March 2015: Classic Rock Month in Review
Even though March is the month when winter starts to turn into spring, there's still quite a bit of chill in the air in our March 2015 Classic Rock Month in Review. While we were thrilled by the idea of another Van Halen tour, some of the other big stories that month were pretty dark, including the vandalization of Dimebag Darrell's grave, Bruce Dickinson's cancer diagnosis and Dee Snider taking shots at Kiss (albeit with his usual sense of humor). March also brought us the death of Toto's Mike Porcaro and others. Thankfully, there was some great new music releases to get us through the month.
Van Halen proved that their 2012 reunion with David Lee Roth wasn't a one-off when they announced a three-month tour running from July to October. A week later, they promoted it with appearances on Jimmy Kimmel Live (where Roth bashed his nose on the microphone) and The Ellen DeGeneres Show. At the end of the month, they released Tokyo Dome Live in Concert, a document of their June 21, 2013, show in Japan, and their first live album released with Roth at the helm.
The Arlington, Texas, grave site of Pantera guitarist "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott was vandalized in March, and the person who did it, a metal singer named Reece Eber, stupidly posted a picture on Tumblr claiming that he "spit on his grave, stole a pair of cowboy boots and ... wrote 'f---' on his grave." When Pantera fans heard about this, they understandably reacted with considerable anger. The next day, Eber issued an apology in which he admitted that he "ignorantly acted like a fool and pulled the dumbest possible delinquent act of my life."
The metal world was worried when Iron Maiden singer Bruce Dickinson revealed that he had been diagnosed with tongue cancer (which he inferred was contracted through oral sex). By the end of March, he had completed a round of chemotherapy, and six weeks later was declared "cancer-free." In subsequent interviews, Dickinson discussed his health with a bemused sense of humor. His treatment and recovery delayed the release of Maiden's The Book of Souls until September. Up next: a world tour starting in February 2016.
Dee Snider entered the ongoing debate on whether Kiss members Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer should be performing in the makeup and characters created by Ace Frehley and Peter Criss. "I don’t see how people could accept this,” Snider said. “Tommy Thayer? I’m sorry. It’s insulting. Not only did he play with a tribute band of Kiss, he’s imitating Ace in his entire act!” A few days later, Snider elaborated on his House of Hair radio show by saying, "We’ve never played a Kiss record with any of the guys after Bruce Kulick. Why? Because we’re a hits show [...] These are the defining records, these are the defining musicians, this is the music of these people’s lives, and that’s what my show gives to them.”
Mike Porcaro, who played bass in Toto from 1982 until 2007, died on March 15 at the age of 59 after an eight-year bout with ALS (commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease). The band had reunited in 2010 to help Porcaro with his medical bills and was only nine days away from the release of Toto XIV. Porcaro's older brother Jeff was Toto's drummer from their inception in 1977 until his death in 1992. His younger brother Steve remains their keyboardist.
Other People We Lost in March 2015: Dave "Hobbsy" Hilsden, Albert Maysles, George Tutko, Brian Carman, Jimmy Greenspoon, Daevid Allen, Thom Wilson, Bruce Crump, Andy Fraser, Michael Brown, AJ Pero, Chris Hardman, Jeremy Brown and Preston Ritter.
March was a big month for reissues, with Judas Priest, Jimmy Page and Roger Taylor offering expanded editions of some classic albums, while the Who, Foghat and the J. Geils Band put out some of their best-loved work on vinyl. We also got new music from such names as Ringo Starr, Mark Knopfler, Europe and Boz Scaggs.