WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. farmers who have been holding out for higher prices for their corn may finally sell their grain below target levels in the next few weeks as a government report released on Friday underscores the huge supplies left in storage bins around the country, analysts said. The U.S. Agriculture Department said that farmers still had 2.841 billion bushels of corn in their storage bins as of June 1, the fifth most ever for that time period. It was the highest June 1 on-farm corn


Fabled reclusive English guitar great Robert Fripp formed King Crimson, one of the first popular progressive rock bands late in 1968.

During its Radical Action Tour, Fripp and his latest of many versions of the band played to a two-thirds full Greek Theatre in L.A.’s Griffith Park last Wednesday.

However, first, some background about this band and its leader, highly regarded among a faction of deep progressive rock aficionados.

The original quintet, which included pre-ELP singer-bassist Greg Lake, played its first gigs during a weeklong residency in February 1969 at a small club in Newcastle upon Tyne in northeast England called Change Is. It was owned by popular English comedian and game show host Bob Monkhouse, OBE. Crimson honed their chops by playing small clubs and colleges.

Flash forward six months to July 5, to London, specifically to Hyde Park. King Crimson was one of the opening acts, along with Family and Alexis Korner, at massive free concert staged by The Rolling Stones. The concert that was meant to introduce The Stones’ new phenom, 20-year-old lead guitarist Mick Taylor, but also became a memorial to the man Taylor replaced, Brian Jones, fired from the band the month before and found drowned in his swimming pool two days earlier at age 27.

Instantly, King Crimson made the jump from performing nightly before a few dozen to couple hundred new fans to … ta-da … an estimated 500,000 fans.

That gig and the magnificence of their debut LP, “In the Court of the Crimson King,” put the band on a course to success (the album hit No. 5 in Britain and was certified gold here). However, it was success that Fripp, et al, weren’t really able to maintain partly because of their erratic history and music that grew more and more complex and inaccessible to their fans.

So, their popularity quickly declined and by 1974 the band was done. They stayed done for the next seven years when, in 1981, Fripp, with his new lineup that included obtuse axeman Adrian Belew, Yes drummer Bill Bruford and bassist Tony Levin, resurrected the King Crimson name as an avant-garde new wave-ish band.

Through the decades, the 71-year-old Fripp has broken up and reformed the band five times, albeit with mostly different or continually interchanging lineups.

Crimson became cult faves rather than their contemporary mega prog-rockers Pink Floyd, Jethro Tull, Yes, The Moody Blues and Emerson, Lake and Palmer, who easily sold out arenas and even stadiums.

Fripp’s music and concerts can be a real crap-shoot — this was my fourth Crimson show since 1981, plus I caught him a couple times in clubs with his League of Crafty Guitarists at the now-extinct Pepper’s in the City of Industry and at Fenders in Long Beach. This Greek show was no exception. It helps to know beforehand that a Fripp show is a pretty wild ride with good and great portions and fair to just plain bad moments.

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The good: Fripp’s latest eight-piece lineup featured a trio of incredible drummers, each playing full kits, along the front of the stage (Fripp himself was seated unobtrusively in the upper right corner). The drum parts, rarely in unison, always creative, interesting and fun to see and hear, cascaded in stereo left-to-right, right-to-left.

Tony Levin, alternating between a standard electric bass and the Chapman Stick touch-style bass for which he is best known, has been in the band since 1981. His welcome presence front and center above the drummers was a much-needed anchor to the group’s music.

Also, group vet Mel Collins, who first joined in 1970, blew an array of saxes (and a nifty flute, too) that is integral to Crimson’s jazzier music.

The music was often brilliant, delivered by true musical virtuosos (nothing less was expected of anyone playing with Fripp) as they showcased the title songs to (a portion of) 1970’s “Lizard,” 1973’s “Lark’s Tongue in Aspic (Part One)” and 2000’s “ConstruKction of Light.”

The bad: Almost every song saw musical passages, perhaps a minute long, which consisted of nothing but pointless, inaccessible, cacophonic noise.

Also, after a while, too much of the music was simply indistinguishable from musical bits performed on too many other songs. They contained musical segments that all sounded the same.

The band’s singer, guitarist Jakko Jakszyk, possessed a rather thin pedestrian voice that paled by comparison to Crimson’s earlier singers, including John Wetton and, especially, Lake.

The final song of the regular portion of the concert, “Starless,” from the 1974 LP, “Red,” as performed at the Greek, was possibly the most inconsequential, pseudo-deep, downright tedious song I have ever heard live — and it went on, and on, and on.

Fripp is a legendary recluse. An example: On Easter Sunday 1977 at the Roxy on the Sunset Strip, during Peter Gabriel’s first post-Genesis solo tour, Fripp performed while seated behind his wall of amps, hidden from almost all except a very few (I happened to be one of the very few).

He popped out and gave the packed house of 500 a quick wave only when introduced as “Dusty Rhodes” and then presto, he was gone, back behind the security of those double stacks of amps.

Undoubtedly at Fripp’s behest, cameras were verboten and large signs were posted announcing that anyone caught using their cellphone camera would be booted out. Amazingly, everyone appeared to have adhered to that rule.

The best: Fripp saved the best for last, with a killer-diller three-song encore that began with David Bowie’s “Heroes,” whose sound on the original 1977 single was engulfed in Fripp’s prominent sustained feedback. That was followed by the Mellotron-heavy title song to the ’69 debut, “In the Court of the Crimson King.” The evening ended three hours after it began with the crème de la crème, one of the wildest, most intense, most flamingly brilliant pieces of music ever recorded, the progressive jazz-rock fusion masterpiece, “21st Century Schizoid Man,” from the debut LP.

Ringo’s Birthday

Friday, July 7, Beatles drummer Ringo Starr will turn, unbelievably, 77 years young.

As he’s done here the past three years, his fans are invited to attend an all-Starr birthday celebration in his honor outside the landmark Capitol Records tower on Vine Street, just north of Hollywood Boulevard, south of the 101 Hollywood freeway.

Joining Ringo at his annual Peace And Love Salute will be his brother-in-law Joe Walsh, Animals leader Eric Burdon, Edgar Winter, E Street Band guitarist Nils Lofgren, legendary session drummer Jim Keltner, former Guns N’ Roses drummer Matt Sorum, current All-Star Band members Richard Page of Mr. Mister & Gregg Bissonette, comedian-TV host Howie Mandel, Van Dyke Parks and actress-singer Jenny Lewis.

Was, Parks and Lewis will lead a band performing some of Ringo’s songs, and who knows who will join in.

In a video on his website, The Famous Ringo, as he was called in “Help!,” asks his fans around the world to take a moment wherever they are at noon on the 7th to throw up the peace sign and vocally wish all “peace and love!”

Organized birthday celebrations for Ringo are planned at noon in their various time zones in Colombia, Argentina, Antarctica, Las Vegas, Peru, Spain, New Zealand, Russia, New York, Panama, Brazil, Japan, London and the star’s native Liverpool.

HARRISON’S WIDOW FINDS UNKNOWN SONG ABOUT RINGO

George Harrison’s widow Olivia told Billboard that she recently discovered a heretofore unknown song her late Beatle hubby wrote about Ringo Starr.

Olivia told of how George was always walking around jotting lyrics or ideas down on pieces of scratch paper. She said they could end up in a book, a drawer, anywhere.

One place a bunch of them ended up was inside the storage space in Billy Preston’s piano bench in George’s home studio at his and Olivia’s outrageous Friar Park estate, 30 miles west of downtown London.

Olivia says, “No one had opened that bench in a long, long time — years. So when I finally got around to opening the piano bench, there were envelopes of depositions, lyrics and scores for strings going back to I don’t know when, probably ‘All Things Must Pass.’ ”

At a gallery bash in Los Angeles marking the new printing of George’s memoir, “I Me Mine,” Ringo saw George’s song to him, titled, “Hey Ringo.”

She said that also in the bunch was a song, “Hey Ringo.” Olivia continued, “Ringo said, ‘Hey, I’ve never seen that before.’ And I said I hadn’t either. I guess it was in the piano bench in an envelope. They think was from around 1970 or 1971. And it’s really sweet.”

She has plans for the manuscript. “I’m going to get it framed and give it to him because it’s really sweet. It goes like, ‘Hey Ringo, without you my guitar plays far too slow.’ That (the song’s discovery) was a big revelation and surprise. Ringo was totally surprised and really happy. What a gift to have all these years later.”

“DOWNTOWN’S” CLARK TO GET HOLLYWOOD WALK OF FAME STAR

Among the honorees to receive stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame next year will be Petula Clark, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce announced. Neither the date of the ceremony or the location of her star has been announced.

It’s uncertain if the 84-year-old English singer of such ‘60s hits as “Downtown,“ “I Know a Place,” “Don’t Sleep in the Subway,” “A Sign of the Times” and many other hits, will attend.

Clark, who lives in Lake Geneva, Switzerland, most of the year, still maintains an active concert schedule. On Aug. 11, she’ll appear at Fairport Convention’s annual Cropredy Festival in Cropredy Village, 70 miles northwest of London, and at the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills on Nov. 19.

Other notables receiving stars next year include Harry Connick Jr., French singer Charles Aznavour, Carrie Underwood and former Sex Pistols guitarist-turned popular radio host Steve Jones.

ONO GETS “IMAGINE” CREDIT

John Lennon’s widow Yoko Ono has been granted co-songwriting credit on “Imagine,” one of the most beloved and enduring songs in pop music history.

Ono attended the National Music Publishers Association Centennial meeting with her and Lennon’s son Sean and had no idea of what was to come, as the organization presented “Imagine” with its Century Award.

NMPA president and CEO David Israelite said, “While things may have been different in 1971, today I am glad to say things have changed. So tonight, it is my distinct honor to correct the record some 48 years later, and recognize Yoko Ono as a co-writer of the NMPA Centennial Song ‘Imagine’ and to present Yoko Ono with this well-deserved credit.”

The ceremony continued with the playing of a BBC interview with John Lennon that confirmed Ono’s participation in the song.

Sean pronounced the occasion “the proudest day of my life … (They) just gave the centennial (song of the century) award to ‘Imagine,’ but WAIT! Surprise! They played an audio interview of my father saying (approximately) ‘Imagine’ should’ve been credited as a Lennon/Ono song, if it had been anyone other than my wife I would’ve given them credit.’ Cut to: my mother welling up in tears.”

McCARTNEY HEADED DOWN UNDER

Paul McCartney will tour Australia and New Zealand in December. The five-date stadium tour is only the fourth time the Beatle has played the land Down Under, and his first time in nearly a quarter-century, since 1993.

He first toured Australia with The Beatles in 1964 and he next toured there in 1975 with Wings. His third trip there was in 1993 on his Off the Ground tour.

Sir Paul, who turned 75 a few weeks ago, has a busy schedule this year, playing 32 shows with the real possibility that he’ll add more. Before hitting Australia and New Zealand, he’ll play 10 shows east of the Mississippi in July, and 11 more in September and early October, eight of which are arena gigs in the greater NYC area. He’ll finish October in Brazil, Columbia and Mexico, where he’ll play a half-dozen stadium shows.

GRAMM TO REJOIN FOREIGNER

After a separation of 14 years, Foreigner singer Lou Gramm has confirmed that he will reunite with his former band co-leader and songwriting partner, guitarist Mick Jones, Blabbermouth reports.

During Foreigner’s upcoming 40th anniversary tour, Gramm and other original members Ian McDonald (the sax player formerly with King Crimson) and keyboardist Al Greenwood will reunite with Jones to perform “half-a-dozen songs” at numerous to-be-determined concerts. He later said the original members may actually perform seven or eight songs.

Foreigner formed in New York City in 1976 and was an immediate hit. Their first six albums were certified 5x, 7x, 5x, 6x, 3x and 1x platinum in the U.S. The band has sold more than 80 million albums worldwide. Among their top five biggies are “Feels Like the First Time,” “Cold as Ice,” “Hot Blooded,” “Double Vision,” “Waiting for a Girl Like You” and their No. 1 smash from 1984, “I Want to Know What Love Is.”

The anniversary jaunt that also features Cheap Trick and Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience kicks off July 11 in Syracuse, New York, and includes stops on Aug. 27 at the Chelsea at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas, Aug. 29 at the Mattress Firm Amphitheatre in Chula Vista and Aug. 30 at the Greek Theatre in L.A.

MAC’S BUCKINGHAM McVIE ADD LIVE DATES

Fleetwood Mac guitarist Lindsay Buckingham and keyboardist Christine McVie added shows in L.A. and NYC to their current tour promoting their recently-released self-titled joint album.

The duo will play Aug. 2 at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles and Aug. 10 at the Big Apple’s Beacon Theatre.

The set list includes nearly all of the songs from the new album, Buckingham solo tunes (“Never Going Back Again”), Mac deep cuts (“Trouble,” “Wish You Were Here”), and classic hits (“Hold Me,” “Tusk,” “Everywhere,” “You Make Loving Fun”).

Fleetwood Mac’s drummer Mick Fleetwood and bassist John McVie backed the duo on the album while the fifth and final member, singer Stevie Nicks, opted to do her own solo artist thing. However, the Mac’s rhythm section is not joining Buckingham and McVie on this tour. They are backed by drummer Jimmy Paxton, bassist Federico Pol, keyboardist Brett Tuggle and guitarist Neil Heywood. Both Tuggle and Heywood are in Buckingham’s solo band as well as the Fleetwood Mac touring band.

Fleetwood Mac will play the big Classic West show July 16 at Dodger Stadium and on July 30 at Citi Field in New York. Both gigs feature opening acts Journey and Earth, Wind & Fire.

What about Mac’s future after these two big buck money grab gigs? Buckingham told the Raleigh (North Carolina) News & Observer, “The mother band is planning a tour for the summer of 2018, although I don’t see anything like another album on the horizon.”

JOEL GOES BACK TO HIGH SCHOOL

Saturday morning, Billy Joel returned to the high school that 50 years ago kept him from graduating. This time, he returned to Hicksville High School to cheers and gave a heartfelt commencement speech, reports Newsday.

In 1967, Joel was forbidden from participating in his class’ commencement because he was one English credit shy of what he needed.

Joel returned to the school once before, in 1992, when it gave him his diploma. However, he was given the diploma only after he submitted examples of his writing to the local school board.

Wearing a Hicksville High baseball cap, the 68-year-old member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame entered the school’s packed auditorium to loud cheers. He offered advice to the graduating class of 400, telling them not to abandon their dreams and ideals and become engaged in the world around them.

He offered additional advice that garnered laughs, “Pick a job you’ll like because if you pick a job you hate life’s going to suck.”

The night before his high school English final, he played piano at a local bar until 3 a.m. and missed the big test because he overslept. Failing that final is what kept him from graduating. He explained it by saying, “I didn’t fail English. I just didn’t go.” He said he could have made up the class in summer school and then he would have received his diploma. However, he blew it off and began his career in music instead.

BRITISH BLUE PLAQUES PLACED

Since the mid-1800s, Blue Plaques have been posted at various locations throughout Britain designating the site of significant events.

On BBC Music Day, 47 Blue Plaques were posted. A pair of plaques were posted noting significant moments in Led Zeppelin’s history. David Bowie got three.

Among the places receiving plaques were the Mayfair Ballroom in Newcastle was the site of Led Zeppelin’s debut performance, on Oct. 4, 1968; and the birthplace of Zep drummer John Bonham at 84 Birchfield Rd., Headless Cross.

London’s Trident Studio received one noting that Bowie recorded many of his alums there; while the Royal Star Arcade in Maidstone was the location where Bowie and his mid-’60s blues band The Mannish Boys used to play.

The Cambridge School of Art was noted as the institution of higher learning attended by Pink Floyd’s founder and leader Syd Barrett.

Buddy Holly and The Crickets played the Gaumont Theatre in Salisbury on Mar. 22, 1958, and as such, it got a Blue Plaque. Likewise, The Bamboo Club in Bristol was honored because Bob Marley, Percy Sledge, Ben E. King and Jimmy Cliff played there.

The Fox and Hounds Pub in Caversham received a plaque recognizing the venue as the site of the only performance, on April 23, 1960, of the duo that called themselves The Nerk Twins. In reality, the duo was John Lennon and Paul McCartney.

RASCAL FLATTS SURPRISES COUPLE

Veteran country stars Rascal Flatts surprised a couple of newlyweds in Milwaukee, according to WTMJ-TV.

The couple, Sara and Brandon McGinnis, selected the trio’s “Bless the Broken Road” as their choice for the first dance at their wedding reception at Sugar Island. It was expected that the reception’s DJ would simply play the record.

However, a family friend wrote the group begging them to surprise the couple by actually showing up and singing the song — and they did.

The trio of frontman Gary LeVox, his second cousin Jay DeMarcus and Joe Don Rooney were on their way to Country USA in Oshkosh, Wisc., so it was no biggie for them to make the detour 60 miles south to the reception in Milwaukee.

The plan had been worked out months in advance with Sara’s sister being the only person who knew the country superstars were actually going to surprise the happy couple.

“When they started walking in we knew immediately who they were. I started bawling, he started crying,” Sara said.

HISTORIC DETROIT RECORDING STUDIO SAVED

United Sound Systems, a legendary recording studio in Detroit used by Aretha Franklin, Miles Davis and others, has been given historic landmark status, only four years after it was targeted for demolition, AP reports.

The studio’s owners received the historic marker and designation with the help from the Detroit Sound Conservancy.

United Sound Systems was built in 1943 by Jimmy Siracuse, a violinist and sound engineer who emigrated from Italy.

Other greats to record at the studio included jazz saxophonist Charlie “Bird” Parker, who recorded the standard “Birdland” at the studio in 1947, and bluesman John Lee Hooker, who recorded his classic “Boogie Chillen” there in 1948.

Steve Smith writes a new Classic Pop, Rock and Country Music News column every week. It can be read in its entirety on www.presstelegram.com. Like, recommend or share the column on Facebook. Contact him by email at Classicpopmusicnews@gmail.com.