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George Michael, Fleetwood Mac Plan US Concert Tours


For the first time in 21 years, a British female solo artist tops Billboard's Hot 100 chart. 22-year-old Leona Lewis achieves that feat this week (week ending April 5) with her international hit "Bleeding Love." Leona was born and raised in London. She won Simon Cowell's British talent show, X Factor, in 2006. Leona's debut album, Spirit, will be released on April 8.

On March 27, 27-year-old rapper T.I. pleaded guilty to three charges of illegal weapons possession. The plea reduces his jail time from a possible 30 years to just one year. T.I. will also have to pay a $100,000 fine and perform 1,000 hours of community service.

On April 1, Shout! Factory Records will release the U2 tribute album In the Name of Love: Africa Celebrates U2. The collection honors the band for its African humanitarian relief efforts. Among the musicians featured on the album are Beninese singer Angelique Kidjo, the Soweto Gospel Choir, Les Nubians and the Sierra Leone Refugee All-Stars. A portion of the proceeds will benefit Global Fund, which works to fight malaria, AIDS and tuberculosis.

British pop singer George Michael is planning his first U.S. tour in 17 years to support his new album, Twenty Five. The double CD will hit stores on April 1. It features six new songs, including duets with Mary J. Blige and Paul McCartney. Michael's 20-city U.S. trek will begin on June 17 in San Diego.

Fleetwood Mac's singer/guitarist Lindsey Buckingham told Billboard.com that the band is "looking at the idea of touring sometime in the first half of 2009." He also mentioned that Fleetwood Mac might record some new songs prior to the tour. There are reports that Sheryl Crow will join the group. Sheryl announced to AOL's music site Spinner.com, "I don't want to make any official announcements, but I will say that we definitely have plans for collaborating in the future, and we'll see what happens."

Two rock stars are recovering from health problems. Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry had total knee replacement surgery on March 18. He's now recuperating at home, where he'll spend the rest of the year. And, Allman Brothers Band leader Gregg Allman is recovering from treatment for Hepatitis C. His band had been forced to postpone its annual 15-night engagement at New York's Beacon Theater, which was scheduled for May 5-24. A statement released from Madison Square Garden Entertainment says, "The virus has been eradicated from his system." Gregg adds, "I'm getting better but I'm still tired. I need to be at 110 percent to do the shows the way we do them."

Martin Scorsese's Rolling Stones documentary, Shine A Light, will hit U.S. theaters on April 4. Performances were filmed at two 2006 concerts at New York's Beacon Theater. Interscope Records will release the film's 22-track, double CD soundtrack on April 1. Guests include Buddy Guy, Christina Aguilera and Jack White.

31-year-old Scottish saxophonist Jason Rae was found dead on March 22 in a London apartment. The husband of British pop star Corinne Bailey Rae died of a suspected drug overdose. Corinne met Jason at a jazz club, where she worked in the coat-check room, while attending Leeds University. They married in 2001.

NEW ALBUM RELEASES

New albums scheduled for release on April 1 include: "Accelerate" by R.E.M., "X" by Kylie Minogue, "Last Night" by Moby, "We Weren't Crazy" by Josh Gracin, "Keep It Simple" by Van Morrison, "Live In Phoenix" by Fall Out Boy, "Canta Conmigo" by Blue Man Group, "Life With You" by The Proclaimers, "Undeniable" by AZ, "Aliens & Rainbows" by Ferras, "In The Pink" by Donna Lewis, "Coal" by Kathy Mattea and "One Hell Of A Ride" (4-CD box set) by Willie Nelson.


TOUR DATES AND INFORMATION

On April 4, 1980s rock group Asia will kick off a U.S. tour in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania. The band will be supporting its upcoming album Phoenix, which is due out on April 15. This marks Asia's first album since 1983 to feature all four original members - John Wetton, Geoff Downes, Steve Howe and Carl Palmer.

Southern rockers Hank Williams, Jr. and Lynyrd Skynyrd will begin their second annual "Rowdy Frynds" tour on April 4. Concerts begin in Hershey, Pennsylvania and wrap up in Jacksonville, Florida on June 14. According to Lynyrd Skynyrd's web site, the band is working on a new album for release in early 2009. The group might include the previously unreleased track "Cottonmouth Country," which was recorded before the tragic plane crash that took the lives of original band members Ronnie Van Zandt, Steve Gaines and his sister Cassie Gaines.

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