November 2020 Recap: Wolfgang Debuts and Rock Hall Copes With COVID
After five years of waiting, rock fans finally heard music from Wolfgang Van Halen in November 2020.
Wolfgang wrote his song "Distance" while watching his father Eddie deal with the longterm health issues that took his life. It couldn't have been easy for the 29-year-old multi-instrumentalist to launch his solo career during such an emotional time, but Wolfgang handled the attention exceptionally well, establishing himself as an artist while opening up about life with his famous dad.
In other news, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame held its induction ceremony online, after being forced to cancel the in-person event due to COVID-19 restrictions. Musicians shared their thoughts on the outcome of the presidential election; the Foo Fighters announced a new album; and Bruce Springsteen joined forces with Jon Bon Jovi for a campaign to promote mask-wearing in New Jersey.
You can read more about the biggest stories of November 2020 below.
Wolfgang Van Halen Releases Tribute Song to His Father
Released less than six weeks after Eddie Van Halen's death, Wolfgang Van Halen released "Distance," a tribute to his father. Wolfgang admitted that he hadn't originally planned to release it as his debut single, but the tragedy prompted a change. For the full-length project, expected in 2021, he chose the name Mammoth WVH — a nod to Eddie's pre-Van Halen trio, a decision which left Eddie "really stoked." In interviews, Wolfgang spoke about the challenges Eddie faced as his health declined, recalled how Eddie tried to teach him music and said that there are no plans yet to go through the vast collection of unreleased music Eddie left behind. On social media, he repeatedly called out those who were looking to exploit his father's death for their own gain. Wolfgang hopes to debut his band at the 2021 Aftershock Festival.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inducts Class of 2020
With all large in-person gatherings canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, six months after the originally scheduled date, held its annual induction ceremony via an online event. Country star Luke Bryan poked fun at the Doobie Brothers' somewhat-dated name, and guitarist-singer Patrick Simmons thanked the fans "who got us here and stuck with us for over 50 years." Nine Inch Nails were inducted by Iggy Pop, who called their sound "a focused and relentless process of emotional destruction." In his speech, Trent Reznor said that "the most significant accomplishment or feeling is realizing something you’ve created from a fragile and intimate place has reached out, resonated and affected someone else, possibly changing how they see the world." Actress Charlize Theron praised Depeche Mode for the way they "celebrate the outsider," while frontman Dave Gahan considered it an honor to be enshrined along with those that influenced them, including David Bowie and the Clash. Ringo Starr remembered Marc Bolan of T-Rex as a glam rock innovator and a poet. Managers Irving Azoff and Jon Landau were inducted as recipients of the Ahmet Ertegun Award — given to industry professionals — with speeches given by their most famous clients, the Eagles and Bruce Springsteen, respectively. Finally, a trio of guitarists — Slash, Kirk Hammett and Tom Morello — remembered Eddie Van Halen as an influence.
Rockers React to Joe Biden's Election Victory
On Nov. 7, four days after Election Day in the U.S., Joe Biden was projected as the winner, beating incumbent president Donald Trump. That day, musicians expressed their thoughts on social media. Most were happy that Biden had won, although Ted Nugent said that "the devils are about to take control of America," and Eric Carmen criticized Fox News for declaring Biden the victor, saying that "our once trusted media is no longer to be trusted." Paul Stanley of Kiss requested for respect for all viewpoints, and Journey's Neal Schon called for unity.
Foo Fighters Announce 'Medicine at Midnight' Album
After a month of teasing that some kind of news was imminent, Foo Fighters went on Saturday Night Live and performed a new song, "Shame Shame." They then announced the Feb. 5, 2021 release of their 10th album, Medicine at Midnight. A week later, they streamed a benefit concert from the Roxy in Los Angeles, with some of the proceeds going to benefit musicians and music-industry workers who have lost work due to the pandemic. Frontman Dave Grohl later revealed that the record was completed before the lockdown, with sessions taking place in the studio in his new house (and vocals tracked in the bathroom).
Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi Urge Mask Wearing
With a surge in coronavirus cases in the latter months of 2020, Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi teamed up with fellow New Jersey native Jon Stewart for a billboard on behalf of the New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund. The message was in keeping with their state's linguistic tradition: "Wear a friggin' mask." Earlier in the year, the three men appeared on a televised benefit to raise money for the fund.