October's Biggest Classic Rock Stories: 2017 in Review

October was possibly the bleakest month for classic rock fans this year, with the sudden death of a superstar, an unimaginable tragedy at a festival, three bands canceling tours because of health issues and another group forced to move forward without a founding member. But another rocker thrilled audiences with a daring new adventure.

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Tom Petty Dies

Having been found unconscious in his Malibu home due to cardiac arrest, Tom Petty died at UCLA Santa Monica Hospital on Oct. 3 at the age of 66. A week earlier he had concluded a tour with the Heartbreakers in recognition of their 40 years together. One of the most universally loved artists of his day, Petty’s death brought out tributes on social media and cover songs from musicians of all stripes, including his old friend Bob Dylan and the entire stadium at the University of Florida, located in his hometown of Gainesville, sang along with “I Won’t Back Down” during a football game.

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Las Vegas Concert Massacre

The deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history took place on Oct. 1 during the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas. A total of 58 people were killed and more than 500 were injured when a lone gunman, Stephen Paddock, opened fire from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel across the street while country star Jason Aldean was performing. Paddock was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot when a SWAT team entered his suite. The tragedy brought out condolences from rockers and venues such as the Hollywood Bowl and acts like the Foo Fighters increased security at concerts. The weekend after the massacre, Aldean opened up Saturday Night Live by singing Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down,” in tribute to both the victims and Petty, who died that week.

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Bruce Springsteen Opens on Broadway

Bruce Springsteen traded in arenas and stadiums for the Great White Way when a mostly one-man show, Springsteen on Broadway, opened at the 975-seat Walter Kerr Theatre in New York. The night featured Springsteen interspersing performances of his classics with readings from his best-selling 2016 autobiography, Born to Run. His wife, Patti Scialfa, joins him onstage for two songs. The show was originally expected to run through Nov. 26 but has been extended through June 30, 2018.

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Bob Seger, ZZ Top, Scorpions Forced Off the Road

We were repeatedly reminded that our heroes are not immortal when three classic rock acts had to abandon their tours during the same month due to health issues. Bob Seger‘s tour in support of I Knew You When was curtailed after 13 dates with 19 shows still remaining due to emergency back surgery. He later said that, if his recovery goes as planned, he could make up the dates as early as March 2018. An unspecified stomach ailment to bassist Dusty Hill caused ZZ Top to reschedule a month’s worth of dates. A case of severe laryngitis to singer Klaus Meine prompted Scorpions to cancel their remaining shows for the year. Meine was advised by his doctor that he could risk permanent vocal damage if he tried to continue.

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Steely Dan’s First Show Without Walter Becker

Weeks after his musical partner, Walter Becker, died of esophageal cancer, Donald Fagen took Steely Dan out on the road, beginning with an Oct. 12 date at River Spirit Casino in Tulsa, Okla. Fagen would later reveal that continuing to use the band’s name was because promoters felt it was easier to sell the shows. “I would actually prefer to call it Donald Fagen and the Steely Dan Band or something like that,” he said.

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