Ellis Marsalis Jr., legendary jazz musician, teacher and patriarch, dies at age 85 of coronavirus complications
Sad news for jazz fans. On April 1, legendary jazz pianist Ellis Marsalis Jr. passed away at 85 due to complications of coronavirus. One of Ellis's sons, Branford Marsalis, released a statement revealing the news, saying, "It is with great sadness that I announce the passing of my father, Ellis Marsalis Jr. My dad was a giant of a musician and teacher, but an even greater father. He poured everything he had into making us the best of what we could be." New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell added, "Ellis Marsalis was a legend. He was the prototype of what we mean when we talk about New Orleans jazz."
CMT to air Kenny Rogers tribute with virtual performances by Dolly Parton, Jennifer Nettles, Lady Antebellum and more
CMT is going to help us celebrate the life of the late, great Kenny Rogers. On April 2, CMT announced it would honor the country music legend with a special tribute dubbed "CMT Giants Kenny Rogers: A Benefit for MusiCares." The celebration, which will air on April 8, will feature virtual performances from the biggest names in music like Dolly Parton, Jennifer Nettles, Lady Antebellum, Gavin DeGraw, Lionel Richie and more. All the singers and musicians will film their tributes directly from their own homes and their performances will be blended with rare archival photos, interviews and performances as well as clips and commentary from Kenny himself. The country music legend passed away on March 20 at 81 from natural causes. CMT's vice president of production, music and events said in a statement, "Kenny Rogers transcended genres and generations with his musical versatility, legendary collaborations and timeless appeal, and we're honored to pay tribute to his legacy. Particularly in these turbulent times, we'll stop and take a moment to allow the memory of our dear friend Kenny to bring us together and inspire us to lend support to those in the music community who are most in need."
RELATED: Stars we lost in 2020
Fountains of Wayne's Adam Schlesinger dies at 52 from COVID-19
Adam Schlesinger — the co-founder of the New Jersey band Fountains of Wayne and a Grammy- and Emmy-winning songwriter for film, television and theater — passed away on April 1 from complications related to the novel coronavirus. Adam was 52. He tested positive for the virus and was admitted to a New York hospital in March. He was heavily sedated and on a ventilator as he fought COVID-19, reports reveal. The rocker famously received an Oscar nomination for writing the theme song for the film "That Thing You Do!" in 1997 and was behind the smash 2003 hit track "Stacy's Mom."
Taylor Swift helps keep a Nashville indie record store's employees afloat during coronavirus closures
Taylor Swift continues to prove she loves the music industry! It was announced on April 1 that Taylor had quietly made a contribution to Grimey's — an independent record store in Nashville near her home — to help out employees during the shop's coronavirus-related closure. Owner Doyle Davis told Rolling Stone all about it, saying, "We were very surprised, and I would have to say amazed, that Taylor Swift reached out to us through her publicist to offer some relief during the COVID-19 pandemic. I didn't even know we were on her radar, but she really stepped up to help after the recent tornadoes that struck Nashville and middle Tennessee, and now she's trying to help a beloved small business in her city." Taylor has committed to covering the health care costs of all employees for the next three months. Grimey's is a 20-year institution in Nashville and a frequent stop for artists who make in-store appearances. All this comes on the heels of Taylor sending money directly to fans who've been affected by the nationwide lockdown.
"I Love Rock 'n' Roll" songwriter Alan Merrill dies of coronavirus, Joan Jett mourns
Famed rock songwriter Alan Merrill of the Arrows fame passed away due to complications from the novel coronavirus on March 29 at 69. Merrill famously co-wrote the anthem "I Love Rock 'n' Roll," which became an era-defining hit for his friend and fellow rocker Joan Jett. Alan's daughter Laura posted about her father on Facebook, saying, "The Coronavirus took my father this morning. I was given 2 minutes to say my goodbyes before I was rushed out. He seemed peaceful and as I left there was still a glimmer of hope that he wouldn't be a ticker on the right hand side of the CNN/Fox news screen … By the time I got in the doors to my apartment I received the news that he was gone." Joan, who recorded the hit song "I Love Rock 'n' Roll" in 1982, remembered her friend by saying, "I can still remember watching the Arrows on TV in London and being blown away by the song that screamed hit to me. With deep gratitude and sadness, wishing him a safe journey to the other side."
Bob Dylan drops new song about JFK assassination, his first original release in eight years
For the first time in eight years, Bob Dylan has released a new song. The iconic singer dropped "Murder Most Foul," a 17-minute ballad about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, on March 26. "Greetings to my fans and followers with gratitude for all your support and loyalty across the years. This is an unreleased song we recorded a while back that you might find interesting. Stay safe, stay observant and may God be with you," he wrote on Twitter. The song features lyrics like, "Twas a dark day in Dallas, November '63 / A day that will live on in infamy. Shot down like a dog in broad daylight / Was a matter of timin' and the timin' was right / You gotta pay debts we've come to collect / We're going to kill you with hatred, without any respect." Bob caused some controversy back when JFK was assassinated by saying, "I got to admit that the man who shot President Kennedy, Lee Oswald, I don't know exactly where — what he thought he was doing, but I got to admit honestly that I too — I saw some of myself in him."
Da Brat comes out on Instagram, introduces girlfriend
After years of speculation, rapper Da Brat has confirmed that she is gay. The Grammy-nominated rapper took to Instagram on March 26 to share a heartwarming video of an early 45th birthday gift — a new Bentley truck — that she received from her girlfriend, Kaleidoscope Hair Products CEO Jessica Dupart. "Never have I EVER. Needless to say… I've always been a kind of private person until I met my heart's match who handles some things differently than I do. Thank you baby @darealbbjudy for far more than this incredible birthday gift. I have never experienced this feeling. It's so overwhelming that often I find myself in a daze hoping to never get pinched to see if it's real so I can live in this dream forever," Da Brat captioned a video showing off the pricey present. Jessica also posted a photo of the two, writing, "My better half, my forever, my twin flame." To cap it all off, the loved-up duo shared a photo of their matching white Bentleys with the caption, "HERS – n – HERS."
Bill Withers died at 81
Grammy winner Bill Withers, who gave us songs like "Lean on Me," "Just the Two of Us," "Lovely Day" and "Ain't No Sunshine," died in Los Angeles on March 30 from heart complications, his family confirmed. He was 81.
Drake shares first photos of son Adonis with touching message: "I love and miss my beautiful family"
We finally can see his face! On March 30, rap superstar Drake finally publicly shared photos of his 2-year-old son, Adonis. In the shots posted to Instagram, Drake showed off a string of photos with his blonde-haired cutie and Adonis's mother, ex Sophie Brussaux. The rapper captioned the cute series, "What is most important for you right now is to connect to your own inner light. This will create the biggest opening of all. Trust that you have all of the power within to make this happen, and in order to do that connect to the people and things that bring you a lot of joy." Sophie quietly gave birth to Adonis in October 2017 following a brief romance with Drake. Rapper Pusha T later publicly revealed the child's existence during a rap feud between himself and Drake. In an interview with LeBron James in 2018, Drake said, "I am a single father learning to communicate with a woman who… you know, we've had our moments, right? And I do want to be able to explain to my son what happened. But I don't have any desire for him to, like, not love his mother… I don't ever want the world to be angry at his mother. We have found ourselves in a situation and we are both equally responsible, and now I'm just really excited to be a great father. I have a son, he's a beautiful boy."