Elton John's ongoing dialogue with Russia

ELTON JOHN:  Working with Russian officials to build equality

Elton John tells New York's Daily News that he and husband David are working with Russian officials to promote equality in one of the world's most politically homophobic countries. Having met with Russia's heath minister last December in Moscow, Elton says it's "all about taking just a little step at a time."

Contrasting his status with that of Vladmir Putin, Elton adds, “I am just a pop star, but I have a foundation and he is a president -- and one of the most powerful presidents in the world." Still, he says Putin "phoned me up and I know they want dialogue, but it is one foot at a time."

MORE BIG 95 MUSIC NEWS:  Wednesday, March 7th

ANN WILSON:  Talking about her next album

Ann Wilson has provided some more details about the album of covers she's working on.

It's tentatively titled Songs for the Living: Volume 1. Ann says, "It's a project very dear to me -- a collection of songs by artists who have departed in the last several years, including Leonard Cohen, David Bowie, Tom Petty, Chris Cornell and Amy Winehouse, to name a few. I feel these souls have made a real, lasting contribution to the art of the popular song, and to honor them is my deepest pleasure."

The first three songs confirmed are Lesley Gore's "You Don't Own Me," Amy Winehouse's "Back to Black," and the Eagles' "Life in the Fast Lane" in honor of Glenn Frey.

"Once again I am pushing my limits as a singer and it is thrilling work. It's my way of showing gratitude for these amazing expressions in words and music. This record was made in the old-school way...on an actual tape recorder, so the sound is vibrant, present and powerful. This sound will not just massage the listener's ego, it will stoke their heart and soul."

She hopes to release it this summer while on tour with Jeff Beck and Paul Rodgers.

REO SPEEDWAGON:  Proud of being called a classic rock band

Kevin Cronin says he's proud REO Speedwagon is "called a classic rock band."

Now in his 43rd year with the Illinois-based group, he tells Guitar World magazine, "I consider our longevity to be a badge of honor. At the same time, I am humbled by the continuing support of the awesome people who continue to come out and see us play. My plan is that when all is said and done, REO will be the last band standing."

REO Speedwagon wind down a headlining tour this week. They have a one-off with .38 Special in Green Bay, Wisconsin on Sunday, and then kick off their co-headlining tour with Styx next Tuesday in Duluth, Minnesota. Their summer tour with Chicago gets going on June 13th in Concord, California.

SMOKEY ROBINSON:  Going country for a TV special

Up-and-coming country star Cam teamed up with Smokey Robinson on Tuesday to tape an installment of CMT Crossroads

She says, "What an absolutely fulfilling moment to meet someone I have admired so long through my speakers, and then have him outshine my (very high) expectations, both as a talent and as a human being. Singing with him tonight will forever be a highlight in my life."

The show premieres on March 28th. 

Don Henley’s son Will will likely join the other second-generation Eagle, Deacon Frey, and play guitar on the group’s tour, which begins Monday in Indianapolis.

Original KISS drummer Peter Criss will be on hand for Rock'n'Con, June 8th to the 10th, in London, Ontario.

Billy Idol says he’s working on new material and is “making our way towards a direction for our next extravaganza.”

In their only British shows of the year, John Fogerty and The Steve Miller Band will headline the October 25th opening night of Britain's BluesFest at The O2 in London.

Cher has apologized for posing for a photo with Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull -- whose decision to conduct a national vote on marriage equality has drawn strong opposition from LGBT groups Down Under. Turnbull tweeted the photo, shot at last weekend’s Sydney’s Mardi Gras celebration.

Gerry Marsden of Gerry & The Pacemakers is rumored to be retiring after his current British tour ends later this month. Now 75, the voice of “Ferry Cross the Mersey” and “How Do You Do It” has twice undergone heart surgery and collapsed onstage during a 2017 show.

Sade's new single, "Flower of the Universe," comes from the soundtrack of A Wrinkle in Time, which opens Friday.

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