August 2021 Recap: Charlie Watts Dies, John Lydon Loses Lawsuit
August 2021 offered a bit of everything: legal drama, major album announcements and touring news. But, sadly, one bleak category defined the month: Several innovative rock artists died in August, including the Rolling Stones' Charlie Watts, the Everly Brothers' Don Everly and Poco's Paul Cotton.
Not everything was so sad: Several major bands (including Kiss, Eagles and the Doobie Brothers) got back on the road after long delays. Robert Plant and Alison Krauss also announced a long-awaited reunion album. Read on for a full recap of August's biggest headlines:
RIP to Charlie Watts and Other Rock Legends
The rock community lost a depressing amount of legends this month. On Aug. 3, former Poco guitarist and singer Paul Cotton “passed away unexpectedly, peacefully” at 78, his Facebook page confirmed. Don Everly, the last surviving member of early rock duo the Everly Brothers, died on Aug. 22 of unspecified causes at age 84. Charlie Watts, the Rolling Stones’ drummer for nearly five decades, died two days later at age 80. A cause of death wasn't announced, though a publicist confirmed that he “passed away peacefully in a London hospital … surrounded by his family.” The Stones decided to continue their No Filter Tour with replacement drummer Stanley Jordan, who'd been previously announced as a temporary fill-in.
Robert Plant and Alison Krauss Announce ‘Raise the Roof’
Robert Plant and Alison Krauss ended a 14-year collaborative drought by announcing Raise the Roof, a follow-up to their acclaimed 2007 collaboration, Raising Sand. The duo previewed their 12-track LP with the lead single “Can’t Let Go,” a cover of the Randy Weeks-penned Lucinda Williams tune. T Bone Burnett returned to produce Raise the Roof, which features one original (the Plant/Burnett track “High and Lonesome”) alongside reworked songs by Merle Haggard, Allen Toussaint and the Everly Brothers, among others.
John Lydon Loses Lawsuit Against Sex Pistols Bandmates
A legal dispute between John Lydon and his former Sex Pistols bandmates came to a close, as the former Johnny Rotten lost a lawsuit over use of the band’s music in an upcoming biopic series. Guitarist Steve Jones and drummer Paul Cook filed suit against Lydon, who tried to keep their material from being featured in Pistol, directed by Danny Boyle and based on Jones' 2016 memoir, Lonely Boy: Tales From a Sex Pistol. The group had reportedly signed a “band-member agreement” in 1998, stating that decisions involving Sex Pistols interests would be based on a majority vote. Pistol, which Lydon has described as "the most disrespectful shit I've ever had to endure," is expected to debut some time in 2022 on FX.
Kiss’ Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons Both Test Positive for COVID-19
It was a hectic month for Kiss. The band resumed their long-delayed farewell tour on Aug. 18, playing their first pandemic-era show in front of a live audience. But the forward momentum quickly came to a halt due: Paul Stanley tested positive later in the month, leading to a postponed show; Gene Simmons followed days later, leading to four more delayed dates. (Kiss wrote on social media that “everyone on the entire tour, both band and crew, are fully vaccinated.”)
Simmons reportedly experienced “mild symptoms” — and later, as Kiss got back on the road, he told Los Angeles TV station KTLA that he was feeling “perfectly fine.” Stanley, however, tweeted that his symptoms were “mild compared to many others. And let me tell you … It kicked my ass. It’s over now.”
Rock Giants Return to the Road
Not all of the plans went according to plan — pretty much part of the drill for 2021 touring — but several other major rock bands returned to the road in August. The Doobie Brothers launched their long-delayed reunion with Michael McDonald late in the month, though they were forced to postpone four dates after a “member of their touring personnel” tested positive for COVID-19. (McDonald previously missed a show due to an unspecified illness.) Eagles got back on the road for the first time since March 2020, resuming their Hotel California tour at New York City’s Madison Square Garden. Dead & Company took the stage in Raleigh, N.C., to play their first gig in 19 months.