Bob Dylan's preparing for his surprise appearance on the Grammy Awards one week from tonight on CBS.
He's nominated for best album with Love and Theft, and he will perform, I am told.
But to quote Dylan's recent Oscar-winning song, "Things have changed." One person you won't see next Wednesday night is drummer David Kemper.
After five and a half years with Dylan's band, Kemper was abruptly dismissed last month without notice.
Kemper, who used to play for Jerry Garcia, joined the Dylan entourage in 1996. He's been part of a tight-knit, small group who are responsible for the Grammy-winning album, Time Out of Mind, as well as the more recent one.
According to sources close to the secretive Dylan inner circle, Kemper was told his services were no longer needed by a member of Dylan's management group. "Someone called and said, 'There's been a band change.' That was it."
Kemper had received glowing reviews in the Dylan band and, I am told, had no idea he was being replaced. His successor is George Receli.
In modern lingo, if something is "off the charts" that usually means it's huge, big stuff, so good you can't measure it.
Unfortunately for Michael Jackson, in his case "off the charts" means precisely and exactly that. If the numbers hold up, his album Invincible has fallen out of the top 50 after less than 5 months. Last week, Invincible was No. 35.
Jackson's problems are only now beginning to manifest themselves. Financially, he is in hot water without much to fall back on. Sony commercially released only one single from Invincible — "Rock My World" — and has hesitated to put out another one. For several weeks they attempted to get "Butterflies" on the radio, had some success, then scheduled the single. But at the end of January the company changed its mind. Another single, "Unbreakable," is headed for European, but not American release.
This means that a record that cost $30 million, made by a singer with a $200 million loan, has no current single on the radio.
Additionally, as I reported last week, Jackson has never fulfilled his promise of releasing his charity single, "What More Can I Give?"
What will happen next? My sources say that the $200 million loan situation is going to fester. Sony Music can call the note on the loan at any time. And their fiscal year ends March 31, which is coming soon. If Jackson can't come up with the funds to pay them back, he will likely lose his rights to the Beatles song catalogue.
And that may not be all. The current climate in the recording business is so bad that Jackson could find himself, like Mariah Carey, shopping for a new home. Invincible may be double platinum, but that doesn't account for the massive returns, which Sony will likely incur soon. When those numbers are in, Neverland's Al the Chimp may have to start swinging from a new vine.
Loved the story about Rolling Stone founder Jann Wenner in Monday's New York Times. But the reporter obviously never read the reports in this column about Wenner's penchant for changing record reviews to suit friends/stars. Rock critic Karen Schoemer quit Us Weekly after Wenner replaced her negative reviews of albums by Don Henley and Paul Simon with positive ones. The Times did not explore how Us' next editor-in-chief would deal with that. The former editor-in-chief, Terry McDonell, obviously fed up with Us' odd brand of journalism, recently de-camped to Sports Illustrated. …
Another gossip column reported earlier this week that Tommy Mottola and Mariah Carey would be doing something professionally soon — maybe with Mottola putting out Carey's greatest hits. Mottola indeed issued such an album — before Christmas. The album was first announced here in October. …
And yet another columnist speculates that Kate Hudson has some fears about being topless in her "upcoming" movie, About Adam. I went to two premieres for About Adam last year and I'm pretty sure it played in theatres last May. Oh well … maybe the video's coming out soon. …