It’s been a year since you’ve gone somewhere else. All things considered, it’s been a twelve month roller coaster ride. Emotions have run wild and thankfully, the one constant has been music. We still have music. As a universal pulse, and we need it now more than ever.
In the world of Rock n’ Roll we’ve seen both unimaginable and incredible things transpire in 2016.
Dude…. Guns N’ Roses is back. Yes, like Guns N’ F’n Roses with both Slash and Axl. Your former Velvet Revolver compadre, Duff McKagen is part of the fun as is longtime G N’ R keyboardist, Dizzy Reed. They embarked on a Not in This Lifetime Tour and immediately played stadiums. That’s right — stadiums, not arenas.
While he was back at it, Axl also went ahead and joined AC/DC as their frontman out on the road, in the wake of Brian Johnson dealing with “health” issues. So,…Mr. Rose went from being ghost to simultaneously fronting both Guns N’ Roses and AC/DC, much of which was from Dave Grohl’s throne (nursing a broken foot, no big deal). Wow, what a sentence that just was.
There’s been plenty of other highlights and incredible rock waves as well. Green Day, Kings of Leon, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Metallica, Alter Bridge, Radiohead, Deftones, Band of Horses, Iggy Pop/Josh Homme, Garbage and Candlebox have all released brand new records that are having a significant impact.
It just so happens 2016 was a big silver anniversary year with the likes of Lollapalooza reaching the milestone and alternative rock pioneers Jane’s Addiction, commemorated the 25th anniversary of their critically acclaimed album Ritual de lo Habitual, with the Sterling Spoon Anniversary Tour.
Pearl Jam took on their 25th year with pride. Playing Fenway Park, Wrigley Field and being nominated for the Hall of Fame were highlights. While we are in Seattle, Temple of the Dog reunited for the first time in 25 years and went on their first proper tour (more on that later).
A generation down, Rival Sons, Young the Giant, White Reaper, Cage the Elephant and the 1975 claimed their space with much inspiration infused. They continue to throw elbows and we love it.
With the good has come the bad as I’m sure you’ve brushed shoulders with David Bowie, Glen Frey and Prince. Some beautiful tributes have ensued in honor of their brilliant art.
As for Stone Temple Pilots, there’s been an active search and audition for a new singer. Clearly, this is not to replace you or fill your shoes. It’s to ensure the music continues, moves on and lives on. It appears to be fan-focused, the way it should be and Robert, Dean and Eric have handled this earth-shake of a year with pure class and integrity. Nothing has been been made official in terms of introducing the singer. We all patiently await and that’s OK.
Finally….Dude…. Dudddddde…. Donald Trump is the president-elect. If this letter has not felt like an electric fence yet, I’m sure it does now. But here’s the thing…. Through this mess, we’ve seen the arts take the lead. Occasionally, confusion has amounted with some of the most antiquated beliefs rearing their ugly heads. If nothing more, musicians and artists alike have stepped up and continue to front the charge on unity and acceptance. It was represented brilliantly during a Chris Martin and Eddie Vedder duet, covering Patti Smith this past September (3:37–6:43) at the Global Citizens festival in Central Park. “Together we can use our power for good.”
I believe such movements will remind us all that people do have the power; with music and the arts serving as the healer, unifier, escape mechanism, megaphone and all around platform to influence people to be themselves, don’t back down and make a difference. It’s an incredibly odd dynamic, but the arts will continue to unapologetically come out swinging. It will make us both remember and forget everything as the best art always does.
Pioneers like Prophets of Rage, are a perfect example. If nothing more, we get to have them around at least another four years. And back to Temple of the Dog quickly. For what it’s worth, it just so happens they were on their North American tour during the election. What are the chances a band of that stature and in that incredibly rare circumstance, are front and center during an uncomfortable and unsettling time? Again — five guys who whole-heartedly represent the power of music and reaching down, picking each other up. That’s why they were a group in the first place and that’s exactly the purpose of their music. Do me a favor, thank the big man for that one when you get a moment.
Lastly, you and I met once, briefly in New York City, by chance. Your brother Michael had recently passed and you were understandably edgy with each random person you encountered. To me though, you were incredibly kind for some reason. I’ll never forget that. In your song “Still Remains” you say, “If you should die before me ask if you could bring a friend.” Perhaps that’s what Michael did? Or perhaps you took your own advice pulling up one of your “we can be” hero’s in David Bowie? Whatever the case, I’m sure the three of you are having one hell of a glass of scotch.
In short, what I’m trying to say here is that you are missed, your music will forever inspire and be ever-present. Rock n’ Roll is alive and well.
I know you loved the Christmas and holiday season. Here’s a cheer to us all.
In the spirit of your third Stone Tempe Pilots record, Tiny Music… Songs from the Vatican Gift Shop, reaching the 20 year mark this past March –
Trippin’ on a Hole in a Paper Heart,