Music News: Ndugu Chancler, 'Billie Jean' drummer, dies at 65

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Drummer Ndugu Chancler, in a video still.
Drummer Ndugu Chancler, in a video still. (Kind of Blue Records)

Drummer Ndugu Chancler has died of undisclosed causes at age 65. The Louisiana native has played on countless sessions for musicians including Thelonius Monk, Frank Sinatra, and Lionel Richie — but far and away his most-heard performance was on Michael Jackson’s iconic 1983 single "Billie Jean." (Billboard)

In my opinion, the “Billie Jean” intro is the greatest example of something so simple that you take it for granted. But if you truly dissect it. It’s a complex compelling performance. The tone is spot on. Enough snap on the snare but not too thin that it enters Ska/James Brown crack snare territory. The amount of reverb #BruceSwedien applies is SPOT on perfect. The performance However is timeless like a tuxedo. Or a pair of chucks. Or jeans and white t shirt. It literally gives MJ his dna. You know what it is ONE SECOND in. Its creator, Jazz/funk great #NduguChancler (mind you on a GAZILLION other hit songs) passed away today. Giving all due respect and praise to the drummer that sparked a revolution of dance madness breakbeat mania. Rest easy king!

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Simon, JT announce St. Paul shows

Paul Simon is making a pass through Minnesota on what he says will be his final tour. "It feels a little unsettling, a touch exhilarating and something of a relief," to announce his final tour, said Simon, who will wrap things up with a London festival show on July 15. The tour hits St. Paul's Xcel Energy Center on June 8. (Billboard)

Another guy coming to the Xcel Energy Center just played a big gig in Minneapolis: Justin Timberlake, whose Man of the Woods tour arrives at the Capital City on Sept. 28. (Consequence of Sound) Although JT danced his butt off at U.S. Bank Stadium, he couldn't lift the Super Bowl out of a ratings slump: an average 103.4 million viewers tuned in to the game, which is a big number...but not by Super Bowl standards, as the game's ratings were the lowest in almost a decade. (Billboard)

Prince memorabilia to go on sale

Numerous Prince memorabilia items will go on sale this week in an online auction. Among the highlights: a white Cloud guitar (though not the one seen in Purple Rain), a handwritten draft of the lyrics to "I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man," and a pair of purple boots festooned with Love Symbol zipper pulls. There's even a faux diamond bracelet Prince once gave to his onetime fiancée Susannah Melvoin, who was just onstage with fDeluxe for Super Bowl LIVE. (Rolling Stone)

If all you really care about is more unreleased music from the Vault, don't worry: that's "coming soon," says an estate advisor. (Pioneer Press)

Female music executives rebuke Portnow

The post-Grammys backlash against Recording Academy leadership continues to grow. In the latest development, six of the most powerful female executives in the record industry have written an open letter calling the Academy's leaders "woefully out of touch with today's music, the music business, and even more significantly, society." The letter doesn't specifically call for the resignation of CEO Neil Portnow, but it does cite his infamous "step up" comments as indicative of the organization's problems.

"Neil Portnow's comments are not a reflection of being 'inarticulate' in a single interview," wrote the women. "They are, unfortunately, emblematic of a much larger issue with the [Recording Academy] as a whole on the broader set of inclusion issues across all demographics."

Portnow responded with a statement reading in part, "We appreciate the points raised in this letter and welcome the opportunity to work with these executives to address the issues of inclusion, representation, fairness, and diversity in our community." (New York Times)

Sigur Rés soundtrack Icelandic art

Let's say you're creating a piece of trippy video art in Iceland, and you need a soundtrack. Who you gonna call? That's right, Sigur Rós. The adventurous group contributed music to a video projection that was "projected onto the sides of oil tankers as part of the Reykjavik Winter Lights Festival, which ran from Feb. 1-4," notes Pitchfork.


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