- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 4, 2006

Fond farewell

Clutching his famed guitar Lucille, blues icon B.B. King, on a final tour in Europe, bid an emotional farewell to fans at the Montreux Jazz Festival, where he’s performed for more than 20 years.

Now 80 and suffering from diabetes, he was joined on stage by a host of performers at the end of Monday night’s concert in Montreux, Switzerland. Joining in the tribute were singers Gladys Knight, Barbara Hendricks, Randy Crawford and Leela James; jazz guitarists John McLaughlin and Stanley Clarke; keyboardists Joe Sample and George Duke; and saxophonist David Sanborn, Reuters news agency reports.

“Maybe I should quit every night,” quipped Mr. King, who sang and played his guitar while seated throughout the two-and-half hour concert which stretched into the early hours of yesterday morning.

“I’m going to cry again. This is the icing on the cake. I could never be sent off better,” he said.

Wearing a gold and black dinner jacket, Mr. King and his seven-man band performed a program of his well-known classics, including his 1970 Grammy-winning “The Thrill is Gone” and “Ain’t That Just Like a Woman.”

Austin gets a break

Record producer Dallas Austin yesterday was granted a pardon just hours after a Dubai court sentenced him to four years in jail for possession of narcotics, a local newspaper said.

The report on the Gulf News Web site did not say who issued the pardon, which is usually granted by the rulers of the emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates, Reuters noted.

It was not clear whether Mr. Austin, 34, who has worked with such stars as Madonna and Michael Jackson, had left Dubai. According to published reports, Mr. Austin on Monday reportedly pleaded guilty to possessing cocaine during the trial at the Dubai Court of First Instance.

Mr. Austin was arrested at Dubai airport May 19 when police reportedly found at least 1.26 grams of the drug and other illegal substances in his possession. He was flying into Dubai to attend a birthday party for supermodel Naomi Campbell. “I’m guilty, but it was a mistake,” he was quoted as telling the court. “I didn’t realize I had the drugs with me and I didn’t intend to use them here in the UAE.”

Drug trafficking in the UAE carries the death penalty, but executions are rare. Drug smuggling convictions of foreigners often result in a jail term followed by deportation.

Diplomats say Dubai, one of seven emirates that make up the UAE and the Gulf region’s trade and tourism hub, is a busy route for drug trafficking between Asia and Europe.

Just call him dad

Keith Richards is not the first person one would think of as a father figure — but Johnny Depp says that’s all about to change.

The Rolling Stones guitarist is lined up to play the swashbuckling father of a pirate in the third installment of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” series, Mr. Depp said yesterday.

Producer Jerry Bruckheimer said Mr. Richards would have a cameo role as the father of the flamboyant Captain Jack Sparrow, played by Mr. Depp. The third “Pirates” movie is to resume filming next month in California, Associated Press reports.

Mr. Depp, 43, has said he adopted Richards’ body language and mannerisms to create the Captain Jack character.

Mr. Richards, 62, suffered a head injury April 27 in Fiji. News reports variously claimed that he fell out of a palm tree or from a jet ski. He later had surgery in New Zealand to relieve pressure in his head.

Compiled by Robyn-Denise Yourse from Web and wire reports

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