BIG Music News: Michael McDonald, The Beatles

MICHAEL McDONALD:  His new album will be different

Michael McDonald has a new album on the way.

Speaking to, he says, "This record is a different kind of record for me. It's a very eclectic record; there's no real fixed genre to it. And I think the reason for that is it's about eight years in the making. I went off and did Motown records, and in the meantime I was always cutting demos because I was a songwriter... It's got kind of a weird, multi-textural feeling to it. Some of them are kind of rock, some of them are R&B things you would normally expect. It's a very wide open kind of concept record. But it's the first original record I've done in probably 10, 15 years."

The album, his first since 2008's Soul Speak, will be out in September. Until then he will be back on the road starting June 10th in Lincoln, California.

THE BEATLES:  New book takes a look at Fab Four's ongoing popularity

In his book Dreaming The Beatles, Rob Sheffield reports on "the strange after-life of The Beatles -- that they're even more popular and famous now than when they actually existed as a band." Even today, the veteran rock journalist says, "They're more famous than all the other bands put together."

Despite the fame, Sheffield contends, "There's so much to learn and there's still so much we're finding out about them."

Among Sheffield's surprises:

*The Beatles were negotiating with Stanley Kubrick in the late '60s to make a movie adaptation of Lord of the Rings.

*How the Lennon-McCartney songwriting partnership devolved into a rivalry, each writing their own material, while continuing to share credit. A perfect example -- John wrote "Strawberry Fields" about a place he recalled from his Liverpool boyhood, only to have Paul take a similar angle for "Penny Lane."

*Adolf Hitler and Mahatma Gandhi were among those John Lennon suggested for the Sergeant Pepper cover -- before the other Beatles and their record company vetoed them.

Sheffield also looks their solo years, including his contention one of Paul's '70s classics might be the worst pop song of all time!

RINGO STARR:  Special birthday promotion on the way

Ringo Starr is giving a lucky fan the chance to roll "double sevens" with him on his birthday.

The Beatles drummer, who turns 77 on July 7th (7/7), is holding a contest for those who donate $10 or more to the David Lynch Foundation. The winner will be flown to L.A. for Ringo's birthday to join him for brunch and be among the VIPs proclaiming "Peace and Love" outside the iconic Capitol Records tower.

The filmmaker's foundation promotes the practice of transcendental meditation in schools as a way to "prevent and eradicate the all-pervasive epidemic of trauma and toxic stress." (Rolling Stone)

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