2014’s Stories of the Year
2014's biggest rock music stories weren't all the different from a typical year's. There were comeback albums by long-dormant rock giants, some troubling brushes with the law, long goodbyes and a notorious motormouth calling the President of the United States a "subhuman mongrel." OK, maybe that last one doesn't happen every year, but from reunions to arrests to deaths, 2014's stories of the year pretty much defined the state of classic rock in the mid-'10s.
Even though they haven't been in a studio together in 20 years, the surviving members of Pink Floyd -- singer and guitarist David Gilmour and drummer Nick Mason -- assembled a new album, 'The Endless River,' out of leftover sessions from 1994's 'The Division Bell.' The result is a mostly instrumental, ambient-heavy work that recalls the band's pre-'Dark Side of the Moon' stage. Gilmour has said that this will Pink Floyd's last album.
It hasn't been an easy year for AC/DC. Their drummer was arrested for threatening to kill two people (see below), and longtime rhythm guitarist Malcolm Young was diagnosed with dementia, which forced him to retire from music. The band made its new album, 'Rock or Bust,' with Malcolm and Angus Young's nephew, Stevie, filling in and plans to stay together, despite the setback. By the end of the year, it was revealed that Malcolm had also undergone lung and heart surgeries.
After 45 years, various lineup changes and thousands of road miles, the Allman Brothers Band called it quits in 2014 after an epic last-night stand at New York City's Beacon Theatre in October. The news came early in the year, when guitarists Warren Haynes and Derek Trucks both announced they were leaving the group. Weeks later, leader Gregg Allman confirmed the end of the band that he formed with his late brother in 1969, saying, "45 years is enough."
In September, Gene Simmons said in an interview with Esquire magazine that "rock is finally dead," citing various reasons -- from downloading to TV singing competitions. Because artists like nothing better than joining in conversations about their jobs, everyone from Joe Perry and AC/DC to Nikki Sixx to one of Simmons' former Kiss bandmates chimed in on the subject. No consensus was reached, and rock couldn't be reached for comment.
Motley Crue announced that they would be calling it quits after one final tour (which, not so coincidentally, is what they called it). They shared the news at a press conference that included tombstones, a hearse-delivered intro and a New Orleans-style funeral band playing 'Dr. Feelgood.' But you still have time to see them before they shout at the devil one last time: The tour still has a long way to go before it winds down.
In late 2013, Kiss won the fan vote to get into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. On April 10, 2014, they were inducted. But it was a bumpy ride between those four months, with much sniping, whining and complaining by current and past members of the group. Why, for example, were the four original members the only ones to be inducted? Why were Kiss refusing to even show up at the ceremony? And why did everyone grudgingly end up onstage accepting trophies but not performing? It's complicated. But let's just say that everyone played nice when it came to Kiss' special night. Sorta.
Rumors first began stirring in October that something was going on with AC/DC drummer Phil Rudd. He didn't appear in the band's new publicity photo, and he wasn't around when the group shot two videos for its 'Rock or Bust' album. By November, Rudd had been arrested for trying to hire a hitman to kill two people, as well as various drug charges. The murder charge was eventually dropped, but Rudd's public appearances since then reveal a man on the edge: He showed up late for a hearing, flipped off photographers and got in a fight at a coffee house. Meanwhile, AC/DC plan to continue supporting the new record without Rudd.
Ted Nugent has a history of saying controversial things. A long history. So it was no surprise that he kicked off his 2014 by calling President Barack Obama a "subhuman mongrel." And it was no surprise that the comment resulted in much backlash against the Motor City Madman, including canceled concerts. By July, Nugent had declared himself “the No. 1 man that the President of the United States hates more than anybody.” Nugent eventually apologized for his words -- sorta, saying he should have just called him a "violator of his oath to the Constitution" instead. Nugent also found time to release a new album, 'SHUTUP&JAM.'
Something weird happened at a concert by the indie rock band Eels in May: former Journey singer Steve Perry, who hasn't sung in public in 18 years, hopped onstage and performed some of his old band's songs. Then he did it again. And again. Turns out Eels frontman Mark Oliver Everett met Perry years ago and had been trying to talk him into joining his group onstage. One day Perry showed up at rehearsals with his own microphone. Next thing you know, he's singing 'Lights,' ‘Open Arms’ and ‘Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’.' “It was such a beautiful moment,” said Everett.
Many classic rock artists, and classic rock influences, died in 2014, including pioneer Phil Everly, folk hero Pete Seeger and Stooges drummer Scott Asheton. Other notable passings include guitar legend Johnny Winter, Survivor singer Jimi Jamison, '60s hitmaker Paul Revere, Cream bassist and singer Jack Bruce and, within days of each other, longtime Rolling Stones saxophonist Bobby Keys and Ian McLagan, another Stones sideman as well as a member of the Faces.