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Paul McCartney and Bob Dylan: potential 'American Idol 4' guest judges?


By Wade Paulsen, 05/11/2004 

Goodbye, Monterey Pop ... hello, American Idol?

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Entertainment Weekly reports that two of the greatest icons of 1960s popular music are interested in being "guest judges" on the fourth season of American Idol: Rock & Roll Hall of Famers Paul McCartney, the only surviving member of the original Beatles lineup from 1960, and Bob Dylan, the protest singer-songwriter often considered to be the "voice of the sixties."

According to sources inside American Idol, producers contacted McCartney to ask if he was interested, and he is considering the offer. Meanwhile, Dylan's representatives contacted Idol executive producer Nigel Lythgoe to express the once-reclusive singer's interest.

For now, neither artist has been confirmed as a guest judge. However, unlike such one-time stars as Neil Sedaka or faded stars like Elton John, both of these artists have credibility to offer -- and, in all honesty, probably the only way that either would be turned down as a guest judge would be if Idol were unable to reach a satisfactory deal to license their compositions for performance on the show.

For younger fans who might not be familiar with either, McCartney and his friends John Lennon, George Harrison and Stu Sutcliffe formed the Beatles after their previous group, the Quarrymen, broke up. After the addition of permanent drummer Pete Best, who was succeeded by Ringo Starr in 1962, and a few years of poverty, which led to Stu leaving the group to get married (prior to his death from a brain hemorrahge), the Beatles became the largest international stars in pop music history ... only to break up from internal conflict at the end of 1969.

McCartney then formed a new group, Wings, featuring his wife Linda and former Moody Blues leader Denny Laine, which recorded several more smash hits over the next decade (the basis for McCartney's second induction into the Hall of Fame). His 2002/03 worldwide tour, which coincided with his second marriage to model Heather Mills (Linda having previously died from breast cancer), was a sellout everywhere, from Europe to Asia. Oh, and even Fleetwood Mac recorded a song ('Silver Heels') about wanting to "sing like Paul McCartney."

Dylan, unlike McCartney, was never known for his singing voice -- in fact, he makes John Stevens sound good -- but his position as a songwriter and innovator is still unchallenged 40 years later. His songs were turned into monster hits by artists ranging from folkies Peter, Paul and Mary to rockers The Byrds to egomaniacal diva Cher to psychedelic guitar idol Jimi Hendrix, while the pivotal moment in the merger of folk and rock came when Dylan abandoned his acoustic guitar and went "electric." Dylan, however, sacrificed some of his mystique last year when he appeared in a TV commercial for lingerie chain Victoria's Secret.

We admit that we'd be thrilled to see either as a guest judge on American Idol, but the prospect of having both is tantalizing. Just as long as we don't have to watch any more Victoria's Secret ads...

Meanwhile, while waiting for Idol 4, we note that MTV reports that Idol 1 winner Kelly Clarkson will perform 'Beautiful Disaster' on the Idol 3 finale program. Also likely to perform but not confirmed at this time is Idol 2 runner-up Clay Aiken, the biggest star produced by Pop Idol variants anywhere in the world, who currently has the top-selling single in the U.S., 'Solitaire' / 'The Way.' No word regarding Idol 2 winner Ruben Studdard, though.


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