June 2015: Classic Rock Month in Review
Our June 2015 Classic Rock Month in Review sees us saying hello again to the Grateful Dead, who stuck around just long enough to say goodbye. Early in the month, Dave Grohl did one of the coolest things we've ever seen a rock star do, but drummer Deen Castronovo's legal troubles wound up getting him fired from Journey. Sammy Hagar and Eddie Van Halen had one of their most vicious public battles, with Michael Anthony getting caught in the crossfire. And Chris Squire, the bassist for Yes since their inception, sadly passed away. Plus, one of the Rolling Stones' greatest albums got the boxed-set treatment, and Neil Young's new record made a powerful political statement.
On June 27, only a month after he announced that he would be sitting out Yes' summer tour to receive treatment for leukemia, Chris Squire, the only constant member of the band throughout its long history, died at the age of 67. The group vowed it would continue with Billy Sherwood, who joined he band in the '90s, playing bass. Their first concert without Squire opened with a spotlight on his instrument in the place onstage usually stood.
Twenty years after the death of leader Jerry Garcia, the "core four" of the Grateful Dead -- Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann -- returned for a series of Fare Thee Well shows. Adding Bruce Hornsby, Jeff Chimenti and Phish's Trey Anastasio to the lineup, they played two stadium dates in Santa Clara, Calif., on June 27 and 28 before moving on to play three more nights at Chicago's Soldier Field over the July 4th weekend. A month later, Weir, Hart and Kreutzmann grabbed John Mayer for a fall tour, billing themselves as Dead and Company.
It seemed that barely a month went by without Sammy Hagar and the members of Van Halen slagging each other in the press. June's round began when Eddie Van Halen took a shot at Michael Anthony's musicianship and singing. Hagar defended his friend, saying that it was wrong to go after Anthony, "the most loyal guy in the band. He was the first guy there at rehearsal, the last guy to leave, the first guy at the gig. ... F--- you, Eddie Van Halen for saying that about Mikey. You’re a liar." Van Halen then went after Hagar, accusing him of exaggerating the parts in his memoir that dealt with Van Halen's alcohol addiction.
Foo Fighters received a scare on June 12 when frontman Dave Grohl fell off the stage and broke his leg after only two songs into their concert in Gothenburg, Sweden. Remarkably, after getting his leg set, he came back and finished the concert. But the group did have to cancel the rest of its European tour, but resurfaced for a July 4 all-day 20th anniversary festival concert at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C., with Grohl sitting on a throne that he designed while admittedly whacked out on painkillers.
On the eve of Journey's summer tour, drummer Deen Castronovo was arrested on charges that he had physically and sexually assaulted his former fiancee. He was replaced by veteran jazz drummer Omar Hakim, who's played with Sting, David Bowie and Dire Straits. Two weeks later, Castronovo was arrested again for attempting to contact the woman, despite a court order barring him from doing so. Castronovo pleaded guilty and was sentenced to four years probation and ordered to undergo drug and domestic violence counseling. In November, Castronovo issued a public apology to his fiancee, Journey and his fans, and confirmed to Ultimate Classic Rock that he had been fired by the band after 17 years. Journey then brought back Steve Smith, who played with them from 1978-85 and then again from 1995-98, for what he says will be a two-year run, beginning in 2016 on a summer tour with the Doobie Brothers.
As the drummer in the Grease Band, Bruce Rowland was onstage at Woodstock when Joe Cocker gave his career-defining performance. After leaving in 1970, he worked with Ronnie Lane briefly, and then spent the rest of the decade with Fairport Convention before giving up the music business entirely. Rowland died on June 29 of cancer at the age of 74.
Sticky Fingers, the classic 1971 Rolling Stones album, was expanded and remastered as a box set in June. Among the bonus goodies was an unreleased version of "Brown Sugar" with Eric Clapton and a CD of a 1971 concert from Leeds. Meanwhile, the band's former bassist, Bill Wyman, gave us Back to Basics, his first album in a decade. We also saw collections of new material from Neil Young (The Monsanto Years), James Taylor (Before This World), Neal Schon (Vortex) and Delta Deep, a blues-based side project from Def Leppard's Phil Collen.