August 2015: Classic Rock Month in Review
Looking at the stories in our August Classic Rock Month in Review causes us to ask a lot of questions. Will the renewed friendship between Slash and Axl Rose lead to a Guns N' Roses reunion? What label will release Bon Jovi's next album? Are Rush ever going to tour again? Who are Alice Cooper's Hollywood Vampires? Can John Mayer front the Grateful Dead? Will Lemmy ever return to 100 percent full health? And did Chrissie Hynde really say that about rape victims? Plus, we said goodbye to a legendary producer and got some good new music in the process.
Slash dropped a huge bombshell on, of all places, Swedish TV when he revealed that he and Axl Rose are friends again. “It was probably way overdue, you know,” he said. “But it’s...you know, it’s very cool at this point. Naturally, the world flipped out, especially given the twin departures of DJ Ashba and Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal in July. Although there has been no official word from anybody connected with the band, rumors of a reunion have swirled from sources inside festivals in Australia, England and Portugal.
After 32 years, Bon Jovi ended his relationship with Mercury Records with the aptly titled Burning Bridges, a collection comrpised largely of outtakes. Its title track was an unveiled shot at the label, with lyrics like "Here's one last song you can sell" and "Hope my money and my masters buy a front row seat in Hell." And while we don't know how Bon Jovi will release the album they have planned for 2016, we're largely certain that Richie Sambora will not be involved. Sambora said that his unwillingess to take part in long tours was a primary factor in his decision to quit.
On Aug. 21, Rush played the final concert of their R40 tour at the Forum in Inglewood, Calif. Although the band repeatedly said that this was likely to be their "last major tour," Alex Lifeson was adamant in saying that the band was not breaking up. Still, by December, Neil Peart was calling himself a "retired drummer," which prompted a clarification from Geddy Lee, who said it was in reference to touring.
After years of talking about it, Alice Cooper announced the arrival of his Hollywood Vampires project, an album of mostly covers of songs by the rock stars he used to drink with in Los Angeles in the early '70s. And they kicked it off by playing two nights at the Roxy on the Sunset Strip. (You can hear their take on the Who's "My Generation" here.) Joining Cooper for the record were Joe Perry, Dave Grohl, Paul McCartney, Slash and Johnny Depp.
Only a month after saying "Fare Thee Well," three members of the Grateful Dead (Bob Weir, Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann; Phil Lesh declined to participate) joined forces with John Mayer, calling themselves "Dead and Company." After announcing one show in New York on Halloween, they soon revealed nine others. Mayer said that he was preparing for the concerts by practicing four to five hours a day.
Motorhead's U.S. tour in support of Bad Magic came close to being derailed. During the fifth show, on August 27 in Salt Lake City, they were forced to abandon the stage after just four songs due to Lemmy having difficulty breathing at high altitude. They canceled the next show in Denver and lasted only two songs in Austin before shelving the next three concerts. It was later revealed that Lemmy had a lung infection, and they resumed their tour on September 8 in St. Louis.
Chrissie Hynde found herself in hot water when, while promoting her memoir, she said that, in some cases, a woman can be responsible if she is raped. She based her views on her own experience, having been abducted by a biker gang when she was 21 and high. The Pretenders singer defended her comments with, "Sounds like common sense. […] If you don’t want my opinion, don’t ask me for it.” A month later, she reacted to the controversy by saying, "I’m not here trying to advise anyone or tell anyone what to do or tell anyone what to think, and I’m not here as a spokesperson for anyone. I’m just telling my story."
Bob Johnston, who produced Bob Dylan's output from Highway 61 Revisited through New Morning, died on August 14 in Nashville at the age of 83. In addition to working with Dylan, he also produced Simon & Garfunkel's Sounds of Silence and Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme and Johnny Cash's At Folsom Prison.
Also Lost in August 2015: Cilla Black
In addition to Bon Jovi's Burning Bridges and Motorhead's Bad Magic, August gave us new live albums from Gregg Allman and Deep Purple, reissues from Simon & Garfunkel (The Concert in Central Park), Rush (Signals) and the Faces (a comprehensive five-LP vinyl boxed set).