September 2015: Classic Rock Month in Review
Our September 2015 Classic Rock Month in Review saw a pair of feuds (Elton John vs. Vladimir Putin, Dee Snider vs. Kiss), a pair of frontmen (Lemmy and Roger Daltrey) having to postpone concerts with their respective groups due to poor health, and a pair of heavy metal progenitors (Black Sabbath and Ritchie Blackmore) announce that they would be returning to the road in 2016. Also, several of our favorite rockers put out albums of new material after long delays. Sadly, we also lost some great musicians, including Gary Richrath of REO Speedwagon.
In an interview decrying Russia's law that bans "homosexual propaganda," Elton John said that he would like to speak to Vladimir Putin face-to-face to discuss gay rights. A couple of days later, John claimed that he had received a call from the Russian welcoming the opportunity, but it was soon revealed to be a prank. John said that, although homophobia is no laughing matter, he didn't mind being the victim because it kept the issue in the spotlight. A week later, the real Putin called, offering an invitation to come to Russia at a time convenient for both of them.
After canceling two shows in August due to high altitude affecting Lemmy's breathing, Motorhead attempted to resume their North American tour in Austin. But from the opening number, it was obvious Lemmy had not fully recovered, and the concert was scrapped after two songs. They then decided to shelve the next three dates – San Antonio, Dallas and Houston – before having a triumphant return in St. Louis a week later.
The Who had planned to spend much of 2015 on the road celebrating their 50th anniversary. But while the spring leg went off without a hitch (except for one pot-smoking fan), the entire fall leg – which had been scheduled to kick off September 14 – was postponed due to Roger Daltrey being diagnosed with viral meningitis. By the end of the month, however, they revealed the rescheduled dates, which will begin in February 2016.
Six months after Dee Snider called out Kiss for having Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer inhabit the characters created by Ace Frehley and Peter Criss, Paul Stanley fired back. He called Snider a "wannabe" who "desperately wants attention and to be taken seriously" and referred to Twisted Sister as "a bunch of buffoons." Snider immediately rose to the occasion, challenging Stanley to a sing-off, "[A]ny time, any stage," he wrote. "But let’s do this old school – no costumes, no pyro, no bulls–. Let’s just get up there and rock. I will bury you, son." A month later, Snider took aim again: “Paul, I love your band," he said. "I love your music. Why do you have to be such a d–?”
After spending nearly 20 years playing Renaissance folk music, Ritchie Blackmore announced that he would play a handful of rock concerts in Europe in 2016. By October, he had confirmed one of those dates was for the Monsters of Rock festival in Bietigheim-Bissingen, Germany in June. His band will consist of Ronnie Romero (vocals), Jens Johansson (keyboards), Bob Nouveau (bass) and David Keith (drums).
Following much teasing, Black Sabbath finally revealed the dates for The End, their final tour, which will begin in January 2016. More dates, including Europe and a second North American leg, were announced in October. But contrary to their originally stated plan, there will be no new album. Tony Iommi said that Geezer Butler was against the idea of going back into the studio.
Guitarist Gary Richrath, who was in REO Speedwagon from 1970-89, died on September 13 at the age of 65. In addition to playing guitar for the band, he also wrote several of their most beloved songs, including "Ridin' the Storm Out," "Only the Strong Survive" and "Take It on the Run."
September gave us long-awaited new music from Iron Maiden (The Book of Souls), Don Henley (Cass County), David Gilmour (Rattle That Lock), Alice Cooper (Hollywood Vampires) and Keith Richards (Crosseyed Heart). David Bowie began what's expected to be another reissue campaign with the 12-CD Five Years 1969-1973 boxed set, and the Grateful Dead put out a career-spanning live compilation that was housed on an astonishing 80 CDs.