Not-So-Meaty Loaf One of rock's truly big men, Meat Loaf, has signed an endorsement deal with the makers of Ultra Slim-Fast, the milk-shake dietary aid. Loaf started the program in January, when he tipped the scales at 293 pounds. So far, he's lost 40 pounds and hopes to drop 20 more. The singer prefers his shake in chocolate, with a banana. ''He still looks like Meat Loaf and he's still a big guy,'' his manager says. ''He's just firmer.'' Meanwhile, the leaner Loaf is working out in the studio with Jim Steinman, his producer on the multiplatinum Bat Out of Hell. The new album won't be out until early '91, but the Loaf commercials could be out this summer.
Remembering John Maybe the vast appeal of the Beatles has its limits. An all-star tribute concert for John Lennon in Liverpool on May 5 drew only 20,000 people half the expected attendance to an open-air site along the Mersey River. Such stars as Lou Reed, Hall and Oates, Terence Trent D'Arby, Cyndi Lauper, Natalie Cole, and Al Green each performed one or two songs written or cowritten by the Beatle, who was murdered in 1980. The three-hour show ended with the song ''Imagine,'' performed first on videotape by Lennon and then live by the concert stars. The show was taped for broadcast this Oct. 9, which would have been Lennon's 50th birthday.
We Are the (Rap) World M.C. Hammer, N.W.A., Ice-T, Young M.C., Above the Law, Tone-Loc, the Digital Underground, and Michel'le are among the West Coast rappers who joined forces to record ''We're All in the Same Gang,'' an anti-gang violence single. The record, to be released May 25, will be included on an album of the same name (out next month) featuring up-and-coming California rappers.
Ricky's Boys The late Ricky Nelson was one of pop's most successful teen idols in the late '50s and early '60s. Now his identical twin sons are following in his footsteps by forming their own band: Nelson. Matthew and Gunnar, 22, will release their first album, a pop-rock effort called After the Rain, in late June.
Next of Lynne After logging time as the head of Electric Light Orchestra, a Traveling Wilbury, and a producer for Tom Petty, Roy Orbison, and George Harrison, Jeff Lynne finally steps out with his first solo album, Armchair Theatre. Due next month on Reprise, the album features one song cowritten with Petty, renditions of ''Stormy Weather'' and ''September Song,'' and appearances by Harrison and the late Del Shannon (who was a candidate to replace Orbison in the Wilburys). For those not familiar with Lynne's pre-Wilbury career, Epic will release an ELO anthology, Electric Light Orchestra: Afterglow, on June 4. The three-CD (or three-cassette) set collects 47 tracks, with 19 top 40 hits including ''Can't Get It Out of My Head'' and ''Don't Bring Me Down'' and seven songs never before released in the U.S.
Rastaman Revisited A Bob Marley revival is under way. Island Records will issue its catalog of the reggae superstar on compact disc in June, and at the same time release a film documentary, The Bob Marley Story, for home video. In July, Epic will re-issue some early Marley sessions, originally released on the Calla label, as Birth of a Legend. Marley, who died of cancer in 1981, would have been 45 on April 6.