Huddie "Lead Belly" Ledbetter never had a hit record before he died in 1949. But the folk-singing legend, who is being celebrated by the Smithsonian with a TV documentary and 5-CD box set, left behind a treasure trove of recordings that yielded many hits for those who followed him.
Among those Lead Belly inspired was Lonnie Donegan, the founding father of British pop. Donegan inspired British teens, including 15-year-old John Lennon.
"George Harrison once said, 'No Lead Belly, no Lonnie Donegan. Therefore no Lead Belly, no Beatles,' " said John Reynolds, author of "Lead Belly: A Life in Pictures."
Reynolds is among those interviewed in the documentary, "Legend of Lead Belly," which premieres Monday on the Smithsonian Channel.
The documentary features interviews with musicians inspired by Lead Belly, including Roger McGuinn (The Byrds), Eric Burdon (The Animals), Judy Collins and Van Morrison.
The documentary is being aired on the eve of Tuesday's release of "Lead Belly: The Smithsonian Folkways Collection," the most comprehensive collection of recordings by the iconic artist. The 108 tracks include 16 previously unreleased recordings.
Time for a Blur reprise
Britpop icons Blur are back, with a big summer show and their first album in more than a decade. Band members announced Thursday that they will headline a British Summer Time concert in Hyde Park on June 20. Damon Albarn, Graham Coxon, Dave Rowntree and Alex James also plan to release a new album, "The Magic Whip," on April 27. Blur was one of the biggest British bands of the 1990s, alongside rivals Oasis.
Scrapped skit: A lingering letdown for fans after Eddie Murphy's half-hearted display on the recent "Saturday Night Live" bash has been rekindled by a report of what might have been: Murphy impersonating Bill Cosby. In a series of tweets, former "SNL" cast member Norm Macdonald said Murphy nixed plans to play the embattled Cosby in the "Celebrity Jeopardy" sketch seen on Sunday's "SNL 40th Anniversary Special." The skit went on without Murphy. In a statement, Cosby said, "I am very appreciative of Eddie and I applaud his actions."
Hospitalized: Former rap mogul Marion "Suge" Knight was taken from a Los Angeles courthouse on Thursday for a medical issue. Knight had been scheduled to appear in court for arraignment on robbery charges. Knight has pleaded not guilty.