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Joan Jett remembers her days as a 'sh-head punk' at Hammerstein Ballroom

When Joan Jett started out playing grimy L.A. clubs with the Runaways in 1975, she probably never imagined she’d play to a crowd like the one that convened Thursday night at Manhattan’s Hammerstein Ballroom. Fans paid as much as $10,000 each to gain entry to the 6th Annual Little Kids Rock Benefit, which featured tributes to the femme-rock legend by artists including Cheap Trick, Alice Cooper, and Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong.

Jett was there as well, to perform with many of the artists and accept the organization’s Rocker of the Year award. Little Kids Rock, which brings free musical instruments to low-income public school students throughout the country, raised about $1.5 million by the end of the night.

That money went toward a good cause and also let attendees sit in on a night of classic and unusual performances, curated by Jett and Steven Van Zandt—a member of the E Street Band and Little Kids Rock beneficiary. With support from the Blackhearts, Jett’s own backing band, all the guest musicians provided their interpretations of the icon’s tunes.

Cheap Trick kicked off the show with a scorching rendition of “I Hate Myself for Loving You,” and then handed off the stage to a series of less-distinctive performers including Gary U.S. Bonds, Brody Dalle, and Darlene Love. Bikini Kill’s Kathleen Hanna dueted with husband and Beastie Boy Ad-Rock on “Fake Friends”; their version was lackluster, but perfectly exhibited the night’s theme of “Joan as mentor and rock ‘n’ roll elder.”

Social Distortion’s Mike Ness delivered a cover of “Love is Pain” in his characteristic alt-country dirge before the evening kicked into high gear. Jett came out to join Armstrong as he demolished one of her deep cuts—1980’s “Don’t Abuse Me”—and stayed onstage to jam on “Be My Lover” with Alice Cooper. For the finale, all of the night’s stars and a cadre of Little Kids Rock students rocked out with Jett to, of course, “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll.”

All of the evening’s stars related to Little Kids Rock’s mission, which emphasizes contemporary instruments and genres so kids feel they have a greater stake in music education.

What Jett admires about Little Kids Rock is that the organization encourages kids to pick up whatever instrument they want. “I played clarinet, but I wasn’t inspired to play clarinet,” Jett said after the show, describing what sounds like a decidedly less cool period of life. “They didn’t offer us things like drums or instruments like that—but it was still music.”As for the rocker’s own teenage years? She said that although rock icons from all generations now turn up to swanky events in her honor, she hasn’t forgotten her days as “a sh–head punk.”

“I know you get the accolades, but you always have gotta stay busy and stay into it,” said Jett, who recently received a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nomination. “I don’t think you can rest on your laurels. That’s dangerous, you know? So I try to take it a little bit with a grain of salt—but it’s really unbelievable. I’m so stoked about this.”

Beastie Boys win $1.7 million in copyright lawsuit

Mike D and Ad-Rock of the Beastie Boys got (almost) everything they asked for: The two surviving members of the trio asked for up to $2.5 million in damages, and won $1.7 million in a copyright violation case against Monster Energy beverages.


Beastie Boys sue GoldieBlox for copyright infringement over 'Girls' video

And the Beastie Boys vs. GoldieBlox saga continues.

After GoldieBlox, a toy company, created a video about female empowerment set to a lyrically altered version of Beastie Boy’s “Girls,” the company took a preventative action in suing the band in November. GoldieBlox claimed that including the song in their video fell under “fair use.”

The Beastie Boys then responded in an open letter, saying: “As creative as it is, make no mistake, your video is an advertisement that is designed to sell a product, and long ago, we made a conscious decision not to permit our music and/or name to be used in product ads. When we tried to simply ask how and why our song ‘Girls’ had been used in your ad without our permission, YOU sued US.”

GoldieBlox quickly removed the video and wrote an open letter of its own, claiming, in part: “Our hearts sank last week when your lawyers called us with threats that we took very seriously. As a small company, we had no choice but to stand up for ourselves. We did so sincerely hoping we could come to a peaceful settlement with you.”

However, it seems that didn’t satisfy the Beastie Boys as they have now filed a lawsuit of their own. The lawsuit claims copyright infringement and states, “GoldieBlox has engaged in the systematic infringement of intellectual property from numerous popular music groups, including Beastie Boys.” Among that list of music groups, the lawsuit makes mention of Queen, Daft Punk, Kaskade, Avicii, and more.

Read the lawsuit here.

GoldieBlox responds to Beastie Boys letter, pulls offending ad

It’s looks like the little legal kerfuffle between the Beastie Boys and GoldieBlox is coming to its conclusion.

It all began when GoldieBlox, a company that sells educational toys for young girls, appropriated the Beasties favorite “Girls” in one of their commercials, which quickly went viral. The Beastie Boys’ Mike D and Ad-Rock — noting the trio’s longstanding commitment to keep their songs out of ads (which was also a stipulation in the late Adam Yauch’s will) — responded with legal threats and an open letter to the company explaining their side of the story.

Now GoldieBlox has conceded. According to their own open letter, posted this morning, the company has pulled the ad in question, and they’ve kindly requested that the Beasties not pursue them in court. Read their full message below:


Beastie Boys respond to GoldieBlox lawsuit with open letter

The Beastie Boys see GoldieBlox’s lawsuit, and now they’re fighting back — with an open letter.

The group’s surviving members Mike D and Ad-Rock responded to the company that appropriated the Beasties classic “Girls” today. Read their message below:


Miley Cyrus and the rise of #YOLO pop


One week ago, Miley Cyrus left the nation reeling after her performance of “We Can’t Stop” and “Blurred Lines” at the Video Music Awards. Parents watched in horror as the girl they remembered as Hannah Montana twerked in a teddy-bear leotard, gyrated on Robin Thicke‘s crotch in nothing more than a creamsicle bikini, and rubbed her nether-regions with a phallic foam finger. The whole display was provocative, pointless, and, for most viewers, shocking.

But in all actuality, Cyrus’ deliberately vexing presentation wasn’t shocking at all. “We Can’t Stop” is a natural extension of the “Can’t Be Tamed” philosophy that Cyrus has been peddling since 2010. And by the same token, the song — in its irreverent disregard of all people in the name of a good time — is the crystallization of pop music’s ideals over the past year. In the wake of fun.‘s “We Are Young,” pop has quickly become a medium that worships its own youth unabashedly. Granted, pop music has always heralded youth (tellingly, Justin Timberlake, 32, was given a legacy prize at this year’s VMAs) — but it’s never been so self-aware about it.

“It’s not just about being like, ‘We don’t care what people say,'” Cyrus said of “We Can’t Stop” during a Billboard cover shoot in June. “It’s about living for right now.” In the same interview Cyrus said the single’s edgy video was meant to resonate with young people: “I know that we all live for those nights right now. We’re all young,” she said. “I want to talk to my fans about that.” That may sound like a shallow conversation, but currently, it’s the chosen topic in much of 2013’s pop music. READ FULL STORY

Tony Hawk teams with Metallica, Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan for 'Boards + Bands' charity project

Tony Hawk has spent a lifetime shredding, and now he’s hoping to give that gift back through his work in the Tony Hawk Foundation.

His charitable organization’s latest project is called Boards + Bands, which is the brainchild of Hawk and his friend (and Grammy-winning musician) Ben Harper. The idea is simple: A bunch of the biggest skateboarders in the world have donated actual boards that they’ve ridden, and those boards were then sent to a bunch of legendary musicians for some turned-to-11 customization.

The boards are currently up for auction, with the proceeds going to building public skateparks for at-risk kids in low-income communities. The decks feature hand-written lyrics by the likes of Harper, Paul McCartney, Metallica’s James Hetfield, Bob Dylan, the late Adam Yauch, Jimmy Cliff, and Tom Petty.

McCartney’s board features some lines from “Blackbird,” while Yauch spread the lyrics to the appropriately zen Beastie Boys track “Bodhisattva Vow” across three different boards. The decks are also currently on display at the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles.

Check out the video about the project below.


Adam Yauch's will bars use of his work in ads

The Beastie Boys’ Adam Yauch rapped that he wouldn’t “sell my songs for no TV ad.” His will shows he wanted to make sure that held true after his death, too.

“In no event may my image or name or any music or any artistic property created by me be used for advertising purposes,” says the will, filed this week in a Manhattan court. Yauch, known for his good nature as well as his raspy voice in one of hip-hop’s groundbreaking acts, died of cancer in May. He was 47.

Also known as MCA, Yauch was a founding member of the Beastie Boys, a group that helped hip-hop gain mainstream attention in the 1980s. As white guys from Brooklyn in a genre with few credible white performers at the time, they emerged as prankster pioneers and scored such hits as “Brass Monkey,” “No Sleep Till Brooklyn” and “(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party!)” They had four No. 1 albums and sold more than 40 million records.


Beastie Boy Adam 'Ad-Rock' Horovitz shares memories of the late Adam Yauch: 'He wasn't afraid'

Family, friends, and fans of the Beastie Boys are dealing with founding member Adam “MCA” Yauch’s death in all sorts of ways. Many have gone out to buy (or re-buy) their favorite Beasties albums; some New Yorkers are even petitioning to rename a Brooklyn park in Yauch’s honor.

But Yauch’s comrade Adam “Ad Rock” Horovitz is still only coping with the loss. “I’m walking the dog and I’ll start crying on the street,” he told Rolling Stone. “It’s pretty f—ing crazy.”

Horovitz opened up in his first interview since his friend and bandmate’s May 4 death, fondly remembering him as both an artist and as a person.

“Yauch was in charge,” he says of MCA’s position in the Beastie Boys. “He was smarter, more organized.”

“He had that extra drive to see things through,” he continued. ” We each had our roles. One of his was the make-it-happen person.”

Horovitz also outlined the give-and-take process that made the group the enduring collaborative effort it became.

“Everything was split three ways,” he explained. “Except we had veto power. If you really hated something, you could be [like], ‘That can’t happen.'”

One example he offers is was when Yauch wanted the cover of their hit album Ill Communication to be a painting of a tree, an idea swiftly vetoed by Horovitz and Mike D. “I said, ‘Anything is better than that tree.'” The painting, Alex Grey’s “Gaia,” wound up finding a home in the album’s liner notes instead; see it below: READ FULL STORY

2012 Billboard Music Awards: 20 essential takeaways from the show

Like most music awards shows, the Billboard Music Awards are so not about the statuettes that are doled out. The show — which aired live last night on ABC from the MGM Grand Hotel, with hosts, Modern Family stars Julie Bowen and Ty Burrell — is typically more about everything but the awards: performances, tributes, collaborations, and other sundry craziness.

Hell, even the fashion — hello to Miley Cyrus’ barely-there suit jacket — is more important than the prizes! And that was no different this year. Just a handful of the 46 awards were actually given out during the show (LMFAO dominated), which was jolted to life with performances from Katy Perry, Cee Lo Green, and Linkin Park; tributes to Robin Gibb, Donna Summer, Whitney Houston, the Beastie Boys’ Adam Yauch, and Stevie Wonder; a collaboration between Stevie Wonder and Alicia Keys; and a heartfelt speech by Houston’s daughter Bobbi Kristina Brown.

Here are 20 essential takeaways from the evening:


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