October 2020 Recap: Eddie Van Halen’s Death Rocks the Music World
News of Van Halen founder and guitarist Eddie Van Halen's death saddened musicians and fans around the world in October 2020. While rumors of his continuing cancer battle had circulated for years, the official cause of death was credited to a stroke caused by lung cancer and pneumonia.
With the U.S. presidential election just around the corner, many musicians expressed their concerns about its possible outcome and even considered leaving the United States entirely if Donald Trump was reelected.
And while COVID-19 all but eliminated the possibility of live concerts, many artists continued to host virtual performances, including ex-Fleetwood Mac singer and guitarist Lindsey Buckingham, who returned to the (virtual) stage for the first time since his life-threatening open-heart surgery the year before.
Meanwhile, Led Zeppelin seemed to have finally won their case against Spirit over the authorship of "Stairway to Heaven." You can read more about the biggest stories of October 2020 below.
Eddie Van Halen Dies
After years of rumors about Eddie Van Halen's continuing cancer battle, the guitar great died on Oct. 6 at the age of 65. His bandmates and peers paid tribute in the days following the news. Onetime Van Halen singer Gary Cherone tweeted that Eddie was "a kind and gentle soul" whose impact on his bandmate's lives was "immeasurable." Sammy Hagar, who wasn't on good terms with the guitarist in the decade preceding his death, even reconciled with his former bandmate earlier in the year and texted him frequently in the months before he died. Many other musicians - including original Van Halen singer David Lee Roth - also shared their thoughts on the guitarist and the influence he had on their music. Van Halen's official cause of death was ruled as a stroke, which was most likely brought on by pneumonia and lung cancer. His son, Wolfgang, said that his father died after a "long and arduous battle with cancer." Wolfgang would release his first solo single, "Distance," as a tribute to his father the following month.
Rockers Vow to Leave U.S. If Trump Wins Election
Some of the most famous musicians worried about the outcome of the contentious 2020 presidential election in the month leading up to it. Both Bruce Springsteen and Tommy Lee considered leaving the country if President Donald Trump won reelection. Springsteen, who released an album - Letter to You - the same month, told The Daily Telegraph that he would be "on the next plane [to Australia]" if Trump won. The Motley Crue drummer was prepared to make similar plans if that happened, opting instead to relocate to his birthplace in Greece. Although he wasn't prepared to leave the country, Jon Bon Jovi promised to never return to Buffalo, after losing a bid with Trump on the Buffalo Bills in 2014. While Trump also lost the bid to purchase the football team, he did his best to make sure Bon Jovi couldn't have it either by falsely claiming the rocker planned to relocate the team to Canada.
Lindsey Buckingham Announced First Concert Since Heart Surgery
The past few years have been rough for Lindsey Buckingham. In 2018, he was fired from Fleetwood Mac after a disagreement stemming from an awards ceremony; then he underwent surgery for a heart attack. The pandemic has prevented any live performances while he recovers, but the guitarist adapted by hosting a virtual concert. The performance, which streamed in November, featured covers of Fleetwood Mac classics. Former bandmate Stevie Nicks, who released a new single in October, said she wrote to Buckingham for the first time in years after his heart attack.
Led Zeppelin Seemingly End ’Stairway to Heaven’ Case
Led Zeppelin have been battling with Spirit over the authorship of the acoustic introduction to "Stairway to Heaven" for years now, but the U.S. Supreme Court put an end to that in October. The court refused to hear any arguments, so the previous lower-court ruling that no infringement was found still stands.
Keith Richards Expressed Support for Black Lives Matter
Richards added his voice to the Black Lives Matter movement. "It's about bloody time," he told Rolling Stone. Richards, who maintains homes in both the U.K. and the U.S., also said in the same interview that as a non-native he "can't interfere." The Rolling Stones were greatly influenced by blues artists at the start of their career, and Richards noted that black musicians like James Brown were "the reason he's here." Others also expressed their support for the movement since summer, when George Floyd died while in police custody in Minneapolis.