Live music was nearly back up and running at pre-pandemic levels by October 2021 — but with this relative return to normalcy came a new host of growing pains and dangers.
Kiss resumed their End of the Road farewell tour in August, after the coronavirus pandemic forced them off the road. But both Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons ended up testing positive. They recovered only to see COVID claim the life of Francis Stueber, Stanley’s guitar tech of nearly 20 years. Some members of Kiss’ crew blamed lax tour-safety protocols for his death.
Other artists struggled to get back into the swing of performing. Vince Neil had already made headlines in May when he played his first solo concert since 2019, fumbling his way through the set and ultimately walking offstage during the last song after he lost his voice. Neil fared slightly better at future shows, but he hit another snag when he fell offstage during an Oct. 15 show and broke “a few ribs.”
With so many rockers encountering nasty injuries and illnesses on the road, perhaps David Lee Roth took the smartest approach when he announced he would be retiring following his January 2022 Las Vegas residency. Hewasn’t the only aging rocker taking stock of his legacy in October 2021, as the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inducted its latest class at the end of the month. Throw in some downright bizarre claims of unpaid royalties from an attempted presidential assassin, and you had a jam-packed month of music news.
Read on to see the biggest music headlines from October 2021:
David Lee Roth Announces Retirement
“I am throwing in the shoes. I’m retiring,” Roth said in October. “This is the first, and only, official announcement.” At the time of his announcement, the former Van Halen frontman was scheduled to play five shows on New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day, Jan. 5 and Jan. 7-8 at the House of Blues at Las Vegas’ Mandalay Bay. He has since added shows on Jan. 14-15 and Jan. 21-22. Roth intimated that former bandmate Alex Van Halen might join him at his final shows, though Wolfgang Van Halen later said he didn’t think that would happen. Regardless, Roth’s final shows should be a retrospective celebration of an illustrious career. “I’ve given you all I’ve got to give,” he said. “It’s been an amazing, great run, no regrets, nothing to say about anybody.”
Vince Neil Breaks Ribs After Falling Off Stage
Vince Neil tried a little too hard to summon audience participation during his Oct. 15 performance at the Monsters on the Mountain festival in Pigeon Forge, Tenn. Neil approached the edge of the stage while singing Motley Crue’s 1989 hit “Don’t Go Away Mad (Just Go Away),” and encouraged fans to clap along. When he took another step to the right, however, Neil tumbled off the stage. “The truth is Vince fell and broke ribs when he fell,” bassist Dana Strum explained to the audience after Neil was taken backstage. “He can’t breathe and he’s gonna get dealt with medically. … He was willing to stick it out and tough it out when the people back here were telling him don’t do it.” Motley Crue later confirmed that Neil had broken “a few ribs” and encouraged fans to wish him a swift recovery.
Kiss Crew Members Blame Guitar Tech Death on Lax COVID Protocols
Francis Stueber, longtime Kiss guitar tech who had worked with Paul Stanley since 2002, died of COVID-19 on Oct. 17 at the age of 52. He had recently tested positive and was quarantining in a Detroit hotel room at the time of his death. Three crew members working on the End of the Road farewell tour later blamed insufficient safety measures led to several workers getting sick and may have ultimately claimed Stueber’s life. “Every day during the shows, we weren’t tested – and there are so many unknowns,” one anonymous crew member said. “Did we super-spread this? Did we spread this thing from city to city?” Kiss’ tour production team refuted these allegations. “I’m not going to not test people,” production manager Robert Long countered. “I take this shit seriously.” Kiss, meanwhile, said they were “profoundly heartbroken” at the loss of Stueber and encouraged fans to get vaccinated to “protect yourself and your loved ones.”
Would-Be Reagan Assassin Claims Devo Owes Him Unpaid Royalties
After decades in prison, a judge allowed attempted presidential assassin John Hinckley Jr. to display writings, artwork and music under his own name, rather than anonymously. How did he utilize his newfound freedom? By taking to Twitter in October to publicly accuse Devo of withholding royalties after using one of his poems for the lyrics to their song “Desire” on 1982’s Oh No! It’s Devo. “The album is still selling worldwide, especially in Japan and Europe,” Hinckley argued. “I haven’t seen royalties in 35 years. What’s the deal?” Devo bassist Gerard Casale responded to Hinckley by saying it’s “always the unpleasant things that never go away.” He added that even if Hinckley was telling the truth, royalties were a matter for their record and publishing companies. “We’re not talking about a lot of money here,” Casale said. “Believe me, it wasn’t a hit. But certainly it’s not because of Devo that he didn’t get his money.”
Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Welcomes Class of 2021
The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame held its annual induction ceremony on Oct. 31, 2021, welcoming Carole King, Todd Rundgren, the Go-Go’s, Foo Fighters, Tina Turner and Jay-Z into its ranks. Kraftwerk, Charley Patton and Gil Scott-Heron were honored in the Early Influence category, while LL Cool J, Billy Preston and Randy Rhoads received awards for Musical Excellence. Highlights from the ceremony included Paul McCartney jamming with Foo Fighters after inducting them; Taylor Swift and King lavishing praise on each other in their respective speeches; Drew Barrymore donning a towel and face cream like the Go-Go’s’ Beauty and the Beat album cover while inducting the group; LL Cool J storming through his classic “Rock the Bells” with a little help from Eminem; and an all-star cast including Keith Urban, H.E.R., Mickey Guyton and Christina Aguilera paying tribute to Turner, who did not attend.
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 2021 Induction Ceremony’s Best Photos
The best shots from the Class of 2021’s induction ceremony.