April’s Biggest Classic Rock Stories: 2017 in Review
April is usually a celebratory month for classic rock, with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony serving as a victory lap for some of our favorite musicians. But our joy was short-lived, as former members of one of the inductees staked out a claim to the band's name. In addition, a feud between sisters threatened the future of another group, we said goodbye to a great bandleader and another tour -- intended to recognize a milestone year -- turned out to be the last stand for a true legend. Read about those stories and more below.
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Welcomes the Class of 2017
Journey, Yes, Electric Light Orchestra, Pearl Jam and Joan Baez were enshrined in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in April. Although Steve Perry didn't sing, he did join his former bandmates onstage. The surviving members of Yes' classic lineup, with Geddy Lee filling in for the late Chris Squire, performed for the first time in more than 10 years. ELO paid tribute to the recently departed Chuck Berry, Baez gave a self-deprecating speech and Pearl Jam thanked the many bands that influenced them who have yet to be inducted.
Former Yes Members Go Rogue
Only days after they were inducted, Anderson Rabin Wakeman, which formed a year earlier as ARW, announced that they were now to be called Yes Featuring Jon Anderson, Trevor Rabin, Rick Wakeman along with North American tour dates. Anderson cited his right, as a founding member, to use the group's name. Yes acknowledged that they legally couldn't stop Anderson, and that they hoped those in the concert industry would do their best to "minimize confusion" between the two entities.
Wilson Sisters Feuding
In April, we learned that the future of Heart is in jeopardy as a result of an incident where Dean Wetter, Ann Wilson's husband, was arrested for assaulting her sister Nancy's teenage children during an August 2016 tour stop in Auburn, Wash. For the remaining 20 dates on the tour, the sisters used separate dressing rooms for the first time in their history. Wetter eventually pleaded guilty to two counts of fourth-degree assault. Ann later said that the two were "working on our own relationship" but admitted, "It’s never going to be like it was before."
John Geils Dies
John Geils, the guitarist and namesake of the J. Geils Band, was found dead in his Groton, Mass., home on April 11. He was 71. From 1968 until their 1983 split, they placed 10 songs in the Top 40, reaching the top with 1981's "Centerfold," and had a reputation for having an energetic live show, as captured on the albums "Live" Full House and Blow Your Face Out. After their breakup, he founded a company that restored vintage European sports cars. The J. Geils Band reunited as a touring entity in 1999, although by 2012, Geils was out of the band, with the others, ironically, using his name.
Ted Nugent Visits the White House
Ted Nugent and Kid Rock were dinner guests of President Donald Trump at the White House. Nugent, who had been an early supporter of Trump's, later said that they dined on lobster salad and lamb chops and he was moved "by the genuine sincerity, down-to-earth, and most importantly, believeable concern and openness, uninhibitedness, family attitude and spirit" of the president. However, he admitted that he did not bring a gun into the White House. His political polar opposite, David Crosby, saw the photo of Nugent and Trump and called it "the two most insincere smiles in history" and that they were a "pair of a--holes." Nugent responding by calling Crosby "kind of a lost soul... he's done so much substance abuse throughout his life that his logic meter is gone. ... I feel quite sad for the guy."
Tom Petty Begins Final Tour
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers began their 40th anniversary tour in Oklahoma City with a 21-song set. Perhaps as a nod to his legacy, he opened with "Rockin' Around (With You)," a track from their debut album that they reportedly hadn't played in more than 30 years. The tour, which featured Joe Walsh as an opening act and included a stop at Mountain Jam, continued through the end of September. Petty had been thinking that it may be the last major tour for he and the band, but it sadly proved to be more than that. On Oct. 3, a week after the final date of the tour, Petty died of cardiac arrest in his home.