2015’s Coolest Rock Stories
As 2015 comes to a close, your friends at Ultimate Classic Rock are taking a look back at the year that was — specifically, some of the best, worst and weirdest stories we’ve covered over the last 12 months. We all read plenty of disheartening headlines every year, so it's always a welcome surprise when we're able to report on feel-good developments from the world of classic rock, and this year didn't disappoint: From Paul Stanley visiting a little girl's hospital bedside to Meat Loaf reminding us who's man's best friend, lots of cool stuff has happened since Jan. 1, and we’ve compiled 10 of the more unforgettable entries below. Ready to feel good about the world for a few minutes? Read on …
Foreigner singer Kelly Hansen took time out from the band's always-busy touring schedule to engage in a rock-themed episode of the Food Network series Chopped, emerging victorious against a group of competitors that included Lita Ford and Twisted Sister's Eddie Ojeda. "It was even more scary than stepping onstage in front of 20,000 people, for sure," he told Ultimate Classic Rock.
Lemmy Kilmister says he's indestructible, but we think Iron Maiden's Bruce Dickinson might be truly immortal: In a year that also saw him whooping cancer's ass, Dickinson also cheated death by diverting course and making an emergency landing after realizing his plane was perilously low on fuel.
Long before they achieved mainstream acceptance, Rush were a fan's band. As evidenced by the story of Jeopardy! contestant Jennifer Morrow, who showed up with a pair of drumsticks given to her as a good-luck charm by Neil Peart — and who proceeded to win her first appearance with a $2,112 Daily Double bet — that's very much still the case. Those drumsticks didn't come out again during Morrow's second appearance, but they still did the trick, as she won again.
It's become something of a national pastime to goof on Kiss for their seemingly endless array of officially licensed products and endorsement deals, but the guys in the band aren't all about cold, hard cash. Just look at Paul Stanley, whose personal history with the condition known as unilateral microtia has led him to do all sorts of charity work on behalf of young patients — including 4-year-old Arabella Carter, whose surgery prompted a bedside visit from Stanley.
What's more rock 'n' roll than rocking so hard that you break your freaking leg during a show? Let's ask Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl, whose inopportune moment of klutziness forced the temporary hiatus of the Foos' latest tour — but also gave Grohl an excuse to continue the rest of the band's dates from an amazing custom-built throne whose design he conceived while hopped up on painkillers.
The best rockers just want to play, no matter where the stage is — and Red Rocker Sammy Hagar proved he's part of that elite club when his scheduled gig at the Moondance Jam in Walker, Minn., was rained out. Instead of cooling his heels at the hotel, Hagar packed up his band and played at a bar. "We noticed these lights coming out of a building at the back of the festival grounds and [said], ‘What’s that?’" recalled Hagar. "Promoter explained it was their biggest bar on the property, and we say, ‘Let’s go, I want to play for those people.’"
There's nothing quite as sweet as the bond between a dad and his daughter, and a couple of this year's sweetest classic rock stories prove it. First off, we give you Metallica's James Hetfield, who took a temporary respite from rocking to join his daughter Cali for a rendition of Adele's "Crazy for You" — and our hearts also melted when we read about Neil Peart's 5-year-old daughter Olivia attending her first Rush concert during what looks like it might have been the band's final tour.
Once you've worn a duck suit onstage, you can play off pretty much anything and seem pretty cool. Case in point: Elton John, who was pranked into believing he'd been phoned by Russian president Vladimir Putin and simply used what might have been an embarrassing incident as a brilliant forum for shedding further light on the problems facing the Russian LGBT community under Putin's regime.
Rock fans often complain when their favorite artists pursue political causes, but there's a school of thought that argues celebrity comes with a certain level of public responsibility — and that's a position evidently shared by Black Sabbath's Tony Iommi as well as Guns N' Roses frontman Axl Rose, both of whom joined the public outcry against the death penalty levied against a pair prisoners held by the Indonesian government on drug-related charges. But their efforts were unsuccessful, leading Rose to blast Indonesian president Joko Widodo for his "cowardice."
Who can resist a puppy? Certainly not Meat Loaf, who was part of the effort to rescue a disadvantaged canine his crew discovered abandoned in a dumpster behind the rehearsal hall they were using for a show in New Mexico. After getting her to a vet and letting her tag along on the road for a few days while she got acclimated to her new surroundings, Meat bade the pup — named Karma — farewell as she went to her new "forever home" with a lucky crew member.