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2015: The Classic Rock Year in Review

Michael-Loccisano / Jeff Kravitz, Getty Images / Atlantic Records / Mike Lawrie / Kevin Winter, Getty Images
Michael Loccisano / Jeff Kravitz, Getty Images / Atlantic Records / Mike Lawrie / Kevin Winter, Getty Images

As we look back over 2015, we find unlikely and welcome returns, fond farewells and at least one instance where being a super-fan completely paid off. Spotify’s Year in Music recaps the global music trends of 2015 and helps you discover your personal music listening habits. Rock had a big year on Spotify, earning a spot as the third most popular genre.


Here’s a look at what we deemed the top rock music moments of the year. Plus, you have a chance to win a fantastic prize pack, including a one-year premium subscription to Spotify, a set of Bose headphones and much more.

After a few years away, Van Halen had a huge 2015 both on the road and on Spotify, with nine million different listeners enjoying more than 490 years’ worth of VH music on the popular streaming service. For the Grateful Dead (two million listeners who took in 620 years’ worth of the Dead’s music), it had been even longer, as the remaining core four members gathered for the first time in two decades for a string of final shows.

Rush (three million listeners, 370 years) went on what they said would be their last globe-trotting tour, and one of their most devoted followers hit an impressive run on one of television’s best-known game shows, taking a piece of the band with her. AC/DC (11 million listeners, an absolutely staggering 1,200 years’ worth of music – and remember, they joined in only late June!) shook off a difficult period to reassert their considerable legend; meanwhile, a book-signing event transformed into a reunion for the surviving members of the original Alice Cooper (four million listeners, 190 years) band.

Plus, Rainbow‘s Ritchie Blackmore (two million listeners, a number we expect to jump dramatically in 2016) decided he was ready to rock again; classic rock made big waves at big events like the Super Bowl and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame; and members of Guns N’ Roses (17 million listeners, 1,900 years of music) and Journey (15 million listeners, 780 years) rekindled friendships from their peak years.

These are just some of our favorite top rock moments of 2015. To review the year in rock music month by month, check out our 2015 recap below. To learn more about your own listening habits in 2015 check out your personal Year in Music on Spotify. Comment at the bottom of this story with your most played rock song for a chance to win the following prize:

  • One (1) year Premium subscription to Spotify
  • One (1) pair of Bose in-ear headphones
  • One (1) Soundwave Canvas
  • One (1) $50 TicketMaster gift card

To enter, you must be 18 years or older and live in the U.S.

This post was made possible through a partnership with Spotify. The prize was provided by Spotify, but Spotify and its agents and representatives are not a sponsor, administrator or involved in any other way with this giveaway. All opinions expressed in the post are Ultimate Classic Rock’s and not those of Spotify or its agents and representatives. Be sure to check out Ultimate Classic Rock’s official contest rules here.


Classic Rock at the Super Bowl



Fans had plenty to cheer about at this year’s Super Bowl, no matter who won. Commercials featured songs from Ted Nugent (two million listeners), the Beatles (two million listeners) and Van Halen, among others. Paul McCartney (35 million listeners) and Steven Tyler (one million listeners) were on hand for the big game. Meanwhile, Motley Crue‘s (four million listeners) Nikki Sixx – a Seahawks fan – said he would perform naked if the Patriots won. (They did. We’re still waiting to see if he follows through on that promise.)

Super Bowl Commercials


Led Zeppelin Continue Reissues Series



Led Zeppelin‘s (14 million listeners) celebrated deluxe-edition reissue series resumed in 2015 with the arrival of Physical Graffiti, almost 40 years to the day after the album was first released. Excited fans almost sent this sixth reissue to the top of the U.K. chart. Jimmy Page concluded the series with three more releases later in the summer.

Led Zeppelin, 'Physical Graffiti,' 'Presence,' "In Through the Out Door' and 'Coda' Reissues


Van Halen Retake the Stage



Van Halen announced a three-month tour, then began promoting the dates with appearances on Jimmy Kimmel Live and The Ellen DeGeneres Show. (On Kimmel, David Lee Roth even overcame a self-inflicted nose injury.) They also released Tokyo Dome Live in Concert, Van Halen’s first-ever live album with Roth.

Jeff Kravitz, Getty Images
Jeff Kravitz, Getty Images


AC/DC Carry On



Shaking off five years away, a key retirement and a shocking arrest, AC/DC made a triumphant return to the stage at the Coachella Festival. Their 20-song set was the first-ever without co-founding guitarist Malcolm Young, who had been forced into retirement because of dementia. Young’s nephew Stevie filled in, and drummer Phil Rudd pleaded guilty to threatening to kill and drug charges.

AC/DC Coachella 2015
Kevin Winter, Getty Images


Rush Kick Off Their Last Major Tour



Rush began the R40 Live tour, which they said will be their last full-scale trek. The opening date in Tulsa found the band performing a set that traveled in reverse chronological order, with a stage design that changed to correspond with each era. Later in 2015, Rush commemorated the tour with R40 Live, a CD/DVD compilation of the two shows performed at Toronto’s Air Canada Centre.



The Grateful Dead Hold Celebrated Reunion



The Grateful Dead‘s “core four” reunited for a series of final shows called Fare Thee Well, held 20 years after the death of frontman Jerry Garcia. Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzmann, Phil Lesh and Bob Weir were joined by Bruce Hornsby (one million listeners), Jeff Chimenti and Phish‘s (835,000 listeners) Trey Anastasio for concerts on June 27-28 in Santa Clara, Calif. They returned on the July 4th weekend for another set of performances in Chicago.

Jay Blakesberg
Jay Blakesberg


Rush Fan Wins ‘Jeopardy!’ Twice



One of Rush’s biggest fans was a contestant on Jeopardy!, and she wasn’t afraid to show it. Jennifer Morrow brought a pair of Neil Peart’s drumsticks as a good-luck charm and even bet $2,112 – a reference to the band’s classic 1976 album – when she hit the Daily Double. It seemed to pay off, too, as the New Yorker held court for two nights, earning a total of $37,000 in the process.

Jeopardy Rush Fan


Slash and Axl Rose Call a Truce



Slash (two million listeners) revealed that he and former Guns N’ Roses bandmate Axl Rose had finally become friends again. The rumor mill concerning their first onstage reunion since 1993 began to immediately whir at top speed, helped along by the fact that both of Guns N’ Roses’ current guitarists had recently exited the band.

Slash Axl Rose
Jesse Grant / Ethan Miller, Getty Images


Ritchie Blackmore Confirms Return to Rock



Ritchie Blackmore confirmed that he will end a decades-long retirement from rock music with a short series of 2016 concerts focusing on his time with Rainbow (two million listeners) and Deep Purple (six million listeners). Former collaborator Joe Lynn Turner had already suggested he could be involved, while David Coverdale also previously approached Blackmore about working together again. But neither singer was included in the band that was eventually announced.



Book Brings Alice Cooper Band Back



A Dallas booksigning for former Alice Cooper bassist Dennis Dunaway turned into a full-fledged reunion of the band’s surviving members, complete with an eight-song set of classic songs. Cooper, Dunaway, Michael Bruce and Neal Smith hadn’t played together since 2011. At the end of the year, Cooper was back on the road supporting Motley Crue on their final tour dates.

Mark Bowman Images
Mark Bowman Images


Journey Get Back Together With Old Friend(s)



Journey announced a joint 2016 tour with the Doobie Brothers (five million listeners), with platinum-era drummer Steve Smith replacing Deen Castronovo, who ran into some legal trouble. Founding guitarist Neal Schon also hinted at another reunion: He and fellow Journey co-founder Gregg Rolie are both rejoining their previous band Santana (10 million listeners) next year, and a joint tour could lead to some old-school Journey collaborations onstage.

Christian Petersen / Ethan Miller, Getty Images
Christian Petersen / Ethan Miller, Getty Images


Classic Rock Dominates Hall of Fame’s New Class



After a decades-long wait, Chicago (five million listeners), Deep Purple and Steve Miller (five million listeners) will be part of the next Rock and Roll Hall of Fame class with Cheap Trick (two million listeners). Chicago won the fan vote to advance, with Deep Purple and Steve Miller also a hit with fans. Rap group N.W.A rounded out the list of honorees at the 31st annual induction ceremony, which is set for April 8, 2016, at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. Also, the Beatles finally made their entire catalog available on Spotify. Up to that point, the group had been one of the few classic-rock bands whose music was not licensed to the service.

Mike Coppola / Jeff Schear / Ethan Miller / Mike Coppola, Getty Images
Mike Coppola / Jeff Schear / Ethan Miller / Mike Coppola, Getty Images

Next: A Look Forward to 2016’s New Music

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