April 2015: Classic Rock Month in Review
Looking back on April 2015 in our Classic Rock Month in Review offers plenty of bittersweet moments. It was great to see AC/DC onstage again, but they were there without guitarist Malcolm Young. Sammy Hagar's comments on Van Halen's live album without him were good for a laugh, but watching Scott Weiland struggle to perform one of his best-known songs has taken on new poignancy since his death in early December. And while the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame gave us a new class of inductees, the festivities were tempered by the losses of original Lynyrd Skynyrd drummer Bob Burns and Cynthia Lennon and a major health scare for Joni Mitchell. Still, there was some great new music, much of it thanks to Record Store Day offerings.
We nearly lost one of the all-time great songwriters when Joni Mitchell was discovered unconscious in her home. Fortunately, she was rushed to the hospital and placed in intensive care in time. Even though there were reports that she had been in a coma, they were quickly dismissed (but it was eventually revealed that Mitchell did suffer a brain aneurysm). Questions about Mitchell's health persisted throughout the summer, but by October, singer-songwriter friend Judy Collins noted that Mitchell was "walking, talking, painting some, doing much rehab every day and making good progress."
April saw another round in the long-running war of words between Sammy Hagar and his former Van Halen bandmates. Even though Hagar acknowledged that he should be more careful with his words when talking about the band, he couldn't help himself when he was asked about the live album Tokyo Dome Live in Concert with singer David Lee Roth. "I’m just going, ‘What ... are these guys thinking?'" he said. "Every time they do something, I’m like, ‘Oh my God, can these guys do anything worse to their reputation?'”
AC/DC gave their first concert in five years when they headlined the Coachella Festival in Indio, Calif., on April 10. The 20-song set featured many of the band's classics as well as three cuts from 2014's Rock or Bust. It was the band's first-ever show without founder Malcolm Young, who was forced into retirement due to health issues. (His nephew, Stevie Young, filled in for him.) The concert also welcomed drummer Chris Slade back into the fold, replacing Phil Rudd, whose mess of legal troubles since Novemeber 2014 sidelined him. The comeback took a sad turn after it was reported that a 23-year old AC/DC fan was killed when he was struck by a train near the festival's site.
The 30th Annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony took place in Cleveland with a new class -- including Joan Jett, the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Lou Reed, Green Day and Ringo Starr -- honored for their career achievements. Jett was joined onstage by Dave Grohl and Miley Cyrus, while Peter Wolf discussed the influence of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band on the J. Geils Band. John Mayer inducted Vaughan, calling him "the ultimate guitar hero," and Patti Smith gave a poignant recollection of the day Reed died. But it was Paul McCartney who gave us the biggest goosebumps when he spoke of the first time the Beatles played with Starr. “I remember the moment, standing there and looking at John [Lennon] and looking at George [Harrison] and the look on our faces was ... What is this? And that was the moment, really, that was the beginning of the Beatles.”
Bob Burns, Lynyrd Skynyrd's original drummer, died at the age of 64 in a car crash in Cartersville, Ga. Burns co-founded the band in Jacksonville, Fla., but left the group after two albums due to mental health issues. He performed only one more time with the band: in 2006, when it was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Only a month after his behavior alienated fans at a meet-and-greet in Boston, Scott Weiland played a gig in Corpus Christi that made headlines: A fan-shot video of him performing "Vasoline" showed the former Stone Temple Pilots and Velvet Revolver frontman singing way off-key. A spokesperson for Weiland blamed it on a "perfect storm" of being tired, a few pre-show drinks and a broken earpiece monitor, and decidedly not illegal drugs.
John Lennon's first wife, and mother of his first son Julian, died of cancer at her home in Mallorca, Spain, on April 1 at the age of 75. The couple wed in August 1962, though the marriage was kept a secret as the Beatles started to become famous. They divorced in 1968 after John had an affair with Yoko Ono.
Record Store Day dominated the list of new releases for April, with a slew of limited-edition vinyl from such luminaries as Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney and David Bowie. We also got new albums from Todd Rundgren (Global), Brian Wilson (No Pier Pressure) and Randy Bachman (Heavy Blues).