Stop The Presses!

Sept. 22-29: Coming Out & Crashing Down

Lyndsey Parker
Stop The Presses!

This week kicked off with some awfully awful bombshell news, as it was announced that former Blink 182 drummer Travis Barker and celebrity turntablist Adam Goldstein (aka DJ AM) had been involved in a serious South Carolina plane crash that had left them both badly burned and four others dead. Travis and DJ AM had performed Friday night at an event with Perry Farrell and Gavin DeGraw (neither of whom were on their plane) and were taking a Learjet 60 back to Los Angeles when air traffic controllers saw sparks emanating from the plane; the jet then reportedly skidded off the runway, slammed into an embankment, and caught on fire. Travis and DJ AM were able to escape the wreckage by skidding down the wing of the plane, at which point "they jumped on each other to put fires on each other out and rolled around on the ground," according to eyewitness Lt. Jason Shumpert of the South Congaree Police Department.

"Travis, you could tell he was in pain," the lieutenant added. "He just kept saying: 'That's my friends in the plane, that's my friends in the plane.'"

Among those friends who did not survive were Travis's personal assistant, Chris "Lil' Chris" Baker, and his security guard, Charles Still. The pilot and co-pilot were also killed. Travis and DJ AM were luckier, escaping with their lives and with second- and third-degree burns from which they are expected to recover within a year. Our prayers are with them and with the families of all the crash's victims.

Okay, in gayer news--and by that, we mean "happier," as well as in the more modern literal sense of the word--two major celebrities whose sexuality has long been questioned made headlines this week. Most notably, American Idol darling Clay Aiken acknowledged his long-rumored homosexuality in a People magazine cover story quite matter-of-factly titled "Yes, I'm Gay." All right, so this wasn't the most shocking news of the year. Or even the week. But practically from the minute he reared his bespectacled head on season 2 of AmIdol, Clay had avoided this issue--even telling Diane Sawyer that she was "really rude" to grill him about it in a 2006 television interview--so it was still big news that he finally came out. (Apparently he was inspired by his newborn son, Parker Foster, telling People, "I cannot raise a child to lie or to hide things.") Kudos to Clay for being an honest role model for his child.

Two other celebrities whose lovelives have long been the subject of much media scrutiny are Lindsay Lohan and her rumored gal pal, superstar DJ Samantha Ronson. And while Lindsay didn't go so far as to make a splashy announcement on the cover of People, this week she did semi-address such gossip during a phone interview with on-air personality Stryker on the syndicated call-in show Loveline. Lindsay was discussing the Travis/DJ AM crash when Stryker suddenly queried, "You and Samantha have been going out for how long now?" Lindsay surprisingly responded with a giggly, "A very long time"--which many interpreted as her first official acknowledgement of their romantic relationship.

One celeb who came out a long time ago is George Michael, but the oft-troubled pop star didn't have the gayest (as in happiest) of news to report this week. George, no stranger to public-toilet scandals, was once again arrested in a restroom in the north London suburb of Hampstead, after he was found in possession of crack cocaine and cannabis, according to the Sunday People newspaper. "I want to apologize to my fans for screwing up again, and to promise them I'll sort myself out," the red-faced pop icon later said in a statement. "And to say sorry to everybody else, just for boring them."

(Oh, come on now, George--you may not be the greatest role model out there, but one thing you NEVER are is boring!)

Anyway, speaking of icons, nine nominees were announced this week to fill the next five spots in the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. In the running this year are hallowed headbangers Metallica, hip-hop legends Run-DMC, guitar god Jeff Beck, disco band Chic, rockabilly goddess Wanda Jackson, doo-woppers Little Anthony & The Imperials, soul veteran Bobby Womack, California funk-rockers War, and punk pioneers the Stooges. We wish them all luck--especially the Stooges, who inexplicably get passed over year after year after year. Although the Stooges' constant exclusion really only solidifies their punk-rock status...

A couple of already-inducted Hall Of Famers also made headlines this week. The surviving members of the Grateful Dead announced they've signed on to headline a fundraiser for Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama next month in Pennsylvania called "Change Rocks"--the first time that Phil Lesh, Mickey Hart, Bob Weir, and Bill Kreutzmann will perform together since 2004.

And it was revealed that in an upcoming new John Lennon biography, his younger son Sean recounts a violent episode when his father yelled so loudly he damaged Sean's hearing. "[He was] teaching me how to cut and eat steak, which was a mystery to me at age 4; how to stick the fork in and cut behind it, and that was how you got a piece in your mouth," Sean confesses to author Philip Norman in John Lennon: The Life. "I think it was that night when he got very upset with me, I think because of something I did very cheekily with the steak. He did wind up yelling at me very, very loudly to the point where he damaged my ear, and I had to go to the doctor. I remember when I was lying on the floor and hurting, and him holding me and saying, 'I'm so sorry.' He did have a temper." This anecdote certainly reveals a different side of John Lennon, who's been long depicted as a doting dad to his only son with Yoko Ono. John Lennon: The Life comes out next month.

Another parental memoir on the market is Lynn Spears' Through The Storm: A Real Story Of Fame And Family In A Tabloid World. But you know what's almost didn't make it on the market? Her daughter Britney's much-ballyhooed new post-VMAs "comeback" track, "Womanizer." The official premiere of the first single off of Britney Spears's upcoming album Circus was pushed back due to an undisclosed issue with "the mix," so fans had to wait a bit longer for Britney to give them more. However, the song did make its official pop radio debut by the end of the week, will argley positive feedback from listeners.

Anyway, if you readers want more--more music news, that is--you'll have to wait until next Friday's weekly recap. See you then, and in the meantime, goodnight and good music.

THIS WEEK'S TOP 10 STORIES:

1) Fright Flight - Travis Barker and DJ AM barely escape a plane crash with their lives. Others, sadly, are not so lucky.

2) Clay Is Gay - Aiken shocks no one by coming out of the closet.

3) Lindsay In Love? - Lohan semi-acknowledges her romance with Samantha Ronson in a radio interview.

4) Britney Not Ready To Give Us More - Her new single "Womanizer" is delayed.

5) You Want Fame? - This year's nominations for the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame are announced.

6) A Steak Through The Heart - Sean Lennon shockingly recounts a massive "beef" he had with his late dad.

7) Careless Tryster - George Michael is once again arrested in a men's room.

8) The Dead Rise For Obama - The Grateful Dead will reunite for a Barack fundraiser.

9) Janet Jackson Splits From Record Label - She complains that Island Def Jam hasn't done much for her lately.

10) Eddie Vedder Goes Out To The Ballgame - The Pearl Jam man pens a song for the Chicago Cubs.

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