2018 YEAR IN REVIEW: January - March


Here’s a look back at what happened in classic rock in the first months of 2018:

January 4th: Ray Thomas, the original flute player and occasional singer in The Moody Blues died of a heart attack at his home in England. He had just turned 76 and had been suffering from prostate cancer for a number of years. 

Ray Thomas on becoming a musician:

Moody's Thomas

January 10th: Motorhead guitarist "Fast" Eddie Clarke died at age 67 from pneumonia.

January 10th: Eric Clapton made a startling admission regarding his health during an appearance on BBC Radio 2.

Eric Clapton on his health:

Clapton on health

January 16th: Recordings by Aerosmith, David Bowie, Linda Ronstadt, Queen and Jimi Hendrix were added to the Grammy Hall of Fame.

  • Aerosmith's "Dream On"
  • David Bowie's "Space Oddity"
  • Linda Rondstadt's Heart Like a Wheel
  • Queen's A Night at the Opera
  • Jimi Hendrix's Band of Gypsies
  • Sam Cooke's "Bring It on Home to Me"
  • Nirvana's Nevermind
  • Hugh Masekela's "Grazing in the Grass"
  • The Four Tops' "I Can't Help Myself"
  • The Rolling Stones' "Paint It Black"

January 19th: It was announced that Tom Petty died of an accidental drug overdose due to a variety of medications he was taking. "Mixed drug toxicity" brought on cardiac arrest. He was on several pain meds, including oxycodone, Xanax, Celexa and two types of Fentanyl. Petty was 66 when he passed on October 2nd, 2017.

January 16th: Former Judas Priest drummer Dave Holland died in Spain at age 69. He relocated there after spending several years in a British jail for attempting to rape a teenage boy he was giving drum lessons to in his Northamptonshire, England home. Holland, who joined Priest in 1979, always maintained his innocence and was planning to write his memoir.

January 16th: Glenn Frey's widow, Cindy, filed a wrongful death suit against one of his doctors and the New York City hospital where the Eagles singer-guitarist died. She claimed Glenn’s ulcerative colitis was not properly treated and that the hospital mistreated an infection.

January 20th: Zombies bass player Jim Rodford died when he fell down a staircase. Rodford, who was also in Argent and The Kinks, was 76.

January 22nd: REO Speedwagon pulled the plug on shows in January and February so singer Kevin Cronin could undergo a medical procedure.

January 22nd: Neil Diamond announced his retirement from touring."It is with great reluctance and disappointment that I announce my retirement from concert touring. I have been so honored to bring my shows to the public for the past 50 years. My sincerest apologies to everyone who purchased tickets and were planning to come to the upcoming shows." He added that he planned to keep writing and recording.

January 23rd: Hugh Masekela, the South African jazz trumpeter who defied apartheid and hit number-one in 1968 with the instrumental "Grazing in the Grass," died at the age of 78. In 1967, he made his first appearance in the Top 40 playing trumpet on The Byrds' "So You Want to Be a Rock 'n' Roll Star." That year, he appeared at the Monterey Pop Festival and was featured in the film documentary of it. He also toured with Paul Simon in the 1980s. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2008 and spent the last months of his life encouraging men to go for regular cancer check-ups.

January 26th: Fleetwood Mac became the first band ever honored as MusiCares Person of the Year at Radio City Music Hall in New York. Their songs were done by Brandi Carlile, Portugal the Man, Keith Urban, Lorde, Little Big Town, Miley Cyrus and the Zac Brown Band.

Fleetwood Mac closed the show with "The Chain," "Little Lies," "Tusk," "Gold Dust Woman" and "Go Your Own Way." It turned out to be the last show for Lindsey Buckingham, who was fired shortly afterwards and replaced by Mike Campbell from The Heartbreakers and Neil Finn of Crowded House. Buckingham filed a lawsuit, which was settled out of court in the fall.

At the MusiCares Person of the Year ceremony, Lindsey Buckingham spoke about Fleetwood Mac being a dysfunctional musical family:

Lindsey on dysfunction

Lindsey Buckingham, onstage Friday night in Los Feliz, California, explains why he parted ways with Fleetwood Mac:

Buckingham on leaving

January 31st: A suit filed against U2 by songwriter Paul Rose claiming they copied parts of his song to use in "The Fly" was been dismissed.

February 7th: John Perry Barlow, the poet and rancher who was Bob Weir's writing partner for The Grateful Dead from 1971 through the late '80s, died at the age of 70. Barlow had a hand in such Dead staples as "Cassidy," "Hell in a Bucket," "I Need a Miracle" and "Estimated Prophet."

February 7th: Pat Torpey, the drummer of Mr. Big, passed away from complications of Parkinson’s disease. He was 64.

February 12th: A month before the Firepower tour, Judas Priest announced that guitarist Glenn Tipton has Parkinson's disease. The band said in a statement that he was originally diagnosed 10 years ago and that it hasn't impacted his playing until recently. Firepower producer Andy Sneap took his place on the tour.

March 2nd: Journey's Greatest Hits became just the third album to spend more than 500 weeks on the Billboard 200. Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon is at 937 weeks, and Bob Marley's Legend is at 510. Journey’s Greatest Hits debuted on the December 3rd, 1988 chart and peaked at number-10 in February 1989.

March 5th: Tommy Lee had an altercation with his 21-year old son Brandon at Tommy's Calabasas, California home. Tommy was taken to the hospital for a bloody lip and afterwards said, "My heart is broken. You can give your kids everything they could ever want in their entire lives and they can still turn against you."

March 14th: The widow of Toto co-founder and drummer Jeff Porcaro filed suit against original members Steve Lukather and David Paichclaiming they withheld royalties from his estate.

March 19th: The long-awaited reunion tour of Todd Rundgren's Utopia hit a bump in the road when it was announced that keyboardist Ralph Schuckett had to bow out due to "unexpected health issues." He is replaced by Gil Assayas, who was recommended by Rundgren’s son.

March 20th: Ringo Starr was knighted by Prince William for his services to music. The ceremony took place at Buckingham Palace in London.

March 21st: Fleetwood Mac's Rumours album, The Temptations "My Girl" and Bill Haley and the Comets' "Rock Around the Clock" were added to the Library of Congress's National Recording Registry.

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