It was a case of he said/he said all week long for Aerosmith, who apparently broke up, then reunited, then sort of broke up, then went on hiatus--this all according to which tabloid you were reading and/or which of Aerosmith's two aptly nicknamed "Toxic Twins," Steven Tyler and Joe Perry, you chose to believe.
Aerosmith had already been having a hard time of it lately, when two band members had to separately take time off due to illness and then Steven fell offstage at an August gig in South Dakota, resulting in a broken shoulder that forced the cancellation of Aerosmith's summer tour. Axeman Joe Perry subsequently busied himself with a solo album, Have Guitar Will Travel, and in interviews promoting that project implied that Aerosmith were on the rocks. Then, this week, Joe told the Las Vegas Sun that Steven had officially left the band.
"Steven quit, as far as I can tell," Joe told the paper, adding that the famous frontman had had "no contact with me or the other band members" recently. Perhaps even more shockingly, Joe then declared that Aerosmith would continue without Steven, saying: "Right now I'm adjusting to how we're going to go on. Aerosmith is such a powerful band. I mean, it's like a steam locomotive. You just can't disregard 40 years of four guys who play together as well as they do. As far as replacing Steve, it's not just about that, it's also four guys that play extremely well together, and I'm not going to see that go to waste. I really don't know what path it's going to take at this point, but we'll probably find somebody else that will sing in those spots where we need a singer."
In fact, the veteran guitarist even tweeted that Aerosmith are "not splitting up" but "looking for a new singer to work with." (Yes, Joe Perry is on Twitter.) The prospect of such a venture seemed as ridiculous as that time when Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones considered touring as "Led Zeppelin" without Robert Plant.
Anyway, 'Smith fans were still trying to process this sad news when Steven suddenly came out of seclusion and actually made a surprise appearance with Joe Perry onstage in New York, to hopefully set the record straight. "New York, I want you to know I'm not leaving Aerosmith," Steve told fans in attendance, before performing "Walk This Way" with his presumably estranged bandmate. Steven later told TMZ: "There is absolutely no validity to the rumor that Aerosmith is breaking up."
Aerosmith fans then heaved a collective sigh of relief, only to get even more mixed messages from Joe Perry, who turned around and told Rolling Stone: "[Steve] wants to take two years off from the band. The rest of the band wants to keep on working. We have so many different options to fill up that time. Anything is possible at this point. Basically, any communication that we've had over the last couple of months has been through managers, so that's been pretty strange....The band is a really well-oiled machine and we're going to work one way or another."
Sheesh. Someone needs to put these guys in the same room and make them get their stories straight; obviously they need to actually speak to each other directly, rather than through their publicists. These two have seemingly broken up and gotten back together more often than Lindsay Lohan and Samantha Ronson. And course, a Perry/Tyler split would have far greater implications for the music world: It would truly be the end of an era. Watch this space for more conflicting Aerosmith reports, we're sure.
The other big "scandal" of the week came when Australian concertgoers were reportedly outraged that...OK, faint-of-heart readers, are you sitting down?...Britney Spears lip-synched at her Perth concert. Lip-synched! What a shocker! OK, yes, that is sarcasm you're reading here. While it was pretty much common knowledge in the northern hemisphere that Britney mimed during at least part of her "Circus" tour ("It's been all over the Internet for nine months," her Aussie tour promoter Paul Dainty even pointed out), apparently this newsflash had not made it south of the equator. Because this week, Australian media reported that fans walked out of the first of Britney's 14 Down Under concerts, in the city of Perth, after just a few songs, once they realized she was not singing live.
The Fair Trade Minister for the state of New South Wales, Virginia Judge, fanned the flame of this lip-synching furor further by saying Australians would not tolerate such a "Mickey Mouse" performance--even suggesting that new legislation be created, so that concert tickets be printed with disclaimers about whether parts of concerts are pre-recorded or lip-synched.
Paul Dainty later told The Australian newspaper that Britney was "extremely upset" by the Aussie media's harsh treatment, and also claimed that reports of a mass exodus in Perth were greatly exaggerated. "She's a human being. I'm embarrassed, with such a big international entourage here with Britney, to be part of the Australian media when I see that kind of totally inaccurate reporting." Incidentally, management at the Burswood Dome in Perth, where the "scandalous" Britney concert took place, did tell reporters that they hadn't received any complaints from the roughly 17,000 people who were at the show.
And then, just when Britney was rebounding from that whole mess (let's face it, she's rebounded from far worse), her Twitter and MySpace accounts were hacked, with the perpetrator posting faux messages from a fake Spears about how she worships the Devil. (All such offending messages were deleted once the pop star's management regained control of her accounts.) So who was the culprit...Virginia Judge? Oh, we kid, we kid.
Another blonde starlet making major news this week was pop-country crossover princess Taylor Swift, who kicked off this week with a starmaking stint hosting Saturday Night Live (her "monologue song," with its Kanye West/Joe Jonas disses, was a highlight), then made history at the Country Music Association Awards by becoming, at age 19, the youngest artist ever to win the Entertainer Of The Year trophy. (She also became the first solo female to win that award since Shania Twain did so 10 long years ago.) Luckily this time Kanye wasn't around to bumrush the stage and interrupt Taylor's acceptance speech, but Wynonna Judd still put a damper on the proceedings by later declaring that Taylor is too young and inexperienced to receive such an honor right now.
"You want my honest comment? It's too much too soon," Wynonna told USA Today. "Mom [Naomi Judd] and I rode in a car for the first year of our career to visit radio stations. There was a making of the star, there was a rising up, and the fans went with us. Now it's over coffee breaks, the success, almost. It's like the girl who wins an Oscar and she's under 20. What do you do from here?" While some industry pundits agreed with Wynonna, others thought this was just a case of sour grapes.
Now, Wynonna, we're gonna let you finish...but Faith Hill had the best sour-grapes reaction to a young blonde's CMA win of all time. (Remember? When Faith yelled "WHAT???" into the camera when Carrie Underwood beat her? But we digress...)
And in other country music-related news (only in the sense that Bon Jovi occasionally record country tunes), this week a Massachusetts man by the name of Samuel Bartley Steele filed a $400 billion lawsuit against Bon Jovi, Time Warner, and Major League Baseball. Yep, you read that right: $400 billion. According to the complaint, Steele alleges that he gave copies of his song "(Man I Really) Love This Team"--which he says was released by the Bart Steele Band in October 2004--to Red Sox executives and players, that he performed the song on local TV...and that the 2007 Bon Jovi song "I Love This Town," used in MLB promos on Time Warner's TBS cable station, is a ripoff of this song.
Normally we'd say that Bon Jovi should be a little worried--$400 billion is a lot of money, after all--but since Steele's own musicologist testified that the two Sox songs aren't very similar, and a district judge dismissed the claim, Jon Bon Jovi and company can probably relax...even though Steele has filed an appeal.
And finally, in other legal news, Michael Jackson's father Joe Jackson does not stand to inherit any of his son's assets and cannot challenge the appointment of the executors chosen by Michael to handle his will, Superior Court Judge Mitchell Beckloff ruled this week. (Also this week, Michael's mother Katherine Jackson withdrew her objections to the appointment of MJ associates John Branca and John McClain as executors of Michael's will.) "I don't think [Joe Jackson] gets to step into this and create further litigation," Judge Beckloff asserted. "Joe Jackson takes none of this estate. This is a decision his son made."
Although Joe, who claims Michael was supporting him, was not named in his son's will, the judge told Joe he could pursue a motion to receive an allowance from the estate. Joe's reported monthly expenses include $1,200 for rent for his home in Vegas; $2,500 to eat out; $1,000 for entertainment, gifts, and vacations; and $5,000 for travel. Watch this space to see if any of this will be paid for by Michael Jackson's estate.
And with that, we bid you farewell. Have a lucky Friday-the-13th weekend, and see you on Friday the 20th.
THIS WEEK'S TOP 10 STORIES:
1) Livin' On The Edge...Of Breaking Up - Due to conflicting stories, the future of Aerosmith is still very much in doubt.
2) Britney Gives Australia Some Lip - Spears' onstage lip-synching creates a "scandal" Down Under.
3) Taylor's Swift Rise - The country ingénue is the youngest recipient ever of the CMA Entertainer Of The Year honor.
4) No, Joe - Joe Jackson does not stand to inherit his son Michael's money.
5) Slippery When Sued - Bon Jovi are slapped with a lawsuit for an eyebrow-raising $400 billion.
6) Chart Change - Michael Jackson's huge catalog sales this year prompt Billboard to change its top 200 albums chart.
7) Who's Next At The Super Bowl? - Veteran Britrockers the Who will play next year's Super Bowl halftime show.
9) Ronnie Wood Rolls Away From Marriage - The Rolling Stone is now officially divorced.
10) FutureStalked - Justin Timberlake is granted a restraining order.