Looking back to February 2021, music’s biggest headlines were all over the map.
Legal drama, the squashing of long-held band rumors, abuse accusations, long-awaited album announcements, even instant-classic Super Bowl commercials — the month in rock was by turns depressing, empowering, hilarious and intriguing.
You can read our February recap below.
Classic Rock Has a Big Night at the Super Bowl
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers squared off against the Kansas City Chiefs on Feb. 7 at Super Bowl LV. And classic rock helped carry the pauses in action, with songs by the Beatles, Lou Reed and Bill Withers appearing in major TV ads. For their “Bigger Picture” spot, Budweiser devoted its advertising budget to promote COVID-19 vaccine awareness. The final product, narrated by actress Rashida Jones, used Withers’ “Lean on Me” to help underscore that message of solidarity. Mercari’s ad used a cover of the Beatles’ “Hello Goodbye,” while Michelob Ultra’s commercial used A Tribe Called Quest‘s “Can I Kick It?,” which samples Herbie Flowers’ famous bass line from Reed’s “Walk on the Wild Side.” Other rock-friendly ads included Bruce Springsteen for Jeep, Lenny Kravitz for Stella Artois, Queen for Doritos 3D Crunch, the Hollies for Jimmy John’s and a Wayne’s World reunion for Uber Eats.
Marilyn Manson Responds Amid Abuse Allegations
While actress Evan Rachel Wood previously alluded to being in an abusive relationship with an unspecified ex, she made her allegations clear in February 2021 — saying Marilyn Manson traumatized and manipulated her for years. “He started grooming me when I was a teenager and horrifically abused me for years,” she wrote on Instagram. “I was brainwashed and manipulated into submission.” Similar claims followed from four other women, later leading to a full investigation. Manson issued his own statement one day after Wood’s, writing, “Obviously, my life and my art have long been magnets for controversy, but these recent claims about me are horrible distortions of reality. … My intimate relationships have always been entirely consensual with like-minded partners. Regardless of how – and why – others are now choosing to misrepresent the past, that is the truth.”
The Boss Avoids DWI Charge
In early February, news broke that Bruce Springsteen had been arrested on DWI charges the previous November at New Jersey’s Gateway National Recreational Area. While the story racked up headlines for a couple weeks, two charges — operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol and reckless driving — were dismissed during his first court appearance. (Springsteen pleaded guilty to “consuming an alcoholic beverage in a closed area,” earning a fine of $540 — though a higher amount or even jail time could have on the table.)
Wolfgang Van Halen Makes Live Solo Debut, Announces ‘Mammoth WVH’
Three months after releasing “Distance,” a tribute to his late father, Eddie Van Halen, Wolfgang Van Halen finally announced his debut solo album, Mammoth WVH. The project, he revealed, was a legitimate one-man-band affair, with Wolfgang playing every instrument. Nonetheless, he’d already assembled a live band — and one day after detailing the LP, they made their live debut by playing “Distance” on Jimmy Kimmel Live.
Bon Scott ‘Back in Black’ Rumors Busted
In a February interview, AC/DC guitarist Angus Young denied rumors that Bon Scott contributed to early versions of Back in Black material before the singer’s death. Scott “never really got the chance” to participate, Young told Paste, saying the frontman’s contributions were limited to playing drums on early demos of “Hells Bells” and “Have a Drink on Me.” “Bon got behind the kit so we could try and work out this intro [to ‘Hells Bells’], how we wanted to do it,” Young said. “So, we sorted that out how we wanted, and the other one was ‘Have a Drink on Me,’ a riff Malcolm was playing around with. So, we worked out the intro on that and how the song was gonna go. … That was it, really.”
Top 15 Reissues of 2021
The year’s best archival releases include deluxe box sets, expanded anniversary editions and long-lost recordings from the vault.