Kelly Clarkson's new single, "My Life Would Suck Without You," sold nearly 280,000 digital downloads its first week of release.  Those sales were responsible for the song's jump from Number 97 to Number One on this week's Hot 100 chart (week ending February 7).  According to Billboard, Kelly sets a new record for the largest leap in the chart's 50-year history.  Britney Spears held the previous record by catapulting from Number 96 to Number One in one week's time with her 2008 hit, "Womanizer."  "My Life Would Suck Without You" will appear on Kelly's upcoming album, "All I Ever Wanted," which will be released on March 17.

Former Lynyrd Skynyrd Band Member Dies

On January 28, keyboardist Billy Powell died of an apparent heart attack at his Florida home.  He was 56.  Billy was a member of Lynyrd Skynyrd's road crew when the Southern rock band discovered his keyboard skills.  He was added to the group in 1972.  The following year, Lynyrd Skynyrd's debut album, "Pronounced leh-nerd skin-nerd," was released.  Three members of the band and an assistant road manager were killed in a plane crash in 1977.  Powell survived the accident and two years later formed the Rossington-Collins Band with Gary Rossington, Allen Collins and Leon Wilkeson.  In 1991, Lynyrd Skynyrd was revived with a new lineup that included Powell.  The group is working on a new album and had some upcoming concerts planned.  Johnny Van Zant, younger brother of Lynyrd Skynyrd's original lead singer Ronnie Van Zant, said the shows will be cancelled.

'Thriller' Director Sues Michael Jackson

Just days after reports surfaced that Michael Jackson's Thriller would be made into a Broadway musical, director John Landis filed a lawsuit against Michael and producer James L. Nederlander.  Landis co-wrote the song and directed its music video.  He claims Jackson lacks the adequate rights to sell them to Nederlander.  Landis's company, Levitsky Productions, also has a lawsuit pending against Jackson that seeks unpaid royalties on Thriller.

Hudson Makes First Public Appearance Since Family Murder

On February 1, Jennifer Hudson made her first public appearance since the murders of her mother, brother and nephew in Chicago last October.  She sang the national anthem at Super Bowl XLIII in Tampa, Florida.  The triple Grammy nominee then headed to Los Angeles to sing at the MusiCares Person of the Year gala on February 6 and also the February 8 Grammy Awards ceremony.  

Former 'Idol' Contestant McPhee Signs New Record Deal

American Idol season five runner-up Katharine McPhee recently signed a new recording deal with Verve Records.  Her 2006 debut album for RCA sold only 375,000 copies in the U.S.  Verve Music Group President Bruce Resnikoff says McPhee's first album for his label "will show many new sides to her talents as an interpreter and a songwriter, and show everyone just how special she is."  The album is due out in late 2009.

Journalist Couric to Host Grammy Special

News anchor Katie Couric will host the "All Access Grammy Special" on February 4.  Taylor Swift, Justin Timberlake, Katy Perry, the Jonas Brothers, Carrie Underwood, Lil' Wayne, Rascal Flatts, and many others will make appearances on the show.  The special will air on CBS.  

New Album Releases February 3

 "The Fray" - The Fray
"Scream" - Chris Cornell
 "Feel That Fire" - Dierks Bentley
 "Lonely Road" - Red Jumpsuit Apparatus
"New Jack City, Pt. II" - Bow Wow
 "Send One Your Love" by Boney James
 "Sing: Chapter 1" - Wynonna
"Coming Back To You" - ("American Idol" finalist) Melinda Doolittle
 "Willie and the Wheel" - Willie Nelson
 "Keith Emerson Band" - Keith Emerson
 "Liza's At The Palace" - Liza Minnelli
"Reflections" (3-CD box set) - Graham Nash
"Spirit - The Deluxe Edition" (includes four new songs and a bonus DVD with seven music videos) by Leona Lewis
"He's Just Not That Into You" - and the original motion picture soundtrack  

Musical Events/Festivals/Benefits:

On February 6, MusiCares will host its 19th annual Person of the Year tribute and benefit gala in Los Angeles.  The evening will begin with a cocktail reception and live and silent auctions.  Also planned are a dinner, award tribute to this year's Person of the Year, Neil Diamond and an all-star concert.  Performers include Adele, Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, Jennifer Hudson, Josh Groban, Kid Rock and the Jonas Brothers, among others.  Neil Diamond is also scheduled to perform.  Proceeds will go to MusiCares, which offers programs and services to members of the music community.

Awards Presentations/Winners:

On February 7, the Recording Academy will honor Gene Autry, the Blind Boys of Alabama, Brenda Lee, Dean Martin and Tom Paxton with Lifetime Grammy Achievement Awards for their contributions to music.  Receiving this year's non-performer Trustees Awards are producer and record company executive George Avakian, composer Elliot Carter and songwriter-producer Allen Toussaint.  Technical Grammy Awards will be presented to guitar manufacturer Clarence "Leo" Fender and Universal Audio.

Look Who's Going on Tour!

On February 2, rock band Motley Crue began its "Saints of Los Angeles" concert tour in San Diego, California.  The group is supporting its 2008 album of the same name.  Joining Motley Crue on the trek are Hinder, Theory of a Deadman and The Last Vegas.  The Last Vegas beat out 8,000 hopefuls to win Motley Crue's "Your Chance To Make Rock History" contest.  Motley Crue lead singer Vince Neil says, "They reminded me of us back when we were out walking the streets, putting up fliers.  You could just see these guys taking the next step, playing in an arena."