Music News Digest: Week Of December 27, 2015

January 3, 2016 by Amy Gold

During the week of December 27, 2015, fans bade a final farewell to R&B legend Natalie Cole, Stevie Wright of The Easybeats, and Carson Van Osten of Nazz.

Also that week, Nat "King" Cole's "The Christmas Song" and Brenda Lee's "Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree" both re-entered the Billboard Hot 100 and made the Top 40 on that chart.

David Bowie's box set, "Bowie At The Beeb: The Best Of The BBC Radio Sessions 68-72," originally released on CD in 2000, will be coming out on vinyl this February. Also that month, Dion will be releasing a new album titled "New York Is My Home."

Art Garfunkel announced a series of concerts in the U.S. for the first half of 2016 beginning this January. Kansas will be launching a tour this February that will take the band to various parts of North America. Peter Frampton announced a series of U.S. show dates for this March. Smokey Robinson and Diana Ross will be headlining this year's Jazz Aspen Snowmass festival which takes place this June.

(For more information about the above-listed news items, please see below for a list of sources with links and article summaries.)

Aretha Franklin brought President Barack Obama to tears with her stirring performance of the Carole King-penned "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman" during the 38th Annual Kennedy Center Honors which was broadcast on CBS December 29, 2015.

December 28, 2015: Peter Frampton Announces March Tour Dates

Peter Frampton announced a series of show dates for this March that will take the legendary rocker to various states in the U.S. This 13-date trek, dubbed "Peter Frampton Raw, An Acoustic Tour," begins on March 9, 2016 in Tucson, AZ and ends on March 26 in Tacoma, WA, with additional stops in Arizona, as well as in California, Oregon, and Washington. Prior to that, Frampton will be among the featured bands and artists on the upcoming Rock Legends Cruise IV which takes place January 21-25, 2016.

Source: Peter Frampton Lines Up 2016 US Acoustic Tour

December 28, 2015: David Bowie To Release Vinyl Version Of 'Bowie At The Beeb' Box Set

David Bowie's box set, "Bowie At The Beeb: The Best Of The BBC Radio Sessions 68-72," which was first released in 2000 on CD, will be coming out February 26, 2016 on vinyl. Highlights of this collection include "Oh! You Pretty Things," "The Supermen," and other rarities, covers of songs by The Velvet Underground, and performances of "Ziggy Stardust" and other classics with Bowie's then-backing band, The Spiders from Mars.

Source: Vinyl Version of David Bowie's "Bowie at the Beeb" Box Set Due Out in February

December 28, 2015: Stevie Wright Of The Easybeats Passes Away

Famed Australian singer-songwriter Stephen Carlton "Stevie" Wright died on December 27, 2015 at age 68 of pneumonia at Moruya Hospital in New South Wales. He was the lead singer of The Easybeats, an Australian rock band famous for "Friday On My Mind" which became an international hit in 1966, reaching #16 in the U.S. After the group disbanded in 1969, Wright had several solo hits in Australia that included the chart-topping "Evie," a song released in three parts in 1974. In 2005, Wright was inducted along with The Easybeats into the ARIA Hall of Fame.

Source: The Easybeats Frontman Stevie Wright Dies at 68

December 28, 2015: Carson Van Osten Of Nazz Passes Away

Famed musician and comics creator Carson Van Osten died on December 22, 2015 at age 70. In 1967, he co-founded Nazz with Todd Rungren and was this group's bass guitarist. Nazz became famous for "Open My Eyes" and the original version of "Hello It's Me," both of which became hits in 1968. In 1969, Van Osten began his long and highly successful career as a comics creator and executive at Disney. He created Mickey Mouse and Goofy comics during the early 1970s and in 2015, was honored with a Disney Legends award.

Source: Former Todd Rundgren Band Mate Carson Van Osten Dead

December 28, 2015: Dion To Release New Album

On February 12, 2016, Dion will be releasing a new album titled "New York Is My Home." Highlights include "The Apollo King," "Visionary Heart," and "I'm Your Gangster Of Love," plus the title track which is performed as a duet with Paul Simon.

Source: New Dion Album, "New York Is My Home," Coming in February Featuring Paul Simon

December 29, 2015: Nat 'King' Cole And Brenda Lee Christmas Classics Re-enter Billboard Top 40

For the week of January 9, 2016, Nat "King" Cole's beloved holiday chestnut, "The Christmas Song (Merry Christmas To You)," re-entered the Billboard Hot 100 at #38. This is also the first time this song ever made the Top 40 since it first charted in 1960, although it had re-entered the Billboard Hot 100 several times since then over the years. Brenda Lee's "Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree," which made its Billboard chart premiere in 1961, was also a Top 40 hit that week, rising to #30 after peaking at #38 the previous week. Also, Bobby Helms' "Jingle Bell Rock" re-entered the Billboard Hot 100 at #47, making this the first time this holiday classic has appeared on this chart since 1962.

Source: Nat King Cole's 'Christmas Song' Is a Top 40 Hit at Last: Hot 100 Chart Moves | Billboard

December 29, 2015: Art Garfunkel Lines Up 2016 Concerts

Art Garfunkel announced a series of concerts in the U.S. for the first half of 2016 beginning January 26, 2016 in Birmingham, AL and ending May 20 in Princeton, NJ, with stops in Georgia, Tennessee, and Virginia. He will also launch a short European tour leg beginning on February 18 in Antwerp, Belgium and ending on March 2 in Aalborg, Denmark, with stops in France and Germany. In addition, he will be publishing an autobiography later this year and has posted a short excerpt on his website.

Source: Art Garfunkel Lines Up 2016 US Concerts; Shares Excerpt from Upcoming Memoir

December 29, 2015: Smokey Robinson, Diana Ross To Headline 2016 Jazz Aspen Festival

Smokey Robinson, Diana Ross, and Sheryl Crow will headline this year's Jazz Aspen Snowmass festival which takes place this June in Aspen, CO. Smokey Robinson will perform on June 24, 2016, and Diana Ross on July 2. For more info, visit

Source: Smokey Robinson, Diana Ross to Headline Jazz Aspen Festival Next Summer

December 30, 2015: Kansas Announces 2016 North American Tour Dates

Kansas announced a series of shows that will take the band to various parts of North America. This trek is currently set to begin on February 21, 2016 in San Juan, Puerto Rico and end on July 23 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, with stops in Alabama, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. So far, 22 show dates have been confirmed, with more expected to be announced later. For more info, visit

Source: Kansas Planning to Record New Album in 2016; Lining Up North American Tour Dates

January 1, 2016: Natalie Cole Passes Away

Famed singer-songwriter Natalie Cole died on December 31, 2015 at age 65 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles of congestive heart failure after battling a number of ongoing health issues over the years. The daughter of the late jazz-traditional pop legend, Nat "King" Cole, she got an early start in music singing on her father's Christmas album at age six. She rose to stardom in the 1970s with a string of hits on both the R&B and Pop/Rock charts that included the chart-topping "This Will Be" (1975), "Inseparable" (1975), and "Our Love" (1977). She re-emerged in the late 1980s with the 1987 album, "Everlasting," and in 1991 released her best-selling album, "Unforgettable... with Love," a collection of traditional pop standards as made famous by her father that include the title track remixed with Nat "King" Cole's original 1951 recording to create a "duet."

Cole's many awards and accolades included nine Grammys, three American Music Awards, two NAACP Image Awards, The George and Ira Gershwin Award (1993), the Songwriters Hall of Fame Howie Richmond Hitmaker Award (1999), and the Society of Singers Lifetime Achievement Award (2010). She continued to perform and record up to her passing and released over twenty albums throughout her career.

Source: Natalie Cole, Dead at 65