Neil Peart behind his drum kit

2020: A Year in Music Review

Neil Peart died.

Thus for many, 2020 was already a year to forget less than two weeks in when on January 10 the announcement of Peart’s death three days earlier trickled out.

It left a nation of Rush fans stunned. Few knew of his brain cancer and those who did kept a surprisingly and respectable lid on an ordeal the always private Peart handled for four years. At just 67 years old, the hope of many to freeze the moment a little bit longer suddenly was gone.

But within weeks, a virus originating in Wuhan, China began making news of its own and in less than two months would put a halt to commerce worldwide. Concerts and other live events were rescheduled or postponed until further notice while some dates were scrapped altogether. It wasn’t long before all concert dates for 2020 were canceled.

Then Kenny Rogers died.

Thus for many, 2020 was already a year to forget less than three months in when on March 21 the announcement of Rogers’ death the day before trickled out.

Rogers was 81 and had been dealing with health problems but still his death rattled the flock. He had already said goodbye three years earlier but still.

As the coronavirus spread, bands delayed new album releases, but some unveiled new singles, and a few said the heck with it and dropped new records as planned. Bush impressed. AC/DC surprised. Kansas carried on. Ozzy Osbourne kept it real. Bon Jovi flopped and Pearl Jam scratched some heads. Smashing Pumpkins went double wide.

Regardless, the music world vowed to be back. Just wait until next year. Meanwhile…

Livestream concerts entered the lexicon. Using the marvels of modern technology some enjoyed watching a live concert from the comfort of their living room. No, it wasn’t the same as being there in person but if done right using a large television screen with an excellent sound system at home you got more than a taste.

Metallica ventured down a new path to bring music to the masses. So did Garth Brooks. And, though the pre-recorded Drive-In Concert Experience proved a hit or miss for fans it showed the populace craves music and will climb mountains to flock to their favorites just to witness a little bit of history and get their minds off of current events. Some bands actually took their live act to large parking lots or actual drive-ins where fans could “drive-in” and watch the show from the comfort of their cars while maintaining government mandated social distancing requirements.

Then Eddie Van Halen died.

Thus for many, 2020 was already a year to forget just more than nine months in when on October 6 Van Halen’s son Wolfgang announced his father’s death on Instagram.

A long battle with throat cancer, with the early rounds won by Van Halen, finally got the best of him. The announcement not so much a surprise, but more of a no not yet, as the 65 year old guitarist seemingly had years to come.

If the coronavirus lockdown proved anything, don’t underestimate the power of human resolve and the need for music. Bands and fans will find a way to meet and greet one another to share a common passion. Music soothes the soul and whether you air guitar to rock, enjoy the upbeat tempos of pop or the twang of today’s country music therapy comes in a variety of formats and rhythms.

A surplus of albums will likely highlight 2021 as bands and artists have hinted at new music. Musicians generally lock themselves down anyway when getting into the album writing groove so when governments mandate lockdowns, might as well. Some bands said as much.

Foo Fighters have Medicine at Midnight, Alice Cooper drops Detroit Stories, and Duran Duran, Greta Van Fleet., and Weezer have confirmed while rumors surround Bad Company, Guns N’ Roses, Iron Maiden and Journey, among many more.

Coronavirus aside, 2020 was a gut puncher musically. We lost a lot of musicians this year. A number I had never heard before, many old schoolers long past their prime and others who made a quiet yet successful life while their bandmates on stage grabbed the limelight. However, Peart, Rogers and Van Halen were legends not only in their genre, but their craft and arguably at least “heard of” by most everyone, fan or not, while beloved by those who bought the vinyl, cassette and CD of their every album.

In their deaths, the longstanding runs of two iconic bands and an individual artist officially ended in 2020.

Yep, 2020 was a year to forget.

Musician Deaths 2020:

  • David Roback
  • Barbara Martin
  • Bill Reiflin
  • Bill Withers
  • John Prine
  • Brian Howe
  • Little Richard
  • Rupert Hine
  • Bonnie Pointer
  • Paul Chapman
  • Charlie Daniels
  • Pete Way
  • Frankie Banali
  • Ronald Bell
  • Lee Kerslacke
  • Johnny Nash
  • Tony Lewis
  • Bones Hillman

…and many more.

4 thoughts on “2020: A Year in Music Review

  1. Neil’s death still psychs me out when I think about it as it came out of nowhere and he had already passed on three days earlier by the time the official word came. That inner RUSH circle is something else. Air tight.
    EVH as well as we know there would come a day but man that one is still a kick to the gut.
    Amazing to see how Wolf has stepped up and comes across as a well rounded guy.

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