2015 was a great year for music, with several landmark albums being released over the course of its 12 months. There were some huge news stories over the year as well, from the tragic, to the outrageous, to the simply head-scratching. Here are the 11 biggest stories of 2015:
#11. Ex-Cops call out McDonalds for not paying bands on their SXSW showcase.
Brian Harding, one of the two central members of indie-pop group Ex-Cops, took a bold stand against the corporate interests that have become ubiquitous at SXSW in Austin, TX. Already a veteran of the early-spring music extravaganza, Harding took issue with McDonald’s stipulation that they would not compensate any bands playing on their showcase. Instead of paying the artists, the hugely profitable mega-corporation touted the “increased exposure” playing on such a showcase would provide. In response, Harding penned a powerful screed against the fast food giant on Ex-Cops’ Facebook page.
#10. Ryan Adams releases cover album of Taylor Swift’s 1989.
Taylor Swift released one of the biggest pop records in recent memory with 1989. It was a not-too-shabby effort by the burgeoning pop superstar, and Ryan Adams decided there was even more depth to explore within those 13 songs. He reworked the entire album, with unavoidable radio hits like “Blank Space” and “Shake it Off” getting the alternative treatment, coming out of the process as still-recognizable but completely-new tracks.
#9. Joni Mitchell collapses due to an aneurysm and is rushed to the hospital.
Friends, family and fans of Joni Mitchell had a scare in April when the singer-songwriter was rushed to the hospital upon being discovered unconscious in her Bel-Air, Los Angeles, home. Speculation ran rampant, with TMZ at one point insinuating she was in an unresponsive comatose state. However, the truth is that she has recovered from what was later identified as a brain aneurysm.
#8. Jackie Fox alleges that in 1975, The Runaways manager Kim Fowley raped her.
Jackie Fuchs, aka Jackie Fox of early all-girl punk group The Runaways, alleged that at the age of 16, her former producer Kim Fowley had her drugged and then raped her. To make matters worse, Fox claims that she came to in the middle of the assault and could see that a room full of people was passively watching the crime occur. Many came to the defense of Fowley, who had recently passed away, but many defenses amounted to nothing more than victim-blaming. While Joan Jett and Cherie Curie deny being witnesses to the crime, others such as songwriter Kari Krome and friend Brett Williams have corroborated the musician’s account of the events.
#7. Guns ‘n Roses’ classic lineup reunites for Coachella appearance and stadium tour.
One of the year’s most long-developing stories, the “will Guns ‘n Roses reunite” questions reached a fever pitch in early December. All of the speculation was confirmed this week when news broke that a lineup including Slash, Duff McKagan and Axl Rose will headline Coachella 2016. In addition to that festival headlining slot, the band will head out on a 25-date stadium tour next year. While Izzy Stradlin and Steven Adler will not be full time members of the reunion, there are reports that the two could make some guest appearances at select dates on the tour.
#6. Scott Weiland dies while on tour; cause of death is ruled heart failure from an accidental overdose.
While initially Scott Weiland’s death was ruled a result of heart failure, a few days later the sad truth was confirmed by the former Stone Temple Pilot singer’s autopsy results: cause of death was an accidental overdose of cocaine, methylenedioxyamphetamine (MDA), and ethanol. The enigmatic singer had constantly struggled with his inner demons, fighting addiction throughout his time serving as the singer of one of modern rock’s most popular acts. Days after his passing, his second wife (and mother of his two children) published an open letter through Rolling Stone, painting Weiland’s final days in a new, heart-rending light.
#5. Suge Knight stands trial for murder.
Suge Knight always seemed like a man who was above the law. Playing a central role in the mid-90s West Coast/East Coast hip-hop beefs that resulted in the deaths of Tupac Shakir and Notorious B.I.G. but never being implicated in either’s murder case, Knight was a man living on borrowed time. It appears that time may have finally run out for the Death Row Records ex-kingpin, as he was charged with murder for a hit-and-run incident in Los Angeles that resulted in the death of his friend Terry Carter. The dispute centers around Dr. Dre’s departure from Death Row years ago, when he joined Insterscope Records. Knight arrived at the set of an trailer for the N.W.A biopic Straight Outta Compton, with the intention of discussing matters with Dre, who apparently was not even at the set that night. When he returned to his vehicle, Knight fatally struck Carter (who actually arrived at the scene with Knight).
#4. Rashad Owens, the driver who killed four at SXSW in 2014, is found guilty of capital murder.
When he barreled into a crowd at South by Southwest in 2014, Rashad Jones killed four bystanders and injured over 20. This year, a trial determined that Jones was aware of what he was doing, showing wanton disregard for those that he hit as he evaded police officers. As a result, he was sentenced to life in prison.
#3. Lemmy Kilmister dies suddenly from extremely aggressive brain cancer.
While everyone understood that Lemmy Kilmister was struggling with his health, no one could see his death coming so quickly. Kilmister had struggled with diabetes and several other ailments, occasionally cancelling shows, but when he died at the age of 70 on December 28, the music world was shocked. He had just released a new Mötorhead album, put out a video for “When the Sky Comes Looking for You,” and was even actively touring. Kilmister was diagnosed with brain cancer on December 26 and given just over two months to live, but passed away just two days later. One of the most legendary figures in hard rock and metal, the public outpouring after his death has been enormous.
#2. B.B. King dies at the age of 89.
In 2015 the music world lost one of its most influential guitarists with B.B. King’s passing at the age of 89. His official cause of death was ruled to be multi-infarct dementia, which was caused by a series of small strokes. His daughters allege he was poisoned, but all authorities agree the likelihood of foul play is extremely low.
#1. The Bataclan Theater in Paris is part of a city-wide terror attack, 89 are killed and over 200 wounded.
It is rare that the music world’s biggest news story is also one of the world’s biggest stories of the year. Tragically, music fans in Paris came face-to-face with the reality of terrorism when extremist terrorists opened fire on the Bataclan Theater in Paris in November. American rock band Eagles of Death Metal were performing as the attacks unfolded. The band escaped unscathed but all told, 89 people were murdered and over 200 were injured. The attack was part of a greater wave of terrorism across the city of Paris on that Friday night, but the greatest number of casualties came from that rock ‘n roll theater.