Yes, I know 2007 isn't quite over yet, but if I wait much longer, I'll start forgetting all the highs and lows of this year in classic rock. And there were plenty of both!
The award goes to Sammy Hagar and Mike Anthony for being gentlemen about being snubbed by their former Van Halen band mates. They weren't invited to participate in the band's reunion tour, and they were the band's sole representatives at VH's Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction. They handled both with good humor and professionalism.
It wasn't much of a tribute to a former band mate's memory when Roger Waters opted to perform alone rather than with the other surviving Pink Floyd members at a tribute show in honor of the late Syd Barrett. Waters couldn't even let bygones be bygones long enough to perform in the evening's finale, in which all the rest of the evening's performers participated.
There was a flurry of greatest hits compilations and box sets to mark the 40th anniversary of the summer of '67 and its symbolic place in rock music history. By far the best of the lot was the ambitious and innovative Love Is The Song We Sing: San Francisco Nuggets: 1965-1970. This combination high quality book and four-CD set offered an engrossing and thoroughly entertaining education about the people who made the so-called San Francisco Sound.
Worst Case Of Imitating A Horse's Rear End
Hands down winner: Lindsey Buckingham, formerly of Fleetwood Mac, who walked out an hour before a scheduled concert after a profanity-laced tantrum about the venue's sound system, proving that even former rock stars who aren't rock stars anymore can be really annoying prima donnas.
Best Album Reissue
The Traveling Wilburys Collection is the clear winner, primarily because this unique supergroup's albums have been "out of print" for quite a while. The reissue of their two albums and a DVD documenting their creation recaptured the electricity of the union of George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne and Roy Orbison.
Meat Loaf had been having voice problems for most of his Three Bats tour, but he finally had to cancel the remaining European dates after abruptly (but apologetically) cutting short yet another concert. It turned out that he has a cyst on a vocal cord, which may or may not require surgery. He says he'll be back, but it was a sad ending to a problem-plagued tour.
Jeff Scott Soto was Journey's lead singer for about 15 minutes (okay, it was a few months) before being dropped from the roster in June. The band said it wanted to go in a new direction. That new direction, it turns out, was toward the South Pacific. In December, the band announced that its third vocalist in two years will be Filipino cover specialist Arnel Pineda.
2007 will be remembered as a banner year for rock band reunions: The Police, Genesis, Van Halen, The Stooges, even the Sex Pistols. But the one that has been the subject of the most rumors (virtually all denied) and speculation and wishful thinking has been that of Led Zeppelin. Their first full concert set in many a year at a December benefit in London has generated a new wave of gossip about the one-off performance blossoming into a full tour and/or recording some new songs.
There have been several to choose from: Springsteen, McCartney, Eagles, Rush, Neil Young, a solo album from Heart's Ann Wilson. But the clear winner for me is John Fogerty's Revival. It was as if the fog had lifted and he finally found himself as a solo artist, three decades after his not very pretty departure from Creedence Clearwater Revival. He is gifted with a distinctive voice and a unique style, and now he seems to finally be comfortable in his own skin.
Denny Doherty, whose voice defined the sound of The Mamas and the Papas died in January at the age of 66 after suffering an abdominal aneurysm. As sad as his passing is the fact that of the band's four members, only one, Michelle "Mitchy" Phillips, is still living.
Richard Bell wasn't a household name, but you hear his voice on a long list of albums by folks like Janis Joplin, The Band, Bob Dylan, and Bonnie Raitt. He was a songwriter, keyboardist, and, in recent years, record producer. In June, Bell died of cancer at the age of 61.
In December, Dan Fogelberg died of cancer at age 56. He was a unique lyricist, vocalist, composer and player of many instruments. His first album was released in 1972. His last was in 2003.