August’s Biggest Classic Rock Stories: 2017 in Review
We continue our look back at 2017's biggest stories. In August, classic rockers shot down rumors and spoke their minds, a few projects floundered, and while some musicians prepared to say goodbye, others returned to the stage.
LeeLifeson a No-Go
Two years after what many believed to be Rush's final performance, fans were awaiting the band's – or its members' – next move. Rumors abounded in August that bassist Geddy Lee and guitarist Alex Lifeson would continue performing, but under a new name and without drummer Neil Peart, who had settled into life at home with his wife and young daughter. It wasn't long, however, before Lifeson shot down the talk, saying both he and Geddy were in touch but each busy with their own projects.
Freddie Mercury Biopic: Actors Revealed
The four actors who will portray Queen in the long-burning Freddie Mercury biopic Bohemian Rhapsody were announced in August. Following many false starts, including a period when Sacha Baron Cohen of Borat fame was attached to the project, the lead role went to Rami Malek, star of Mr. Robot. Gwilym Lee from The Tourist snagged the role of guitarist Brian May. Ben Hardy from X-Men: Apocalypse was hired on as drummer Roger Taylor. Bassist John Deacon will be played by Social Network star Joe Mazello. Since then, the film has hit other snags, including the recent firing of director Bryan Singer, following accusations of sexual misconduct.
Billy Joel Opposes Neo-Nazi Movement, Trump Administration
Billy Joel made news during his monthly residency at Madison Square Garden in August. Never shy about sharing his feelings, he returned for an encore wearing a large yellow Star of David on the breast of his suit jacket, and another on his back. After the then-recent white-supremacist protests in Charlottesville, Va., the image was evocative of the Holocaust, when those of any Jewish decent were forced to wear the stars. He went on to sing "Goodbye to You," with Scandal's Patty Smyth as his guest, as images of officials from President Donald Trump's administration flashed on the screen.
Ozzy Osbourne 'Barks at the Moon'
Though Black Sabbath played their final show back in February, Ozzy Osbourne has been on the road with his solo band, which now includes Zakk Wylde. While he isn't generally an afternoon-festival-set kind of guy, Ozzy's performance at the Moonstock Festival on Aug. 21 was timed perfectly. He opened with a fully lit "Bark at the Moon," which went dark midway through the song as it coincided with a full lunar eclipse. Like the moon, Osbourne will also be doing a disappearing act soon, after having announced his solo farewell tour, which will begin in mid-2018 and run through 2020.
Wolfgang's Solo Debut
Wolfgang Van Halen started creating buzz in August with a 10-second clip from his debut solo album, which has yet to see the light of day. Son of Eddie Van Halen and member of the family's band, Wolfgang has been at work on the album for some time, on which he's reportedly singing and playing guitar, drums, bass and keys. He released a another new clip in December 2017.
Brian Johnson Returns to the Stage
A year and a half after his final show with AC/DC, Brian Johnson was back on stage, but this time with Muse. Johnson, who left AC/DC after being advised that he could lose his hearing if he continued to perform, reemerged at the Reading Festival in August to sing the title track of AC/DC's first album with him onboard.