December 1, 2004

On August 16, 650 Minneapolis-area Metallica fans got their lucky chance to meet the metal legends at a book-signing at the First Avenue nightclub. Did you even know Metallica had a book to sign? So What! The Good, the Mad, and the Ugly [Broadway Books] is a compilation of highlights from the group's newsletter, So What, that they've been sending out quarterly to their fan club for the last ten years. The book includes interviews, exclusive photos, journal entries-everything a die-hard fan could want!. . . Doing their part to help fight the genocide happening in the Sudan, Waxploitation Records-a leading label for hip-hop and electronic music-will release Genocide in Sudan in late November. The album features cuts by many respected electronic music artists, as well as System of a Down, Kinky, Bad Religion, Tortoise, Yoko Ono, and the Pretenders. All of the profits from the album will go to the United Nations Refuge Agency and UNICEF. Click to to get more info or to order the album. . . .If legend can also be measured by the price one's guitar goes for in an auction, then Johnny Cash is right up there with Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton. Cash's custom-made acoustic-built by Billy Grammer in the '60s-fetched a mighty $131,200 in an auction in September. It was only slated to bring in a mere $20,000! Estimates place proceeds from the whole of the sale-which lasted three days-at 1.5 million. . . .PASSING NOTES: After struggling with prostate cancer for some time, Ramones guitarist, Johnny Ramone, succumbed to the disease on September 15. Johnny-the third founding member of the group to pass away in the last four years-virtually invented punk rock guitar. Stay tuned for a feature in the next issue. . . . On September 9, Ernie Ball-founder of the Ernie Ball Company-passed away at the age of 74. In 1958, Ball opened a small guitar shop in Tarzana, California, and started making his "slinky" strings in the early '60s. By 1967, demand for the strings had increased significantly, and Ball decided to focus entirely on the string business-eventually buying Music Man in 1984. Said Sterling Ball, son of Ernie and president of the Ernie Ball company: "He changed the way people thought of guitar accessories, and, to this day, the Ernie Ball way is the industry standard."

. . . In July, bassist Don Shipps and guitarist Bill Brown-members of the Springfield, Missouri group Titanic Blues Band-were killed in a house fire. Brown had recently joined Shipps' group, previously working with the Ozark Mountain Daredevils, and the two were preparing for a live recording session that day. Long-time fixtures in their local music scene, they were core progenitors of what Rolling Stone magazine called "the Springfield Sound." . . . Tony Mottola-guitarist for Frank Sinatra and NBC's Tonight Show from 1958 to 1972, among other things-passed away in August at the age of 86. Additionally, Mottola was the music director for CBS 1950s drama Danger, and he won an Emmy for his score of the documentary Two Childhoods. His longtime friend and collaborator, Bucky Pizzarelli, told Newark's Star-Ledger that "he never hit a bad note in his life." . . . Dennis Miles, guitarist for the band Body Count passed away in August from lymphoma. He was 45. Miles, whose stage name was D-Roc, was the third member of the original line-up to die. Bandleader Ice-T told Billboard: "Words cannot express how much we will miss D-Roc-more as a friend than as a band member."

-Emily Fasten  

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