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Michael Jackson to Release Special 'Thriller' Album; George Michael Working on Memoirs

Michael Jackson will celebrate the 25th anniversary of his classic 1982 album Thriller with the February 12 release of Thriller 25. Its first single will be a new version of "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'," which Michael recorded with Akon and the Black Eyed Peas' Will.I.Am. Akon spoke to MTV about working with Jackson and said, "He's a genius. Just to be in the same room (with him), I felt everything I wanted to accomplish in life has been achieved." He added, "The way he thinks…some artists think regional, some think national, I was thinking international. He thinks planets. It's on another level."

The San Diego County Medical Examiner's Office has released the cause of Ike Turner's December 12 death. Although cardiovascular disease, high blood and emphysema were contributors to his death, the medical examiner says the 76-year-old rock pioneer died of an accidental cocaine overdose.

George Michael is writing a memoir that will be released in late 2009. The book deal is said to be worth at least $7 million. Michael's manager, Andy Stephens, released a statement saying, "George has promised HarperCollins a no-holds barred biography, and it's certain to be just that. People aren't stupid, they're beginning to notice that the truth is more interesting than the stories the press come up with!"

On January 25 and 26, Garth Brooks will perform five sold out concerts at the 20,000-seat Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. The shows will benefit the Southern California 2008 Fire Intervention Relief Effort (FIRE). CBS-TV will carry a live one-hour special from the first concert on January 25 as a telethon of sorts. Viewers will be able to donate to FIRE during the broadcast.

Epic Records will release Natasha Bedingfield's second album, Pocket Full of Sunshine, on January 22. The collection includes six songs from the British singer's second international release N.B., plus seven brand new tracks. Its first single is "Love Like This," which teams Bedingfield with Jamaican singer Sean Kingston.

Country superstar Kenny Chesney has expanded his summer tour to include more stadium shows. He'll now play a total of 14 U.S. stadiums, beginning at Williams Brice Stadium in Columbia, South Carolina on April 26. Among the supporting acts on various dates are Keith Urban, Brooks & Dunn, Big & Rich, LeAnn Rimes, Gary Allen, Luke Bryan and Sammy Hagar.


New albums scheduled for release on January 22 include: "The Revival" by Royce Da 5'9", "Watch The Sky" by Patty Larkin, "Don't Look Away" by Kate Voegele, "Unfamiliar Faces" by Matt Costa, "The Purple Tape" by Lisa Loeb and "I'll Be Lightning" by Liam Finn.


On January 25 and 26, R&B star Usher will host benefit concerts as part of the National Hockey League's (NHL) All-Star Weekend. The shows will take place in Usher's hometown of Atlanta, Georgia and will benefit his New Look Foundation, a non-profit program established to expose young people to the business side of sports and entertainment. Wyclef Jean will headline the January 25 concert and the Jonas Brothers will perform at the January 26 "NHL Rockin' Skate 2008" event.


Winners in the music categories of the 2008 Golden Globe Awards were Dario Marianelli, who earned the Best Original Score honor for Atonement and Pearl Jam's lead vocalist Eddie Vedder, who won the Best Original Song award for "Guaranteed" from Into the Wild.


On January 22, Van Halen will kick off the second leg of its reunion tour in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. 34 U.S. concerts are currently scheduled through April 7. Last year, lead singer David Lee Roth rejoined the group to perform their first tour together in more than 20 years. According to Pollstar, it brought in close to $57 million to become the fifth highest-grossing tour of 2007.

Kid Rock will begin his "Rock and Roll Revival Tour" on January 2h in Evansville, Indiana. The outing will support his new album, Rock 'N' Roll Jesus. Rev. Run, founding member of the pioneering hip-hop group Run-D.M.C., will join Kid Rock on the tour.

On January 25, Matchbox Twenty will kick off its "Exile In America" tour, which marks the band's first North American trek in four years. Dates begin in Hollywood, Florida. Matchbox Twenty released its latest album, Exile On Mainstream, in October of last year. Joining the group on the road are MuteMath and Alanis Morissette. Morissette will introduce songs from her upcoming album, Flavors of Entanglement, which is due out this summer.