Music News: Beatles photographer Astrid Kirchherr dies at 81

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The Current Music News for May 18, 2020 (MPR Video)

Photographer Astrid Kirchherr has died of cancer at age 81. You might not recognize her name, but if you're a Beatles fan you might have had one of her photos hanging on your dorm room wall.

Kirchherr met the Beatles in 1960, when they were a bar band living in Hamburg, Germany. She became close to the band, even becoming engaged to their then-bassist Stuart Sutcliffe. He copied her short hairstyle, and his bandmates copied his, marking the Beatles' transition from a rockabilly greaser style to their iconic clean-cut look.

The photos Kirchherr took of the Beatles in the early '60s are now regarded as the definitive images of the band before they blew up. Sutcliffe left the Beatles to pursue art, and died of a sudden brain hemorrhage in Astrid Kirchherr's arms in 1962. Kirchherr is a character in the 1994 Beatles biopic Backbeat, where she was played by Sheryl Lee. (NPR via The Current)

Law firm representing music stars hit by cyberattack

Lady Gaga has been at the forefront of music stars' efforts to raise COVID-19 release funds, but as Stereogum points out, fate hasn't rewarded her generosity with many lucky breaks lately. First music and art from her postponed album release leaked, and now a sheaf of her legal documents have been dumped by hackers who tried unsuccessfully to extract ransom from her law firm.

The hackers are now demanding $42 million or, they say, they'll release more documents from the firm — which also works with artists like Madonna, Bruce Springsteen, Nicki Minaj, and Lizzo. The law firm, Grubman Shire Meiselas & Sacks, says, "The leaking of our clients' documents is a despicable and illegal attack by these foreign cyberterrorists who make their living attempting to extort high-profile U.S. companies, government entities, entertainers, politicians, and others." (Rolling Stone)

Nils Lofgren attacks nursing-home negligence

Singer-songwriter Nils Lofgren, who's been a guitarist in Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band since the Born in the USA Tour, is using his celebrity to shine light on what he calls the "unconscionable and immoral and disgusting" negligence of nursing homes in New Jersey.

Lofgren and his family have sued a nursing home that used to house his mother-in-law. She suffers from dementia, and one cold night last month, police officers found the 83-year-old woman wandering confused three miles from her home. On top of that, a week later she was diagnosed with COVID-19.

She's now recovering, but Lofgren says New Jersey laws make it too hard to hold facilities accountable for neglecting their patients. He says that "shining a light on this problem is important," and the Lofgrens' attorney says he thinks this case is "just the tip of the iceberg." (New York Times)

Who's the greatest American rock band of all time?

Hank Azaria — yes, the actor — started quite a debate on Twitter recently when he wrote, "Fairly safe to say that the greatest rock band of all time discussion is USUALLY between The Stones, The Beatles and Led Zep- so what is the greatest AMERICAN rock band of all time?- I know what I think."

That tweet got a flood of replies, so we thought we'd ask The Current's Twitter followers to weigh in. A user who tweets as @DraeDaye suggested, "Old school = The Beach Boys. New school = Nirvana."

Dave Wilbourn offered, "The Byrds were hugely influential. Pioneered folk rock and Country rock as well as Psych rock. Had a big impact on The Beatles as well as many artists that came later including 2 of my favs: TP and the Heartbreakers and REM."

The Byrds got a few mentions, in fact, and R.E.M. got even more. A user named Tim argued, "Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers: Critical Acclaim. Commercial Success. Longevity. Anthems. Range. Great road trip music. Lyrical depth. Innovative. They had it all."

So what does Hank Azaria think? "The Doors! closely followed by Aerosmith!"

Middle school marching band covers Lizzo — remotely

Last week we talked about how much work it takes to assemble music videos from parts recorded remotely. In that regard, today's hero is John Aguilar, director of the marching band at Robert Eagle Staff Middle School in Seattle. He got 117 of his students involved in this cover of Lizzo's "Juice."

Aguilar said, "It's an anthem for my students right now because of everything that has been canceled, that they would have done at the end of the year; they still have the juice and they still have that drive to continue to create music." (KIRO)


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