Music News: Mark E. Smith of the Fall dies at 60

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Mark E. Smith performs in London, 2007.
Mark E. Smith performs in London, 2007. (Jim Dyson/Getty Images)

Singer-songwriter Mark E. Smith, the frontman of seminal post-punk band the Fall, has died at age 60. Smith's death, of a cause not yet disclosed, was confirmed on Wednesday by his manager.

Rolling Stone described Smith's impact and influence:

Part musical hypnotist, part ranting madman, Smith was a singular figure in post-punk. His Mancunian accent, dry witticisms and plays on words were one of the Fall's most constant characteristics. Their songs were odysseys into his ever-verbose psyche, marked by repetitive rhythms and melodies. His influence resounded in the music of Pavement, Sonic Youth and the early 2000s New York dance-punk scene.

The Fall released their first album in 1978, and remained active in various configurations until Smith's death, with their most recent album dropping just last year. As the news of Smith's death broke, artists shared tributes on social media. (Pitchfork)

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Elton John announces one last — big — tour

Elton John has announced he's retiring from touring. He's going out with a bang, though: a big bang. His final tour will span 300 dates over the course of three years, taking him around the world. When it wraps up, he'll be 74. Then he'll take a "long break," reports Rolling Stone, before heading back into the studio.

"I want to go out with a bang," said John at an emotional press conference announcing the tour. "It'll be the most produced, fantastic show I've ever done." He concluded the press conference by singing an appropriate song from his vast catalog: "I'm Still Standing."

John's "Farewell Yellow Brick Road" tour hits Target Center, for presumably his final Minnesota performance, on Feb. 21, 2019.

Neil Diamond fans donate ticket refunds to fight Parkinson's

When Neil Diamond announced his own retirement from touring, it meant canceling a planned series of shows in Australia and New Zealand due to his diagnosis of Parkinson's disease. Many of the fans who'd purchased tickets to those canceled shows are donated their refunded money to Parkinson's research, leaving Diamond touched by their charity. (Rolling Stone)

Jack White bans cell phones at concerts

Minnesota music fans who are used to "hashtag put ur phone in ur bag" Prince should have no problem locking their phones up before going to see Jack White at the Armory in Minneapolis on Aug. 6. White has just decreed that his entire upcoming tour will be phone-free.

"We think you'll enjoy looking up from your gadgets for a little while and experience music and our shared love of it IN PERSON," reads a statement issued through venues. Phones will be required to be locked in signal-proof Yondr bags, as they are at Paisley Park. As Consequence of Sound notes, White has long asked fans to keep their phones in their pockets; now, keeping your fingers off your phone is going to be a requirement.

Wait, what?

2018 might produce a less expected album-length collaboration, but don't bet on it. Police captain Sting is going to release a full LP created collaboratively with "It Wasn't Me" pop-reggae hitmaker Shaggy. A Rolling Stone) story about the album reveals several interesting facts, including:

(a) Shaggy calls Sting "Sumner."

(b) Sting's back to the spiky blonde look.

(c) The collaboration began with a single track intended for a Shaggy album, and grew from there.

(d) Shaggy's longtime producer Sting International is involved, and calls the other Sting "Sting Universal."

(e) Shaggy expects that the lead single alone, "Don't Make Me Wait," will lead to hundreds of pregnancies.

(f) Sting refers to Shaggy as "the pope of Jamaica."

(e) The full album comes out on 4/20.


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