Elton John Marries Longtime Partner David Furnish

Elton John married his longtime partner David Furnish Sunday in a ceremony at their Windsor estate in Berkshire, England. The couple entered into a civil partnership in 2005, but legislation passed in the United Kingdom earlier this year allowed John and Furnish to finally tie the knot, Us Weekly reports. True to their words, the newlyweds have been posting photos of the ceremony and reception on John's newly christened Instagram account.

 

That's the legal bit done. Now on to the ceremony! #ShareTheLove @DavidFurnish

Ein von Elton John (@eltonjohn) gepostetes Foto am Dez 12, 2014 at 3:20 PST

While John previously hinted at a "quiet" wedding with their children and family, the "Rocket Man" singer kickstarted his Instagram with a photo that read "Sir Elton John and David Furnish request the pleasure of your company to celebrate their wedding," inviting fans to follow along with the special day. The couple, who have been together since 1993, have been posting photos from throughout their December 21st ceremony, including their wedding lunch menu.

 

The exchange of vows. #ShareTheLove

Une photo publiée par Elton John (@eltonjohn) le Déc. 12, 2014 at 7:14 PST

"I'm very proud of Britain and the laws that we've seen come into existence since we've been together," the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer told The Today Show earlier this year. "Having our civil partnership was an incredible breakthrough for people that have campaigned for a long time — through the Sixties and the Fifties in England when it was so hard to be gay and hard to be open about it. And it was a criminal act. So for this legislation to come through is joyous, and we should celebrate it. We shouldn't just say, 'Oh, well we have a civil partnership. We're not going to bother to get married.' We will get married."

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Original Grateful Dead Manager Rock Scully Dead at 73

Rock Scully, the manager of the Grateful Dead from their early Haight-Ashbury days up until 1985, passed away December 16th at a Monterey, California hospital. He was 73. His brother Dicken Scully, who also once worked for the Dead as their merchandise manager, told the New York Times that Rock Scully died following a long battle with lung cancer. San Francisco Gate adds that one of Scully's vocal cords collapsed in September, leaving him unable to speak.

"We bowled ahead and made history together – the kind people write books and make movies about. Rock was a big part of it all," Grateful Dead guitarist Bob Weir wrote in a tribute to Scully. "He put in the miles with us. He knew the words to all the songs. He knew the right things to say, to tell people, to let them know what we were all about without ever actually explaining anything, because he knew it couldn't be explained."

As legend has it, LSD pioneer Owsley "Bear" Stanley introduced Scully to the band – who had just changed their name from the Warlocks – following one of Ken Kesey's acid tests in 1965. It was Scully that first secured the Dead concerts at the legendary Fillmore; much more high-profile gigs at the Monterey Pop Festival and Woodstock soon followed. Scully also helped the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame group ink their first record contract with Warner.

"When last we spoke, [Scully] was as full of wonder and curiosity as when we first met him back at the Acid Test," Weir wrote. "His mischievous sense of adventure made him a perfect candidate for the position of manager for a band with similar sensibilities and an equally similar disregard for the way things were supposed to be done."

As the New York Times notes, Scully might have also had a hand in the ill-fated decision to hire Hells Angels members as security at the infamous Altamont Speedway Free Festival where one concertgoer was stabbed to death during the Rolling Stones' performance. Scully's memoir Living With the Dead, co-written with David Dalton, remains one of the most vital documents charting the Grateful Dead's early years and history together.

"There was a central sweetness to him, and a commitment to the hippie ideal of great trips," music historian Dennis McNally wrote for Dead.net. "If he conned you, a friend of mine said yesterday on hearing the news, it was almost always in the service of a higher ideal and for the best of reasons."

Scully was fired as the Dead's manager in 1984 after unsuccessfully battling drug addiction at the time. He spent his last years in his native Monterey, paying the medical expenses stemming from his lung cancer by selling rare Dead items from his own collection on eBay, the San Francisco Gate writes. A January 2015 benefit concert was in the works to help Scully pay off his bills at the time of his death.

Scully is survived by his daughter, a granddaughter and his brother. He was twice divorced; one of his ex-wives, Carolyne Christie, would later marry Pink Floyd's Roger Waters. Scully's son Luke died in the tsunami in Thailand in 2004.

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Madonna Responds to ‘Rebel Heart’ Leak by Releasing Six Songs

Madonna hadn't planned on releasing her 13th album, Rebel Heart, until spring 2015. But leakers had other plans for the Queen of Pop's follow-up to 2012's MDNA, unleashing early mixes of 13 tracks onto the Internet this week. In response, Madonna has put six official versions of the songs up for sale on iTunes and other digital music retailers, effective immediately. More music will be available February 9th, and the full album will be released the first week of March via Interscope.

"I was hoping to release my new single 'Living for Love' on Valentine's Day with the rest of the album coming in the spring," she said in a statement. "I would prefer my fans to hear completed versions of some of the songs instead of the incomplete tracks that are circulating. Please consider these six songs as an early Christmas gift."

Tracks available immediately include throwback house anthem "Living for Love," the ominous "Devil Pray," the lush "Ghosttown," reggae-tinged jam "Unapologetic Bitch," dark "Illuminati" and the Nicki Minaj-featuring "Bitch I'm Madonna." Producers on the tracks include Diplo, Kanye West, Billboard, Dahi, Blood Diamonds and Madonna, herself. Fans can nab the songs as part of an album pre-order or buy them individually a la carte. 

In July, Diplo — who produced a good portion of the album's tracks — promised the upcoming songs would be "crazy-sounding." "We really pushed the envelope with some of the stuff we were doing," he said, adding Madonna was "up for anything." "I love when an artist gives a producer the confidence he needs to work with them, and Madonna was very open-minded to my ideas… she was down from day one."

Madonna has been plagued by leaks for the past several weeks. Earlier this month, she posted a photo of a smashed iPod on Instagram as a reaction to the premature arrival of the track "Rebel Heart," and explained, "This broken ipod is a symbol of my broken heart! That my music has been stolen and leaked! I have been violated as a human and an artist! #fuckedupshit."

Upon discovering unreleased photos from shoots have also been making their way onto the web, she posted one of the offending images on Instagram with a note reading in part, "I am asking my true fans and supporters who respect me as an artist and a human to not get involved with the purchasing trading or posting of unreleased images or music. I hope and pray we find the source of the leaks soon. Until then i am grateful for any leads or info and even more grateful for your support and loyalty! Please let me finish my work so i can give you my very best!"

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Liberace Hologram to Tour World

A Liberace hologram is set to tour the world with a debut performance scheduled to take place in Las Vegas, though no dates have been announced yet, The Guardian reports.

The company behind the new endeavor, Hologram USA, is working with the full support of the Liberace Foundation, and they say they'll be rolling out a "slate of [further] celebrity resurrection projects" over the next 30 days.

Crafted by some of the same people behind the Tupac appearance at Coachella in 2012, this cyber Liberace will be put to work, performing a "full-scale, long-running" show and even interacting with the audience. "You’ll feel the warmth from his heart, the sparkle of his eye and the pure lightning from his fingertips,” Jonathan Warren, chairman of the Liberace Foundation, said in a statement.

The Liberace Foundation loaned Hologram USA heaps of footage and artifacts that allowed them to create their hologram, which, technically, isn't a hologram. Rather, the technology – the same used for the Tupac performance – is rooted in Pepper's Ghost, an illusion developed in the 1860s, that's been honed with advanced software and projection techniques. Hologram USA claims to own the system's only North American license.

"This is a major step in the evolution of this medium for entertainment," said Hologram USA's Alki David, who recently proposed a similar Amy Winehouse hologram that was rejected by the late singer's father. David went on to boast that the show will be so "lifelike" that "the room will be filled with all of the great singer’s charm and charisma."

Hologram USA's promise of more digital tours should come as no surprise: Since the debut of the Tupac hologram, a number of other deceased artists have been resurrected for special occasions. In May, a holographic Michael Jackson moonwalked across the stage during the Billboard Music Awards; digital renderings of Eazy E and Ol' Dirty Bastard took the stage during the Rock the Bells tour in 2013; and Freddie Mercury joined Queen for a special special performance of the West End musical We Will Rock You in 2012. 

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Hear Miguel Make ‘NWA’ Sound Sexy on His Surprise New EP

Miguel has spent the last few months hinting at the possibility of new music, and this morning, the R&B singer posted three new songs to his SoundCloud. The first, "NWA," features a guest verse from L.A. rap legend Kurupt; the second, "Hollywooddreams" addresses a down-and-out actor looking to make it big; and the third, "Coffee," explains what a house guest might drink the morning after a long night of you-know-what.

The EP's title appears to be the names of tracks, separated by periods, but, as with Miguel tradition, the words "Art Dealer Chic" appear in the background. In 2010, the singer captured the attention of R&B fans with his debut LP, All I Want Is You, and its smooth, chart-topping single "Sure Thing." He began his crossover move in 2012 with a series of EPs, Art Dealer Chic Vols. 1-3, and at the end of the year he broke new ground with his second album, Kaleidoscope Dream, which later won a Grammy for its lead single "Adorn."

Miguel released a snippet of "Coffee" back in October, captioning a short Instagram video with the hashtags "#artgang" and "#liveartdealerchic."

Earlier this week, he saluted another surprise release, D'Angelo and the Vanguard's Black Messiah, by Instagramming its cover art with the caption "I want to personally thank everyone involved in this album as a fan. Fuck."

Earlier this year, the singer has contributed a song, "Simplethings," to the Girls Vol. 2 soundtrack, joined Wale for a "Bennie and the Jets" remake that appeared on the most recent Goodbye Yellow Brick reissue and dueted with Mariah Carey on 2013 summer jam "#Beautiful."

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Paul McCartney Pondering Song About Eric Garner Protests

Paul McCartney revealed that he recently tried writing a song about the killings of unarmed black men in Ferguson and Staten Island in an interview with The Associated Press. While the former Beatle admitted his initial attempts proved fruitless, he hasn't given up on the song.

"I was thinking recently about all these protests in New York and around the country," he said. "I thought it would be great to put something down about that, just to add my voice to the thousands of people walking in the streets. I thought it through, and it just didn't come easily. I'm not giving up on it, but it didn't come easily, whereas some other emotions might come easily to me."

McCartney, of course, has a long history of social activism, whether supporting numerous charities – especially animal rights groups – calling on the Russian government to release members of Pussy Riot and Greenpeace protestors, or penning "Blackbird" for the Civil Rights movement of the Sixties.

That awareness also played a part in his recent work for the recently released video game, Destiny, for which he composed the score and the closing song, "Hope for the Future." "I thought, 'Seeing it's a shoot-em-up game, I will be the optimistic hope for the future,'" he told the AP. "I will write something that sums up that side of the game."

The former Beatle also talked about keeping tabs on the present, while looking back on his life and storied career. He named Sam Smith as a current favorite, and had high praise for Jay Z and Kanye West, calling their lyrics "modern poetry."

Recently, McCartney paid tribute to another musician whose works he likes: bandmate Ringo Starr. In an interview with Jimmy Fallon, the singer-songwriter explained how happy he was to be the one to tell the Beatles drummer that he'd made it into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He also revealed that his favorite Starr tracks are "It Don't Come Easy" and "Back Off Boogaloo."

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Flashback: Johnny Paycheck Shoots a Man in Barroom Brawl

You don't mess with a country outlaw… especially when he's packing. 

Related: Flashback: Watch a Johnny Cash Christmas Clip From 1978

On December 19, 1985 — almost 30 years to the date after the release of "Folsom Prison Blues," during which Johnny Cash's character shoots a man in Reno just to watch him die —songwriter Johnny Paycheck shot a man in Hillsboro, Ohio. Paycheck's reasoning was a bit more complicated, though, involving claims of self-defense, accusations of being called a "hick" and, in what sounds like a line from a country song, an offer to eat some homemade turtle soup. 

It was 29 years ago today that Paycheck walked into the North High Lounge in Hillsboro, Ohio. The bar was less than 20 miles from his hometown of Greenfield, and the country singer was planning on heading back home to his childhood stomping grounds to visit his mother for the holidays. Before completing the drive, though, he wanted to grab a drink. 

Also in the bar that night was Larry Wise, a Greenfield native and country music fan who recognized Paycheck. Although the exact details of their conversation remain unknown, Wise began talking to the singer, who asked to be left alone. The dialogue escalated, with Wise — either as some sort of peacemaking gesture, or a clever dig at Paycheck's small-town roots — offering to take Paycheck back home and feed him a home-cooked meal of deer meat and turtle soup. That's when Paycheck — who, coincidentally enough, scored one of his earliest hits with a song called "Pardon Me, I've Got Someone to Kill" — reached around his hip in search of his .22-caliber pistol.

''I never seen the gun, and I never heard the shot,'' Wise testified during a hearing that occurred eight days later, claiming he began backing away as soon as Paycheck roared, 'Do you see me as some kind of country hick?' Although Wise ultimately ran from the bar, he wasn't fast enough to avoid a bullet from Paycheck's gun, which grazed his scalp and left him bleeding above the right eye. ''He blowed my hat off," Wise told the court room. "I guess he took it as a personal insult.''

Paycheck, who claimed he shot Wise in self-defense, battled the case for years, often with a little help from his friends. George Jones and Merle Haggard came to his aid in May 1986, paying $50,000 in bail money to get Paycheck out of jail. Later that summer, Johnny Rodriguez and Jerry Lee Lewis played a show in Memphis to help raise money for his mounting legal bills. Finally, after years of appeals, Paycheck was slapped with a nine year sentence. He earned a pardon from Ohio governor Richard Celeste after serving less than two years, though, and returned to his music career after leaving the Chillicothe Correctional Institute on January 10, 1991. Interestingly enough, David Allen Coe, who wrote Paycheck's 1978 hit "Take This Job and Shove It," had also spent time in the Chillicothe prison.

Although he never scored another hit like "Take This Job and Shove It," the turtle soup incident — along with the news that he'd punched a superior officer during his time in the U.S. Navy, resulting in a pair of years spent in military prison — helped cement Paycheck's status as an outlaw, alongside more popular artists like Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson. He joined the Grand Ole Opry in 1997 and passed away in 2003, with George Jones — who'd employed Paycheck as the bass player of his backing band during the Sixites — paying for his burial plot in Nashville's Woodlawn Memorial Park Cemetery. 

Meanwhile, North High Lounge owner Ernest Turner, who was behind the bar during that infamous night in 1985, eventually decided to follow Paycheck's advice by taking his own job and shoving it. The lounge was torn down years ago, replaced by a handful of governmental buildings operated by the city of Hillsboro. 

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YA Books, RPG and the New Decemberists LP: Colin Meloy Rolls the Dice

Nobody expected the Decemberists, the theatrically-minded indie-folk band from Portland, Oregon, to ever hit Number One on the Billboard album chart. So what did they do after their sixth LP, 2011's The King Is Dead, made it all the way to the top? They took four years to release its follow-up, What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World (due January 20th). Not that they sat around drinking artisanal lattes: Although lead singer Colin Meloy has yet to get his stage musical off the ground, he did publish a trilogy of YA fantasy novels: Wildwood (which hit the New York Times bestseller lists), Under Wildwood and Wildwood Imperium, all illustrated by his wife, Carson Ellis. "There are a lot of people who know me just for the books, which is strange to me, and then discover the band later," Meloy told us on the phone from his home in Oregon.

Do you come down more on the world is terrible or the world is beautiful side?
That's changing daily, but I think the point is that it's both. I feel like I've spent the last four years trying to get my head wrapped around that idea that those things can live together symbiotically.

When the band gets back together, does everyone fall into old roles and habits?
It's not like we've been strangers to one another during the intervening years. We've had charity shows here and there and done a few other projects. But we've been around long enough and we're adults, so everybody comes back to it in a very – I hate to say professional way, because it sounds so austere and sterile, but everybody knows what they do well at this point. Not to say that there wasn't room for us to challenge one another, but for the most part it was as if we were all climbing under the same comfortable duvet on a cold winter's night and snuggling close.

What was the origin of "The Singer Addresses His Audience"?
That was my imagining the viewpoint of a singer in a band. In my head it was the singer of a boy band coming to terms with how everything in their life and their career has changed. That relationship between bands or singers and their audience, it's kind of a funny relationship and abusive in its own right, going both ways. I shouldn't say abusive, but it can be antagonistic. I think that it's an odd relationship, and it's just that particular singer trying to come to terms with that aspect of it. Having an audience, you may want to continue doing things on your own terms, but that becomes more challenging when there are expectations. And audiences have more of a voice than ever with the advent of the Internet. While I may not be cowed by it, I can imagine a singer with thinner skin would be terrified by that. I've always been humbled and flattered that people have attached themselves to certain aspects of the Decemberists.

How about "Make You Better"?
I got hung up on the idea of thinking about how we kind of seek to define ourselves in relationships and strive to cure our ills through our relationships – and sometimes through our past relationships. So it's the futile attempts to achieve some kind of wholeness in relationships that don't exist anymore.

If you replay the relationship in your head, maybe you can win this time?
Yeah. I think we do that a lot. We replay our mistakes, we question our motives: I needed you because I needed you to make me a better person.  But I think the singer in the song, the "I" in the song, is coming to grips with that.

Is the "I" in your songs ever you?
Absolutely. There's aspects of me in all the songs, even the ones that aren't first person. But definitely on this record there's a lot that's me. I hope people will forgive me.

How does this record feel different from other albums that you've made?
Well, it represents a broader swath of what we do as a band. We recorded it over a year and a half, which is the longest we have ever taken to make a record. Some of the songs were five years old when we recorded them and some were just a month old, so they represent a real sense of passing time. You can see how my fascinations with songwriting change over the course of five years. After we had finished the King Is Dead tour and as I was pivoting to writing, I was feeling weirdly cynical about music. So a lot of self-reflexive songs came out, stuff like "Anti-Summersong" and "The Singer Addresses His Audience." Once I got that out of my system, I was working on the books, which were satisfying a lot of my narrative bent, so the songs tended to be more first-person meditations or just taking stock of my surroundings. And as soon as the books were finished, the last few songs that I wrote were "Till the Water Is All Long Gone" and "Easy Come, Easy Go." The narrative starts to sneak in again.

You're a narrative junkie.
I am. I just like stories. I like people telling stories. I hate being called a storyteller, though. When I'm referred to as a storyteller, my brain gets pinched.

How do you feel about "troubadour" and "bard"?
Yeah, those are less offensive. I'd rather be called a "bard" than a "storyteller." And I have no idea why.

Because "bard" sounds like a playable class in a Dungeons & Dragons game and "storyteller" doesn't.
In fact, it is a playable class in a D&D game. Oh, you've revealed yourself.

As have you. When is the last time you played an RPG?
OK, full disclosure. It came out, that new edition. I hadn't played D&D since I was 12. Some writers in town got a little thing together, and I may have stepped in on that at some point. And that's all I'll say.

Hypothetically, was it entertaining and pleasurable or was it just a weird flashback to 13-year-olds sitting around the kitchen table with Doritos?
Actually, it's both those things, in a funny way. My recollection of games involved going to [imaginary] taverns and trying to pick up elf women: sad preadolescent fumbling. As a 12-year-old, that was the only place where you were able to actually do that. I'm not sure I'm ready to come out about this, particularly in Rolling Stone. I'm still traumatized as being so marginalized from it as a child... Maybe I don't care. Just go for it.

What have you been listening to lately?
Topic Records in the U.K. released a record of Lal Waterson's demos. She was a British folk revival mainstay. She recorded very few records – Bright Phoebus is a record she did with her husband, Mike. The Watersons mainly did traditional songs, but she was a songwriter. This is all early demo stuff, and it's beautiful. I'm just amazed that it hasn't come to light sooner. What else? I was listening to Parquet Courts a lot recently. That's only two things, but you've probably got a limited word count.

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Watch Jenny Lewis Soar on ‘She’s Not Me’ With Ryan Adams

One week after wrapping up a string of shared shows in the Southwest, Jenny Lewis and Ryan Adams teamed up again last night, when both songwriters hit the stage during an episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live. Lewis was the show's musical guest, in her last gig of a busy year spent creating, releasing and promoting her third solo album, The Voyager. She brought along Adams for the ride, adding her producer — who recorded the bulk of The Voyager in his own PAX-AM Studio — to a large, all-star backup band that also featured several other solo artists, including guitarist Megan McCormick, keyboardist Natalie Prass and harmony vocalist Z Berg. 

Together, the group played "She's Not Me" — which Adams covered with his own band on December 11th, during a California concert that doubled as his final co-headlining show with Jenny Lewis — and "Just One of the Guys." It wasn't the pair's first time performing each other's songs. Earlier this month, Adams joined Lewis onstage during a show in Tulsa, Oklahoma, guesting on "Just One of the Guys" and "Head Underwater." Lewis returned the favor during Adams' set later that night, singing Emmylou Harris' part in "Oh My Sweet Carolina" and Kim Richey's harmony vocals in "Come Pick Me Up."

Lewis and Adams were virtually strangers until the PAX-AM recording sessions, which were originally scheduled for a single day. Earlier this year, Lewis talked with Rolling Stone Country about her experience working with the songwriter/producer.

"I just went into [Pax-Am Studio] to record one tune, 'She's Not Me,' which was a song I'd been working on in this Keith Richards-ish open tuning," she said. "I couldn't finish it, so I decided to go over there and cut it with [Ryan Adams]. We put together a band, including Griffin [Goldsmith, of Dawes] on drums and Ryan on guitar. By the end of the day, we'd recorded 'She's Not Me' live, two takes. And I was like, 'Oh my god, Ryan is a badass producer. And a great guitar player.'"

Adams proved his guitar chops again last night, taking two solos on "She's Not Me" and cranking up the tremolo during a warm, wistful "Just One of the Guys." Although Lewis wound up tapping Beck to produce the version of "Just One of the Guys" that made its way onto The Voyager's final track list, she later released the original recording — featuring Adams' production — on the Pax-Am Sessions EP, a limited-edition collection that was released last month in conjunction with Record Store Day. 

The Jimmy Kimmel Live performance brings both Lewis and Adams' years to a close. Adams kicks off another busy touring season on February 19, 2015, less than two weeks after going head-to-head with rock groups like U2, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers and the Black Keys at the 57th annual Grammy Awards.

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Fricke’s Picks Radio: Farewells, Foos and Airwaves

It has been awhile since my last broadcast: Deadlines, shows, roadwork, and, sadly, obituaries got in the way. They also had a big impact on the records that have filled the last weeks of this year: Pink Floyd's tribute to their late keyboard player Richard Wright; U2's controversial gift to everyone; Dave Grohl's season of rock & roll storytelling and two-and-a-half-hour club gigs, to go with his HBO series Sonic Highways and his Foo Fighters' companion album; the 2014 edition of Iceland Airwaves; and recent New York nights with psychedelic-blues institution Hot Tuna (marking bassist Jack Casady's 70th birthday) and Trigger Hippy. a new country-blues, etc. collaboration with singer Joan Osborne, singer-guitarist Jackie Green (often out with Phi Lesh) and Black Crowes drummer Steve Gorman.

There was also my immersion in the bohemian life and creative fight of British leftist and art-rock icon Robert Wyatt, via Marcus O'Dair's enthralling new biography, Different Every Time (Profile Books Ltd.), and the sudden passing of an idol and friend, keyboard player Ian McLagan of the Small Faces and Faces, on December 3rd. In the tribute sequence here, I included his exuberant cover of "Kustchy Rye," the 1979 solo single by his late fellow Face, Ronnie Lane, because it was the last song I saw Mac play, in New York last June. The song's title, loosely translated from Romany, means "good gentleman." That was Mac, to the end.

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