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This week on the music beat

Courtney Love and Tony Rich made news the week of May 22, 1998

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LOVE MEANS NEVER HAVING TO SAY YOU’RE SORRY

If her recent behavior is any indication, neo-glamour girl Courtney Love is getting back to her roots — namely, stripping and raising hell. Sporting a new black dye job, she showed up at the West Hollywood dance club Cherry on May 1 and got the DJ to play a song from the long-delayed, much-anticipated new Hole album (tentatively scheduled for a fall release), exhorting the crowd to scream and holler if they liked it. Ever a gal to know how to stack a deck, Love crawled up on the console and flashed one breast while lip-synching to the track. (One unimpressed listener reportedly shouted, ”It sucked,” to which Love replied, ”F— you. I’m gonna kick your f—in’ a–.”) A week earlier, the feisty Love reportedly hit a former L.A. Weekly gossip columnist for taking her picture. Looks like the album promo campaign is well under way.

SLOWHAND ON THE DOWN LOW

The Tony Rich Project’s forthcoming album, Birdseye (due Aug. 11), will feature a hefty helping of slide and electric guitar work from Eric Clapton on about half the tracks, but Rich says he plans to omit Clapton’s name from the album credits. The reason? ”I’m catching a lot of flak from [Clapton’s label, Duck/Reprise] for him being on the album,” says Rich, who served as a credited guest star on the guitar hero’s current album, Pilgrim. ”They think I’m trying to use his name to promote the album, but it’s not like that. Eric and I were just exchanging favors because we like each other. I might just put ‘guitar by E’ on the sleeve.” Duck/Reprise spokesperson Bob Merlis insists that the label is not trying to prevent Rich from crediting Clapton as a ”contributor,” only from ”implying that [Clapton] was a duet partner” with Rich (curious, considering that Clapton’s last duet, with Rich mentor Babyface on 1996’s ”Change the World,” did great things for both artists’ bank accounts). Deadpans Merlis: ”We’re not mean. We’re fair.”