Music News Digest: Week Of May 3, 2020

May 10, 2020 by Amy Gold

During the week of May 3, 2020, fans bade a final farewell to rock & roll pioneer Little Richard, "My Boy Lollipop" singer Millie Small, and Florian Schneider-Esleben of Kraftwerk.

Little Richard (December 5, 1932 - May 9, 2020), who died from bone cancer, was a groundbreaking singer, songwriter, and pianist who burst onto the music scene in the late 1950s with such smash hits as "Tutti Frutti" (1957), "Long Tall Sally" (1956), and "Good Golly Miss Molly" (1958). A key figure in the history of pop and rock, the dynamic, effervescent, and loveably flamboyant rock & roll legend was among the first to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1986. He has been cited as a major influence by The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Elton John, and numerous other bands and artists.

Best known for the era-defining oldies classic, "My Boy Lollipop" (1964), Millie Small (October 6, 1947 - May 5, 2020), who died from a stroke, was a singer-songwriter and the first Jamaica-born artist to score a major hit in the U.S. She was among the earliest popularizers of ska, a ca. late 1950s music genre that later paved the way for reggae. Small received Jamaica's prestigious Order of Distinction honor in 2011 for her contributions to the country's music industry.

Florian Schneider-Esleben (April 7, 1947 - April 21, 2020), who passed away after a short battle with cancer, was a multi-instrumentalist and a co-founder of Kraftwerk, a pioneering German electronic music band best known in the U.S. for the 1975 smash, "Autobahn." Over the years, Kraftwerk has influenced countless artists and helped spawn such contemporary genres as synthpop, post-punk, hip hop, ambient, techno, and club music.

Also that week, The Rolling Stones had their first-ever #1 hit on the Billboard Rock Digital Song Sales chart with "Living In A Ghost Town," a recently-released single that captures the mood of the current COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, this song rose from #30 to #3 on the Hot Rock Songs chart, and from #44 to #34 on Billboard's Rock Airplay tally.

Jon Bon Jovi, Dionne Warwick, and Dolly Parton are among the many featured performers in "A Night Of Covenant House Stars," a live stream benefit concert for Covenant House, a charity that helps homeless and trafficked youth. This upcoming event will air May 18, 2020 on ET and can also be viewed via Broadway on Demand, iHeartRadio Broadway, Facebook, YouTube, and various other online platforms.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Cher founded CherCares, a charity dedicated to providing aid to chronically neglected and forgotten people through which she plans to donate $1 million. She also released her first-ever Spanish language single, "Chiquitita," a cover of the ABBA 1979 hit.

May 4, 2020 marks the 50th anniversary of the Kent State massacre when National Guard troops opened fire during a protest over the Vietnam War, killing four students and wounding eleven. In remembrance, Kent State University is presenting a documentary of this incident on its official website and YouTube channel. In addition to historic details, the film also features performances by David Crosby and Jesse Colin Young of The Youngbloods.

Sting, Donovan, and Grateful Dead drummer Bill Kreutzmann are among the many participants in "Have A Good Trip," a new documentary that covers the pros and cons of hallucinogens and examines their other aspects. This movie is set to premiere May 11, 2020 on Netflix.

Also that week, it was announced that "Gordon Lightfoot: If You Could Read My Mind," a new documentary about the famed Canadian singer-songwriter, will make its premiere sometime later this summer. An official trailer was recently released.

Finally, May 8, 2020 marks the 50th anniversary of the release of The Beatles' final album, "Let It Be." This historic recording, which spent four weeks at #1 on the Billboard 200 and heralded the dissolution of the Fab Four, includes the hits, "The Long And Winding Road," "Get Back," "For You Blue," and the album's elegiac title song.

Newly-Announced Recordings:
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Canceled & Postponed Events:
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(For more information about the above news items, please see below for a list of sources with links.)