Music News Digest: Week Of October 4, 2020

October 11, 2020 by Amy Gold

During the week of October 4, 2020, fans bade a final farewell to Johnny Nash (August 19, 1940 - October 6, 2020) and Van Halen co-founder Eddie Van Halen (January 26, 1955 - October 6, 2020).

Johnny Nash was a veteran reggae/pop singer-songwriter best known for the 1972 self-penned smash, "I Can See Clearly Now," which topped both the Adult Contemporary and Pop/Rock charts. Born in Houston, TX, he launched his career in the early 1950s performing on TV and had his first chart hit in 1957 with "A Very Special Love." His many other hits, which continued through the mid 1970s, also included "Hold Me Tight" (1968) and his cover of Bob Marley's "Stir It Up" (1973). Nash passed away at his home of natural but as-yet unreported causes after a period of declining health.

Eddie Van Halen was a highly acclaimed and influential guitarist, songwriter, producer, and inventor with three patents related to guitar design. Born in Amsterdam in the Netherlands, he moved with his family to Pasadena, CA in 1962 and eventually became a naturalized U.S. citizen along with his older brother Alex. He became famous for popularizing the tapping guitar technique in which both hands are used to play rapid arpeggios on the fingerboard. With Alex, he co-founded the veteran hard rock band, Van Halen, and served as main songwriter and lead guitarist. Best known for such smash hits as "Jump" (1984) and "Why Can't This Be Love" (1986), the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007. Van Halen passed away after a five-year battle with throat cancer.

Also that week, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame announced an upcoming virtual event in honor of this year's inductees to the Class of 2020 to air November 7, 2020 on HBO and stream on HBO Max. This program will take the place of the usual in-person award ceremonies and concert which were canceled due to COVID-19 concerns. This year's inductees include such veteran bands and artists as The Doobie Brothers, Whitney Houston, and T. Rex. Ringo Starr, Bruce Springsteen, and Don Henley of The Eagles are among the many featured guests.

Record Store Day announced its list of limited-edition vinyl recordings to be released during its annual Black Friday event taking place on November 27, 2020. Among those bands and artists with offerings are Chuck Berry, Jerry Garcia, George Harrison, Jefferson Starship, Little Richard, Lou Reed, The Rolling Stones, Nancy Sinatra, and Brian Wilson. Visit for a complete list of recordings and participating stores.

"Regimental Sgt. Zippo," a rare early Elton John song from a shelved 1969 debut album, recently made its debut on YouTube. This Beatles' sound-alike song pays tribute to the band's similarly-named "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band." Along with several other unearthed early gems and rarities, "Regimental Sgt. Zippo" is included in the upcoming Elton John box set, "Jewel Box," due out on November 13.

Shock rocker Alice Cooper will show a softer side later this month when he hosts a one-off, kid-friendly Halloween story time hour on October 21, 2020 that will be viewable at Proceeds will go to North Star Reach, a medical camp that offers free camp experiences for children with health issues. We'll read about spiders and spirits, goblins and ghosts and monsters and mutants -- all of my favorite things, really, says Cooper. And we'll do it in full costume ... It'll be a scary good time.

Also that week, it was announced that "Bruce Springsteen's Letter To You," a new documentary about the making of The Boss's latest album, will premiere October 23, 2020 on Apple TV+, the same day that this recording is set to be released. This upcoming movie features both previously-unseen archival footage and more recent in-studio shots of Springsteen at work with his E Street Band.

Finally, fans and musicians alike - including former Beatles bandmates, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr - came together on October 9, 2020 to pay tribute to John Lennon on what would have been his 80th birthday. Among the many online and offline events that took place in his honor were the annual lighting of the Imagine Peace Tower on Vioey Island near Reykjavík, Iceland, a memorial art piece conceived by his widow, Yoko Ono, which can be viewed at The tower will remain lit until December 8, 2020, the 40th anniversary of Lennon's death.

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(For more information about the above news items, please see below for a list of sources with links.)