The Backstreet Boys have spent the year working on their first album since 2001's Black and Blue. Now they're getting ready to head overseas for a series of concerts in China, Japan and Mexico. A warm-up concert took place on September 17 in their home state of Florida. On September 24, the Backstreet Boys will perform at Olympic Stadium in Beijing. Proceeds from that show will go to Special Olympics International. A show in Shanghai is scheduled for September 26 and five concerts are planned in Tokyo between September 29 and October 3. The group will wrap up its international dates in Mexico City on October 15 and 16.
Alicia Keys will also be in China this week. The Grammy-winning singer-pianist will appear at the Great Wall of China on September 25 as part of "Wall of Hope," the first music festival ever held at the site. Proceeds from the invitation-only event will benefit the Child, Children and Teenagers' Fund.
The Ramones' guitarist Johnny Ramone died on September 15 of prostate cancer. He was 55. Two other original members of the punk rock group have died during the past few years. Singer Joey Ramone lost his battle with lymphoma in 2001, and one year later, Dee Dee Ramone died from an accidental overdose at age 49. The Ramones' debut album was released in 1976. The band is credited with paving the way for other punk/new wave groups, including Blondie.
Pop singer Jessica Simpson has been cast to play Daisy Duke in the motion picture remake of the 1980s television series The Dukes of Hazzard. Simpson's limited acting experience includes a guest run on FOX-TV's That '70s Show and a cameo in the 2002 motion picture The Master of Disguise.
Nominees for this year's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction have been announced. The ballot includes Randy Newman, the O'Jays, Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Stooges, the Pretenders, Buddy Guy, Wanda Jackson, the J. Geils Band, the late Conway Twitty, the late Gram Parsons, Percy Sledge, U2 and Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five. Artists become eligible for induction 25 years after the release of their first recording. The 2005 class will be announced in December and the Hall of Fame induction ceremony will take place early next year.
Hurricane Ivan forced the postponement of Country star Tim McGraw's 2004 "Swampstock," which was set for September 19 in Rayville, Louisiana. The 10th annual event was to feature a celebrity concert with Faith Hill, Martina McBride, Jeff Bates, Big & Rich and the Warren Brothers, as well as a softball game and charity auction. Tim McGraw began hosting "Swampstock" in 1994 as a way to give back to his hometown community. His publicist says another date will be considered after the storm passes.
On September 24, a benefit concert will take place at London's Wembley Stadium to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Fender Stratocaster guitar. Miller Strat Pack will feature performances by guitar greats Joe Walsh, Gary Moore and David Gilmore, among others. Proceeds will go to the Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy Center.
Usher and OutKast each received three awards at the 16th annual World Music Awards, which were handed out in Las Vegas on September 15. Usher was named Best Male Artist, Best Pop Male Artist and Best R&B Artist. Hip-hop duo OutKast took home the Best Group, Best Pop Group and Best Rap/Hip-Hop Artist trophies. Other winners included Norah Jones, who was named Best Female Artist and Best Pop Female Artist; Hilary Duff, Best New Female Artist; Avril Lavigne, Best Pop Rock Artist; Maroon 5, Best New Group; Kanye West, Best New Male Artist; and Celine Dion, who received the Diamond Award in recognition of worldwide record sales exceeding 100 million copies.
Carolyn Dawn Johnson was the big winner at the 2004 Canadian Country Music Association Awards. The event took place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada on September 13. Johnson took home four trophies, including the SOCAN Song of the Year honor for "Die of A Broken Heart." Her three other wins were Album of the Year for "Dress Rehearsal" and Video of the Year and Single of the Year for "Simple Life." Terri Clark earned her second Female Vocalist of the Year award. She won that same title in 1997. Terri also received the Fans' Choice Award for the fourth year in a row. Jason McCoy was named Male Vocalist of the Year for the second time. This year's new artist trophy went to George Canyon and Doc Walker received the Group of the Year award.
LOOK WHO'S GOING ON TOUR!
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member Jackson Browne will begin a U.S. concert tour on September 24 in Reno, Nevada. The first two shows will be solo dates and the rest will be part of the "Vote For Change" tour, which wraps up on October 11. Seven days later, Browne will begin a European tour that includes 15 concerts in the U.K. He'll also perform in Denmark, Germany, Sweden, Norway, Ireland, and the Netherlands before wrapping up concerts in Italy on November 29. Browne is also scheduled to appear on Country Music Television's Crossroads series in November. He'll be paired with Country superstar Tim McGraw.