January 2020 Recap: Neil Peart Dies, Joey Kramer Sues Aerosmith
The death of Rush drummer Neil Peart shook the rock world in January 2020. Peart's illness hadn't been made public until after his death on Jan. 7, but he had been diagnosed with a brain tumor three and a half years earlier, and his friends and family kept the news private in accordance with his wishes.
Unfortunately, rockers going through health issues dominated headlines the first month of the turbulent year. David Lee Roth hinted that Eddie Van Halen was not well, Ozzy Osbourne announced that he had Parkinson's disease and a slow recovery from an injury meant that Joey Kramer couldn't play with Aerosmith as they were being celebrated during the Grammy weekend.
But there was some good news as Metallica's James Hetfield and Megadeth's Dave Mustaine made their first public appearances after being sidelined because of health issues in 2019. And the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame revealed its newest inductees. You can read all about it below.
Neil Peart Dies
Rush drummer and lyricist Neil Peart died on Jan. 7, three and a half years after being diagnosed with brain cancer. Peart's illness, as his friend Mike Portnoy later revealed, was kept out of the press to protect his privacy. Tributes to the man known as "The Professor" came from throughout the rock world, as artists who were on tour at the time, like Tool and Styx, honored him during their sets. Tool's Danny Carey even thanked Peart during the band's Grammy acceptance speech. Peart's hometown of St. Catharines, Ontario, planned a benefit in his honor, and a petition began circulating to commemorate him in some fashion in the town's Lakeside Park, the subject of a song on the band's 1975 album, Caress of Steel. A week after the news was made public, Peart's bandmates, Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson, thanked everybody who offered condolences. "Our most heartfelt thanks go out to family, friends, musicians, writers and fans from around the globe for the incredible outpouring of love and respect for Neil since his passing," they wrote. "These touching tributes help to lessen the pain of this terrible loss and remind us all to celebrate his remarkable life and our connections to it."
Rock Hall Announces Class of 2020
The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame announced its inductees for 2020, with the Doobie Brothers, Nine Inch Nails, Whitney Houston, T-Rex, Depeche Mode and the Notorious B.I.G. making the cut. All but Nine Inch Nails and Depeche Mode were first-time nominees on the ballot; the late rapper even scored his induction in his first year of eligibility. And for the first time since the public was brought into the voting process, the act that won the fan vote - the Dave Matthews Band - did not collect enough total votes for induction. The Doobies, Nine Inch Nails and Depeche Mode all issued statements of thanks. But Richie Faulkner of Judas Priest, who missed out on induction again, blasted the Rock Hall as a "total joke"; Metallica's Kirk Hammett expressed similar feelings about the exclusion of nominees Motorhead and Thin Lizzy.
David Lee Roth Hints at Eddie Van Halen's Health Problems
As David Lee Roth returned to the stage with a Las Vegas residency, his first solo dates since reuniting with Van Halen, the singer suggested that bandmate Eddie Van Halen's health was in decline. “Ed’s not doing well, and singing and dancing is a perishable skill,” the singer said. “If you have the capacity, it’s something that has to be used routinely, if not for the thrill of it and the magic of creating with other incandescent spirits.” Toward the end of 2019, Roth said that Van Halen as a band were "finished" and that he had "inherited" their legacy, although he refused to elaborate, adding that it was Eddie's decision. Van Halen died in October.
Joey Kramer Sues Aerosmith to Play at Grammy Events
Aerosmith were prepared to be honored during the traditional festivities surrounding the Grammy Awards, but they found themselves in band squabble with drummer Joey Kramer. He filed a lawsuit against his bandmates, claiming they were preventing him from performing at the Grammys and the MusiCares Person of the Year benefit concert. Kramer declared it was "insulting and upsetting" that the band asked him to audition for his job and that they required him to personally bear the costs for his replacement. Aerosmith's rationale was that Kramer's skills, by his own admission, had deteriorated following a shoulder injury in April 2019 and they were left with no choice but to use someone else for the high-profile shows. The suit was tossed out of court, and the next day Kramer was denied entry into the band's rehearsal space. But the drummer ended up joining the band at the podium at the benefit and spoke that night, but he did not perform onstage at either event. Kramer returned to Aerosmith in mid-February when the band resumed its Deuces Are Wild residency in Las Vegas.
Ozzy Osbourne Reveals Parkinson's Diagnosis
As he prepared to release Ordinary Man, Ozzy Osbourne announced on Good Morning America that he had been diagnosed with PRKN 2, a type of Parkinson's disease. "It's not a death sentence by any stretch of the imagination, but it does affect certain nerves in your body," his wife Sharon said. Ozzy added that he learned about his condition while recovering from a fall that caused him to postpone all of his 2019 shows, but he later noted that he was first diagnosed in 2003. Shortly after the announcement was made, the Osbournes thanked fans and friends for their support. Ozzy originally hoped to be in shape to resume his tour, but he was forced to cancel all dates so he could receive treatment in Switzerland. Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic lockdown prevented him from making the trip.
James Hetfield and Dave Mustaine Return After Health Battles
After spending much of the second half of 2019 dealing with health issues, a pair of metal legends - and former bandmates - returned to public life. Metallica's James Hetfield, who returned to rehab in September 2019, showed up at a reception for a museum exhibition dedicated to his custom-built cars. "I believe everyone needs a second chance, or third chance or fourth chance, in life," he said during the Q&A session. "Knock the rust off and continue the story." Dave Mustaine of Megadeth was diagnosed with throat cancer in June 2019. He was given a clean bill of health in October, but the illness still forced the band to cancel concerts for the remainder of the year. They returned to the road on Jan. 19 opening for Five Finger Death Punch in Helsinki, Finland. A couple of weeks later, Mustaine told an audience that he had 51 radiation treatments and nine chemotherapy sessions, and was able to overcome the disease because "I thought about you guys every day, and I thought about my family. And I got this power from you guys." Mustaine also revealed that, during his treatment, he received a text message from Hetfield: "You can see that when the moment of truth is here and I’m telling the world that I’ve got a life-threatening disease. Who comes to stand next to me? James."