July 2015: Classic Rock Month in Review
Our July 2015 Classic Rock Month in Review begins with AC/DC drummer Phil Rudd learning his fate after he pleaded guilty to charges of drug possession and threatening to kill someone. Two current members of Guns N’ Roses quit the band, prompting the latest round of rumors about whether or not the original lineup will reunite, while a Rush fan made a big splash on television. Dee Snider became the third man in the ring in the never-ending feud between Sammy Hagar and Van Halen, who themselves were busy launching their summer tour. And even though we said goodbye to a handful of rockers, we welcomed new releases and reissues by such names as Led Zeppelin, Warren Haynes and Joe Satriani.
AC/DC drummer Phil Rudd was sentenced to eight months of home detention stemming from his 2014 arrest. But even though he was confined to his house, he was still unable to stay out of trouble. Nine days later he was back in jail for violating the terms of his sentence when alcohol was discovered inside his house. The judge forced Rudd to submit to on-demand drug testing. Upon returning home, Rudd had a NSFW altercation with the media.
The Guns N’ Roses reunion rumors that dominated headlines in the second half of 2015 began with the departures of guitarists DJ Ashba and Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal. Ashba left as a result of his desire to spend more time with Sixx:AM, who plan to release two albums in 2016 and spend the next two years on the road. Bumblefoot was a bit more cryptic, reportedly leaving after a South American tour in 2014 but not making any public statements about it. All he said was, “I think there’s enough clues out there for you to figure out what I’m up to now.”
In an interview with Ultimate Classic Rock, Dee Snider declared himself to be on the side of Sammy Hagar in his feud with Van Halen. Saying that Eddie Van Halen is “out of his mind,” he took exception to the guitarist’s berating of former bass player Michael Anthony. “Bravo to Sammy for speaking out on Michael’s behalf and not allowing that kind of trash-talk bulls—,” he added, “because clearly it’s bulls—, to just lay out there for people to accept. Because Eddie Van Halen said it, like, it’s [gospel]? Like, somehow, Eddie knows?”
For all the controversy, Van Halen’s summer tour began without a hitch in Seattle, starting with the first performance of “Light Up the Sky” in 35 years. David Lee Roth’s ad libs were typically irreverent, making a joke about Bill Cosby one night and putting down a guy who threw beer onstage another. We even caught their show at Oho's Blossom Music Center.
Jennifer Morrow, a Rush fan from New York, was a contestant on Jeopardy!, where she proudly displayed her fandom. She brought a pair of Neil Peart’s drumsticks as a good-luck charm and bet $2,112 when she hit the Daily Double. They served her well: She won two nights, earning a total of $37,000 in the process.
Everett “Vic” Firth -- who founded the self-named company that makes drumsticks for such luminaries as Charlie Watts, session ace Steve Gadd, Roger Taylor and Abe Laboriel, Jr. (who's played with Paul McCartney) -- died at his Boston home on July 26 at the age of 85. A conservatory-trained percussionist, Firth had spent more than a decade with the Boston Symphony Orchestra before forming his own company in 1963 because he was unhappy with the quality of the drumsticks that were available to him. He continued to serve as the principal timpanist of the BSO until his retirement in 2002.
The last three titles in Led Zeppelin’s reissue program — Presence, In Through the Out Door and Coda — were released, each with a bonus disc (Coda doubled up with two additional discs) and a hardcover book with photos and essays. Warren Haynes resumed his solo career after the retirement of the Allman Brothers Band with Ashes and Dust, Joe Satriani gave us Shockwave Supernova and Kiss appeared as cartoon characters in Scooby-Doo! and Kiss: Rock and Roll Mystery.