Pretty Persuasion: The all-star witness parade continued at Peter Buck's trial in London this week, as bandmate Michael Stipe stepped up to offer his own portrait of Saint Peter, calling him, according to press reports, "a southern gentleman ... considerate of all people, gentle, and polite," who prefers a good book to a night of barhopping, and further adding that he is "like a big brother." Buck's wife, Stephanie, (co-owner of the Crocodile, if you recall) insisted that her husband is "shy [and] very self-effacing. If he doesn't eat all his food on a plate in a restaurant, he apologizes to the waiter." Still, prosecutors are sticking to their description of the intoxicated Buck as "a drunken lout," and psychiatrist Nadji Kahtan testified that the guitarist's erratic behavior was a result of drink, not the powerful sleeping agent he himself blames for a temporary "personality disorder." Kahtan stated that if it was indeed drug-induced automatism, Buck's would be the first such case ever recorded out of the millions of Ambien pills previously consumed worldwide. Still, Kahtan's no Bono—and we'll know soon enough whether the jury is more swayed by a Ph.D. or massive international rock stardom—with or without tinted paparazzi shades. . . . While we were busy courting skin cancer in lovely, hot-as-Hades Mexico, Laura Learmonth had this to say about the private kick-off party for spanky-new Capitol Hill club contender Chop Suey: "The Saturday night opening bash was strictly Studio 54- style; crowds of well-dressed partygoers lined up outside the door of the old Breakroom and waited patiently as the crowd of doormen (there seemed to be one security dude for every 10 guests) checked names off lists and politely escorted guests inside. As for the inside, the new space looks really amazing. With the warm red atmosphere, darkened windows, and Soho-chic decor, it's sorta hard to believe that there was once a
Foosball table in the place. And sure it took a little while (OK, a long while) to get a drink, but that's to be expected at a new club. Kinks, you know how they are: They gotta be worked out. Wanna check it out for yourself? We suggest the Dead Low Tide show on Saturday night. The n MCD crew makes everything old seem new again." . . . Ready for the jelly: Pearl Jam returns to the studio to work on the follow-up to 2000's Binaural. PJ is currently locked in with producer Adam Kasper, a Vs. and Vitalogy alumnus. The album's not due until early next year, but a compilation of rarities should come out by the end of 2002, and the band plans on a tour in support of the as-yet-untitled 2003 release. . . . Yowch. The ax falls again in the troubled major label-dom, and unsurprisingly, the Mariah-crippled EMI is looking to unload some quote-unquote dead weight—among the big names being floated are Perry Farrell (on EMI subsidy Virgin) and Ben Harper. Meanwhile, the New York Post also reports that rock poobahs Paul McCartney and Mick Jagger barely missed the guillotine as under-performing solo artists; only the still- lucrative Beatles and Stones back catalogs saved their (wrinkly) hides. A skittish EMI VP is, of course, frantically issuing major Kenneth Lay-style denials on that latter tip. . . . The BBC in London has retained rights from Jeff Buckley's mother, Mary Guibert, to focus a one-hour documentary on the late singer, talking to many of those closest to him and his father, Tim. Since Mary reportedly gave hunkoid superstar and major fan Brad Pitt a big fat "over my dead body" when the actor approached her about playing her son in a biopic, effectively flushing the entire project, her permission is pretty crucial to most Jeff- related projects. The doc is set to air on the channel sometime this summer, and rabid fans will surely bring it over
to the States soon after. . . . Congratulations to our homegrown y'allternative bible, No Depression, which will be joining forces with NBG Radio Network to syndicate a two-hour-long weekly radio show. A Grassroots Media rep tells us that co-publisher Kyla Fairchild is currently hard at work finding a local station to carry the program (while also awaiting the any-day-now birth of her second child, so give her a break). We'll keep you posted. . . . Speaking of grassroots (we segue like maniacs, do we not?), Paul Westerberg is very much taking it to the streets for his upcoming release, Stereo, due April 23 on Vagrant Records: The former Replacements frontman is exploring the power of one in a dozen solo and free-of-charge dates at record stores—thereby eschewing the pricey, 21-and-over club settings so many other stars of the '80s underground have taken to lately (hey there, Daniel Ash!). The whole thing kicks off right here at Seattle's own Easy Street on April 22. . . . And finally, the sadly obligatory obituary parade continues this week with the death of drummer Randy Castillo, who did his time with Ozzy Osbourne (1986-1997) and Motley Cre (from 1999 until illness forced him to retire). Miraculously, it was not the rock 'n' roll lifestyle—the stories this man could tell!--but cancer that finally claimed the much-beloved New Mexico native. Ozzy is reportedly "heartbroken" by the loss of his friend and no doubt saddened to know that there is, in fact, sometimes rest for the wicked.
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