Bobby "Boris" Pickett died on April 25 of leukemia. He was 69. In 1962, Pickett topped the charts with his Halloween novelty hit "Monster Mash." Four major record companies turned down the single, which was eventually released on singer-songwriter-producer Gary Paxton's own label.
Mstislav Rostropovich, 80, died of intestinal cancer on April 27. In the early 1970s, the cellist and former music director of Washington's National Symphony Orchestra fought for Soviet dissident rights. He moved his family to Paris in 1974. In 1978, his Soviet citizenship was revoked. When the Berlin Wall came down in 1989, Rostropovich played his cello amidst the rubble. The following year, his Soviet citizenship was restored. Rostropovich was hospitalized in February. When his health declined further, his family arranged for him to return to Russia, where he was being treated at a Moscow hospital. At his 80th birthday celebration on March 27, which was held at the Kremlin, Russian President Vladimir Putin presented Rostropovich with the Order of Service to the Fatherland Medal. The award recognized his "outstanding contribution to the development of world music and many years of creative activity."
None of the remaining six American Idol finalists were voted off the televised competition on April 25. Melinda Doolittle, Blake Lewis, Phil Stacey, LaKisha Jones, Chris Richardson and Jordin Sparks performed songs dealing with hope and compassion on the April 24 charity-themed show. "Idol Gives Back" raised more than $60 million for the newly created Charity Projects Entertainment Fund. The organization was established to raise money for people living in poverty in the United States and throughout the world. The finalists' votes will be combined with this week's and two contestants will go home on May 3.
NEW ALBUM RELEASES
New albums scheduled for release on May 1 include: "Know Me" by Ne-Yo, "American Doll Posse" by Tori Amos, "Call Me Irresponsible" by Michael Buble, "Pure BS" by Blake Shelton, "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend" by Miranda Lambert, "Based On A True Story" by Kimberley Locke, "Snakes and Arrows" by Rush, "Ghost Stories" by Chantal Kreviazuk, "Beyond" by Dinosaur Jr., "Into the Blues" by Joan Armatrading and the original motion picture soundtrack to "Spiderman 3."
The 6th annual Ponderosa Stomp will be held in New Orleans on May 2. This year's roots music event will feature the New Orleans Rhythm & Blues Revue, Dan Penn, Dale Hawkins, Little Jimmy Scott, Augie Meyers and a rare appearance by Austin musician Roky Erickson.
Kenny Chesney, George Strait, Brooks & Dunn, Sugarland, Alan Jackson and Willie Nelson will headline the inaugural Stagecoach Festival, which takes place May 5th and 6th in Indio, California. In addition to the many concerts, the festival will offer onsite camping, art and western heritage displays, seminars and demonstrations, a barbecue competition and many other family activities.
Singer Chris Tomlin was the big winner at the Gospel Music Association's 38th annual Dove Awards, which were presented on April 25. For the second year-in-a-row, Tomlin was named Male Vocalist of the Year and Artist of the Year. He also won the Pop/Contemporary Album of the Year and Praise & Worship Album of the Year honors for his latest CD "See the Morning," Worship Song of the Year for "Holy Is the Lord," and Special Event Album of the Year for his contribution to the various artist project "Passion: Everything Glorious." Other multiple winners included Aaron Shust, Casting Crowns, the Gaither Vocal Band and Jars of Clay.
TOUR DATES AND INFORMATION
On May 5, Steely Dan will kick off its "Heavy Rollers" world tour in Memphis, Tennessee. U.S. dates are scheduled to wrap up with a three-night engagement at New York's Beacon Theater June 10-13. European shows will follow July 5-28. The duo will then play 15 concerts in Japan, which run from August 18 through September 5. Steely Dan will wrap up the tour with shows in Australia and New Zealand September 8-24.