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Memphis officials to help save Aretha Franklin's birthplace

The Memphis mayor's office is pitching in to help figure out the future of the dilapidated house where soul singer Aretha Franklin was born, a lawyer said Thursday.

Alan Crone, special counsel to Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland, told a judge that a working group from the mayor's office plans to assist other stakeholders concerned about the preservation and future use of the historic home.

Crone said the group would seek funding sources to preserve the house, which has become a symbol of Memphis' massive blight problem. He said the city has been contacted by "serious people" who are interested in saving the house: It sits in a neighborhood dealing with abandoned houses, vacant lots and crime.

Crone said it's time for the Memphis community to "step up."

"If we can get one house right, no matter where it is, that's a victory," Crone told Shelby County Environmental Court Judge Larry Potter during a hearing. "But this is a historic property, and it's part of our heritage as Memphians that all kinds of music was literally born here."

Franklin, known as the "Queen of Soul," was born in the house in 1942. Her family moved away from Memphis about two years later.

The house has been vacant for years, and there's no historical marker indicating its significance.

Lawyers, community leaders and Potter have been trying to find ways to save the house, which sits empty with its windows boarded up. Potter had ordered the house demolished, but he put that order on hold last year after volunteers stabilized the crumbling structure.

The house has been placed in a receivership, headed by Jeffrey Higgs, president of the LeMoyne-Owen College Community Development Corporation. Higgs told Potter last month that he has been in discussions with a producer at the DIY Network on a plan to repair and move the house to another location for one of its programs.

Higgs said Thursday those discussions were ongoing. He added that work to fix the roof could start by the end of March.

Some would like to see the house moved to a safer location, to make it more attractive for visitors, including out-of-town tourists. Potter said Thursday that he would prefer to see the house rescued by local entities, but if the DIY Network or other outside groups are willing to help, then that's fine too.

"I'll go out and help them," Potter said. "I'm not going to be nailing up anything because it would be crooked if I nailed it up. I'm not a carpenter. But I'm serious about the fact that I want that building rehabbed."

Dylan gives rare interview, talks Sinatra, Elvis

Bob Dylan opened up about his music and songwriting and discussed his relationships with Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley and others in a rare and lengthy interview posted exclusively to his website Wednesday.

In the Q&A with author Bill Flanagan , Dylan recalled Sinatra telling him, "'You and me, pal, we got blue eyes, we're from up there ... These other bums are from down here.'"

"I remember thinking that he might be right," added Dylan, who last year was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature, but did not show up to accept the award.

A person close to the Dylan camp, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the person was not allowed to publicly talk about the topic, said Dylan wanted to do an interview for his website and Flanagan, a writer and former MTV executive, agreed to do it.

"No money or other compensation was involved," the person said.

Of the many superstars who died last year, including Muhammad Ali and Merle Haggard, Dylan said in the interview the deaths hit him hard.

"We were like brothers, we lived on the same street and they all left empty spaces where they used to stand. It's lonesome without them," he said.

When asked about why Presley didn't show up for a recording session with Dylan and George Harrison, he replied: "He did show up — it was us that didn't."

Dylan, 75, said he was also a fan of Amy Winehouse, who died of alcohol poisoning in 2011 at age 27.

"She was the last real individualist around," he said.

Dylan will release a new triple disc album of standards called "Triplicate" on March 31. He said he's a fan of somewhat recent albums from Iggy Pop (2012's "Apres"), Imelda May, Valerie June and The Stereophonics. He also said he enjoyed "Here We Go Again: Celebrating the Genius of Ray Charles," the 2011 tribute album by Willie Nelson and Wynton Marsalis featuring several tracks with Norah Jones.

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Online:

Full interview with Bob Dylan: http://www.bobdylan.com/news/qa-with-bill-flanagan/

Former Boston drummer Sib Hashian dies at age 67 on cruise

John "Sib" Hashian, former drummer for the arena rock band Boston, died on board a cruise ship Wednesday. He was 67.

His son, Adam Hashian, said Thursday a cause of death had not yet been determined.

Hashian was listed as one of the featured performers on the Legends of Rock Cruise, which departed from Miami on Saturday and was scheduled to visit Puerto Rico and the Bahamas.

Hashian played on Boston's first two hit records, their self-titled debut album in 1976, featuring the hit song "More Than a Feeling," and the 1978 followup, "Don't Look Back." The original band, made up of Tom Scholz, Brad Delp, Barry Goudreau, Fran Sheehan and Hashian, had one of the most successful debut records in history, selling over 17 million copies, with the singles "Long Time" and "Peace of Mind."

His wife, Suzanne Hashian, said in a statement that arrangements would be made at a later date.

AP FACT CHECK: Willie Nelson not deathly ill, publicist says

Willie Nelson has played nearly a dozen shows in recent weeks and is not deathly ill, his publicist said, despite a series of reports claiming the country music legend is struggling to breathe.

A March 13 Radar Online report quoted an anonymous source saying Nelson was "deathly ill," weak as a baby and unable to muster the breath to sing. The story is the basis for reports shared by other websites, including washingtonfeed.com and uconservative.net.

Elaine Schock, Nelson's publicist, denied the reports and pointed to his performances at concerts in recent weeks as evidence of the singer's health.

"He's perfectly fine," Schock told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

The 83-year-old took the stage before more than 75,000 people at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo at NRG Stadium on March 18. He appeared healthy and sang well during the show. The Houston concert was part of a series of shows in Texas and Florida over the past two months.

Nelson canceled several shows in late January and early February after coming down with a "bad cold," Schock said. Nelson returned to the stage Feb. 16 to play at a San Antonio rodeo.

The singer has been the target of numerous online death hoaxes over the years. He references them in the song "Still Not Dead," from his upcoming album, "God's Problem Child," which is set to be released in April. Lyrics from the track include, "The internet said I had passed away, but you can't believe a damn thing that they say."

'No Scrubs' writers get added to Sheeran hit 'Shape of You'

The songwriters behind TLC's 1999 megahit "No Scrubs" are now listed as co-writers of Ed Sheeran's No. 1 hit "Shape of You."

On the website for performance rights organization ASCAP, Kandi Burruss, Tameka Cottle aka Tiny and Kevin Briggs have been added as co-writers of "Shape of You," co-written by Sheeran, Steve Mac and John McDaid.

"Shape of You" is currently on top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Representatives for Sheeran and ASCAP didn't immediately respond to emails from The Associated Press seeking comment.

Burruss and Tiny were members of the R&B girl group Xscape. Burruss, also a reality star on Bravo's "The Real Housewives of Atlanta," posted about the news Sunday on her Instagram page.

"To be a part of such a great song is a blessing," Tiny, in an email to The Associated Press, said of being added to the "Shape of You" songwriters.

Last year The Chainsmokers' ubiquitous No. 1 hit, the Grammy-nominated "Closer," extended writing to two members of The Fray because of similarities to the band's 2005 hit, "Over My Head (Cable Car)."

In 2015, a jury awarded Marvin Gaye's children $7.4 million after finding Robin Thicke and Pharrell's "Blurred Lines" copied their father's hit "Got to Give It Up." A judge later cut the verdict to $5.3 million.

That was the same year Sam Smith gave Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne writing credit on his Grammy-winning hit "Stay With Me" after some said it sounded like Petty's 1989 song, "I Won't Back Down," and Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars, for their worldwide, Grammy-winning "Uptown Funk," extended credit to the five writers of Gap Band's 1979 hit "Oops Upside Your Head."

"Shape of You" has spent almost two months at No. 1 on the Hot 100. The song set the record for the most one-day streams on Spotify with 10,123,630 streams.

"No Scrubs" had a big pop culture moment in the late '90s. It also reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and earned a Grammy for TLC.

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AP Writer Jonathan Landrum Jr. in Atlanta contributed to this report.

Review: Even 'Middle of the Road' a blast with Eric Gales

There's nothing bland about "Middle of the Road," former teenage prodigy Eric Gales' 15th studio album ripe with funky blues-rock and blazing guitars.

Lyrically rooted in Gales' sobering up, the disc features guest spots by Gary Clark Jr. and older brother Eugene; a songwriting collaboration with Lauryn Hill; and a Freddie King cover.

Gales, whose playing of a right-handed guitar upside down and left-handed has to be seen to be fully appreciated, also performs bass duties, joined by his wife, LaDonna Gales, on soulful backing vocals.

Opener "Good Time" is secular gospel with a magnetic guitar riff, pure energy and passion. His sobriety and new outlook on life are present already in track two, "Change In Me (The Rebirth)," where Gales makes his mea culpa clear — "I got tired of doin' bad, now I'm doin' good."

Clark Jr. joins Gales on "Boogie Man," a song recorded by King, and Gales said Hill's help was crucial with "Been So Long," another of the songs with a positive mindset.

Gales takes Christone "Kingfish" Ingram, a 16-year-old guitarist from Mississippi, under his wings on "Help Yourself," while his own erstwhile mentor, older brother Eugene Gales, wrote and plays guitar on "Repetition."

Instrumental "Swamp" ends the album, a wild guitar tour-de-force that Gales describes as a "jam band, church-oriented sort of song." Even if taken as an expression of diversity in worship, it will sound just as formidable to non-believers.

Chance the Rapper to play Lollapalooza in Chicago hometown

Grammy-winning artist Chance the Rapper is planning a return to his hometown of Chicago this summer to headline the Lollapalooza music festival.

Other headliners announced Wednesday morning on Lollapalooza's website include The Killers, Lorde, Arcade Fire, Muse and blink-182. The four-day festival will run Aug. 3-6 in Chicago's lakefront Grant Park.

Lollapalooza called Chance the Rapper's headlining act a "hero's homecoming." He'll top the festival's Saturday lineup. Muse and Lorde will play Thursday. The Killers will headline Friday and Arcade Fire will close the festival on Sunday. Lollapalooza celebrated its 25th anniversary last year when it expanded from three to four days. It's been held in Chicago since 2005.

The more than 170-act lineup also includes main-stay artists like Spoon, Ryan Adams, Foster the People and Wiz Khalifa.

Liverpool plans extravaganza for 50 years of 'Sgt. Pepper'

It was 50 years ago today — almost — that Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play.

The English city of Liverpool is getting set to celebrate the half-centenary of "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band," one of the most influential albums by local heroes The Beatles.

The city announced Wednesday that it has commissioned 13 artists to create works based on the album's 13 tracks. They include choreographer Mark Morris' dance tribute to the title song, cabaret artist Meow Meow's "outlandish procession" based on "Lovely Rita" and a mural by U.S. artist Judy Chicago inspired by "Fixing a Hole."

There will also be a singalong by 64 choirs of the jaunty "When I'm Sixty-Four."

The works will have their world premieres at venues across Liverpool between May 25 and June 16. On June 1 — the anniversary of the album's release — the city will host a fireworks extravaganza by French pyrotechnic artist Christophe Berthonneau.

By the second half of the 1960s, The Beatles had tired of touring. They played their last live concert in August 1966 and devoted their energies and creativity to the studio. "Sgt. Pepper" was recorded at London's Abbey Road studios over five month in late 1966 and early 1967, and released on June 1, 1967.

Incorporating technological innovation and diverse musical influences — including Indian classical, English music hall and trippy psychedelia — it topped the charts in Britain and the U.S. and was instantly hailed as a rock 'n' roll landmark.

"'Sgt. Pepper' pushed creative boundaries and we want to do exactly the same," said Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson. "This is a festival which brings high-end art into the mainstream and gives it a Liverpool twist which is thought-provoking, sometimes cheeky and always entertaining."

Chuck Berry's final studio album to be released in June

Chuck Berry's final studio album will be released on June 16.

The album, titled "CHUCK," was announced in October, five months before the rock pioneer's death on Saturday at the age of 90.

"CHUCK" is Berry's first album since 1979's "Rock It." Dualtone Records says eight of the 10 new recordings were written by Berry, who worked on the album until 2014. Dualtone says he continued to oversee production and enlisted his family and a friend to help complete it.

In addition to Berry's children and grandson, the album features performances by Nathaniel Rateliff and Rage Against the Machine's Tom Morello.

The album includes a track titled "Lady B. Goode," described as a spiritual sequel to one of Berry's biggest hits, "Johnny B. Goode."

The Latest: Los Angeles sheriff apologizes to Wyclef Jean

The Latest on musician Wyclef Jean being detained by authorities in Los Angeles County after being mistaken for a robbery suspect (all times local):

1:15 p.m.

Los Angeles County sheriff's officials are apologizing to Grammy-winning singer Wyclef Jean who was detained after being mistaken for an armed robbery suspect.

Sheriff's officials say in a statement Tuesday afternoon that while they apologize for the inconvenience, Jean was lawfully stopped by deputies looking for a violent armed robber whose victims described a similar vehicle and article of clothing.

Jean posted a video of the encounter on Twitter after he was detained early Tuesday in West Hollywood.

The former Fugees star said he tried to explain that he wasn't the suspect but was ignored and cuffed.

Authorities say Jean was a passenger in a car that was nearly identical to a description given by victims of an armed robbery and was wearing similar clothing to that of the suspect.

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8 a.m.

Grammy-winning musician Wyclef Jean says he was unfairly detained by authorities in Los Angeles County after being mistaken for a robbery suspect.

Jean posted a video Tuesday on Twitter showing himself in handcuffs leaned over a patrol car.

Jean said he was stopped by Los Angeles police, but he was actually detained by sheriff's deputies in neighboring West Hollywood.

The former Fugees star said he tried to explain that he wasn't the suspect but was ignored and cuffed.

Sheriff's spokeswoman Nicole Nishida says Jean's clothing and vehicle matched the description of a suspect in an armed robbery.

She says he was detained for a "short time" and then released. The suspects were later arrested.

Jean said on Twitter that he was "appalled at this behavior."

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