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Monkees' Davy Jones dies at 66

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Davy Jones, the longtime lead singer of TV's The Monkees, died Wednesday morning of a heart attack at age 66, according to TMZ.

"An official from the medical examiner's office for Martin County, Fla., confirmed with TMZ they received a call from Martin Memorial Hospital informing them that Jones had passed away," the site says.

Jones joined The Monkees in 1965, when the TV first aired, but the show and the band enjoyed a second wave of popularity when it was re-aired on MTV beginning in 1986. A 20th anniversary tour that same year allowed the band to reach the new generation of fans with tunes including Daydream Believer, Last Train to Clarksville and I'm a Believer. (The 20th reunion tour played Clearwater's Ruth Eckerd Hall that year; a similar reunion tour played a sold-out show in the venue last year.)

According to TMZ, Davy's last performance was Feb. 19 in Oklahoma. The night before, a performance of his in New York was recorded on Youtube.

In a 2011 interview, Jones talked about his career, his health and his need to resist retirement.

"It used to be 65 when you went into retirement. Before that, when you got into your 50s, you were getting older. Now, we're living longer and we have more and more activities," he told AARP. "I feel good, you know? If you feel good and you're really interested in whatever it is you're doing, age doesn't matter. Life is very interesting, if you want it to be interesting."

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Death Star basketball, inflatable Emperor's Throne: Star Wars toys that could've been great

vaderchipclip.jpgThe Star Wars fansites are all abuzz over a new story detailing toy ideas that were reportedly rejected by creator George Lucas. Are these for real? Does it really matter? They're hilarious. And if money were no object, I'd own them all.

See a full list at actionfigureinsider.com/ottertorials. But here are my favorites:

  • Death Star basketball: "That's not a space station, it's a sports ball."
  • Darth Vader talking magnetic chip clip: "I find your lack of freshness disturbing."
  • Han Solo in carbonite popsicle mold: "He's no good to me melted."
  • Bantha slippers: "And you thought they smelled bad on the outside."
  • Cantina Pepsi dispenser: "A wretched hive of scum and carbonation."

 

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Air Supply vs. Hank Jr. this weekend at Florida Strawberry Festival

air-supply.jpgTwo acts on opposite sides of the tough-tender spectrum — jingoistic country madman Hank Williams Jr. and sweater-wearing soft-hit specialists Air Supply — play the Florida Strawberry Festival this year. For those still uninitiated into the cultural glamor of our annual Strawberry Festival, think about the Grady Squash Festival from 1991's Doc Hollywood. (We're just bigger is all.)

It's two weeks of strawberry shortcakes, strawberry shakes, strawberry you-name-it, along with the prerequisite art and agriculture contests. But the music is big draw. The Strawberry Festival annually gathers an impressive slate of performers, usually heavy on the country accent. (The Oak Ridge Boys open it up this year.) 

But there's always an odd '80s act thrown in there too. In recent years, Rick Springfield and REO Speedwagon have had the honors. This year, it's two tender lads from Australia: Air Supply. But my Stuck in the '80s co-host isn't impressed. He'd rather invest his weekly salary in tickets for Hank Williams Jr. What a pinhead! (Sean, I mean, though I guess it could apply to Hank too). Anyhow, here's the arguments we officially put forth in Thursday's Tampa Bay Times: …

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National Lampoon's 'Vacation' reboot will revolve around Rusty Griswold

vacation.jpgNational Lampoon's Vacation is up for a remake? Clark Griswold would roll over in his grave, but since he's not dead, John Hughes will have the honors. Seriously? Is no '80s franchise sacred? 

The Hollywood Reporter says New Line is negotiating with John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein, who have already penned the Vacation script. (They also wrote Horrible Bosses and its upcoming sequel.)

But nevermind the behind-the-scenes mumbo-jumbo, here's what you really want to know: The new Vacation would be half remake/half reboot. By that, I mean it will revolve around Rusty Griswold, now fully grown, and his misadventures with his own family, THR reports.

No word on casting yet. I'd be shocked if Chevy Chase and Beverly D'Angelo weren't brought on board for a cameo. (Hey, it worked out great for Leonard Nimoy to pop up in J.J. Abrams' Star Trek reboot!)

The late John Hughes wrote the original 1983 Vacation script, based on a short story he'd written for National Lampoon back in 1979. With sequels set in Europe, Chicago and Vegas, it was his only '80s movie that spawned sequels.

TOP 5 RUSTY GRISWOLD QUOTES:

5. "That was a crummy Wyatt Earp dad. He was wearing jogging shoes."

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Karate Kid T-shirt goes old school

8-bit-karate-kid-shirt-lg.jpgNo '80s wardrobe is complete without a half dozen T-shirts that honor the great films of our youth. One of my favorite places to shop is Founditemclothing.com, which specializes in selling shirts that characters actually wear in the films. (They're up to five shirts now from Real Genius alone.)

But every once in a while, Founditemclothing.com comes up with something a little different. Today's big find: an "8-bit" Karate Kid T-shirt that depicts Daniel-San at the All Valley Karate Championship.

Sweep the leg, and then buy one for yourself for $19.95.

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Star Trek sequel photos (four sweetest words for a Monday)

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Filming has begun on J.J. Abram's Star Trek sequel to his 2009 reboot of the series. Still called "Untitled Star Trek Sequel" by the studio, it's set for release in 2013.

DenofGeek.com has posted some of the first production photos to be leaked. They include shots of stars Zachary Quinto (Spock), Zoe Saldana (Uhura) and Benedict Cumberbatch, who is believed to be the villain for this film. (A still unnamed villain -- anyone have any guesses?)

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The time of our lives: Oscar's original song winners in the '80s

220px-oscar_statuette.jpgTonight's Academy Awards features one of the smallest (and, sorry, lamest) lineup of original songs in recent Oscar memory. Just two nominations, which if you want to look at the bright side, means that Man or Muppet and Real in Rio have 50-50 odds of winning.

In the '80s, of course, things were different. And by that, I mean "better." Here are the 10 Oscar winners for Best Original Song in the 1980s, along with the other tunes nominated. You decide if the right song won. (I'll add my vote at the end of each year.)

1980 winner: Fame from the movie Fame.
Also nominated: People Alone from The Competition; Out Here On My Own from Fame; On the Road Again from Honeysuckle Rose; Nine to Five from Nine to Five.
My vote: I'd have picked On the Road Again ... or at least argue that the wrong Fame song won.

1981 winner: Arthur's Theme (Best That You Can Do) from Arthur.
Also nominated: Endless Love from Endless Love; For Your Eyes Only from From Your Eyes Only; The First Time It Happens from the Great Muppet Caper; One More Hour from Ragtime.
My vote: Hard to beat Christopher Cross here.

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The Best of Times: Dennis DeYoung and the music of Styx at Ruth Eckerd Hall

419639_3320767668693_1553350237_33024906_1889386283_n.jpgAt what point do you give up childhood dreams and resign yourself to the realities of adulthood, the melodrama of growing old, the cruel harshness of our economic woes? Answer: Long, long, LONG after spending a night listening to Dennis DeYoung sing the timeless tunes of Styx.

At Friday night's show at Clearwater's Ruth Eckerd Hall, DeYoung and the Florida Orchestra gave a sold-out crowd of 2,000-plus a reason to believe again. It felt like a 2 1/2 hour reawakening of the spirit as he rolled through tunes like Suite Madame Blue, Lady, Babe, Grand Illusion and more. The crowd was on its feet early and often -- "Testify, Dennis!" -- and it was impossible to even consider anything but the moment we were in.

Dennis just turned 65, but carries himself on stage with the energy of a 25-year-old. His voice still in tip-top condition, he didn't shy away from any high notes. (In fact, he's a stickler for nailing them. After missing the first exploding note of Rockin' the Paradise, he quickly resang the line for us after the tune, blaming the missed note on the "amazing cookies" backstage during intermission. Yes, the crowd adored that.) …

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If 'Glee' were like this, everyone would still be watching

Behold the ultimate power in the universe: the Perpetuum Jazzile, a Slovenian vocal choir that is earning raves for its performances of classic rock songs, including this performance of Van Halen's Jump.

Anyone vaguely remember when Fox's Glee used to the do same thing instead of the endless, uninventive karaoke that it's devolved into? Yeah, that'd be the first season. Ah, memories.

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Dennis DeYoung podcast: Reunions and Roboto

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Dennis DeYoung gave me one of the most extraordinary interviews in my six years of Stuck in the '80s. For 90 minutes, he and I talked about everything that popped into our minds: his beloved accordion, my organ lessons as a pre-teen ("Lowry Organ, right in the middle of the family room!" Dennis rightly guessed.) But also the legacy of Styx, his solo career and even whether he and his former bandmates will get into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. ("Maybe we don't belong there.")

At times, we went on and off the record as well, leading me to ultimately trim the interview down to an hour -- still the longest interview in our podcast history. Click here to download the full show. (Or click here to get all our podcasts for free via iTunes.)

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Watch Prince sing Purple Rain (the song) before Purple Rain (the movie)

This video of Prince performing Purple Rain, reportedly in 1983 before the movie Purple Rain was released, is getting some attention on YouTube these days. (Thanks to original MTV veejay Alan Hunter posting it online.)

Is this really a pre-movie live performance at the First Avenue nightclub in Minneapolis? Either way, it's fun to watch (at least until Prince, who strongly polices his songs online, finds it and has it deleted.)

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Who's cryin' now: Journey drummer ordered to attend anger management classes

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Journey drummer Deen Castronovo has been ordered to attend anger-management classes for a domestic violence dispute, according to the news reports today. Castronovo (second from the right in above photo) was arrested in January after a fight with his girlfriend, whom he had accused of cheating on him.

Now, as a policy I don't like to have much fun at the expense of an '80s hero (and Journey is obviously sacred to me). Plus, domestic violence is no joking matter ... And now that I've gotten that disclaimer out, I had to laugh at all the reader comments to the original news item. Here are my top 5 favorite responses from the public:

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Just can't get enough Depeche Mode? New album coming soon

I just can't get enough, I just can't get enough. Good thing because Depeche Mode is headed back to the studio soon to work on their first album since 2009's Sounds of the Universe.

First, though, we get a new album from Vince Clarke and Martin Gore's VCMG project - SSSS, which comes out March 12. Quietus.com calls it "a brilliant 10n tracks of chest-out techno pop - proper Essex-boy bangers." The website spoke with Gore about both albums last week.

"It's was a nice break for me to be able to go and do something completely different that doesn't involve poring over lyrics and having to think about vocal melodies," Gore said. "I think I went back to actually writing for the band with much more vigour afterwards, because I had taken such a break. It gave me a real creative impetus."

Look for the new Depeche Mode album to be finished by year's end.

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Adam Lambert to join Queen ... for one concert

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Adam Lambert is joining Queen as its lead singer -- the rumors were true. But it turns out it could be only a short-term arrangement. Queen announced on its website this week that the former American Idol singer will join them for their headlining set at Sonicsphere in Knebworth, UK, in July.

The website announcement specifically says it's a "one-off concert." Still, you never know.

“Judging by my incoming mail, this decision will make a lot of people very happy," Brian May said. "It's a worthy challenge for us, and I'm sure Adam would meet with Freddie's approval! And what better place to revisit, and walk those emotional paths than Knebworth? It will be a rush.”

Knebworth Park is a monumental location in the history of Queen. It was Aug. 9, 1986 when the band last played there on what was to be the last show of their Magic tour, which completed a comeback that began with Live Aid. It was also the last time Freddie Mercury performed in public with Queen. Full Story

Hairy rocker meets hairy sloth (you decide which is which)

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Bret Michaels took the stage at Tampa's Busch Gardens on Sunday for the parks' Bands, Brew and BBQ series. But before launching into his '80s hair metal anthems, Michaels took time out for a photo op with Harry the Sloth. (Which also would make for a good band name.)

"Thanks to its thick, shaggy hair, the sloth has an unusual, symbiotic relationship with algae, which grows on its coat and aids in camouflaging the sloth as it hangs from tree branches," Busch Gardens reports.

Very interesting. Wish they'd provided details on Harry as well.

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