<p>Dave Stewart and Orianthi play together at the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles on Monday evening.</p>

Dave Stewart and Orianthi play together at the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles on Monday evening.

Credit: Grammy Museum

Interview: Orianthi on Michael Jackson, Alice Cooper and her new album

Guitar virtuoso's 'Heaven In This Hell' is out today

As Orianthi signed autographs for a long line of fans Monday night at Los Angeles’ Grammy Museum, a teenage girl, her hair dyed the same blonde shade as Orianthi’s, shyly approached and asked her to inscribe her signature PRS SE Orianthi  guitar, a Christmas gift from her parents.

Orianthi, 28,  took her time with the girl, giving her plenty of encouragement. When she started playing more than 15 years ago, her guitar heroes were all male, so she knows how special it is that young girls now have someone like her to light the way.

“You could just tell she had a passion for it, that’s what I was like,” Orianthi told Hitfix the next morning. “I want to inspire more girls to play guitar. It’s not easy to be a female musician. To be a role model in any way is awesome.”

When she was growing up in Australia, her life changed when she saw Carlos Santana on his “Dance of the Rainbow Serpent” tour.  She turned to her father and said that was her career path. By the time she was 15, Orianthi had quit school and was playing in cover bands in Adelaide area bars, “putting guitar solos in Kylie Minogue songs.”

 In short order, she was opening for Steve Vai and Santana, then playing with Carrie Underwood, and, most notably, rehearsing with Michael Jackson for the ill-fated “This Is It” tour  after being hand picked by the King of Pop as lead guitarist.

Orianthi, who is on this month’s cover of Guitar World (only the third woman to accomplish that feat) now splits her time between her solo career and playing in Alice Cooper’s band.

After our interview today, she was headed to Switzerland for a date with Cooper, before returning to the U.S. for her own show March 17 at the Whisky on L.A.’s Sunset Strip.

The guitar wizard’s latest solo album, “Heaven In This Hell,” came out March 12. The set, produced by Eurythmics’ Dave Stewart, allows her to show off her full embrace of rock and blues much more than her previous efforts. “This album is totally me,” she says. “I’m just hoping that all the fans really dig it. It’s a little different.”

Indeed, the set is much grittier than her last full length album, 2009’s “Believe,” which included the pop hit, “According to You.”  “I didn’t want to be boxed in,” she says. “Some of the songs have rock, some have a country vibe some pop, and R&B vibe.”

She admits that leaving Geffen Records after “Believe” was a low point. “It was kind of, ‘I don’t have a record deal, what can I do?’ I just fell into writing an album, you meet people, you find contacts.”

Ultimately, she signed with Robo Records, who gave her the freedom to make the album she wanted. “You compromise a lot when you try to do a song for radio,” she says. “I want to make music that I can play live.”

Though she only played with Jackson for three months before his death, she learned a tremendous amount from the superstar. “Just watching him, the way he was. He really wanted to give the audience a show, make them feel like they were part of it,” she says. “He was very much of a perfectionist. It was about just putting yourself out there. He was just the best at what he did.”

She’s gleaned something from all her mentors. From Santana, “it’s all about transcending and getting to that zone. He has the same kind of childlike enthusiasm that he had when he was younger.  A lot of people that you meet get very jaded and turn off their lights and they don’t see everything brightly.”

On stage with Cooper, she’s learned to stay on her toes: “Lots of things are happening, whips and swords, balloons burst above my head,” she says. “There’s also a confetti cannon. I wasn’t aware it was behind me. It was right [behind] my butt. The sound guys were screaming that I had to [move]. I moved just in time. That would have been very painful.”

Orianthi isn’t sure just how many guitars she owns, adding only “I have a very healthy collection. Some are in Nashville, some in Los Angeles, some in Australia. I use them all.” Like B.B. King and his beloved Lucille, she gives them all names as well. Among her favorites are Pepper, a red-toned axe which she used when she auditioned for Jackson, and a green beauty named Frank. “When I want that heavier tone, I go use Frank....There’s a different energy that comes from them all, whether it’s the different wood or whoever put them together,” she says. “They’re all so great and different.”

While she finds if “comforting” to having a guitar within arm’s reach, she says the longest she’s ever gone without picking one up is probably a week:  “Sometimes, I play better if I leave it alone for a bit.”

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Watch: Kelly Rowland likes her 'Kisses Down Low' in new video

Watch: Kelly Rowland likes her 'Kisses Down Low' in new video

Candy-coated clip keeps it clean

Kelly Rowland shows some amazing restraint in the video for “Kisses Down Low,” the second single from her fourth studio album, “Talk A Good Game.”

[More after the jump...]

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Justin Timberlake 'loves' Kanye West, he declares on 'Jimmy Fallon'

Justin Timberlake 'loves' Kanye West, he declares on 'Jimmy Fallon'

Watch: Timberlake performs soulful 'Pusher Love Girl'

Oh Justin Timberlake, what a scamp you are! Last night on “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon,” he played delightfully dumb when Fallon asked him about changing the lyrics to “Suit & Tie” on “Saturday Night Live” in response to a certain rapper’s earlier diss.

As we previously reported, while on stage in London a few weeks ago, as he seemed to be riffing about everything under the sun, Kayne West remarked “I got love for Hov,” meaning his “Watch The Throne” partner Jay-Z, who raps on “Suit & Tie,” but then added, “but I ain’t  f**king with that ‘Suit & Tie’.”

Timberlake had been silent, but very subtly he reworked the words to “Suit & Tie” on Saturday night to “My hit’s so sick got rappers acting dramatic.”

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Alabama Shakes</p>

Alabama Shakes

Credit: ATO Records

Alabama Shakes gear up for summer headlining tour

Listen to Brittany Howard and Ruby Amanfu's salute to 'Sugarman's' Rodriguez

Alabama Shakes will start a North American headline tour June 18 at Columbus, Ohio’s LC Pavilion Outdoors.

The Grammy-nominated group continues to build its audience based on last year’s debut album, “Boys & Girls,” which spawned the hit “Hold On.”

Following the Grammy nods and the band’s appearances on “Saturday Night Live” and “Austin City Limits,” “Boys & Girls” sold an additional 100,000 copies, showing that the band’s flock is growing.

The summer tour comes after the group’s SXSW performances, as well as gigs at Lollapalooza Brazil in Sao Paulo and at Lollapalooza Chile in Santiago.

Alabama Shakes lead singer Brittany Howard paired with Ruby Amanfu for bluesy, spirited cover of Rodriguez’s “I Wonder.” The tune comes out on Jack White’s Third Man Records as single tomorrow (March 12). On the flip side is a cover of Memphis Minnie’s “When My Man Comes Home.”  Rodriguez, the subject of the Oscar-winning documentary “Searching For Sugar Man,” first recorded “I Wonder” on 1970’s “Cold Fact.”  Listen to the tune here on rollingstone.com

ALABAMA SHAKES tour dates:

18 - Columbus, OH @ LC Pavilion - Outdoors
19 - Detroit, MI @ Royal Oak Music Theatre
20 - Toronto, ON @ Echo Beach
22 - Dover, DE @ Firefly Music Festival
23 - Port Chester, NY @ The Capitol Theatre
30 - London, UK @ Olympic Park/Hard Rock Calling w/Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band
13 - Louisville, KY @ Forecastle Festival
14 - Tulsa, OK @ Cain's Ballroom-w/Fly Golden Eagle & Hurray For The Riff Raff supporting
15 - Albuquerque, NM @ Popejoy Hall-w/Fly Golden Eagle & Hurray For The Riff Raff supporting
17 - Los Angeles, CA @ Hollywood Palladium-w/Fly Golden Eagle & Hurray For The Riff Raff supporting
18 - Los Angeles, CA @ Hollywood Palladium-w/Fly Golden Eagle & Hurray For The Riff Raff supporting
19 - Las Vegas, NV @ The Pearl Theater-w/Fly Golden Eagle & Hurray For The Riff Raff supporting
21 - Alta, WY @ Targhee Festival
23 - Vancouver, BC @ Vogue Theatre
25 - Calgary, AB @ Calgary Folk Music Festival
26 - Edmonton, AB @ Interstellar Rodeo
28 - Minneapolis, MN @ Cabooze Outdoor Plaza
7 - Oslo, Norway @ OYA Festival
8 - Gothenburg, Sweden @ Way Out West
9 - Skanderborg, Denmark @ Skanderborg Festival
10 - Haldern, Germany @ Haldern Festival
13 - Barcelona, Spain @ Apollo
14 - Porto, Portugal @ Paredes Da Coura
18 - Hallendoorn, Holland @ Lowlands Festival
7 - Guthrie, OK @ Gentlemen of the Road w/Mumford & Sons - SOLD OUT

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<p>Depeche Mode</p>

Depeche Mode

Depeche Mode sets dates for U.S. tour

Group's new album, 'Delta Machine,' comes out March 26

Depeche Mode, which will release its new album, “Delta Machine,” on March 26, will start at U.S. tour in August.

The tour, which starts Aug. 22 at Detroit’s DET Energy Music Theater, comes after the British band concludes a European tour, which begins May 7. The group, helmed by Dave Gahan and Martin Gore, will will play 37 dates, including several stadium stops across Europe.

Sales for the U.S. presale begin April 4.

Depeche Mode will appear on "The Late Show With David Letterman" tonight and play a show at SXSW on March 15.

Depeche Mode U.S. tour dates:

Thursday,  Aug. 22             Detroit, MI                  DTE Energy Music Theatre
Saturday,  Aug. 24             Chicago, IL                First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre
Tuesday,  Aug. 27              St. Paul,  MN             Minnesota State Fair**    
Sunday,  Sep. 1                  Toronto, ON              Molson Canadian Amphitheatre
Tuesday, Sep. 3                 Montreal, QB             Bell Centre
Friday,  Sep. 6                    Brooklyn, NY             Barclays Center
Sunday, Sep. 8 Wantagh, NY                               Nikon at Jones Beach Theater   
Tuesday, Sep. 10               Washington DC         Jiffy Lube Live
Thursday, Sep. 12              Atlanta, GA                Aaron's Amphitheatre at Lakewood
Saturday, Sep. 14              Tampa, FL                 Live Nation Amphitheatre at the   Florida State Fairgrounds
Sunday, Sep. 15                 Ft Lauderdale, FL      BB&T Center
Wednesday,  Sep. 18         Houston, TX              Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion
Friday, Sep. 20 Dallas, TX Gexa Energy Pavilion
Sunday, Sep. 22                 San Diego, CA          Sleep Train Amphitheatre
Tuesday, Sep. 24               Santa Barbara, CA    Santa Barbara Bowl
Thursday, Sep. 26              Mountain View, CA   Shoreline Amphitheatre
Saturday, Sep. 28              Los Angeles, CA        STAPLES Center
Sunday, Sep. 29                 Los Angeles, CA        STAPLES Center
Tuesday, Oct. 8                  Phoenix, AZ               Desert Sky Pavilion


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<p>Dixie Chicks</p>

Dixie Chicks

Credit: Columbia Records

Ten years later: What we learned from the Dixie Chicks controversy

Do men get a free pass for much harsher crimes? Why is Natalie Maines rehashing it?

It looks like the Dixie Chicks’ Natalie Maines is still not ready to make nice. On Sunday night, she tweeted:

As you may recall, 10 years ago on March 10, the Dixie Chicks were on tour in London.  Under President George W. Bush’s command, the U.S. was preparing to invade Iraq under the alleged belief that Saddam Hussein was hiding “weapons of mass destruction.”  Like many people in the U.S.  and the rest of the world who opposed the war from the start, more than 1 million Brits had marched again the impending invasion. Maines looked out over the audience at Shepherd’s Bush Empire Theater and said, “Just so you know, we’re on the good side with y’all. We do not want this war, this violence, and we’re ashamed that the President of the United States is from Texas.”

That’s it. Since then, the level of discourse between politicians has sunk so low that it’s hard to believe it even registered a blip. It was painful to watch as the press piled on and she had to make an apology that felt forced and ultimately did no good anyway. Her fellow Dixie Chicks, Emily Robison and Martie Maguire, publicly stood by her as they watched their career go down; Innocent bystanders standing too close to the flame

I remember exactly where I was when I learned of her remarks. I was in Texas at South By Southwest in Austin. I remember reading about it online that night and having that feeling of “This is either going to blow over” or “This is going to be a disaster.” It was that kind of hold-your-breath feeling, like when you watch a baby fall and you wait to see her reaction to see how spooked she is before you react.  Sometimes the baby gets back up and laughs, and sometimes the exact same fall can provoke screams and an avalanche of tears.

Maines’ comments were a country career killer. The reaction was swift, brutal and ongoing. It included stations boycotting the group and fans burning their CDs.  Regardless of whether one agreed with her views, the unofficial blacklisting, which continues to this day, was a ridiculously knee-jerk overreaction in a format that wraps itself in jingoistic patriotism often defined in one very narrow, conservative way with little tolerance for opposing views.  And I say that as a great fan of country music.  But its long-held embrace of this vision of America that no longer exists, if it ever did other than in the movies or on “The Andy Griffith Show,”  is antiquated and damaging.

The Dixie Chicks

Contrast country radio’s response to Natalie Maines’ comments, in which she merely expressed her opinion, and a relatively mild one at that, with how R&B and pop radio treated Chris Brown, who actually broke the law and horribly abused a woman in 2009. He’s been welcomed back into the fold with all kinds of back-slapping and merriment. Hmmm.

Plus, for all the cries of Un-Americanism that occurred when Maines criticized Bush, the same rules clearly don’t apply to criticizing Obama. Otherwise, how do you explain Ted Nugent? Yes, Hank Williams Jr. got dumped by ESPN in 2011 for comparing Obama to Hitler, but those remarks were far more egregious than anything Maines ever said and no classic country stations pulled his music for any duration.  At least Maines’ comments never required the Secret Service to launch an investigation they were so incendiary.

Does that tell us something about how female artists who voice an opinion are considered too strident, whereas their male counterparts don’t fall under the same confines?

 The Dixie Chicks made one more album, 2006’s “Taking the Long Way Home,” which included the song “Not Ready To Make Nice.” The tune addressed the Iraq controversy in this verse: “And how in the world/can the words that I said/Send somebody so over the edge/That they’d write me a letter/ Saying that I better shut up and sing/Or my life will be over.”  The song received little country airplay.

The tune went on to win song and record of the year at the 2007 Grammy Awards, while “Taking the Long Way Home” won album of the year. It was a clear mandate from the mainstream Grammy voters that they supported The Chicks both musically and politically.

A 2006 Cecilia Peck-directed documentary, the excellent “Shut Up & Sing,” chronicled the ordeal. Maines, who, to be honest, does not always come off as particularly likable (and God only knows what prompted her to open back up this can of worms via Twitter yesterday), vacillates between incredulity and anger that her words caused such a firestorm. Indeed, a decade later, it is really impossible to believe that the statement caused so much destruction.

So how have things changed? In the country world, sadly, I would say not at all.  If anything, country artists are even more close-mouthed today for fear of offending their fans in the fly-over states, many of whom are conservative.  I’ve had conversations with country superstars who were Obama supporters and yet they would no more announce that publicly in 2008 or 2012 than they would insult your mama. Sometimes, even playing at Obama’s White House is enough to set off reactionary fans.

In fact, I know of no way to make a country artist clam up faster than to ask him or her about his political views. They will voice their support for the troops (Make no mistake about it, country artists have really done wonderful work that way and many of them put their lives on the line going to perform for the troops), but that’s about it.

Maines’ solo album comes out in May and, as one would expect, she’s staying a country mile away from country radio. The set, “Mother,” leans more toward rock. Maybe all her Twitter talk was simply a way of calling attention to herself.

So a decade later we seem to be no wiser and no more tolerant of opposing political views.  I wish instead of flippantly mouthing off on Twitter (Typical follow up: someone tweeted back “You’re a dumbass,” Maines responded “You are”) Maines had written a serious piece about what she had learned from this experience 10 years down the road.  I’m not  sure the rest of us learned anything.

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<p>Bruno Mars</p>

Bruno Mars

Credit: FOX

Music Power Rankings: Bruno Mars and Justin Bieber top the list

Carly Rae Jepsen and Mariah Carey make this week's edition too

1. Bruno Mars: It took awhile and a big boost from Amazon, but Mars is locked out of the top spot on the Billboard 200 no more as “Unorthodox Jukebox” reaches No. 1 12 weeks after its release.

2. Carly Rae Jepsen: She and Train both pull out of playing the Boy Scouts Jamboree over the organization’s band on allowing  openly gay members. Add in her great mash up of “Call Me Maybe” with Nine Inch Nail’s “Hole in My Head” and we bet  Canada’s sweetheart’s phone was ringing off the hook.

3. Justin Bieber:
Between getting sick at his Thursday night show, fighting with paparazzi, and leaving his own birthday party, he’s had a tough time since he turned 19. Being an adult is no fun. Even when you can afford all the toy.

4. Randy Blythe: The Lamb of God lead singer is acquitted of manslaughter in  the Czech Republic, following the death of a fan whom he allegedly pushed off the stage.

5. Mariah Carey:
The “American Idol” judge unveils not only the video for “Almost Home,” but for her 12th fragrance “Dreams.”  Soon, her  number of perfume lines will surpass her No. 1s.

6. Rolling Stones: As they continue into their 50th year, they get thisclose to announcing what will likely to be around 18 U.S. dates, plus headlining UK’s Glastonbury festival.

7. Bruce Springsteen: A year after the city of London rudely interrupts his and Sir Paul McCartney’s duet mid-song, The Boss agrees to go back and play Hard Rock Calling. We bet no one pulls the plug this time.

8. Marco Rubio:
  In this week’s strangest moments, Florida Senator Marco Rubio name drops Wiz Khalifa and Jay-Z , heralding them as “modern day poets” while he filibustered.  So hilarious, yet so, so wrong.

9. Apple: Eager to get its long-expected internet radio streaming service off the ground, the giant offers labels a royalty rate of .06 cents per stream, half of what Pandora pays. Labels consider the deal rotten to the core.

10. Bleecker Bob’s:
After 45 years, the quintessential indie record store is closing. The New York space will become a frozen yogurt outlet because there aren’t enough of those already on every damn corner.

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<p>Luke Bryan</p>

Luke Bryan

Credit: Jeff Bottari/AP

Luke Bryan and Jimi Hendrix head to the top of next week's Billboard 200

Forty years after his death, Hendrix's music still resonates

Country artist Luke Bryan scores his first Billboard 200 No. 1 next week as “Spring Break... Here To Party” looks like a lock for the top spot. However, the big news is who comes in at No. 2:  Jimi Hendrix.

Bryan’s set will sell up to 130,000, while Hendrix’s “People, Hell & Angels,” a new set of unreleased studio tracks, will likely sell up to 70,000 copies, more than 40 years after the guitar legend’s death.

Those are the only two debuts in the Top 10:  Last week’s No. 1, Bruno Mars’ “Unorthodox Jukebox” drops to No. 3, while Mumford & Sons’ “Babel” is No. 4. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’s “Heist” will be No. 5 with sales of up to 30,000.

Rihanna’s “Unapologetic looks good for No. 6. However, after that--and with three days left before the chart closes--it’s too close to call for Nos 7-10: Florida Georgia Line’s “Here’s To The Good Times,”  Now 45, Imagine Dragons’ “Night Visions” and Andrea Bocelli’s “Passione” are all slated to sell between 22,000 and 25,000, according to Hits Daily Double.


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<p>John Mayer</p>

John Mayer

Watch: John Mayer's new video for 'Something Like Olivia'

Is Olivia a guitar or a woman? Does it matter?

B.B. King has his Lucille, John Mayer wants his Olivia. In Mayer’s new video for the gently swaying “Something Like Olivia,” it’s never clear if he’s longing for a woman or a guitar (or perhaps both).  Should Katy Perry be jealous? 

[More after the jump...]

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<p>Snoop Dogg</p>

Snoop Dogg

Credit: AP Photo

Listen: Snoop Dogg laments loss of Mr. Magic, Tupac Shakur on new track, 'Heaven'

Loping tune inspired by loss of his No Limit labelmate

Snoop Dogg has released a new track that laments all the people he has lost in his life over the years. “Heaven,” which opens with a calliope organ before giving way to Snoop’s very autotuned vocals, is a tribute to his No Limit Records buddy Mr. Magic, as well as to Nate Dogg and Tupac Shakur. Mr. Magic, (a.k.a. Atwood Johnson) and his wife, Chastity, died in a car accident over the weekend.

[More after the jump...]

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