Rock might not be dead, but classic rock is in hospice.
In the past 90 days, we have mourned the passing of David Bowie, The Eagles’ Glenn Frey and hard-rock icon Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead.
More foreboding news arrived this week. AC/DC singer Brian Johnson has been sidelined by hearing damage. Crosby, Stills & Nash appears terminal as a band. And former Rolling Stones bassist Bill Wyman has prostate cancer. (Fortunately, he is expected to recover.)
I have this strange sense of impending change in 2016. Something is happening.
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“I’ve had that feeling, too,” agrees Gary Bongiovanni, longtime editor of tour industry magazine Pollstar. “It may just be because now the people that are dying, we’ve looked at as heroes and peers.
“It’s not Glenn Miller dying or the ‘older’ acts,” Bongiovanni, 66, says. “It’s home.”
Paul McCartney, one of classic rock’s remaining titans, announced tour dates this week. Boise wasn’t on the itinerary. No surprise. Sir Paul has never performed here. He’ll gig in Portland on April 15 and Seattle on April 17.
At least one Idaho promoter is attempting to lure McCartney here. The odds are slim. Still, it’s good to know that someone is trying. Idaho classic-rock fans need a McCartney show now more than ever.
Nampa hosted the Rolling Stones a decade ago. Wyman already had exited the band by then. Mick Jagger strutted the stage like a rooster at sunrise, but those days are numbered. Nobody in their 70s is Jumpin’ Jack Flash. In the near future, the Stones will stop rolling. It could happen tomorrow.
David Crosby infuriated Neil Young last year after he made remarks about Young’s girlfriend, Darryl Hannah. Now Croz and Graham Nash are feuding. “In my world, there will never, ever be a Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young record,” Nash told Billboard, “and there will never be another Crosby, Stills and Nash record or show.”
Australian rockers AC/DC have cruised a seemingly endless highway to hell. It’s time to pull over. Doctors advised Johnson to stop touring or potentially face complete hearing loss. And that’s after rhythm guitarist Malcolm Young retired in 2014 because of dementia. AC/DC plans to reschedule dates with a replacement singer. The group can continue to play in arenas as long as lead guitarist Angus Young is around.
But at some point, it just gets depressing. Too many classic-rock bands exist in name only, with few (to zero) original members. AC/DC hasn’t played Boise since 1988. But would you really want to see the retirement-age headbangers without Johnson and Malcolm Young?
For Boise, a McCartney concert feels like now or never. The former Beatle is 73.
As the latest incarnation of Kansas will croon July 26 at the Revolution Center in Garden City, all we are is dust in the wind.
Bad sign for Alive After Five
Something definitely won’t rock about Alive After Five this summer, and it has nothing to do with the free weekly concert being uprooted.
The Record Exchange, which has helped book musical headliners at Alive After Five since 2005, is abandoning the outdoor series.
Why? Because the independent music retailer feels that the festival’s talent budget is unreasonably small.
The Record Exchange no longer will offer consulting. The Record Exchange no longer will man a booth selling merchandise for the bands.
This is not a good look for Alive After Five. Record Exchange owner Michael Bunnell sent a letter to the Downtown Boise Association ending the partnership last week.
“We would gladly become involved again,” Bunnell says, “if the organization reconsiders their strategies to provide more funding for both local and national artists.”
New Downtown Boise Association executive director Lynn Hightower declines to share the talent budget for the 14-week event, which kicks off June 1 on The Basque Block.
Bunnell’s help over the years “has been valued and appreciated,” she says.
One can argue that Alive After Five is more about the social gathering than the caliber of music. It draws a diverse crowd.
Read more about the split, including comments from Bunnell and Hightower, on my blog.
Movie/alcohol law revision: Lookin’ good
It appears that Idaho State Police’s Alcohol Beverage Control soon will be pointed to the nearest movie-theater exit sign.
This week, an Idaho House committee unanimously endorsed proposed legislation to revise restrictions on selling alcohol at theaters showing films that include nudity and sex.
The bill is the result of a dust-up at Village Cinema in Meridian. The multiplex was busted by state police for selling alcohol at the R-rated movie “50 Shades of Grey.”
Next up: A vote from the full House.