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Summertime and the heatwave of rock and roll rumors

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David Lee Roth did the reunion tour with Van Halenin 2008...is the a new record next?

The temperature outside isn’t the only thing rising on these sweltering summer days; the rock and roll rumor mill is also heating up in record numbers. Buzz around farewell tours, reunions and long-awaited comebacks have been circulating with increasing frequency, and Boston Examiner is here to help sweat - or sort, it all out.

Rumor: The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is going to change its eligibility rules so that an act 20 years removed from its first release could possibly be inducted, as opposed to the standard method, set at 25 years.

Truth: This one has been bandied about for a few years now, but the Hollywood Reporter claimed in January that this would be the year the constantly criticized Rock Hall would scale back its requirements, ostensibly so that a more contemporary core of artists would bring a much needed youthful injection into the stuffy old men’s club.

That means bands like Nirvana, Green Day and Guns N’ Roses would be among those eligible for nomination later this year. Look, if anyone needs a major image overhaul, it’s the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It’s already been slammed for keeping influential artists like Deep Purple, Alice Cooper, Judas Priest and Kiss locked out while inviting in the likes of ABBA and Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five.

But only a handful of artists are inducted each year, and with so many still awaiting entry, does it make sense to further crowd the list?

Actually, it does - but only if the nominating committee puts a bigger emphasis on balloting those who deserve it before those who don’t. Green Day will get in eventually, but shouldn’t before Bad Religion or Social Distortion. It’s time the Hall mixes it up not just for the sake of mixing it up, but by doing what is right.

Rumor: Paul McCartney is retiring, and his current tour will be his last.

Truth: Normally when an artist of Macca’s stature hits the road, it’s a cause for celebration, like he plans to this year for 13 scheduled dates. Yet in recent years, his fanbase has become fraught with worry that this might be the former Beatle’s final jaunt. 

One would think that at the age of 68, trotting about for nearly three hours and dishing out 40-plus classics would have to be nearing an end. But ask anyone who has seen the master at work since 2008 when the rumor started to swirl, and you’ll find reports that McCartney delivers like no one else - including talent half his age.

The final word might be left to Sir Paul, who told the Boston Herald last year before a couple of gigs at Fenway Park that it was like the “Paul is dead” rumors from decades before.

“All I can say is that I’m not retiring,” he said. “As long as people want to come and hear me, I’ll probably be doing this. It’s just so easy to start rumors.”

Rumor: Music is dead.

Truth: The music business is dead, which is great because now the power goes back to the fans and the musicians. Sure, you still have artists like Madonna and the Eagles signing 360 deals with companies that take a slice out of merchandising, touring and whatever money is made off of newly recorded music, but audiences are sick of the conglomerates that have greedily reached into their pockets for decades and are now staging a revolt.

It’s evident in the continued spike in illegal downloading as a reaction to the years of price gouging by the industry and failure to come up with a streamlined model for digital music. Then there’s the struggling concert scene where, package tours like Lilith Fair are being forced to cancel dates while Live Nation is offering “no service fees” in a desperate attempt to sell lawn seats to Creed.

But music itself is still very much alive. Vampire Weekend, Gaslight Anthem and many others are proving that a career can go beyond just a flavor of the moment song, and newish acts like Interpol and The National have shown that continued solid efforts and attention to a devoted fanbase can truly reap the positive benefits of being in it for more than the almighty dollar.

Rumor: The Who are prepping a tour that will showcase, in its entirety, the rock opera Quadrophenia.

Truth: File this one under “more than likely.” Roger Daltrey told Billboard this week that the band would like to get back on the road as early as next spring, and that for the first time in a decade and a half, could possibly be bringing out the rock opera Quadrophenia – along with some modifications.

“It needs a revamp,” the singer said. “It would be dated to put it out as it is now. We need to fix that area, but I know how to do it.”

The band last performed the piece in March for the Teenage Cancer Trust concert.

Rumor: Van Halen is putting the final touches on a new album with David Lee Roth, set for release early 2011, with the first single hitting radio late this year.

Truth: This is one that gained a lot of steam over the holiday weekend, and it’s generated a good deal of excitement in the rock community as it would be the first album with Roth since 1984. And while Eddie Van Halen’s wife and publicist, Janie Van Halen, was quick to try to put the kibosh on the story with a statement to Rolling Stone that read, “What is going around is exactly that, rumors. I don’t have any updates at this time,” fans aren’t so sure.

The VH organization is notorious for doling out news on a “when we want you to know” basis, and it’s usually at the last minute. The band announced a tour in 2004, but no one was sure who it was with. That one turned out to be with second singer Sammy Hagar. A long-awaited reunion with Roth came to pass in 2007, with a successful tour the following year raking in over $90 million. But as far as a new studio album, it’s been a dozen years since the disastrous Gary Cherone experiment called III.

At this point, nothing would be surprising coming out of the Van Halen camp. A new album with Roth, Eddie deciding to score after-school specials or his brother Alex launching his own sunglasses line would be par for the course and no one would bat an eye.

Rumor: The ‘Big Four’ tour is coming to the U.S.

Truth: How about the ‘Big Three’ for now? Because while the handful of European festival dates last month featuring Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer and Anthrax drew unprecedented levels of interest from hard rock fans, it won’t happen here until next summer at the absolute earliest - if at all.

Metallica is taking the summer off after being on the road since late 2008, and then hitting up Japan and Australia this fall. Megadeth and Slayer have teamed up with fellow thrashers Testament for the ‘American Carnage’ tour in the coming weeks, and unconfirmed reports have Anthrax now joining the bill for at least some of the dates.

Metallica is no stranger to spending years on the road, so it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to see maybe a dozen dates spread out in stadiums across the States next summer when everyone’s schedule clears up a bit.

Rumor: The Rolling Stones are set launch another world tour.

Truth: Were it up to Keith Richards, the Stones would never leave the road. The problem lies with the yin to the guitarist’s yang, Mick Jagger, who recently told CMG Radio, “I’m sure we will. It would be stupid to say there won’t be another Stones tour because I love doing them and I always imagine there would be another Stones tour.” “I’m trying to find out when it will happen myself,” Richards told the Toronto Sun in May. “I sent a note to (Stones drummer) Charlie Watts saying, ‘Should I put an ad in a music magazine - guitar player for hire?’ I’ve got to do something.”

It likely won’t come to that for good ‘ol Keef, and you can expect the band to hit the road next year. And though some sort of new recording will probably be released, the venues will be smaller, like arenas instead of stadiums.

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