misappropriated Christian imagery for a long time now. … Do us all a favor, Madge, and stick to singing and dancing.” Madonna’s tour continues through September 4, with dates throughout North America and Europe. …

U2 and Mariah Carey took home handfuls of Grammys less than four months ago, but it’s already time to start planning for next year’s big event. The 49th annual Grammy Awards will be held at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on February 11, it was announced Tuesday (May 23). The ceremony will air live on CBS. … The Hip-Hop Action Network’s Hip-Hop Summit on Financial Empowerment went down in Miami over the weekend, drawing Fat Joe, Pitbull, Remy Ma, MC Lyte, and members of Bone Thugs-N-Harmony and the Diplomats. Action Network Chairman Russell Simmons was there too, of course, and Doug E. Fresh acted as summit co-moderator. …

Jamie Hewlett, co-creator of the Gorillaz and the man who put faces to Murdoc, 2D, Russel and Noodle, was honored as the Designer of the Year by London’s Design Museum on Monday. Hewlett was awarded approximately $47,000 for his contributions to the group’s graphics, “live” performances and Gorillaz.com. A collection of Hewlett’s work will be on display at the Design Museum through June 18. … Legendary rocker Lou Reed headlined a free concert in New York on Tuesday, marking the grand opening of the building at 7 World Trade Center — the first new edifice at the World Trade Center site in its outdoor park. The bill also features Brazilian Girls, Citizen Cope, Ollabelle and Suzanne Vega. …

Julia Roberts, Anna Paquin and Martin Short are among those who will present Tony Awards on June 11. The ceremony will be broadcast live at New York’s Radio City Music Hall on CBS at 8:00 p.m. … Norah Jones is set to make her feature acting debut alongside Natalie Portman, Jude Law and Rachel Weisz in the romantic comedy “My Blueberry Nights,” Variety reports. The film, director Wong Kar Wai‘s first English-language feature, will star the Grammy winner as a woman traveling the U.S. in search of the meaning of love. It will shoot in locations across the country this summer. …

Imogen Heap has turned the expression “Don’t get your hands caught in the cookie jar” into reality. After a gig in Knoxville, Tennessee, the singer indulged in a few shots of Jägermeister, went to the reception area of her hotel and snuck a cookie box into her suitcase — only to get busted by management. A security camera caught Heap in the act, and after management called police, she returned the item. … Like your coffee with a Kiss? Then you’re in luck. Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley will be at Broadway at the Beach in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, June 27 to christen the Kiss Coffeehouse, the so-called “most outrageous coffee and dessert shop ever constructed.” The restaurant will have various blends of Kiss-brand coffee and will be adorned with 20-foot-tall smoking Kiss boots and rare memorabilia. …

John Clark, a 23-year-old Indianapolis man who claims he’s Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds‘ illegitimate son, was arrested Friday for trying to extort $9 million from the Grammy-winning artist. According to AP, Clark threatened to go public with his claims but offered to keep quiet in exchange for payment. Indianapolis authorities said Clark was charged with felony theft and misdemeanor intimidation after accepting a bogus $9 million check from one of Babyface’s attorneys and signing a faux nondisclosure agreement. “The story was that he was going to ruin Babyface’s reputation by claiming to be Babyface’s illegitimate baby,” prosecutor Carl Brizzi told the wire service. Clark contends he’s Edmonds’ son and has the documents to prove it, but Brizzi said he’s failed to produce them. Clark is being held without bond at the Marion County Jail, and an initial hearing on the matter is set for Tuesday. … 3LW are back after a four-year break — and they’ve got Jermaine Dupri on their side. The producer twiddles the knobs and is featured on the R&B group’s new single, “Feelin’ You,” while Scott Storch, Dre & Vidal and others help out elsewhere on the group’s third LP, Point of No Return, due August 15. …

Ex-Van Halen frontman Sammy Hagar, a former resident of San Bernardino County, California, was presented with a certificate by county officials Tuesday proclaiming May 23 Sammy Hagar Day. Hagar plans to open his upcoming tour in San Bernardino on June 3. … On Monday, Seattle’s city council recommended that a new park be built adjacent to the future home of an African-American museum that will be named in late guitarist Jimi Hendrix‘s honor. According to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, the final decision rests with Seattle Parks and Recreation Superintendent Ken Bounds, who will be advised by a park-naming committee. Councilwoman Jean Godden argued for the resolution, saying that while there may be some concerns as to “what kind of a role model he was, given his problems with substance abuse” that “if you think about it, there’s hardly anyone who’s a genius and has contributed to culture who hadn’t had some personal flaws.” There’s no word on when Bounds will issue his decision. …

Bloodsimple, featuring former members of Long Island, New York’s Vision of Disorder, are down a drummer following the departure of Chris Hamilton. The band, which released its debut, A Cruel World, a little more than a year ago, has yet to name a replacement, and details concerning the split have not been released. Bloodsimple will head back to the studio this summer to record their sophomore LP, which is being eyed for a late 2006 release. … Machine Head, Converge, Vision of Disorder and Horse the Band have been added to select dates on this summer’s Sounds of the Underground tour as special guests. The festival, featuring As I Lay Dying, In Flames, Trivium and others, kicks off July 8 in Cleveland and runs through August 12 in Universal City, California. …

Sony BMG’s tentative settlement of 15 consumer class-action suits was granted final approval by a federal judge Monday, AP reports. The agreement, which was given preliminary approval in January, will allow consumers to exchange CDs with XCP or MediaMax copy-protection software for replacement discs without software. Sony will also offer a patch to remove the software from computers and has pledged to stop manufacturing CDs with the XCP and MediaMax software.