BLACK STAR RIDERS Parts Ways With Bassist MARCO MENDOZA, Recruits ROBBIE CRANE

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Bassist Marco Mendoza will leave BLACK STAR RIDERS at the end of the band’s current U.S. tour on June 22 and will be replaced by Robbie Crane (RATT, VINCE NEIL, LYNCH MOB).

Marco, a founding member of BLACK STAR RIDERS alongside fellow THIN LIZZY alumni Ricky Warwick (guitar, vocals), Damon Johnson (guitar), Scott Gorham (guitar), has decided to pursue other projects after potential conflicts in schedules.

Comments Gorham: “I am very sad to see Marco go. We have been together in a band now for almost 20 years and Marco is my brother and we wish him well for the future. It’s an amicable parting of ways and we all respect that Marco wants to do other projects outside of BLACK STAR RIDERS and there just isn’t time to do both.”

Adds Warwick: “Marco will always be part of the BLACK STAR RIDERS family and a true friend of ours.

“We are very happy to introduce Robbie Crane to everyone as the new BLACK STAR RIDERS bass player. The guy killed the audition and we can’t wait to get on stage with him on our European run starting mid-July and then, of course, in the studio in the autumn for the recording of the second BLACK STAR RIDERS record.”

States Mendoza: “I loved my time in BLACK STAR RIDERS and want to thank all the fans for making the last year on road so successful.

“I am sorry to be leaving the band, but I feel it’s time for me to pursue other avenues, some of which I have already been working with, all of which I am very excited about.

“I wish the guys all success in the future and I am very happy that my friend Robbie Crane will continue to blaze with BLACK STAR RIDERS.”

Comments Crane: “I am very excited to be a part of the BLACK STAR RIDERS family. As a longtime fan of their music, I am thrilled to be a part of the band.”

BLACK STAR RIDERS, whose lineup is completed by Jimmy DeGrasso (ALICE COOPER, MEGADETH, DAVID LEE ROTH, SUICIDAL TENDENCIES) on drums, will enter a studio in Dublin, Ireland in October with producer, and DEF LEPPARD frontman, Joe Elliott, to begin recording its sophomore album for an early 2015 release via Nuclear Blast Entertainment. Also working on the project will be longtime LEPPARD sound guru Ronan McHugh.

BLACK STAR RIDERS‘s debut album, “All Hell Breaks Loose”, sold around 2,200 copies in the United States in its first week of release. The CD landed at position No. 5 on the Top New Artist Albums (Heatseekers) chart, which lists the best-selling albums by new and developing artists, defined as those who have never appeared in the Top 100 of The Billboard 200.

KING’S X’s DOUG PINNICK Launches GRINDER BLUES

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Megaforce Records will release GRINDER BLUES‘ self-titled debut album on August 19. The powerhouse trio teams KING’S X legend Doug Pinnick with two gritty, hard-rocking (and Emmy-winning) roots music MVPs, Jabo Bihlman on guitar and vocals and Scot “Little” Bihlman on drums, percussion and vocals.

“Grinder Blues” is like a shot of adrenaline to the heart of the genre. Its 10 original, high-voltage songs sizzle with daredevil virtuosity and rock with unrestrained energy, blasting a sound minted in the urban canyons of Chicago and the swamps of rural Louisiana during the 1950s into the present thanks to rumbling guitars, freight train rhythms and Pinnick‘s virtuoso licks and elegantly gritty rock ‘n’ soul voice.

“The idea for the music was to stay away from the clichés and rock out,” Doug explains. “If we felt like we were heading into any songs that seemed like standard blues lyrically or musically, we made it a point to veer in the opposite direction.”

Doug was particularly enthusiastic about moving into the blues; it’s a whole new direction for him,” says Scot, who, like his brother Jabo, is a longstanding fan of Doug‘s work.

“A heavy, twisted take on the blues is something we all felt Doug was born to do. He’s the most soulful vocalist, a blues singer, really,” adds Jabo. “Even with KING’S X and his other projects, it’s always Doug‘s soulful, thundering vocals that push the music over the top.”

Produced by Miles Fulwider and Barry Mork, with mixing by Miles, Barry and Doug, “Grinder Blues” was written collaboratively by the band. Pinnick aimed to keep the music “simple and fun,” while exploring new directions. The lyrics are traditional, an homage to the old blues heroes who came before them. Recorded almost entirely in a drop-C tuning, the band “wanted the sound to be unique and heavy, like nothing anyone had ever heard in the blues vein,” says Jabo.

“The whole production angle we took was to push some boundaries sonically and musically that one associates with ‘the blues’ or ‘rock n’ roll,'” says Fulwider. “We set out to pull and push typical blues ‘axioms’ to see what we could come up with on the other side.”

GRINDER BLUES will be on tour in 2014.

BRET MICHAELS Forced To Cut New Hampshire Concert Short Due To Medical Emergency

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Pete Evick, who plays guitar for POISON singer Bret Michaels‘ solo band, has released the following statement:

“This is a message I never imagined I’d have to post.

“Tonight [Thursday, May 29] in Manchester, New Hampshire, three songs into [Michaels‘ solo] set, Bret had me sing a song as he rushed off stage.

“In the nine years I’ve stood next to him, I’ve never seen a look like the one on his face as if I was a complete stranger.

“One of the crew returned instantly to notify me that Bret‘s blood sugar was extremely low. He returned to the stage only to announce that he could not continue.

“As you all know, [Bret] is a health fanatic and fiercely monitors his blood sugar. He basically had to be dragged off the stage in his sickest of conditions.

“When I rushed to the bus, he could barely speak, but begged me to apologize to the fans and seemed only concerned for them.

“As of now, he is with paramedics being evaluated.

“We will keep you posted throughout the evening.”

In recent years, Michaels, who has known about his type 1 diabetes since he was six years old, has undergone an emergency appendectomy, heart surgery and suffered brain hemorrhaging.

“From the cradle to the grave — and I mean this as sincere as I can say this — you either make a choice that you are living, or you’re dying,” Bret told “Oprah’s Lifeclass” about his biggest life lesson. “It’s all in the way you look at it.”

In a 2010 interview with Diabetes Forecast magazine, Michaels discussed his health struggles and the everyday challenges of living with diabetes and explained how he has taken control of his health after years of a rock-and-roll lifestyle.

“Life is not perfect, but it’s how you roll with it,” said Michaels. “I have been knocked down professionally and even worse medically, but I am a kicker and a fighter — mental attitude is what it’s all about.”

Bret also spoke about how his recent health challenges have changed the way he tours. “I absolutely have an itinerary of where the really good hospitals are, just in case I have another hemorrhage or heart problems,” he said. “I am really focused on what to do if something happens to us, not just me, but my band and my crew. But the shows I am playing are as fun and as wild and as upbeat as ever. Everything else is life as usual, on the road.”

GUNS N’ ROSES ‘Appetite For Democracy 3D: Live From The Hard Rock Casino – Las Vegas’ Out In July

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GUNS N’ ROSES will release “Appetite For Democracy 3D: Live From The Hard Rock Casino – Las Vegas” on July 1 via Universal Music Enterprises. The show was filmed on November 21, 2012 during the “Appetite For Democracy” tour in celebration of twenty-five years of “Appetite For Destruction” and four years of “Chinese Democracy”.

“Appetite For Democracy 3D: Live From The Hard Rock Casino – Las Vegas” will be available in North America on Blu-ray, featuring the complete concert film in both 3D and 2D plus an interactive 3D photo gallery, and standard DVD featuring the 2D version of the film. Both releases are mixed in 5.1 Surround Sound and feature bonus interviews with the band. The GN’R Appetite For Democracy Official App (iOS/Android) brings the concert experience to a new level by connecting GN’R directly with their fans, allowing fans to connect with each other via social media, buy exclusive merchandise, check tour/cinema dates for the movie, preview digital tracks of the film; and purchase or stream via VOD the digital long form concert.

Produced by Rock Fuel Media‘s Barry Summers, “Appetite For Democracy 3D: Live From The Hard Rock Casino – Las Vegas” is the first official GUNS N’ ROSES live concert film since 1992’s “Use Your Illusion” concert video.

“Appetite For Democracy 3D: Live From The Hard Rock Casino – Las Vegas” track listing:

01. Chinese Democracy
02. Welcome To The Jungle
03. It’s So Easy
04. Mr. Brownstone
05. Estranged
06. Rocket Queen
07. Live and Let Die
08. This I Love
09. Better
10. Motivation (Tommy Stinson song)
11. Catcher In The Rye
12. Street Of Dreams
13. You Could Be Mine
14. Sweet Child O’ Mine
15. Another Brick In The Wall Part 2 (PINK FLOYD cover)
16. November Rain
17. Objectify (Bumblefoot song)
18. Don’t Cry
19. Civil War
20. The Seeker (THE WHO cover)
21. Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door (BOB DYLAN cover)
22. Nightrain
23. Don’t Let It Bring You Down (NEIL YOUNG cover)
24. Used To Love Her
25. Patience
26. Paradise City

GUNS N’ ROSES lineup:

* W. Axl Rose – lead vocals, piano
* Dizzy Reed – keyboards, piano
* Chris Pitman – keyboards, backing vocals, tambourine
* Tommy Stinson – bass, backing vocals, lead vocals on ‘Motivation’
* Richard Fortus – rhythm guitar, lead guitar, acoustic guitar
* Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal – lead guitar, lead vocals on ‘Objectify’
* Frank Ferrer – drums, tambourine
* DJ Ashba – lead guitar, rhythm guitar, backing vocals

As previously reported, GUNS N’ ROSES frontman and sole original member Axl Rose has denied rumors that he is breaking up the band and considering retirement. Responding to a report at RadarOnline.com in which anonymous sources claimed that the group was finished, Rose posted a message at the band’s Facebook page which read, “I’m not going anywhere . . . GNR fans sure have a Radar for BS! Love you all!”

Meanwhile, another source claiming to be close to the Rose camp dismissed the report as “bullshit,” adding that the members of the band had merely been notified that their calendars would be clear for the immediate future so that they could do other things.

The RadarOnline.com report had suggested that the band would call it a day after finishing up its current Las Vegas residency at the Hard Rock Hotel, which ends on June 7.

The source for RadarOnline.com said, “Band members have been told their calendars are free following Vegas. Axl is considering retiring and it’s done. Band members and support staff were surprised when told the news and are actively looking for work.”

Some of the current members of the GUNS lineup have spoken in the past year about recording a new album, but that is highly unlikely. The sole all-new GUNS N’ ROSES album in 23 years, “Chinese Democracy”, arrived in November 2008 to mixed reviews and disappointing sales.

ARNEL PINEDA Says STEVE PERRY ‘Can Take Over’ Singer Spot In JOURNEY

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JOURNEY vocalist Arnel Pineda (pictured) says that the door is open for the band’s former lead singer Steve Perry to rejoin group, saying that “it’s [Steve‘s] righteous place” and explaining that he wants to see Perry and his JOURNEY bandmates “happy together.”

Although the pipes were a bit rusty, Perry thrilled audience members on Sunday night (May 25) during a surprise appearance within the encore set of alterative rockers EELS in Saint Paul, Minnesota. According to The Pulse Of Radio, Perry — whose rumored return to JOURNEY has been the cause of rock gossip and band denials for several years — joined in on the EELS‘ song “It’s A Motherfucker”, which Perry had previously included on his iTunes celebrity playlist.

Following that, Perry and the band launched into two JOURNEY classics — 1981’s “Escape” power ballad “Open Arms” and 1979’s “Departure” album standout “Lovin,’ Touchin’, Squeezin'”.

After a JOURNEY fan tweeted a link to a video of Perry‘s performance to Pineda, Arnel responded: “He should come back. His voice is still there. [I] missed that voice.” The fan continued the conversation, writing: “It will be cool if [Steve would] come to one of your shows and just come up and sing with you guys. That will definitely be epic.” Arnel then wrote: “He can take over too. It’s his righteous place anyway. [I] wanna see them happy together.” When the fan praised Arnel for being so “modest” and “humble,” Pineda replied: “We are all but transits in this world. Borrowed time is all we have. We do what we can while it’s in our favor.”

After announcing in April that he was recording a solo album, Arnel said: I’d be more than happy to give way. As long as they need me, I will be there. I’m never gonna quit on them.”

On Tuesday (May 27), he tweeted: “Let me be clear. I took JOURNEY‘s leap of faith ‘coz they generously gave it to me. Yet I’ll never be addicted to fame.”

Pineda was previously rumored to be leaving JOURNEY back in February, citing the demands that the band’s touring schedule places on his family. However, he shot down those reports, saying in a statement: “I am as happy to be in JOURNEY today as I was when I first joined the group. Next to my family in Manila, JOURNEY is my family. When I’m not working, I spend time at home with my wife and kids, and my foundation. Now, I am busy preparing for our tour with STEVE MILLER BAND and TOWER OF POWER. I wish whoever is making up these lies would put their time to good use and stop spreading these false stories.”

Perry told The Pulse Of Radio that the passage of time only further solidified his opinion of how incredible JOURNEY was during its heyday. “What a great band we once were,” he said. “What a great band. I think the older I get, the more I’m able to look back at the forest now, ’cause I certainly walked out of the trees. I think everybody was just following their heart and their nose and following that lead. Just doing what we do. We’re a band. We record, we rock, we instinctually reach for what we believe’s a good idea — and argue about stuff, agree, disagree and move forward. And we were just crankin’.”

Song On New HELLYEAH Album Is Tribute To Late PANTERA Guitarist DIMEBAG

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According to The Pulse Of Radio, HELLYEAH singer Chad Gray has told England’s TeamRock that a song on the band’s upcoming album called “Black December” is a tribute to late PANTERA guitarist “Dimebag” Darrell Abbott, brother of HELLYEAH drummer Vinnie Paul Abbott. Gray explained, “I didn’t really know Dime, but he inspired me and his band inspired me. A lot of people I have a brotherhood with were really close to him. I’ve heard just about every story you can hear about him. He lived in the moment and that how I strive to be. He very much lived for right now and it was awesome, he loved to put smiles on people’s faces.”

Vinnie Paul told The Pulse Of Radio more about the inspiration for the song. “Obviously my brother was taken on December 8th, Lennon was on December 8th, Pearl Harbor was December 7th… so much stuff, and people think of December generally as this happy, happy, happy month, you know,” he said. “Here it is, Christmas, the holidays, friends, family, New Year. Well, for a lot of people, it’s not.”

“Black December” appears on HELLYEAH‘s fourth studio album, “Blood For Blood”, which will be released on June 10 via Eleven Seven Music. The CD was helmed by producer Kevin Churko at his The Hideout Recording Studio in Las Vegas, Nevada. Churko is the Canadian musician, sound engineer, songwriter and record producer who has previously worked with OZZY OSBOURNE, FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH and IN THIS MOMENT, among other acts.

HELLYEAH parted ways with guitarist Greg Tribbett and bassist Bob “Zilla” Kahaha before making the new album, with Vinnie saying that the split became necessary after HELLYEAH finished its last tour.

He explained, “We felt like we had really got some momentum and the fans were really into where we were going and what we were doing musically and we got into the studio about three weeks after that tour was over and it just really became obvious to us that Greg and Zilla, they weren’t really in the same head space as us.”

HELLYEAH has recruited new bassist Kyle Sanders, a former member of BLOODSIMPLE and the brother of MASTODON‘s Troy Sanders. Also in the current lineup is touring guitarist Christian Brady. who has previously played with MAGNA-FI and FRANKY PEREZ & THE TRUTH.

A press release describes “Blood For Blood” as a “welcome return to form” for the band, adding that it “sounds like a recharged HELLYEAH, taken up many notches.”

METALLICA’s ‘Black’ Album Becomes First LP To Hit 16 Million In SoundScan Sales

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According to Billboard.com, METALLICA‘s self-titled 1991 LP has become the first album to sell 16 million copies since Nielsen SoundScan started tracking sales in 1991. The set — often referred to as “the black album” — shifted another 2,533 units for the week ending May 25, bringing its cumulative total to 16,001,741.

“Metallica” was already certified 16 times platinum on December 13, 2012 by the RIAA (Recording Industry Association Of America) for shipments in excess of 16 million copies in the U.S.

The album in 2009 surpassed SHANIA TWAIN‘s 1997 record, “Come On Over”, as the best-selling CD of the SoundScan era.

Although METALLICA had scored their first radio and video airplay with their previous effort, 1988’s “…And Justice For All”, the black album was the band’s biggest commercial breakthrough, producing five singles and making them into one of the most popular rock bands in the world.

Drummer Lars Ulrich told Rolling Stone in 1991 about the record’s musical shift, “We felt inadequate as musicians and as songwriters (early in our career). That made us go too far, around ‘Master Of Puppets’ and on ‘…And Justice For All’, in the direction of trying to prove ourselves. We’ll do all this weird-ass shit sideways to prove that we are capable musicians and songwriters.”

Ulrich added about the eight months it took to make the album, “[Recording] should have gone quicker, in theory, than trying to get everything note-perfect like we have before. But as usual with METALLICA, all those theories and normalities go straight out the window. It took us twice as long to make a record that is twice as loose.”

Frontman James Hetfield said, “It was [once] a challenge for us to jam every riff in the universe into one song and make it work. Now we’re pretty much doing the opposite. Which is even more of a challenge.”

The album was the first of four collaborations with producer Bob Rock, with whom the band clashed throughout the recording of the disc. Rock recalled to Music Radar, “The first three months were difficult. They were all very suspicious of me. It wasn’t a fun, easy record to make. I told the guys when we were done that I’d never work with them again. They felt the same way about me.”

Ulrich said about Rock in NME, “We’d never really had anybody push us before . . . We’ve always thought of ourselves as ‘Big Bad Metallica,’ but Bob taught us a new word none of us had ever heard before: soulful.”

METALLICA performed “the black album” in its entirety at a number of European festivals in 2012.