Music News Digest: Week Of May 10, 2020

May 18, 2020 by Amy Gold

During the week of May 10, 2020, fans bade a final farewell to soul legend Betty Wright, 1960s-1970s hit songwriter Mark Barkan, and early Beatles photographer Astrid Kirchherr.

Betty Wright (December 21, 1953 - May 10, 2020), who died at home after battling cancer, was an R&B/soul singer and songwriter whose star rose during the 1970s beginning with the 1971 smash, "Clean Up Woman." She was awarded the Best R&B Song Grammy in 1976 for the funky "Where Is The Love" (not to be confused with the same-named 1972 hit by Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway).

Mark Barkan (July 4, 1934 - May 8, 2020), who passed away at home of as-yet unreported causes, was a record producer and songwriter who wrote/co-wrote numerous hits for such bands and artists as Connie Francis, Lesley Gore, Manfred Mann, Elvis Presley, Dusty Springfield, and Rod Stewart. His most famous works include Manfred Mann's "Pretty Flamingo" (1966) and "The Tra La La Song (One Banana, Two Banana)," the theme to the late 1960s children's TV show, "The Banana Splits Adventure Hour."

Astrid Kirchherr (May 20, 1938 - May 12, 2020), who died of cancer, was a German photographer and artist who became famous for her collection of photos taken of The Beatles during the early 1960s. The Beatles later hired her in 1964 to be a set photographer while the band was shooting "A Hard Day's Night." Kirchherr became engaged to the original Beatles bassist, Stu Sutcliffe, before his untimely passing in 1962 of a cerebral hemorrhage.

Also that week, Judy Collins announced a remake of her 1970 hit rendition of the hymn, "Amazing Grace," to be released on May 29, 2020 in commemoration of its 50th anniversary. She will be joined by the Global Virtual Choir, a worldwide network of volunteer backing vocalists, and all proceeds will go to the World Health Organization's COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund. Collins is inviting anyone who is interested to join this choir, with a May 22 submission deadline. For more info, visit

"Street Survivors: The True Story Of The Lynyrd Skynyrd Plane Crash," will get its home video release June 30, 2020 on DVD, through video-on-demand, and as a DVD/Blu-ray/CD set and digital download. The album features new music that ex-Lynyrd Skynyrd drummer Artimus Pyle co-wrote for this movie.

Also that week, it was announced that "Broken Poet," a new movie featuring cameo appearances by Bruce Springsteen and his wife, E Street Band member Patti Scialfa, will premiere May 15, 2020 on Springsteen's fan site, This movie will be available to own and stream, and part of the proceeds will go to the MusiCares COVID-19 Relief Fund.

Finally, Rod Stewart and Don Henley became among a growing number of veteran performing artists to provide help to those in need during the COVID-19 pandemic. Stewart sent a surprise check for $6000 to a mother of three in South Wales recovering from a coma brought about by COVID-19. A Texas native, Henley helped raise over $30,000 for a food bank in Dallas by submitting to Heritage Auctions newly-handwritten lyrics to one of The Eagles' best known songs, "Desperado." He also donated a guitar signed by him and the rest of the current band lineup: Joe Walsh, Timothy B. Schmit, Deacon Frey, and Vince Gill.

Newly-Announced Recordings:
(Band/Artist - Title - Format - Release Date)

Canceled & Postponed Events:
(Band/Artist - Event(s) - Location - Original Dates - Rescheduled Dates)

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