20 Burning Classic Rock Questions for 2018
If 2018 is anything like the past few years, the next 12 months will be filled with big headlines, exciting tours and new music from many of your favorite classic rock artists.
There are some things we already know -- like the fact that Iron Maiden will embark on an '80s-themed tour -- or can reasonably predict -- like, Kiss will unveil a ludicrous amount of new merchandise. It would be foolish to try and guess exactly what else will happen, but here are 20 burning questions we hope get answered this year.
What (If Anything) Will Guns N' Roses' Next Move Be?
In a recent appearance on Nikki Sixx's Sixx Sense radio show, Slash revealed that he "just went straight back to work" following the final 2017 show of Guns N' Roses' highly successful ... Not in This Lifetime tour. He gave absolutely no indication he was working with any of his bandmates; to the contrary, he explained that keeping busy is how he maintains his sanity. But nearly two years into this reunion, many fans are understandably curious and excited about what could possibly come next from the group. There are six open months until Guns N' Roses are scheduled to return to the road. Could they use that time to work on a new studio album? A single tied to a summer movie soundtrack. like "You Could Be Mine"? A concert film spotlighting the band's marathon sets?
Will Two-Thirds of Rush Return?
When Rush took their final bow on Aug. 1, 2015, it appeared almost certain that they were indeed a final bow: Drummer Neil Peart was determined to retire, while singer and bassist Geddy Lee and guitarist Alex Lifeson, both of whom wanted to continue working, knew there could be no Rush without their crucial third member. In August 2017, a little more than two years after their final show, the delicious rumor of a band called LeeLifeson began circulating. Radio host Eddie Trunk suggested that the pair was preparing to release music under the new name, adding substance to their frequent comments that they still enjoyed working together and hoped to find a way to keep doing so. The rumor was dashed days later when band spokeswoman Meg Symsyk branded Trunk’s words “purely speculative.” “What I can tell you is that when and if Alex and Geddy decide to work together, that announcement will come from them, not a third party,” she said. There have been no updates since then, but fans won’t forget that, speaking in September 2016, Lifeson said, “I'm sure we'll do something in the future. We can't just stop playing and writing music together.”
Will Van Halen Wake Up From Their Latest Hibernation?
It’s been almost three years since Van Halen’s last concert. If they stick to the pattern they’ve followed for the past two decades -- with tours in 2004, 2007, 2012 and 2015 -- we could theoretically be in for a return this summer. This year marks the 40th anniversary of their debut album, if they're in need of a theme for this outing. Back in 2015, Eddie Van Halen predicted that the group would “probably hunker down and do a studio record,” but so far the only evidence of such activity comes from his son, bassist Wolfgang Van Halen, who’s been posting clips from the recording of his first-ever solo album. No release date has been announced for that project, and there’s no way to know if those plans would increase or decrease the likelihood of a Van Halen album or tour.
Will AC/DC Reveal Their Future Plans?
It's been more than a year since the last show of AC/DC's beleaguered Rock or Bust tour. For various reasons that have been well documented, Angus Young currently stands as the only remaining member of the band's 1994-2014 lineup. Will he decide to call it a day? If not, who will sing? Axl Rose? Brian Johnson? Who will replace retired bassist Cliff Williams? Will the concert film that was reportedly filmed (with Johnson on vocals) at the tour's Chicago stop ever be released? Did they film any of the shows where Rose filled in? If recent history can be trusted, the most likely outcome is that we won't get the answers to most of these questions this year at all. AC/DC have released only six albums in the past three decades, and only three in the past 23 years.
Will Yes Remain Divided?
Yes fans have become accustomed to splitting their loyalties as members of the iconic prog outfit have taken turns disconnecting and reconnecting over the years. Since last year, there have been two bands using the name – the “original” group with a nearly unbroken connection to the 1968 original, including guitarist Steve Howe and drummer Alan White -- and the “alternative” group called Yes Featuring Jon Anderson, Trevor Rabin & Rick Wakeman, which started out in 2016 under the name ARW. Unlike previous years, when there's been more than one lineup in action, large-scale conflict seems to have been avoided so far. Anderson simply pointed out that, as a co-founding and leading former member of the band, he felt entitled to use the label Yes Featuring … , while Howe said last year that he welcomed his former colleagues back, adding, “We’re delighted, really, that there’s more Yes music being out there getting played.” While the feuding parties played nice at the band's Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction last year, with both sides of the Yes divide behaving responsibly while being stars of the show, it looks like one stage will not be big enough to hold the artistry and attitude of all the members. As Howe said of a potential long-term reunion just before the ceremony, “As far as I understand, ARW aren’t really interested, and we’re most probably not either.”
Will Jimmy Page Re-Emerge?
It’s now been four years since Jimmy Page stated it was “definitely time [to ] be seen to be playing.” He also said in 2014 that he had an album of new material that was a “summing up of where I am,” and, nodding toward his Led Zeppelin past, would also carry different themes and influences. If Page does hit the stage in 2018, that would make it 10 years since his last high-profile appearance, when he performed “Whole Lotta Love” with Leona Lewis at the Beijing Olympics' closing ceremony. He’s undertaken dozens of short guest appearances over the years, but his last full-scale shows -- other than the 2007 Led Zeppelin reunion -- were his two nights with the Black Crowes in 1999, while his last solo outings took place 30 years ago.
What's Left in Led Zeppelin's Vaults?
The surviving members of Led Zeppelin recently announced plans to collaborate on a book celebrating the group's 50th anniversary in 2018. Jimmy Page hinted at even bigger treasures, including previously unreleased Led Zeppelin tracks. “There’ll be Led Zeppelin product coming out, for sure, that people haven’t heard, because I’m working on that," he noted. "Next year will be the 50th year, so there’s all manner of surprises coming out.” The question is, what could be left, just two years after a massive full-catalog reissue campaign that saw additional discs of material tacked onto each of the group's albums? Could we finally get an official release, for instance, of the long-coveted Physical Graffiti outtake "Swan Song?"
Will Bruce Springsteen Stay on Broadway Forever?
It’s not often that Bruce Springsteen fans can say with much certainty where he’ll be next and what exactly he’ll be doing. But in 2018, it’s easier than it’s ever been. Until June at least, he’ll be in New York’s Walter Kerr Theatre, performing his Springsteen on Broadway show. Demand has been so high that he's extended the run twice already. The acclaimed two-hour performance finds Springsteen summing up his life and career through songs from across his catalog, while playing to just 980 people each night, easily the smallest crowd he’s faced in decades. Since the show opened last October, fans have clamored for his take on the world around him in his own words and based in part on his 2016 autobiography, Born to Run. In the past, Springsteen has been known to tell the E Street Band that he won’t need their services for many months, only to call them back weeks later to tell them to get ready for a tour. So it’s difficult to say if, come June, he’ll want to hit the road for a full-power show, finally release and tour behind his long-discussed "Southern California pop" solo album or do what many fans hope for: take the Broadway show on the road. In the meantime, a home-video version of the intimate performance isn't too much to ask for, is it?
Will Heart Settle Their Differences?
The success of sibling collaborations is often only equaled by the ferocity of sibling fall-outs. Heart sisters Ann Wilson and Nancy Wilson learned that the hard way when a violent incident on a tour bus set Ann and husband Dean Wetter against Nancy and the rest of the band. During the last Heart tour, the sisters used separate dressing rooms for the first time since they’d started working together in the ‘60s. After the last show, Ann went solo and Nancy formed Roadcase Royale, a band that includes the three other members of Heart. The pair had already reportedly been in disagreement over the group's future, and even though nothing appears to have changed since April 2017 -- with the only communication between them reportedly via text messages -- Ann said that the differences would be settled in due course. “Nobody in this situation is evil,” she said. “Nancy and I love each other. We want to be friends. My side really hurt her side, her side really hurt my side. We’ve got to let those heal and get some counseling.”
Will Phil Collins' 'Not Dead Yet' Tour Visit the United States?
Collins ended his six-year retirement from the music business with two dozen Not Dead Yet shows in Europe last year. He has an 11-date tour of South America lined up for early 2018. Could a summer North American trek be in the cards? We sure hope so.
Will Politics Make Journey Go Their Separate Ways?
The coming year is guaranteed to drip with political intrigue, but Journey are still stuck in the mess of their most recent fallout, which centered around a visit to Donald Trump’s White House. Guitarist and co-founder Neal Schon objected when three of his colleagues appeared to show support for Trump, while he preferred the band he helped found to remain politically neutral. That followed a public dispute between Schon and keyboardist Jonathan Cain, after the pair disagreed over the quality and direction of their most recent album. Schon, who insisted the band name was “not going anywhere” without him, said, “I want to be elevated by whom I play with, not feel like I’ve got cement shoes. If anyone is unhappy they are not running my band, then they should leave.” The current situation remains unknown, and the band has no tour dates scheduled (though Schon will play a solo benefit show with former bandmate Gregg Rolie in February). After the disagreements, Schon spent some time on Twitter praising former singer Steve Perry: “A lot of time has passed and now looking at all," he wrote. "I realize now how much love and respect we’ve always had and shared with one another.”
Are We Getting a New Rolling Stones Album?
The Rolling Stones have become notoriously slow-rolling in recent years, so anticipation was high when they confirmed they were working on a new studio album in 2016. It didn’t quite go as planned, though. When the band gathered in their studio, they found themselves warming up with a stack of classic covers, and enjoyed the experience so much they turned the three-day session into the Blue & Lonesome album that year. Last year, Keith Richards admitted the move had “caught us a little by surprise” but that they’d kept working on new material, which, if released, will mark the Stones' first all-new title since 2005’s A Bigger Bang. On the other hand, he also said there was a temptation to follow the Blue & Lonesome format for a second volume. In the meantime, the plan was to continue “cutting some new stuff and considering where to take it next.”
Which Classic Rock Artists Will Release New Albums in 2018?
Last year was an unusually bountiful one for new classic rock albums, with major acts like Styx and Roger Waters returning with their first new records in decades. So what about this year? In addition to the Rolling Stones speculation above, we know that January will bring new albums from both Joe Perry and Joe Satriani, and that Ace Frehley is working on his next record. Ozzy Osbourne has been working on new music, but doesn't seem very excited about releasing it into the current industry landscape. "You don't sell records anymore," he said. "[It's] not cost effective to make a record."
How and Where Will We Get Those New Records?
With streaming services such as Spotify, Apple Music and Tidal gaining market share while physical record sales trend downward year after year, it makes sense that these companies will soon have a bigger say in how and where your favorite artists release their new music. Longtime industry mogul and current Apple Music executive Jimmy Iovine suggested that his company may start trying to secure exclusive releases from major artists, much as video streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime have been doing in recent years. “Netflix has a unique catalog," he explained at a recent Q&A session. "They have a little thing called $6 billion in original content. HBO has $3 billion, Amazon probably has $4 billion. Well, guess how much original content streaming has? Zero, fundamentally. All the catalogs are exactly the same." (He's not exactly correct: Tidal has secured exclusive releases, or at least windows of exclusivity on music, from artists just as Jay-Z, Beyonce and Prince.)
Will Any Rock Stars Retire in 2018?
Motley Crue retired in 2015, AC/DC bassist Cliff Williams did the same in 2016 and both Peter Criss and Black Sabbath called it quits in 2017. Sabbath singer Ozzy Osbourne is embarking on his (second) solo-career farewell tour this year. As the median age of the average classic rock star climbs higher and higher, it's natural to expect that more and more of them will retire from touring and recording new music. Eric Clapton has detailed several health issues, which he says could lead him to call it a day. While both artists maintain they haven't made any final decisions yet, the names chosen for the most recent tours by Aerosmith (Aero-Vederci Baby!) and Deep Purple (The Long Goodbye) offer pretty clear hints that they, too, are thinking of wrapping things up sooner rather than later.
Will the Cars' Hall of Fame Induction Lead to a New Album or Tour?
It seems pretty clear the surviving Cars will perform at their Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction in April. "We probably will," Ric Ocasek told Rolling Stone. "I don't know how, but I assume it would be expected and I'd be prepared for that." More intriguingly, while he admitted to vastly preferring the studio over the road, and admitted that the 2000 death of Benjamin Orr still hangs over the group -- "Without him, it just feels different," he's said -- Ocasek is at least open to the possibility of a new Cars album. "It's funny," he noted. "Before all this, I was planning on writing a record this year. I don't know whether I would have put it out myself or asked the Cars to come along. We all live far from each other. I don't know. Maybe so. Maybe this will be a good reason to do it again."
Will Dire Straits Reunite at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony?
It's been more than 25 years since the last Dire Straits concert. Frontman Mark Knopfler is content with his solo career, so nobody is expecting a full reunion anytime soon. But will he join his former bandmates for a one-night celebration of their induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame? "Mark is quite sort of restrained about things like this," explained bassist John Illsley. "We have spoken about [the induction], and we just said, ‘Oh, that’s nice.’ I think it would probably be important if Mark and I were there. I'll definitely be there, and I'll definitely talk Mark into coming as well. It's essentially up to him if he wants to do anything, and I completely respect his feelings about it. He doesn't want too much white light.”
Who Will Be Nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Next Year?
While classic rock totally dominates this year's induction class, and many of the most egregious omissions from the genre have been corrected in recent years, there's still plenty of work to be done. There shouldn't be too much competition from younger generations next time around. Beck and the Dave Matthews Band are among the biggest newly eligible names. So maybe this time next year we'll be prepping for long-overdue inductions for Judas Priest, the Doobie Brothers, Iron Maiden and others?
How Far Will the Newly Rekindled Gene Simmons and Ace Frehley Bromance Go?
We totally believe Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley when they repeatedly say that Ace Frehley will never reunite with Kiss again. But it's been fantastic to watch Simmons and Frehley reconnect to write new songs, perform live together and, most recently, trade hysterical stories about their wilder days. The chemistry is undeniable. Can we at least get these two a sitcom?
Is Vinnie Vincent Preparing a New Invasion?
On Jan. 20, former Kiss guitarist Vinnie Vincent, who hasn't released new music in more than 20 years, will make an extremely rare public appearance at the Atlanta Kiss Expo. Could new music or live performances follow? Where exactly has he been all these years? "I wish he was still making music," former Vinnie Vincent Invasion bandmate Mark Slaughter recently declared. "There’s no reason for him not to."