TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) _ John Cougar Mellencamp, who was hit on the head and knocked unconscious by a thrown whiskey bottle at his last concert here four years ago, took some precautions this time.

Mellencamp paused midway through his first song Thursday night and donned a construction worker's hard hat, ''just in case anybody's got any ideas.''

The 34-year-old singer, songwriter and guitarist suffered a seven-stitch cut near his right temple when a drunken fan hurled the empty bottle at him during a 1982 concert at nearby Sun Devil Stadium.

''I forgot this was the town it happened in,'' Mellencamp told about 8,000 people at the Arizona State University Activity Center. ''The day after it happened, I forgot about it. But some people reminded me about it recently. They said, 'We're surprised you're coming back after what happened.' But I just say it's awfully nice to be back in this small town of yours.''

Mellencamp later thanked his audience and said, 'I'm awfully glad we made it through tonight without an incident.''

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PITTSBURGH (AP) - The rock group Kiss, known for its elaborate stagings during concerts, canceled a performance at the Civic Arena when a transformer blew out the lights two hours before the show.

Thousands of disappointed fans, some of them with white painted faces, were told to go home when the lights went off around 5:30 p.m. Thursday.

Kiss, whose members once disguised themselves with paint and makeup and wore studded leather outfits and boots, is on a six-month tour.

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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - The California Supreme Court will review an appeals court ruling that allowed ''Exorcist'' author William Peter Blatty to sue The New York Times for an alleged intentional or reckless omission of a book from its best-seller list.

Blatty contended he suffered more than $3 million in damages from prospective book sales and movie rights when the Times' omitted his novel, ''Legion,'' from its list of 15 best-selling books, except for September 1983, when it cited the novel for one week at the bottom of the list.

He claimed the newspaper, which promoted the list as a reflection of sales at bookstores nationwide, knew or should have known that his book was among the top sellers and had a duty to include it.

Blatty said the appeals court ruling did not go far enough, and should have also allowed a suit for unfair business practices and negligent reporting. The Times argued the decision could lead to thousands of suits by authors who felt unfairly spurned and might cause papers to drop best-seller lists.

The 2nd District Court of Appeal ruled in December that Blatty could sue for intentional interference with ''prospective economic advantage'': his potential revenue from a best-seller.

The Supreme Court said Thursday it will hold a hearing and decide the issue at a later date.

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PRAGUE, Czechoslovakia (AP) - Author John Updike, who first came to Prague in 1964, caused a stir this week when he returned for university lectures and a poetry reading and was greeted by hundreds of fans.

''It has worn out my hand, the longest line I ever had to sign books for, very impressive indeed,'' said Updike, 54.

With little advance notice, 500 people turned up at a bookstore Wednesday to get his signature. On Thursday, when he gave a poetry reading at Ambassador William H. Luers' residence at the U.S. Embassy, 800 to 1,000 people formed a line stretching to the local police station.

A few Czechs were seen clutching books in the English original, and several others had books in Italian translation.

His books translated into Czech include, ''The Pigeon Feathers,'' ''Rabbit Run,'' ''The Centaur'' and ''Off the Farm.''

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FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) - Millionaire industrialist T. Cullen Davis, who was found innocent of killing his stepdaughter in a shooting, has settled a $15 million lawsuit filed by a man who said he was crippled by gunfire.

Davis settled the suit filed by Gus ''Bubba'' Gavrel Jr., one of two people wounded by a masked man Aug. 3, 1976, in the shooting at Davis' mansion. Killed were Davis' stepdaughter, Andrea Lee Wilborn, and Stan Farr, a companion of Davis' estranged wife, Priscilla. Mrs. Davis was wounded.

Davis was tried twice in the death of his stepdaughter. The first trial ended in a mistrial, while a second resulted in his acquittal on Nov. 17, 1977.

Court documents involving the settlement were sealed and the parties involved pledged not to reveal the terms, said state District Judge Michael Schattman. The trial on the suit was to begin next week.

About a year after his acquittal, Davis was charged in an alleged murder- for-hire plot to have his divorce court judge killed. He was acquitted of those charges Nov. 9, 1979.

His divorce and trials became the subjects of two books.