UCR’s State of the Union: 2021 Plans for Rock’s 50 Biggest Bands
The past 12 months have been among the strangest and most trying times in the history of rock music.
The coronavirus pandemic has all but shut down the touring industry for more than a year now, leaving music’s biggest superstars in the same boat as the rest of us: Trying to figure out how to move forward in a world turned upside down.
Naturally, many of these highly creative and driven people quickly figured out how to adapt, with streaming concerts, lockdown recording sessions and an increased focus on direct communication with their fans. And now that vaccines are being rushed into the arms of millions of people every day, we’re fast approaching the point where we can at least start to think about a return to live music.
So what have rock’s biggest bands been up to in the past 12 months, and what are they planning for the rest of this year? Find out with our 2021 State of the Union.
Most Recent Studio Album: Power Up, 2020
Most Recent Concert: Sept. 20, 2016 in Philadelphia, Penn.
With all the terrible things that happened in 2020, it’s easy to forget one of the true bright spots: the return of AC/DC. After years of rumors, the rock giants roared back with Power Up, the 17th album of their legendary career. AC/DC were discussing touring behind the album before the coronavirus pandemic made such conversations moot. Could the return of concerts bring with it another trek? There’s no indication either way at this point, though rock fans all over the world will be waiting with bated breath.
Most Recent Studio Album: Music From Another Dimension!, 2012
Most Recent Concert: Feb. 15, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada
Other than showing steady support for their road crew and trumpeting the importance of social distancing, Aerosmith have been among the quietest major rock bands during the COVID pandemic. There have been no "from-home" live stream concerts, and only the briefest mentions on bassist Tom Hamilton's Twitter feed about any work on a follow-up to the nearly decade-old Music From Another Dimension!
“As soon as I realized we weren’t gonna be playing for at least months, if not a year, it was almost like I felt like I was on vacation for the first time in 30 years," guitarist Joe Perry admitted back in May. "I didn’t have to think [when I got home], ‘Well, I don’t need to unpack my bags because I’m leaving in a week.’” As of this moment, Aerosmith's next scheduled show is set for Sept. 14 at Fenway Park in their hometown of Boston.
Most Recent Studio Album: Paranormal, 2017
Most Recent Concert: March 10, 2020 in Berlin, Germany
Detroit Stories, the latest album from Alice Cooper, arrived at the end of February. Though the LP is officially Cooper’s 21st solo studio effort, it features the surviving original members of the Alice Cooper band on several of tracks. The album, which features covers and original material, is a love letter to Detroit, the city Cooper credits with giving his group its first chance at stardom. “Detroit was the birthplace of angry hard rock,” Cooper explained. “After not fitting in anywhere in the U.S. (musically or image-wise), Detroit was the only place that recognized the Alice Cooper guitar-driven, hard-rock sound and our crazy stage show. Detroit was a haven for the outcasts." The love affair between rocker and city goes both ways. A street named after Cooper, Alice Cooper Court, will be unveiled in 2021.
Most Recent Studio Albums: Paul McCartney: McCartney III, 2020; Ringo Starr: What's My Name, 2019
Most Recent Concerts: McCartney, July 13, 2019 in Los Angeles; Starr, Sept. 1, 2019 in Los Angeles
There's always plenty of archival activity in Beatles land, but it's unclear when fans might see a 50th anniversary box set for 1970's Let It Be. (That project, if it does materialize, would follow a string of vault-clearing reissues for Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, the White Album and Abbey Road.) One confirmed project for 2021 is director Peter Jackson's Get Back documentary, which explores the turbulent recording of Let It Be; the current release date, following a pandemic-related delay, is Aug. 17. Meanwhile, Beatles songs are as ubiquitous as ever: Marketplace app Mercari used "Hello Goodbye" for their 2021 Super Bowl ad.
Solo Projects/Alumni: McCartney, now 78, hasn't slowed down a bit. He recently maximized quarantine-era isolation by self-producing — and playing every instrument on — his solo LP McCartney III, a sort of spiritual sequel to 1970's McCartney and 1980's McCartney II. He also recently previewed a six-part documentary series with producer Rick Rubin, though an official release date remains unannounced. Starr was forced to postpone a 2020 All Starr Band trek early in the pandemic — the run currently kicks off June 1 in Asbury Park, N.J. In other recent news, the 80-year-old drummer collaborated on a song with Toto's Steve Lukather, gave the induction speech for T. Rex in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and released a new EP titled Zoom In on March 19.
Most Recent Studio Album: Fantasies & Delusions, 2001
Most Recent Concert: March 6, 2020 in Mexico City, Mexico
Billy Joel has a handful of concert dates on his calendar for 2021. The first is scheduled for April 17 in Charlotte, N.C., with stops in Detroit, Boston and South Bend, Ind. following in the summer. Then there’s his long-running residency at Madison Square Garden, which had reached its 74th consecutive monthly performance prior to being paused due to the pandemic. It’s currently set to resume in November, with dates already announced into 2022.
Joel has also found himself as an unlikely TikTok star this year. Several of his classic tracks – including “Piano Man,” “Uptown Girl” and “My Life” – have spawned viral videos on the popular app. Joel’s 1978 tune “Zanzibar” has even inspired a dance challenge which has spread throughout social media.
Most Recent Studio Album: Rough and Rowdy Ways, 2020
Most Recent Concert: Dec. 8, 2019 in Washington, D.C.
After receiving a very limited release last year to extend copyrights, Bob Dylan’s The 50th Anniversary Collection 1970 has been given broader distribution in 2021. The set includes demos, alternate versions and outtakes of material which would eventually end up on Self Portrait and New Morning. The real highlight, however, is nine tracks featuring Dylan and George Harrison working together during a 1970 session.
As for new material from Dylan, things seem rather quiet. Still, 2020's Rough and Rowdy Ways arrived rather quickly and with little warning. Would anyone be shocked if a companion piece wasn’t far behind? With Dylan, fans know to expect the unexpected.
Most Recent Studio Album: 2020, 2020
Most Recent Concert: Nov. 27, 2020 in Madison, Tenn.
After releasing the album 2020 last year, Bon Jovi will unveil their new release 2021. Just kidding. Still, the Rock & Roll Hall of Famers will be plenty busy this year. A new music video for “Story of Love” – the latest single off of 2020 – was released in February, featuring personal photos and home movie footage from Jon Bon Jovi’s life.
Hampton Water, the rose wine launched by Jon and his son Jesse in 2017, continues to grow in popularity. The drink will be featured on the reality series Summer House, with episodes airing Thursday nights on Bravo.
Most Recent Studio Album: Letter to You, 2020
Most Recent Concert: Nov. 16, 2019 in Asbury Park, N.J.
It was a rough start to the year for the Boss, who had to appear virtually in court to face charges stemming from an incident in November. Springsteen reportedly took two shots of tequila with fans before getting on his motorcycle and promptly being pulled over by a nearby police officer. He plead guilty to "consuming an alcoholic beverage in a closed area," and was charged $540 for the misdemeanor.
Legal issues aside, 2021 has already seen Springsteen appear in a Super Bowl car commercial, a podcast with former President Barack Obama and his own radio show, From My Home to Yours. There’s also a resolution in the works that would officially make his birthday (Sept. 23) Bruce Springsteen Day in New Jersey.
Crosby, Stills & Nash
Most Recent Studio Album: Looking Forward, 1999
Most Recent Concert: Oct. 27, 2013 in Mountain View, Calif.
Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young will release a 50th-anniversary edition of classic Deja Vu LP in May, with previously unheard demos, studio recordings and alternate versions of their songs. Earlier this year, David Crosby sold the recorded music and publishing rights to his entire music catalog to Irving Azoff's Iconic Artists Group. The deal included songs Crosby penned with CSNY, as well as the Byrds, Crosby & Nash and Crosby, Stills & Nash.
Graham Nash had just kicked off 2020 dates when lockdown restrictions postponed all of his plans. He's currently scheduled to head back on the road beginning in April. Last May, Nash said he had half an album’s worth of new material already done, meaning a 2021 release could be in the making. Stephen Stills is staying busy, as well. He guested on the song “Give It Up” by singer-songwriter T Bear.
Most Recent Studio Album: Whoosh!, 2020
Most Recent Concert: March 14, 2020 in Toluca, Mexico
Deep Purple released Whoosh!, the 21st studio album of the band’s career, in August. At the time, drummer Ian Paice said the group could quickly churn out more material. “It might not be the last record,” Paice told UCR, noting that the pandemic may hasten Deep Purple’s return to the studio. “We’ve got all of this dead time," he admitted. "Now, 10 or 11 months is a long time for musicians to sit around doing nothing when they could do something. So, it wouldn’t surprise me – and I know there’s little mutterings going on – that we might get together towards the end of this year and see if we can write some more stuff.”
Whether anything comes to fruition is anyone’s guess, but it’s exciting to envision Deep Purple returning with another strong addition to their legendary catalog. The band will launch a European tour beginning in June, with previously postponed stops back on the itinerary. Currently, no North American performances are scheduled for this year.
Alumni: Former Deep Purple singer David Coverdale is reportedly working on new music with Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page, a continuation of the Coverdale-Page partnership that began in 1993. Another Deep Purple alumnus, bassist and vocalist Glenn Hughes, is busy fronting Dead Daisies. The supergroup released their latest album, Holy Ground, in January. Long-estranged guitarist Ritchie Blackmore also has a new album with his successor band Blackmore’s Night, titled Nature’s Light.
Most Recent Studio Album: Def Leppard, 2015
Most Recent Concert: Nov. 2, 2019 in Sacramento, Calif.
Def Leppard began the year by unlocking their Vault, an online service featuring unheard music, rare memorabilia and stories from throughout the band’s career. The collection is made up of personal material from Def Leppard members, who had plenty of time to comb through their items once COVID-19 brought their touring schedule to a halt. Now, they're scheduled to get back on the road in June, as part of the Stadium Tour alongside Motley Crue, Poison and Joan Jett.
Guitarist Phil Collen has admitted he’s spent a lot of his downtime writing new material with various artists, including "killer stuff" with Def Leppard singer Joe Elliott. If and when new music may be released is still unknown.
Most Recent Studio Album: Southbound, 2014
Most Recent Concert: Feb. 12, 2020 in Las Vegas.
Doobie Brothers were set for a big 2020 with a Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction and reunion tour with Michael McDonald on the calendar. Then the year went all "2020," and everything got put on hold. The Hall ceremony eventually happened virtually, and now the postponed tour will (hopefully) commence this summer. They're scheduled to return on July 17, with dates lined up through the end of October.
Most Recent Studio Album: Long Road Out of Eden, 2007
Most Recent Concert: March 7, 2020 in Houston.
The Eagles will re-release three albums of material on vinyl, including Eagles Live and Long Road Out of Eden, this April. The third offering is The Millennium Concert live album, recorded on Dec. 31, 1999 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Though the latter LP was previously available as part of the Selected Works set, this will mark its first stand-alone release. Later in the year, the Eagles look to get back on the road for their rescheduled Hotel California tour. This trek will see the band performing the classic 1976 LP in its entirety; it's scheduled to begin Sept. 16 in Denver.
Most Recent Studio Album: Wonderful Crazy Night, 2016
Most Recent Concert: March 7, 2020 in Parramatta, Australia
Elton John will continue his Rocket Hour radio show in 2021, distributed on iTunes and Apple Music. The weekly program finds Elton playing some of his favorite classic and current tunes, while also welcoming a variety of guests from throughout the music industry. Elton was also set to appear in pop singer Demi Lovato’s documentary Dancing with the Devil, which takes a long look at the struggles with addiction that often plague young stars. Elton also has 2021 tour dates scheduled, with a run of European performances set to begin in September, continuing his postponed Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour.
Most Recent Studio Album: Extended Play EP, 2013
Most Recent Concert: Nov. 19, 2019 in San Francisco
There are currently two editions of Fleetwood Mac: the catalog act that continues to churn out reissues and the reconfigured touring unit with Mike Campbell and Neil Finn. The former was recently featured in a super-deluxe reissue of their overlooked 1980 concert LP, Live, out April 9. The latter played their most recent show in 2019, but haven't announced plans for new music. (We did get close last May with Finn's benefit song "Find Your Way Back Home," co-written by Christine McVie and featuring guest vocals from Stevie Nicks.) Fleetwood Mac boasted unexpected commercial momentum going into 2021: Rumours re-entered the Billboard Top 10 in October after "Dreams" was featured in a viral skateboarding video. But their post-pandemic plans remain unclear. In February, McVie seemed to suggest the band's touring days could be done: "I think I'm getting a bit too old for it now — especially after having had a year off," she said in a BBC Radio 2 interview. "I don't know if I could get myself back into it again." In a subsequent statement offered to Rolling Stone, however, McVie called her previous comments "cheeky" and explained that "in no way are any members of Fleetwood Mac 'done' with being part of the band."
Solo Projects/Alumni: The band members' most visible solo activity has been business-related: Nicks sold 80 percent of her publishing catalog in December; and two major sales followed in January, when drummer Mick Fleetwood unloaded all of his recorded music rights and former member Lindsey Buckingham sold full publishing rights to 161 songs (and 50 percent of unreleased material). On the musical front, Nicks recently issued her first solo single in six years, "Show Them the Way," and Fleetwood announced the March release of a tribute concert honoring Peter Green. Buckingham appears to be moving forward after a rough stretch that included his 2018 firing from Fleetwood Mac then undergoing emergency open heart surgery in 2019. The procedure caused vocal-cord damage, but Buckingham bounced back in December with a solo live-streamed concert — his first public performance after the health scare.
Most Recent Studio Album: Medicine at Midnight, 2021
Most Recent Concert: Dec. 7, 2019 in Las Vegas (Intersect Music Festival)
Foo Fighters begin this year as Rock & Roll Hall of Fame nominees in their first year of eligibility. They’ll have to wait until May to find out if they’ll be part of the 2021 class. Until then, the group will be busy promoting Medicine at Midnight, the 10th studio album which arrived in February. Foo Fighters are scheduled for a handful of European dates in June, with just one North American date – a stop in Montreal – scheduled for July.
Meanwhile, 2021 also marks a milestone for Dave Grohl’s “other” band. Nirvana’s Nevermind will celebrate its 30th anniversary in September, though Grohl has been noncommittal regarding how the occasion will be marked. “I’m sure there’s some conversation going on somewhere about how to celebrate Kurt’s music 30 years later,” Grohl admitted to NME. “But I don’t know anything specific.”
Most Recent Studio Album: Can't Slow Down, 2009
Most Recent Concert: March 11, 2020 in Milwaukee, Wis.
Foreigner was scheduled to play a pair of socially distant concerts in March. The Florida event, hosted at the Dr. Phillips Center in Orlando, will see the band performing outdoors to a crowd of fans separated into small groups of up to five people, seated in their own 5'-x-7' boxes. The venue is the first of its kind in the U.S. to accommodate these types of performances, which represent the latest step toward returning to traditional concerts. Further tour dates which Foreigner had originally planned for 2020 are currently rescheduled for April and May 2021.
Alumni: Music could also be forthcoming from Foreigner's original singer. Lou Gramm revealed he was "working on” releasing previously unheard solo material recorded during the ‘80s, but that legal red tape with previous record label had slowed down the process. Another album from Lou Gramm Band is also reportedly in the works.
Most Recent Studio Album: Calling All Stations, 1997
Most Recent Concert: Oct. 13, 20017 in Los Angeles
Last year was supposed to be a banner year for Genesis, marking their live return after a 13-year hiatus. The band's platinum-selling trio lineup — frontman Phil Collins, bassist-guitarist Mike Rutherford, keyboardist Tony Banks — were all onboard, with guitarist-bassist Daryl Stuermer and Collins' drummer son Nic rounding out the crew. Rehearsal teasers previewed an impressive spectacle appropriate for the arenas. The vibes? They were good. Then … well, you know. It's still unclear exactly when The Last Domino? Tour will occur. Dates in the U.K. and Ireland have been postponed twice: first from November and December 2020 to April 2021, then to the fall. The trek is now scheduled to launch Sept. 16 in Dublin and wrap Oct. 13 in London. But given the uncertainty of the COVID-19 era, who can say for sure? Genesis have been quiet otherwise, offering no concrete hint of a studio album. "The chances of us writing together again are pretty small, actually, but who knows," Collins said last year, before adding the requisite stipulation "never say never."
Solo Projects/Alumni: None of the current Genesis members have announced any upcoming studio projects. Rutherford's most recent LP with Mike + the Mechanics, Out of the Blue, came out in 2019; Banks released his orchestral album, Five, in 2018, and a solo compilation the following year; and Collins returned with his Not Dead Yet Tour in 2019, releasing a B-side and demos. Former guitarist Steve Hackett issued his all-acoustic 26th album, Under a Mediterranean Sky, in January. Ex-singer Peter Gabriel released the rarities compilation Flotsam and Jetsam in 2019, while he continues to (slowly) work on a follow-up to 2002's Up.
Most Recent Studio Album: Without a Net, 1990
Most Recent Concert: July 5, 2015 in Chicago, Ill.
Outside of Kiss, arguably no one does merchandising better than the Grateful Dead. The band has already released new lines of footwear, socks, face masks, bobbleheads, ponchos and tea for 2021.
Their 1971 self-titled double-live album (better known as Skull and Roses) will turn 50 in October. An expanded anniversary edition is set to arrive in June. Dead and Company – the offshoot band featuring three of the four surviving original members along with John Mayer on guitar and vocals - had to postpone a slew of 2020 dates, but have yet to reschedule.
Alumni: Phil Lesh, the only surviving Grateful Dead member not in Dead and Company, is set to headline the Levitate Festival this July in Marshfield, Mass.
Guns N' Roses
Most Recent Studio Album: Chinese Democracy, 2008
Most Recent Concert: March 14, 2020 in Mexico City (Vive Latino festival)
Guns N’ Roses fans will be asking the same question in 2021 they’ve been asking for more than a decade: When can we expect new music? The answer is soon ... maybe. Duff McKagan's wife Susan revealed last year that the band was "working fastidiously" on new material, adding that what she’d heard at that point sounded “pretty epic.” Those comments fell in line with previous statements from Slash and her husband, both of whom alluded to working on new Guns N' Roses songs.
Despite this, the timeline for a release is unknown. Meanwhile, the band has rescheduled tour dates from 2020 to this summer. If things move forward as planned, Guns N' Roses will kick off their trek on June 2 in Lisbon, Portugal.
Most Recent Studio Album: Beautiful Broken, 2016
Most Recent Concert: Oct. 13, 2019 in St. Paul, Minn.
Heart had planned on releasing new music in 2020 before the coronavirus struck. It’s possible the band will unveil new songs in 2021, though sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson both seem more focused on solo material lately. A Heart biopic is also in the works, with Carrie Brownstein of the band Sleater-Kinney and TV show Portlandia set to write and direct.
The year is poised to be a busy one for each of the Wilson sisters. Nancy is set to release her solo debut, You and Me, in May. The LP features a cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “The Rising,” as well as an instrumental track called “For Edward,” dedicated to Eddie Van Halen. Meanwhile Ann has released three new singles in recent months – a cover of Steve Earle's "The Revolution Starts Now," and two originals: "Tender Heart" and "The Hammer." It’s unclear whether they are part of a forthcoming album or simply stand-alone pieces.
Most Recent Studio Album: The Book of Souls, 2015
Most Recent Concert: Oct. 15, 2019 in Santiago, Chile
It’s possible that 2021 will see Iron Maiden’s long-awaited induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame - not that they care. The band has continually dismissed the honor, making it clear they will not attend even if they are enshrined. Instead, Iron Maiden is going back on the road. They'll headline the Rock in Rio festival in September, and then hope to embark on the final leg of their Legacy of the Best tour this fall – a trek which will take them throughout Europe.
Maiden guitarist Adrian Smith and Winery Dogs guitarist Richie Kotzen are also set to release their debut LP, Smith/Kotzen, in March.
Most Recent Studio Album: Fogerty's Factory, 2020
Most Recent Concert: March 14, 2020 in Laughlin, Nev.
In February, John Fogerty released his latest single, "Weeping in the Promised Land," a track inspired by 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic. Hhalf-speed mastered editions of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s final two studio albums, Pendulum and Mardi Gras, were also released that month.
Meanwhile, Creedence Clearwater Revisited – the offshoot band featuring original members Stu Cook and Doug Clifford – was in the middle of its farewell tour when the pandemic forced all performances to be postponed. New dates have not yet been announced, though the band reportedly has every intention of finishing the trek.
Most Recent Studio Album: Eclipse, 2011
Most Recent Concert: Dec. 31, 2019 in Las Vegas.
After overhauling its lineup in 2020 – Ross Valory and Steve Smith were dismissed, followed by the arrival of Randy Jackson, Narada Michael Walden and Jason Derlatka - the revamped Journey is poised to release new music. In January, Guitarist Neal Schon said the band was "deep in" work on a new album, with 21 new tracks in various states of completion. Journey is also reportedly set to play at the Lollapalooza festival in Chicago this summer, assuming it goes forward.
Then there’s the ever-present specter of former singer Steve Perry. Current Journey frontman Arnel Pineda said it’d be a “dream” to have Perry join the band on stage for a performance. Though it remains unlikely, Perry’s increased activity in the past few years at least makes such an idea slightly more fathomable than it once was.
Most Recent Studio Album: Firepower, 2018
Most Recent Concert: June 29, 2019 in Las Vegas
After postponing their 50th anniversary tour, Judas Priest have a long list of dates on tap for 2021. The band heads to Europe at the end of May, starting in Finland, then travels to 29 countries over the course of three months. From there, they return to the U.S. for fall dates that run through the end of October.
Alumni: KK's Priest, the band featuring former Judas Priest members K.K. Downing, Tim "Ripper" Owens and Les Binks, planned to embark on their debut tour in 2020 when the pandemic brought live music to a halt. The group is now reportedly poised to release its debut album in 2021.
Most Recent Studio Album: Phobia, 1993
Most Recent Concert: June 15, 1996 in Oslo, Norway
Over the past few years, the Kinks have seemingly been inching closer to making music once again. Ray and Dave Davies admitted to working on song ideas together in 2019 for something dubbed “Project Kinks.” Dave noted in January that the brothers have “been talking about” a reunion, and that “it may still happen.” Despite these comments, fans must simply wait and see if a return of the Kinks will come to fruition. Meanwhile, two of the band’s classic albums will celebrate milestones in 2021, as both Muswell Hillbillies and the soundtrack to Percy turn 50 years old.
Most Recent Studio Album: Monster, 2012
Most Recent Concert: Dec. 31, 2020 in Dubai (Kiss 2020 Goodbye PPV Special)
Kiss were a little more than a year into a planned multi-year End of the Road farewell tour when the pandemic forced them off the road in March 2020. Their original plan of saying farewell forever with a July 17, 2021 show in their hometown of New York City has been pushed back, but the tour will resume. "Once we have a vaccine out there and the scientists – not the politicians – are telling us, 'Okay, open the doors. Celebrate life. Go out there and enjoy yourself,' then we're going out there," Gene Simmons said in a May 2020 interview. The band is also reportedly at work on a new career-spanning documentary.
In the meantime, Kiss managed to find the safest way possible to say end 2020 from a stage, spending millions of dollars on safety measures and a firework display while mounting a live New Year's Eve concert special from the beach of a hotel in Dubai.
Solo Projects / Alumni: On March 19, frontman Paul Stanley released Now and Then, an album featuring covers of nine '60s and '70s R&B classics along with five originals from his new side project Soul Station. Founding lead guitarist Ace Frehley released his second covers album in September, and is now at work on his first album of original material since 2018's Spaceman. Bruce Kulick, lead guitarist in the '80s and '90s, is working on original material with the Mobb, the band he's appeared with on recent Kiss Kruises.
Most Recent Studio Album: In Through the Out Door, 1979
Most Recent Concert: Dec. 10, 2007 in London, England
Led Zeppelin has found itself in the unlikely role of viral star in 2021. A young guitar virtuoso and rock-singing parrot have each racked up millions of views for their unique renditions of Led Zeppelin songs. Unearthed concert footage has also given fans a new glimpse of what it was like to watch the band in 1972.
The group’s former members remain busy, too. Jimmy Page is working on new music with David Coverdale, while Robert Plant is set to headline the Black Deer music festival in the U.K. this June.
Most Recent Studio Album: Last of a Dyin' Breed, 2012
Most Recent Concert: March 8, 2020 in Plant City, Fla. (Florida Strawberry Harvest Festival)
Lynyrd Skynyrd’s 2021 plans are highlighted by the arrival of a classic live album and concert film recorded 45 years ago. Live at Knebworth ‘76 captures the Southern rock icons performing during a festival appearance in England. The restored footage and remastered audio lets fans experience what it was like to see Lynyrd Skynyrd's classic lineup, prior to their tragic 1977 plane crash.
Meanwhile, Skynyrd’s current lineup is planning a return to the stage in the summer, with their Last of the Street Survivors tour currently set to resume at the end of May.
Most Recent Studio Album: Hardwired ... to Self-Destruct, 2018
Most Recent Concert: Sept. 8, 2019 in San Francisco.
The downtime caused by the coronavirus pandemic offered few silver linings, but it did spur Metallica to work on a new album. Drummer Lars Ulrich revealed in late 2020 that the band had been working on new material, collaborating virtually via Zoom. Unfortunately, the setup made things difficult, as Metallica struggling to hear each other and perform together while working remotely. Since those struggles, Metallica has performed two virtual concerts together from the same room – a benefit show for their All Within My Hands charity and an appearance at the BlizzCon gaming convention – so the guys have at least gotten back together in person. Things remain quiet regarding the aforementioned new material, but it would seem the stars – and technology – have aligned to help bring the album to reality.
Most Recent Studio Album: Saints of Los Angeles, 2008
Most Recent Concert: Dec. 31, 2015 in Los Angeles (The Final Tour)
It's hard to think of any band who had more grandiose plans ruined by the coronavirus than Motley Crue. Hot on the heels of their Netflix biopic, The Dirt, they reunited. A summer tour with Def Leppard, Poison and Joan Jett was plotted and then postponed, though the band does hope to return once conditions allow. "I want to be onstage when that day comes, and it's okay for a fucking stadium to be filled with people going fucking crazy for the first time," drummer Tommy Lee said. "Because that energy? Can you imagine?" Lee put out a solo album, Andro, in October.
Bassist Nikki Sixx was working on a stage musical adaptation of his 2007 memoir, The Heroin Diaries: A Year in the Life of a Shattered Rock Star, which also was delayed due to the pandemic. Mick Mars previously announced a new solo album that was expected last summer, but it never arrived. No further details have come out. Motley Crue has already stated they will not make a final album together.
Most Recent Studio Album: Colorado, 2019
Most Recent Concert: Sept. 21, 2019 in East Troy, Wis.
Few artists can compete with the sheer volume of material that Neil Young continues to churn out. He has already unveiled two archival live albums/concert films this year – Way Down in the Rust Bucket (recorded in 1990) and Young Shakespeare (recorded in 1971). Additionally, Young is set to release Johnny's Island, the album which was replaced by Trans back in 1982.
Most Recent Studio Album: Ordinary Man, 2020
Most Recent Concert: Dec. 31, 2018 in Los Angeles
Ozzy Osbourne is poised for a quick return to studio work this year. Andrew Watt is back in the fold after producing the ex-Black Sabbath frontman's 2020 solo LP. There are reportedly several well-known collaborators contributing to the album as well, including Metallica’s Robert Trujillo, Red Hot Chili Peppers' Chad Smith and Foo Fighters' Taylor Hawkins.
Details on the album – including title and release date – remain unknown, but Osbourne was reportedly “about halfway through” it in December, making a 2021 release likely. A biopic about Osbourne also remains in the works, while dates for his postponed No More Tours 2 trek have been rescheduled to 2022.
Osbourne’s former band will be releasing several archival sets in 2021. An expanded reissue of Black Sabbath's Vol. 4 came out in February, complete with 20 previously unreleased studio and live recordings. Remastered versions of Sabbath’s Ronnie James Dio-fronted LPs Heaven and Hell and Mob Rules were set to arrive in March, both featuring expanded material, including live recordings, demos and outtakes.
Most Recent Studio Album: All Blues, 2019
Most Recent Concert: Nov. 9, 2019 in Skokie, Ill.
Peter Frampton will release his all-instrumental covers album, Frampton Forgets the Words, on April 23. Songs originally by David Bowie ("Loving the Alien"), George Harrison ("Isn't It a Pity"), Roxy Music ("Avalon"), Sly & the Family Stone ("If You Want Me to Stay") and Radiohead (“Reckoner”) are featured. The LP was recorded at Frampton’s home studio in Nashville and will be the second instrumental album of his career, following 2006's Grammy-winning Fingerprints.
Most Recent Solo Studio Albums: David Gilmour: Rattle That Lock, 2015; Nick Mason's Saucerful of Secrets: Live at the Roundhouse, 2020
Most Recent Concerts: Gilmour, Sept. 30, 2016 in London; Mason, July 27, 2019 in Warsaw, Poland
Pink Floyd continue to mine their sprawling catalog for the reissue market. The most recent was November's restored, reedited and remixed version of the 1988 Delicate Sound of Thunder concert film and LP. Otherwise, the band basically only exists on paper at this point, with David Gilmour and Nick Mason focusing on their own respective projects. They nevertheless made headlines anyway — for depressing reasons: Former member Roger Waters claimed back in May that he was "banned by David Gilmour from the [Pink Floyd] website" and social media platforms. He also elaborated on a previously mentioned Camp David-style summit held in 2019 with Gilmour and Mason, saying he "proposed all kinds of measures to get past this awful impasse that we have," but nothing came from it. "I think [Gilmour] thinks that because I left the band in 1985, that he owns Pink Floyd, that he is Pink Floyd and I'm irrelevant, and I should just keep my mouth shut," Waters said.
Solo Projects/Alumni: Mason has been active with Saucerful of Secrets, formed in 2018 to play the group's early psych-rock tunes. The pandemic, naturally, hampered their plans: A scheduled 2020 run was first delayed until 2021 — then pushed back even further, to 2022. A concert LP was also delayed, before finally arriving in September. Months earlier, Gilmour issued a single called "Yes, I Have Ghosts," his first new solo work since 2015's Rattle That Lock. He also provided music for the audiobook of A Theatre for Dreamers, a novel by his wife, Polly Samson. During the pandemic, Waters released the digital and physical editions of his concert film Us + Them and covered a pair of Pink Floyd songs, "Mother" and "Two Suns in the Sunset," with his band.
Most Recent Studio Album: Poison'd!, 2007
Most Recent Concert: July 1, 2018 in Hollywood, Fla.
Poison frontman Bret Michaels was scheduled to host an exclusive online virtual concert in March to celebrate his birthday. The acoustic performance will include an interactive Q&A with fans, as well as a charity auction for rare memorabilia. Meanwhile, a new Michaels figure will be the latest addition to the popular Funko Pop! Series. And, if all things go well, fans may finally be able to see Poison alongside Motley Crue, Def Leppard and Joan Jett as part of the Stadium Tour.
Most Recent Studio Album: Hate for Sale, 2020
Most Recent Concert: Nov. 30, 2019 in Zagreb, Croatia
Pretenders members Chrissie Hynde and James Walbourne recorded an eight-part series of Bob Dylan covers in 2020. Those tracks will now get an official album release in the form of Chrissie Hynde Sings Bob Dylan. She is already looking ahead to performing these updates in front of crowds once concerts return. “It’s making us think maybe we’ll stick to very small acoustic sets for a while,” Hynde admitted via Facebook. “If we can make it work, James and I might pull up in your town, jump off the train and play in the smallest venue you got and then be on our way."
Most Recent Studio Album: Made in Heaven, 1995
Most Recent Concert: Feb. 29, 2020 at Gold Coast, Australia
Rather than playing the guessing game, Queen + Adam Lambert were proactive and decided to postpone their 2021 tour dates – which had already been rescheduled from 2020 - into next year. “When we do eventually get to play in front of live audiences, it will be with a ferociously renewed attack," drummer Roger TaylorBrian May have been interacting with fans since the pandemic began.
Most Recent Studio Album: Blood Red Roses, 2018
Most Recent Concert: March 14, 2020 in Las Vegas.
Rod Stewart expected to spend much of 2020 touring alongside his fellow Rock & Roll Hall of Famers in Cheap Trick. The pandemic postponed those plans, but they're now rescheduled to hit the road together starting in July.
The Rolling Stones
Most Recent Studio Album: Blue & Lonesome, 2016
Most Recent Concert: Aug. 30, 2019 in Miami Gardens, Fla.
The Rolling Stones have been teasing fans with talk of new music for some time now, but there is little reason to believe an album is forthcoming in 2021. Mick Jagger posted a brief video of himself performing a new song titled "Pride Before a Fall" in October, but little context has been given around the track. Some 50 previously unreleased Stones tracks mysteriously popped up recently as part of a bootlegged box set, with no reasonable explanation given as to where they came from. Lawyers naturally got involved, but it is fun to hypothesize about a potential studio outtakes set on the horizon.
One project that is moving forward: a new TV show based on the band’s early career. The as-yet untitled program is being produced for the FX network and has already received permission from the Stones to use their music.
Final Studio Album: Clockwork Angels, 2012
Final Concert: Aug. 1, 2015 in Inglewood, Calif.
Almost six years after their final show, Rush exist solely as a catalog act. They released a February 2020 super-deluxe edition of 1980's Permanent Waves, the latest in a series of 40th anniversary treatments. Otherwise, the prospect of another album or tour already looked grim after drummer Neil Peart's post-tour retirement but then the Rush story officially closed last January with Peart's death from brain cancer at 67.
Solo Projects/Alumni: The good news for fans is that bassist Geddy Lee and guitarist Alex Lifeson are eager to collaborate on new music — even if it (rightfully) won't come out under the Rush banner. Lee said he has some "bits and bobs" of material, while promoting his Big Beautiful Book of Bass in 2018, but it's unclear where or with whom he might release it. Lifeson noted in 2016 that he has "hours of material" ready for a new project. But processing Peart's death has difficult for both: In a June radio interview, Lifeson admitted he hadn't felt "inspired [or] motivated" since his bandmate's passing. "Every time I pick up a guitar, I just aimlessly kind of mess around with it and put it down after 10 minutes," he said. But in a February 2021 interview with Make Weird Music, Lifeson said he and Lee still discuss working on music: “Of course, now with the pandemic, it's kind of wrecked things for a bit. But we're both eager to get back together and kind of get back into that thing that we've done since we were 14 years old that we love to do. And we work really, really well together. So, we'll see what happens with that."
Most Recent Studio Album: Africa Speaks, 2019
Most Recent Concert: Feb. 1, 2020 in Las Vegas.
Santana’s Amigos LP turns 45 this year and he's is celebrating with a special limited-edition rerelease. Postponed 2020 tour dates have also been rescheduled to this summer, with the trek set to kick off June 18 in California. Earth Wind & Fire will come along for the ride, dubbed the Miraculous Supernatural tour.
Most Recent Studio Album: Return to Forever, 2015
Most Recent Concert: March 5, 2020 in Singapore
The Scorpions were set to become the latest addition to the Vegas residency club in 2020, having announced a string of shows at the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino. The original dates were initially pushed to 2021 and have since been delayed even further into 2022. On a more positive note, the Scorpions-inspired podcast Wind of Change is being adapted into a TVs show for Hulu. The script is centered on the wild – and by all accounts, false – theory that the CIA wrote the German band’s 1991 hit "Wind of Change" as a form of propaganda against communism.
Most Recent Studio Album: The Mission, 2017
Most Recent Concert: March 17, 2020 in Washington D.C.
Styx are currently scheduled to hit the road in May, with tour dates running through the summer. If those performances go ahead as planned, it’s possible fans will be hearing new material mixed into the setlist. Tommy Shaw stated in July that the band was almost done with their next album, making a 2021 release seem likely.
Alumni: Ex-Styx frontman Dennis DeYoung has forthcoming new music of his own. He's following up 2020's 26 East: Volume 1 with Volume 2 in May. DeYoung says it'll be the final album of his career.
Most Recent Studio Album: The Music Made Me Do It, 2018
Most Recent Concert: Aug. 31, 2019 in Clarkston, Mich.
While Ted Nugent has made it clear he won’t be getting a COVID vaccine any time soon, he still has plenty on his schedule for 2021. The Best @#%! Tour Ever!, a summer trek that had originally been planned for 2020, is now set to launch this July. Nugent is also set to auction off guns, guitars and cars from his personal collection as part of an event in Waco, Texas.
Most Recent Studio Album: Hypnotic Eye, 2014
Most Recent Concert: Sept. 25, 2017 in Hollywood, Calif.
Tom Petty's estate has made sure that his material continues to be released. Finding Wildflowers – a collection of Wildflowers-era material which was previously only available as part of the Super Deluxe nine-LP edition of 2020’s Wildflowers & All The Rest – will arrive as a stand-alone release in April. The documentary Tom Petty, Somewhere You Feel Free also recently premiered as part of SXSW online event.
Most Recent Studio Album: A Different Kind of Truth, 2012
Most Recent Concert: Oct. 4, 2015 in Los Angeles
There were once plans for an elaborate summer tour featuring former Van Halen members Michael Anthony, Sammy Hagar and Gary Cherone. "At a certain point, it turned into what we joked as the Kitchen Sink tour," Wolfgang Van Halen said in a 2020 interview. The tour never came to fruition and the band's inactivity led to rumors that Eddie Van Halen's health had begun to decline – rumors that turned out to be true. "Shit just kept on stacking up and stacking up," Wolfgang said. "It just never let up." Eddie died in October at the age of 65 after a battle with cancer. An outpouring of condolences followed from musicians around the world. Wolfgang issued the tribute song "Distance," a track that will be included on the upcoming Mammoth WVH.
At the moment, no archival releases or tribute concerts are planned, though Hagar and Anthony say it will happen in the future. Hagar made the most of his time off the road and launched a series of "Lockdown Sessions" in early January. Those turned into a full, remotely recorded LP, Lockdown 2020, which featured both Van Halen songs as well as covers.
Most Recent Studio Album: Who, 2019
Most Recent Concert: Feb. 14, 2020 in London, England
The Who’s only previously scheduled tour dates – a trek throughout the U.K. and Ireland which had been scheduled for March – have already been canceled. Still, the band looks to be plenty busy this year with two distinctive projects: A box set of 1967's The Who Sell Out was due in March, with 112 tracks, including 46 previously unheard songs. New material could also be on the way this year, as Pete Townshend told Uncut magazine he has “pages and pages of draft lyrics” ready to record. If that comes to fruition, a new LP would be the 13th of the Who’s career.
Most Recent Studio Album: Heaven & Earth, 2014
Most Recent Concert: July 28, 2019 - Saratoga, Calif.
For a band now past the five-decade mark, Yes remain surprisingly productive — even if the pandemic has stained their itinerary. They were forced to postpone the 2020 Cruise to the Edge until 2022, but managed to issue a recent live LP, The Royal Affair Tour: Live in Las Vegas while working on their first studio album since 2014's Heaven & Earth. "A lot of Yes albums are totally different from the last one, and this one's different yet again," drummer Alan White told SOAL Night Live in January, noting that the LP will feature a blend of "commercial stuff" and more adventurous cuts.
Solo Projects/Alumni: The band members have also been productive outside Yes: In January, singer Jon Davison, bassist Billy Sherwood and occasional drummer Jay Schellen issued their debut LP as Arc of Life. Guitarist Steve Howe released the solo LP Love Is last summer. Meanwhile, all three members of Yes Featuring Anderson, Rabin and Wakeman have been active as solo artists, following the band's apparent collapse without completing a long-teased studio project. Rick Wakeman released his latest LP, The Red Planet, in June 2020. Trevor Rabin oversaw a massive solo box set called Changes in March, and he's been working on a new album. Jon Anderson also continues to whittle away on is backlog of material, including The Songs of Zamran: Son of Olias, a "sequel" album to his 1976 solo debut. Meanwhile, Olias of Sunhillow will be reissued March 26 as part of an expanded, remastered set.
Most Recent Studio Album: La Futura, 2012
Most Recent Concert: Feb. 14, 2020 in San Antonio, Texas
At the onset of the pandemic, ZZ Top were forced to postpone their Las Vegas residency. "Thank you for understanding and look forward to seeing you all in Vegas soon!" they wrote in a statement.
The band hinted that their next album was in the works, set to be produced by Rick Rubin. According to Billy Gibbons, the record may include a guest appearance from Jeff Beck. “I had a chance to see him last summer while we were over in London, and we've been in touch ever since," Gibbons said in an interview. "Chances are once we get back in the studio, he's sitting on the ready. So I think we ought to try it.” Gibbons just announced details on his next solo album, Hardware, a tribute to longtime ZZ Top engineer and collaborator Joe Hardy, who died in 2019.