Eddie Van Halen gives guitars to LA-area schools

Posted Jan. 12, 2012, at 8:09 p.m.

Rocker Eddie Van Halen has donated 75 electric guitars to Los Angeles-area high schools as a way to inspire music in kids. Tricia Steel of the Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation says the Van Halen lead-guitarist came with the brand-new guitars this week, saying he wanted them used in schools and not sold. The non-profit Los Angeles foundation has distributed the guitars to seven schools serving mostly low-income students that needed them to replace broken instruments or build music enrollment. Schools were not told where the guitars came from until they arrived, and then they were advised to keep them under tight lock and key. … Keith Urban will return to the stage for the first time since vocal surgery on the Feb. 3 Grand Ole Opry. The country superstar had a polyp removed from a vocal cord at Vanderbilt University Medical Center late last year and has been on vocal rest. His appearance at The Ryman Auditorium next month will be his first public performance since he recorded a song for the “CMA Country Christmas” television special in mid-November. He was forced to postpone his “All For The Hall” benefit concert for the Country Music Hall of Fame that was originally scheduled for Jan. 18. He also rescheduled the tail end of his 2011 concert tour for later this year. The Grand Ole Opry also announced Urban will perform in March. … German bass-baritone Thomas Quasthoff has announced he is ending his singing career after nearly 40 years due to health issues. Quasthoff did not go into specifics. But in a statement from his agent forwarded Thursday to the Vienna office of the Associated Press, he said “my health no longer allows me to live up the high standard that I have always set for my art and myself.” Quasthoff says he will continue teaching and other activities linked to his craft. Quasthoff appeared on top-ranked stages and performed under Claudio Abbado, Daniel Barenboim, Christoph Eschenbach, James Levine, Mariss Jansons, Zubin Mehta, Riccardo Muti and other famed conductors. After making his mark as a Lied singer, he took up opera in 2003, singing the minister from Beethoven’s “Fidelio” at the Salzburg Easter Festival and following the year after with a performance as Amfortas from Wagner’s “Parsifal” at the Vienna State Opera. … The Showtime television network says it is preparing a new documentary on former Vice President Dick Cheney. Showtime said Thursday that filmmaker R.J. Cutler, who made “The War Room” about Bill Clinton’s presidential campaign in 1992, will make the film. No date was set for airing. Cutler calls Cheney, who was George W. Bush’s vice president, “perhaps the single most influential non-president in the nation’s political history.” He promises a balanced and multi-dimensional look at Cheney.

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