2015 A-Z Classic Rock Preview: Part Three
A new year promises plenty of new music -- on the road and on record. In the third and final part of our comprehensive forecast for 2015 -- focusing on Ozzy Osbourne through ZZ Top -- we look at what your favorite classic-rock artists have in store for the next 12 months.
Ozzy Osbourne has a busy 2015 on tap even without a Black Sabbath reunion. Among his confirmed dates is a return to Japan with Ozzfest for the first time since 2013. Shows with Judas Priest and Motorhead might happen as well. He's also planning a Las Vegas outing, which may premiere on Halloween. Last year, Osbourne released 'Memoirs of a Madman,' a CD/DVD retrospective package focusing on his solo career. Up next? Maybe another album with Black Sabbath, followed by a tour, which could be their last ever.
After a four-year layoff, Tom Petty made a tough return in 2014 with the Grammy-nominated 'Hypnotic Eye,' then he hit the road last summer. Steve Winwood joined him and the Heartbreakers for a series of fall shows. Before that, keyboardist Benmont Tench released a solo project, with Petty lending a hand. No 2015 shows have been announced, but he ended 2014 with a sold-out December benefit titled the Merry Minstrel Musical Circus that included Heartbreakers Mike Campbell, Tench, Scott Thurston and Steve Ferrone.
Robert Plant's stubborn refusal to reunite as Led Zeppelin was certainly a disappointment. He didn't have anything nice to say about a series of expanded reissues by his old band either. But this all led to another deeply intriguing solo effort, 'Lullaby and the Ceaseless Roar.' Next up in 2015 are dates in Mexico and South America. Whether Plant will record again remains up in the air, but he's been quoted as encouraging his old bandmate Jimmy Page to get back in the studio.
It's been a quiet period for Poison -- too quiet, if you asked drummer Rikki Rockett. His bitter complaints from last summer have apparently been heard. Frontman Bret Michaels said late last year that shows were planned for 2015. Poison appeared at the 2013 Indy 500 Miller Lite Carb Day, but otherwise the band has been mostly playing private shows lately. As for recording a follow-up to 2002's 'Hollyweird'? "When the time’s right, I’m sure it will happen," Michaels says. "We are all just in different places right now, but we are never done making music."
A reformulated Queen returned to the U.S. last year, playing their first stateside dates after a lengthy period of collaboration with former 'American Idol' finalist Adam Lambert. Remaining members Brian May and Roger Taylor released more previously unheard music from their classic period with the late Freddie Mercury as their tour continued into Asia and Australia. A live-streamed New Year's Eve show heralded still more dates. "It was a really great experience, and I’m thrilled," Taylor tells us. "We’re going to go on and do Europe in January and February. It’s all good."
The Rolling Stones crisscrossed the world with their 14 on Fire tour, continuing onstage reunions with former guitarist Mick Taylor. Dates included Japan, China and Europe, before continuing into Australia and New Zealand as they mourned the death of longtime sideman Bobby Keys. The tour was previously delayed after the suicide of Mick Jagger's longtime girlfriend. So far, there's no word on additional shows for 2015. The band's From the Vault series, focusing on classic concert recordings, continued last year, but there's been no mention of new music from the Stones since a pair of new songs showed up on 2012's 'GRRR!' compilation.
No one in Rush seemed ready to commit, but there are apparently plans to tour again in the coming months. Reports surfaced in December that suggested the band will hit the road again for its first tour since 2013. As for recording a follow up to 2012's 'Clockwork Angels,' something smaller scale might be in the offing. "In my mind, ideally," guitarist Alex Lifeson said late last year, "we'd go out with a couple of new songs, and revisit some old stuff, maybe stuff we haven't previously played." A sweeping 2014 'R40' box set focused on live shows collected from their storied history.
Carlos Santana has toured forever under the band name Santana. To many, however, there's only one true Santana band: the classic-era lineup from the turn of the '70s. That version is set to reunite for shows in 2015, after starting work on their first new music together in more than four decades. Santana tells us the album will be called 'Santana IV.' Neal Schon, who joined the group as a teen just before 1971's 'Santana III,' brokered the reunion. Santana will even play some dates with Schon's other band, Journey. Carlos also released his first-ever all-Latin album and then a live DVD last year.
It might be a year best forgotten for Scorpions, who endured international headlines involving a band member's alleged airport outburst -- and subsequent month-long jail sentence -- in Dubai. After undergoing some treatment for his alcohol problems, James Kottak returned to his spot at the drums. So Scorpions are moving quickly now to get back to normal, starting with their first album of new material since 2010's 'Sting in the Tail.' The 12-song follow-up, ‘Return to Forever,’ is due in February, part of of a 50th-anniversary celebration that includes a run of new tour dates. The lead single, ‘We Built This House,’ looks back on the group's legacy as it heads out for shows in Europe throughout the year.
Bob Seger's new 'Ride Out' album -- his first since 2006's 'Face the Promise' -- became a Top 5 U.S. hit, without benefit of overseas label support. The hope is that these new successes, which also included well-received 2014 dates, will convince the soon-to-be-70 rocker to give up on long-rumored plans to retire. In the meantime, Seger shows continue into this year, with the J. Geils Band opening on select dates.
Slash's first new album in two years, 'World on Fire,' was overstuffed with ideas, packing 17 songs into a whopping 77 minutes. The new year may include a couple of unlikely reunions. The first is with Velvet Revolver, as Slash and company continue a slow-moving search for someone to replace the departed Scott Weiland. In an interesting twist, Slash could appear on the new album from Guns N' Roses, too. Axl Rose reportedly has music leftover from their time together as collaborators, and that material just might make it onto GNR's long-awaited follow up to 2008's 'Chinese Democracy.' Meanwhile, Slash has already been confirmed, along with Judas Priest, for May's Rock on the Range.
There's no official word yet on 2015 plans for Bruce Springsteen. But he crammed two years' worth of activity into 2014. Highlights included a new album ('High Hopes'), a new EP ('American Beauty') and a well-received world tour, including stops at the New Orleans Jazz Festival, and the Stand Up for Heroes and the Concert for Valor events. Meanwhile, a new box set remastered Springsteen's first seven albums, and he released a book based on his song 'Outlaw Pete.' Plus, fans thrilled to the official release of a long-sought-after 1978 show late in the year, as Springsteen officially launched a new website dedicated to concert downloads.
Ringo Starr completed a follow-up to 2012's 'Ringo 2012,' with contributions from members of his ongoing All-Starr Band. He's been working with a lineup including Steve Lukather, Gregg Rolie and Todd Rundgren since 2012, making them Ringo's longest-tenured All-Starr grouping. "Well, he loves the band, but you know, vice versa," Rolie tells us. "In this band, everybody just gets along fantastically, and the music is eclectic and good and everybody plays everyone’s songs as hard as they play their own. So it just couldn’t be any better." Additional dates are set for February and March of this year. Starr will also be honored alongside the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s Class of 2015, becoming the last of the Beatles to be inducted for his solo work.
Steely Dan played a robust set of dates in 2014, hitting nearly 50 cities on the Jamalot Ever After Tour. Walter Becker and Donald Fagen have performed Steely Dan shows roughly on an every-other-year basis, so fans might be in for a quiet 2015, even though they have one confirmed show: at the Coachella music festival. They'll likely stay busy with solo projects, however. Fagen also released a concert video celebrating his tours with Michael McDonald and Boz Scaggs as the Dukes of September not long after publishing a book, 'Eminent Hipsters.' June 2015 marks the 12th anniversary of Steely Dan's last new album, 'Everything Must Go.' But Fagen and Becker have both released solo albums in the meantime.
Those road warriors in Styx will spent 2015 -- where else? -- out on the road again. In fact, they barely got the holiday wrapping paper put away before the gear was being loaded on the buses again. Styx's 2015 tour begins mid-month in Colorado and continues into March in Oklahoma. Along the way, they'll perform with the Nashville Symphony over three nights. In June, Styx will play four concerts in Nassau, the Bahamas, as part of Carnival Cruise's Live Concert series -- their second time setting sail.
Coming off a reunion tour with Michael McDonald, who appeared on their 1986 hit 'I'll Be Over You,' Toto have completed a rare new studio album. The sessions found core members David Paich, Steve Lukather and Steve Porcaro joined by Joseph Williams, the band's frontman in the mid-'80s. "It’s not a bunch of old guys phoning it in," Lukather tells us. "If you like what we do, you’re gonna love this record." Toto will tour in support of the project, with original member David Hungate returning on bass and new drummer Keith Carlock, a Steely Dan alum. They released an anniversary concert DVD in 2014.
Will they or won't they? We wait. It seems like there's been talk of another Van Halen album right after they released the long-hoped-for 2012 reunion project with David Lee Roth, 'A Different Kind of Truth.' And yet ... we wait. By last summer, there was news that the project might be finished. Nope. By November, the story was that they were mixing it down. Nope again, say sources. So far, there are no confirmed 2015 shows. And so, yeah ... we wait.
That the Who are touring again is not big news. Neither is the fact that it's being billed as a farewell jaunt. But 2014 brought something exciting: an actual new song -- their first in eight years. The Who Hits 50! tour kicked off in November, but came to a brief halt when Roger Daltrey came down with a throat infection. Dates in North America start in April, with newly minted Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Joan Jett serving as the opening act.
Yes released their first studio album with current frontman Jon Davison last summer, then continued touring, playing their classic albums in their entirety. ‘Like It Is: Yes at the Bristol Hippodrome,’ a multi-format concert recording, found Davison interpreting both ‘The Yes Album’ and ‘Going for the One’ with the veteran band. Highlights of 2015 will include a third edition of their Cruise to the Edge at-sea concert event. Set to leave Miami on Nov. 15, Yes will appear alongside Saga, Marillion, Nektar and others.
Neil Young did what Neil Young does last year: the unexpected. So, yes, there was a tour with Crazy Horse, but also two albums, including 'Storytone,' a typically iconoclastic solo album recorded with a big band. He filled it with love songs but also a tough environmental screed. He could be doing more individual projects as 2015 unfolds. There was also a very public falling out with a Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young bandmate, and Crazy Horse struggled to go forward without a central member -- and now find their future in doubt. Can we at least hope for a farewell tour?
After a difficult 2014, ZZ Top are ready to get back on track. A series of makeup dates are scheduled after the trio was forced to halt last year's tour due to an injury suffered by Dusty Hill. They'll be joined by co-headliner Jeff Beck again, with dates from mid-January through May. Billy Gibbons made a series of guest appearances, most notably on the late Johnny Winter's final album, 'Step Back.' Otherwise, ZZ Top have remained mostly silent since their 2012 studio effort, 'La Futura.'