Mon, Sep 12, 2005 - Page 16 News List

Planet pop

AGENCIES

Rod Stewart performs at the Joint Network Gulf Coast Benefit.

PHOTO: AP

Veteran British rocker Rod Stewart has been ordered to pay US$2 million to a Las Vegas casino for cancelling a show in December 2000.

A federal jury said Stewart should return the sum which he received as an advance from the Rio Hotel Casino for a New Year's Eve show which he cancelled after undergoing throat surgery.

"We felt it was only fair that if Mr Stewart didn't perform the concert that he should give the money back," said Jury foreman Stevan Jorgensen.

US$25,000 worth of diamonds and platinum sit in Paul Wall's mouth, and syrupy Texas slang drips out of it. With the upcoming Tuesday release of his major label debut, The People's Champ, the rapper -- who's also basking in the spotlight of his appearance on Mike Jones' hit ode to cruising, Still Tippin -- keeps busy by selling jewel-encrusted teeth to his celebrity friends.

The rapper relies on a dizzying array of local vernacular to describe everything from attractive females ("honey dips") to rims ("swangaz") and tires ("vogues").

With the waters of Hurricane Katrina yet to recede, Randy Newman sang about a long-ago flood in Louisiana 1927 to open a benefit program spread across dozens of television networks Friday. Dr John ended a show suffused with the spirit of a musical city with a song that's only a wish now: Walkin' to New Orleans.

ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, UPN and the WB -- the six biggest broadcast networks -- aired it along with several cable networks. Viewers in nearly 100 countries were able to tune in.

"We've all heard the question," comedian Chris Rock said. "Why didn't these people just leave when they had the chance? But now we realize that not everybody can just jump into their SUVs and drive to a nice hotel. These people depend on public transportation and these people can't afford a nice hotel, because some of them work there. Now it's your chance to help them."

Mariah Carey and Neil Young were backed by gospel singers and Alicia Keys was joined by several gospel stars. U2 needed only one powerful voice, singer Mary J. Blige's, to enliven the rock band's anthem One.

BET was also appealing for help Friday for victims of a tragedy that struck the black community hard. Keys sang her hit If I Ain't Got You, and Patti LaBelle sang the Pretenders song I'll Stand By You.

Rappers Jay-Z and Diddy were 15 minutes late, but they made it worthwhile, presenting a US$1 million check to the Red Cross from the New York hip-hop community.

A city council committee has approved the demolition of a childhood home of former Beatles drummer Ringo Starr, despite protests from opponents of a redevelopment plan.

The council's Housing Select Committee has decided that the property had no historical significance. The full council is expected to make a decision on Sept. 16.

"Ringo Starr lived in the Madryn Street house for about three months before he moved to Admiral Grove, where he lived for about 20 years," said Flo Clucas, the council's executive member for housing.

"John Lennon and Paul McCartney's childhood homes were preserved because they spent a significant part of their lives in them," Clucas said.

Renegade author Hunter S. Thompson lamented the onset of old age and his physical limits, then concluded, "Relax -- This won't hurt," in an apparent suicide note published by Rolling Stone magazine, his literary springboard.

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