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Ashlee Simpson Collapses in Tokyo; Bob Dylan to Host Radio Show


Rapper Eminem scored his fourth consecutive Number One debut on the Billboard 200 the week ending December 24 with Curtain Call. His new album sold more than 440,000 copies its first week of release. Eminem is currently riding high on the popularity charts with the album's first single, "When I'm Gone."

Singer Ashlee Simpson collapsed and was hospitalized on December 15 while on tour in Tokyo, Japan. Us Weekly reports that she had just finished singing her hit song "Boyfriend" before telling the audience she felt ill. Ashlee fainted in an elevator and was rushed to the hospital by ambulance. No details about her condition have been released. Her appearance at the Radio Music Awards in Las Vegas on December 19 was cancelled.

Two music stars are planning second careers as radio hosts. Legendary rocker Bob Dylan will launch a weekly music show on XM Satellite Radio in March 2006. XM has announced Dylan will personally choose the songs he plays. And, Country star Kix Brooks of Brooks & Dunn will soon take over as host of "American Country Countdown," the ABC Radio Network's longest-running countdown show. In January, he'll replace Bob Kingsley, who has hosted the four-hour program since 1978. ABC Radio Network's John McConnell says, "He knows the music. He knows the songs. He knows the people. He knows the life. But especially, he knows the stories, and the artists and fans just seem to take him places they wouldn't (for) most other people."

The Dixie Chicks are currently planning their first concert tour in three years. The trek will support a new album the Country trio is now working on with producer Rick Rubin. The three members have all added children to their families during the career break. They'll be taking a total of seven children along on the tour. All are under the age of 5.

Producers of the Broadway musical Sweet Charity have announced the show will close on December 31. Just last month, it was reported that Britney Spears was in talks to replace Christina Applegate, who earned a Tony nomination for her leading role. Sweet Charity opened on May 4, 2005.

61-year-old guitarist Jimmy Page, of the rock group Led Zeppelin, was given an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) on December 14. Queen Elizabeth II presented him with the award for the work he does to help underprivileged children in Brazil. He has supported the British charity Task Brazil since 1994, when he witnessed first-hand the plight of street children. Task Brazil offers food, clothing, job training and medical support to the children.

MUSICAL EVENTS/FESTIVALS/BENEFITS

On December 18, several music stars gathered in Tunica, Mississippi to perform a special tribute concert for the first responders of Hurricane Katrina. The lineup included Wayne Newton, Lee Ann Womack, Brittany Murphy and comedian-actor Paul Rodriguez. 100 percent of the proceeds will go to the Mississippi Law Enforcement and Firefighter Katrina Relief Fund.

AWARDS PRESENTATIONS/WINNERS

Nominations have been announced for the Blues Foundation's 2006 Blues Music Awards, formerly known as the W.C. Handy Blues Awards. Singer and pianist Marcia Ball, guitarist Magic Slim and the late singer "Little" Milton Campbell each received four nominations. Triple nominees include Shemekia Copeland, Bobby Rush, Hubert Sumlin and Kim Wilson. The five nominees competing for this year's B.B. King Entertainer of the Year Award are "Little" Milton Campbell, Bobby Rush, Magic Slim, Marcia Ball and Buddy Guy. The 2006 Blues Music Awards will be presented in Memphis, Tennessee on May 11. (Full list of nominees at www.blues.org )

TOUR DATES AND INFORMATION

U2 leads Billboard Boxscore's list of top-grossing concert tours of 2005. The Irish rock group sold out 90 concerts on its "Vertigo" tour, which drew more than three million people. The shows grossed $260 million. The Eagles came in second, grossing $117 million from 77 concerts. At Number 3 is Neil Diamond, who brought in more than $71 million. Kenny Chesney, the only Country act in the Top 10, came in fourth place. He grossed $63 million and drew 1.1 million fans to his shows. In fifth place is Paul McCartney, who brought in $60 million in 2005. Rounding out the Top 10 are Rod Stewart ($49 million), Elton John ($45.5 million), the Dave Matthews Band ($45 million), Jimmy Buffett ($41 million) and Green Day ($36.5 million). According to Billboard Boxscore, North American concerts grossed a little more than $2 billion in 2005. That number is down 6.2 percent from 2004.

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