- The Washington Times - Monday, January 1, 2007

The hardest part

Tom Petty says he won’t back down just yet.

The veteran rocker says he’s not retiring, despite a Rolling Stone article in July that suggested otherwise.

Mr. Petty says 2006 was one of the most rewarding years in his career, and he expects the ride to continue in 2007.

“You never know how things are going to turn out, and I didn’t see this year coming,” Mr. Petty told the Los Angeles Times for a story published Sunday. “But maybe next year will be even better.”

Mr. Petty and his band, the Heartbreakers, recently earned two Grammy nominations for their latest album, “Highway Companion.”

Their 30th anniversary tour was a sellout. In a triumphant homecoming to Gainesville, Fla., where the band formed in the 1970s. Mr. Petty was offered a key to the city.

The Heartbreakers also are the subject of a documentary due out this year from Oscar-nominated director Peter Bogdanovich. Mr. Bogdanovich calls Mr. Petty “an American troubadour in the truest sense of the word.”

Mr. Petty is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. His many hits include “I Won’t Back Down, “Even the Losers,” “Breakdown,” “American Girl,” “Free Fallin’ ” and “The Waiting.”

Still tight

Members of James Brown’s band, the Soul Generals, honored their late frontman during an informal jam session in Augusta, Ga.

Associated Press reports that the performance came late Saturday night at the downtown nightclub Soul Bar after a day of remembrances for Mr. Brown, who died of heart failure Christmas morning at age 73.

The show, which went into the early morning hours of Sunday, doubled as a healing session for band members, guitarist Keith Jenkins said. “We got a chance to reflect and consider our future options,” said Mr. Jenkins, a band member for 12 years.

Was it the band’s last performance?

“I hope not,” said trumpet player Hollie Farris, who played with Mr. Brown for 26 years. “We are talking about the possibility of continuing as a tribute band. But we don’t want to be like an Elvis impersonation band. We want to honor him and carry on his legacy.”

The performance capped a day celebrating Mr. Brown’s life and musical legacy in Augusta, which saw civil rights leaders, entertainers and fans turning out in force at a funky funeral, according to Reuters news agency.

The funeral drew singer Michael Jackson out of seclusion.

Mr. Jackson entered the funeral to massive applause as the Soul Generals performed Mr. Brown’s hits to a crowd of 9,000.

At the funeral, Mr. Jackson, rarely seen in public in the United States since being acquitted of child molestation charges, won a vote of confidence from the Rev. Al Sharpton. Mr. Jackson praised Mr. Brown as an inspiration after being invited to the stage by Mr. Sharpton during his eulogy of the “Godfather of Soul.”

Call for action

Irish rocker Bob Geldof has called on German Chancellor Angela Merkel to help Africa’s poor while her country holds the presidency of the Group of Eight nations in 2007, a press report said yesterday.

“Let us hope and pray that Germany and its chancellor, Mrs. Merkel, will at last get politicians to act,” Bild newspaper reported Mr. Geldof as saying in an advance extract of its Tuesday edition.

Mr. Geldof, the mastermind behind the 1985 Live Aid concert and the 2005 Live 8 concerts in aid of Africa, said the continent’s problems must be on the agenda when Germany hosts G8 leaders at a summit in the Baltic Sea resort of Heiligendamm in June.

“For [Africans], there will again be no economic boom, no food, no medicine and no education,” he said.

The Live 8 concerts were held just days before the G8 summit in Gleneagles, Scotland.

Germany has said it wants to set up a G8 program to reward African nations that fight corruption and promote democracy with greater foreign investment.

According to press reports, Mrs. Merkel’s Cabinet has drafted a proposal that each member of the G8 sign a partnership agreement with an African state.

• Compiled by Jay Votel from wire reports.

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