ABC - Classic Rock News

Credit: Jeremy SafferIs the COVID-19 pandemic putting a serious damper on your ability to show off you metal cred? Well, here's a possible solution.

Megadeth is offering a customized face mask, modeled after the thrash legends' Vic Rattlehead mascot.

The mask is available for free alongside certain items in the Megadeth web store, including a Countdown to Extinction long-sleeve tee. To order yours, visit

A portion of the proceeds from the mask merch bundles will be donated to Direct Relief, which provides personal protection equipment to healthcare workers.

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Credit: Scotty HillHot Tuna and ex-Jefferson Airplane guitarist Jorma Kaukonen is joining the ranks of musicians who are treating fans to live streaming performances during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The veteran rocker will play a concert at his Fur Peace Ranch guitar camp in Pomeroy, Ohio that'll be streamed live on the ranch's official YouTube channel this Saturday, April 4, at 8 p.m. ET. It will be the first of a series of planned "Live from the Fur Peace Ranch" performances from Kaukonen.

The 79-year-old Rock & Roll Hall of Famer also is planning to offer online guitar classes and weekend workshops from the ranch.

In other news, the paperback edition of Jorma's 2018 autobiography, Been So Long: My Life and Music, is being released this Tuesday, April 7.

Meanwhile, Kaukonen next scheduled concert is slated to take place on May 2 at the Fur Peace Station venue at his ranch. It's an acoustic performance with singer/songwriter Radney Foster. He's also part of the lineup of the Dark Star Orchestra's Dark Star Jubilee festival, scheduled for May 22-24 in Thornville, Ohio.

In addition, Hot Tuna's acoustic lineup is scheduled to perform a May 30 show at Fur Peace Station, an event that was postponed from March 21.

Next, Hot Tuna's electric lineup is slated to appear at the 2020 Lockn' Festival in Arrington, Virginia, on June 21, and then launch a summer tour with David Grisman Trio starting July 10 in Huntington, New York.

Of course, all of these concerts could be subject to postponement depending on what happens with the coronavirus crisis.

Visit for more details.

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Credit: Nels IsraelsonJackson Browne was supposed to have started a tour with James Taylor next month, but like most artists worldwide, he's been forced to postpone the trek due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

All the dates are being rescheduled, perhaps as soon as late summer. All previously purchased tickets will be honored for the new dates.  The original tour was to have started May 15 in New Orleans and had been set to wrap up July 10 in Camden, New Jersey. Browne recently announced that he's been diagnosed with COVID-19, but reported that his symptoms are relatively mild, thankfully. 

In a joint statement, Browne and Taylor say, "it's deeply disappointing for both of us to have to call it off and reschedule (and reschedule we WILL)! As we all now realize, COVID-19 is a serious, real and present danger. Moreover, our public health is all of our responsibility."

They add, "So let us listen to and follow the directions of our public healthcare people and support their efforts in this unprecedented time of global pandemic," they add. "Love those around you and, above all, stay safe and healthy."

Tayor also has postponed a June 21 show he'd scheduled at Boston's Fenway Park with special guests Shawn Colvin and Brandi Carlile. In addition, he has a July 4 concert lined up the famed Tanglewood music venue in Lenox, Massachusetts, but right now, there's no information as to whether or not that event will go forward.

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ABC/Rick RowellGreen Day has dropped a surprise new EP, Otis Big Guitar Mix.

The collection includes alternate mixes of three songs from the punk trio's 2012 ¡Uno! and ¡Dos!: "Lazy Bones," "Wild One" and "Oh Love."

You can download the EP now via digital outlets.

Green Day just dropped their new album, Father of All..., in February. Meanwhile, frontman Billie Joe Armstrong is releasing new covers every Monday amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

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("Lazy Bones" video contains uncensored profanity.) 


Gonzo MultimediaAmerica will celebrate its 50th anniversary by releasing a career-spanning eight-disc box set titled Half Century in early June that features a treasure trove of unreleased audio and video.

The collection boasts seven CDs featuring rare alternate mixes, demos, rehearsals, live performances and interviews, plus a DVD featuring "home movies" of the band filmed from 1972 to 1975.

Disc 1 is called London Demos 1970, and features unreleased demos recorded in various London studios the year before America's self-titled debut was released. It includes early versions of four tunes that appeared on America, plus other songs.

Disc 2, titled Bremen 1973 (Live on Air), features newly mixed audio of a show that the band played in Bremen, Germany, which previously was available only on DVD.

Disc 3, dubbed The Caribou Sessions 1976, features previously unreleased rehearsals, outtakes and demos recorded in February 1976 during the making of America's 1976 album, Hideaway.

Disc 4 is called The Poison Oak Sessions 1981, and contains tracks recorded at Dewey Bunnell's home studio in Northern California, including unheard songs and early versions of tunes that would appear on later America albums.

Disc 5, titled The Alternate 90's, features alternate mixes of songs from two albums, 1994's Hourglass and 1998's Human Nature, as well as unreleased tunes recorded before, during and after those records.

Discs 6 and 7 feature various radio interviews with America spanning from 1974 into the 2000s

The final disc, which will only be available on the box set, is the Home Movies DVD, which offers "fly on the wall" footage of the band, including behind-the-scenes segments of America making the 1973 album Hat Trick, early attempts at music videos and scenes from the road.

You can pre-order the box set at

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ABC/Randy Holmes; Mary McCartney/MPL CommunicationsElton John and Paul McCartney are among the British celebrities who have taken part in a new video salute to the U.K.'s National Health Service for the work it's doing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The clip, which was posted on the organization's Twitter page Thursday, begins with an introduction from Ruth May, Chief Nursing Officer for England, who sends out thanks "to everyone working in the NHS and Social Care that are working so hard right now."

Elton then appears and says, "You are our heroes and we salute each and every one of you. Thank you." The pop-rock legend also holds a sign featuring the hashtags #ThankYouNHS and #OurNHSPeople.

McCartney appears next holding a similar sign, and simply says, "Thank you."

The remainder of the video features a variety of other stars saying "thank you" while holding signs with the hashtags. They include Coldplay's Chris Martin and pop star Kylie Minogue, as well as soccer legend David Beckham; actors Ralph Fiennes, Kate Winslet, Daniel Craig, Ricky Gervais, Claire Foy, Eddie Redmayne, John Boyega and Bill Nighy; and TV personalities Piers Morgan, Gordon Ramsey and Graham Norton.

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Our @CNOEngland Ruth May is joined by some familiar faces to say a very big #ThankYouNHS to all of the incredible staff, carers and volunteers across health and care. 💙 #COVID19 #ThankYouThursday #OurNHSPeople

— NHS England and NHS Improvement (@NHSEngland) April 2, 2020


Mascot Label GroupFormer Whitesnake guitarist Adrian Vandenberg recently announced that he's relaunched a new version of his namesake band, Vandenberg, and now plans for a new studio album by the group have been unveiled. The 10-track collection, titled 2020, will be released on May 29.

The album features nine new original tunes penned by Adrian, plus an updated version of the band's 1982 power ballad "Burning Heart," which initially was released digitally in January.

Another track from 2020, the new song "Shadows of the Night," has now been released as a digital single and via streaming services as well. You also can check out the tune on Vandenberg's official YouTube channel.

Fronting the band is singer Ronnie Romero, who also recently sang with Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow.

"I needed an incredible singer in order to make the use of the Vandenberg name make sense and Ronnie more than fits the bill," Adrian says, adding, "As soon as I knew Ronnie was on board, I wrote the songs to suit Ronnie's amazing vocal capabilities."

2020 also features contributions from two other former Whitesnake members -- bassist Rudy Sarzo and drummer Brian Tichy. Sarzo also has played with Quiet Riot, Dio, Ozzy Osbourne and many others, while Tichy's resume includes stints with Foreigner and Billy Idol. The album was produced by Bob Marlette, who's worked on records by Alice Cooper, Lynyrd Skynyrd and many others.

Rounding out the new Vandenberg lineup are two musicians from Adrian's Dutch homeland -- drummer Koen Herfst and bassist Randy van der Elsen.

"I believe the vibe we have with this turbo charged line-up is wonderful," Vandenberg declares. "This is a brand-new dynamic band with a name that has a legacy and I couldn't be happier with the way it's turned out."

For more details, visit

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R.E.M. in 1983; Paul Natkin/Getty ImagesForty years ago this Sunday, April 5, four University of Georgia students -- Michael Stipe, Peter Buck, Mike Mills and Bill Berry -- played their first concert together as band, at a friend's birthday party in an abandoned Athens, Georgia, church.

The group, which soon took the name R.E.M., had formed few months earlier, after Stipe met Buck at the record store where Peter worked, then were introduced to pals Mills and Berry through a mutual friend.

It was the start of a 30-year journey that saw R.E.M. emerge as influential indie-rock darlings, then become one of the world's most popular rock bands and, in 2007, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees, before breaking up in 2011.

On a recently taped episode of the PBS show Speakeasy, Mills recalls that R.E.M.'s first show "was crazy," while noting, "Athens was a very tight, insular sort of crowd at that point, and…[e]verybody was there that knew each other."

Mills also points out that he noticed that the group had a special chemistry from its very first rehearsal.

He remembers that he and Berry "had some songs that we'd written…before we moved to Athens. So we showed those to [Michael and Peter], and I was like, 'Holy cow, I love what they're doing with these songs that we had already written.'"

Stipe, who also took part in the Speakeasy interview, agrees with Mills that "that spark, that 'je ne sais pas,' was there from the very beginning."

Having said that, Michael, who initially was known for his introverted onstage persona, adds, "It took all of us a few years to learn how to play our respective instruments, and it took me at least three albums to figure out that I did have a voice [and]…a writer's knack."

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Rick Guest/Interscope RecordsThe Who recently postponed all its 2020 tour dates because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but Pete Townshend says having to forgo performing and shelter in place is allowing him time to work on various music projects.

In a recent interview with the U.K.'s BBC Radio 6 Music, Townshend admitted that he feels "really lucky" with regard to the situation, "because what I do mainly is spend a lot of time on my own in the studio."

The 74-year-old Rock & Roll Hall of Famer, who reports that he's currently at his country home in Wiltshire, U.K., maintained, "I feel like I've been given an answer to a prayer I don't think I would have had the guts to do, which is [to say], 'Please cancel everything and give me some time in the studio!'…It feels like a gift."

Townshend said among the things he's considering doing during his unexpected downtime is looking at "the possibility of starting work early…on writing new songs for another Who album, as the last one did so well." The band's 2019 studio effort, WHO, peaked at #2 on the Billboard 200 and has received wide critical praise.

Another project Pete's working on is a planned musical adaptation of his 2019 novel, Age of Anxiety, which he said is "time-consuming, but…really pleasurable."

He added, "I'm working with orchestrations, drum boxes, old vintage synthesizers and, of course, the usual guitars and piano."

Townshend also revealed that he's remixing one of the WHO album's tracks, "Beads on a String," for possible release as a single.

Pete admitted that he's "never really enjoyed [touring that] much," and that the "joy of what I do has been in the composing, the writing, the playing around with studio gear."

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Courtesy of Morrison Hotel GalleryAcclaimed rock photographer Neal Preston, known for shooting classic pics of Led Zeppelin, Queen, The Who and many other famous music artists, will take part in a live online Q&A today as part of Morrison Hotel Gallery's Behind the Lens Instagram Live video series.

Preston explains in a video preview about the event posted on Instagram, "We're gonna have some fun. We're gonna show you a lot of really cool stuff I have on my walls, a lot of which you probably haven't seen. And tell some rock stories, take some question and try to have a bunch of laughs."

The livestream begins at 5 p.m. ET/2 p.m. PT.

Neal's resume includes being Led Zeppelin's U.S. tour photographer in the mid-1970s, being one of the official photographers of the 1985 Live Aid concert at London's Wembley Stadium, and accompanying Billy Joel on the Piano Man's tour of Russia. Other stars he's photographed include David Bowie, Bruce Springsteen, Fleetwood Mac, Sting, Peter Gabriel, Madonna, Wham!, and Whitney Houston.

Among Preston's most famous images is a photo of Freddie Mercury onstage during a 1986 Queen show at Wembley Stadium that was used as the basis for the main poster promoting the Bohemian Rhapsody biopic.

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Credit: Kate IzorRoger Waters has recorded an updated version of "The Right to Live in Peace," a protest song by late Chilean folk singer, poet and communist activist Victor Jara, who was tortured and killed in 1973 after dictator Augusto Pinochet seized control of Chile's government.

The founding Pink Floyd singer/bassist posted an accompanying video for his rendition of the tune on his social media pages that features footage of an unidentified street protest mixed with close-up footage of Waters singing the song.

Roger's version combines some of the tune's original Spanish verses with modified English lyrics that reference modern-day cities that are centers of political upheaval.  The new lyrics also reference current leaders that Waters apparently considers to be responsible for oppressive policies, among them President Trump, Venezuela's Juan Guaido, Brazil's Jair Bolsonaro, and India's Narendra Modi.

Along with the video, Waters has posted a message that reads, "This is for the people of Santiago[, Chile,] and Quito[, Ecuador,] and Jaffa[, Israel,] and Rio [de Janeiro, Brazil,] and La Paz[, Bolivia,] and New York and Baghdad and Budapest[, Hungary,] and everywhere else the man means us harm."

Meanwhile, Waters recently announced that he was postponing his expansive 2020 This Is Not a Drill Tour until next year because of the coronavirus pandemic. "Bummer, but if it saves one life, it's worth it," Roger said in a statement.

People who have already purchased tickets for the shows are advised to hold on to them and await further instructions.

The North American leg of the trek had been scheduled to kick off July 8 in Pittsburgh and run through an October 3 concert in Dallas. The new dates have not yet been announced. The tour is slated to feature Waters performing "in the round."

(Video contains uncensored profanity.)

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I've re-recorded Victor Jara's great song "The Right to Live in Peace".

This is for the people of Santiago & Quito & Jaffa & Rio & La Paz & New York & Baghdad & Budapest and everywhere else the man means us harm.
Love R.

Watch full video and read lyrics:

— Roger Waters (@rogerwaters) April 1, 2020



Credit: Herring & HerringMetallica has announced a $350,000 donation in support of COVID-19 relief through the band's All Within My Hands charity foundation.

The donation will benefit four organizations: Feeding America, Direct Relief, Crew Nation and The USBG National Charity Foundation.

Feeding America supports local food banks, Direct Relief provides personal protective equipment to healthcare workers, Crew Nation benefits touring and venue crew members, and USBG benefits the hospitality industry.

Metallica also recently launched their "Metallica Mondays" series, during which the metal legends are sharing archival footage of full past live concerts. By watching these videos, you'll also have an opportunity to donate to the Metallica-supported charities.

"We know this is the hardest of times for many of you, but if you would like to support any of these organizations, please feel free reach out directly to our incredibly dedicated partners as the needs are very wide-ranging," Metallica says. "Every dollar helps."

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Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for The Rainforest Fund; Cindy Ord/Getty Images for POPSUGAR Play/GroundFollowing his breakup with Meg Ryan last year, John Mellencamp appears to have found a new romantic partner. E! News reports that the 68-year-old Rock & Roll Hall of Famer is now dating Jamie Sue Sherrill, a celebrity skincare expert and TV personality better known as Nurse Jamie.

"They are really happy together," a source tells the entertainment news program. "They are both from the same small town in southern Indiana."

The source adds that the couple have been "dating since the beginning of the year."

Mellencamp has been relatively quiet in recent months, although in February he allowed his classic hit "Small Town" to be used in ad campaign for Mike Bloomberg's short-lived bid to become the Democratic presidential candidate.

Meanwhile, Sherrill star in a new Netflix show, Skin Decision, that premieres this summer.

Neither John nor Jamie have commented about their reported romance.

People confirmed this past November that Mellencamp and Ryan had broken up, after announcing their engagement a year earlier.

John and Meg had a turbulent relationship. They first began dating in 2011, broke up in 2014, and then rekindled their romance in 2017. In November 2018, Ryan posted a message on her Instagram featuring a goofy line drawing of herself and Mellencamp, along with a caption that read, "ENGAGED!"

At the time of their breakup last year, a source told People that the three-times-divorced Mellencamp "didn't want to get married again," adding, "He loves her, but marriage never seemed to be a part of it…It's unclear how important a marriage was to Meg."

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Scott Dudelson/Getty Images for Red Light Management and Live NationDoors drummer John Densmore recently took part in a video fan Q&A that's been posted on the band's YouTube channel and social media pages. Among the revelations the 75-year-old Rock & Roll Hall of Famer shared was some new information about the memoir on which he's been working in recent years.

Densmore says the book is titled Meetings with Remarkable Musicians, it will be "out in the fall," and it will include a chapter about late Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek.

While acknowledging that he and Ray, who died of cancer in 2013 at age 74, had "our struggles" in reference to the legal battles they fought over usage of the Doors name, Densmore delivers high praise for Manzarek's musicianship in the video.

"[T]here's absolutely no way there would be Doors without Ray's left hand playing those bass lines and his right hand playing those beautiful, catchy…circle of fifths [from 'Light My Fire']," Densmore declares, "or the solo in 'Riders [on the Storm]' just etched on your brain."

Among the other fan-submitted questions John answers for the Q&A are what were his favorite Doors song and album cover, and which musician influenced him the most.

Densmore chooses "When the Music's Over" as his favorite song, noting, "[It] was really an epic, interesting thing with all kinds of silences and big drama."

He says his favorite album cover was Strange Days, recalled that singer Jim Morrison had said, "'I don't want to be on the cover again,' and so we had these carnival freaks."

Densmore's most influential musician was legendary jazz saxophonist John Coltrane's drummer Elvin Jones.

"I copied his drumming, and I watched the way he played with Coltrane," John explains. "And I played with Jim kind of influenced by that."

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ParlophoneFans will get to hear an album of rare 1996 David Bowie recordings titled ChangesNowBowie earlier than expected.

As previously reported, the album will be released on vinyl and CD as part of 2020 Record Store Day, which will take place June 20.  But Bowie's label, Parlophone, has now decided to make a digital version of the archival collection available first, on April 17, one day before the original date of this year's Record Store Day.  The date was changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

ChangesNowBowie features nine songs that were recorded in a New York City studio in November 1996 during rehearsals for Bowie's 50th birthday concert, which took place at Madison Square Garden in January 1997. He was backed up by three members of his then-current touring band: bassist Gail Ann Dorsey, guitarist Reeves Gabrels and multi-instrumentalist Mark Plati.

The mostly acoustic session was recorded for a BBC radio special celebrating Bowie's 50th.  Songs on the release include "The Man Who Sold the World," "Aladdin Sane," "Andy Warhol" and "Quicksand," as well as a cover of The Velvet Underground's "White Light/White Heat."

On April 10, a week before ChangesNowBowie's digital release, one of the album's tracks will be issued as an advance digital single and via streaming services: a version of the 1979 Bowie song "Repetition."

A video for the tune, filmed at rehearsals for Bowie's 1997 Earthling Tour in Hartford, Connecticut, also will be made available for download and streaming that day.

Here's the full ChangesNowBowie track list:

"The Man Who Sold the World"
"Aladdin Sane"
"White Light/White Heat"
"Shopping for Girls"
"Lady Stardust"
"The Supermen"
"Andy Warhol"

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The Players Club/Mascot Label GroupDoors guitarist Robby Krieger recently announced plans to put out a new solo album, The Ritual Begins at Sundown, on April 24, but the record's release has now been pushed back until August 14 because of "the uncertainty due to the COVID-19 outbreak."

As previously reported, the album is a jazz-influenced instrumental collection featuring 10 tracks: nine original compositions, plus a cover of the 1970 Frank Zappa song "Chunga's Revenge."

The Ritual Begins at Sundown, Krieger's first studio effort since 2010's Grammy-nominated Singularity, was recorded at his own Horse Latitudes Studios in Los Angeles.

Two songs from the new album are already available digitally and via streaming services: "The Drift" and "Slide Home." You also can check out the tracks at the Mascot Label Group's official YouTube channel. You can pre-order The Ritual Begins at Sundown now.

In other news, a note posted on The Doors' Facebook page is asking guitar-playing fans to submit Doors songs that they'd like to learn how to play. Krieger will choose a tune from the submissions and record a video guitar lesson for it that will be posted online.

Meanwhile, Robby has posted a message on his Facebook page featuring the message, "This is what I do when I'm stuck at home," along with a link to a YouTube video.  It shows him jamming with members of his solo band on a version of the Doors classic "Light My Fire" at Horse Latitudes Studios.

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John Lamparski/Getty ImagesBilly Joel has made the first of several major donations towards the fight against COVID-19, via his charity, The Joel Foundation.

A statement from Billy and his wife, Alexis, notes, "As New Yorkers, we have personal ties to so many of these heroic healthcare workers that are risking their own lives. We cannot begin to express our gratitude for them and our concern for their well-being."

The couple goes on to say that their first donation will be $500,000, which his going to BStrong, a disaster relief charity set up by reality star Bethenny Frankel.  Working with the Global Empowerment Mission to source Personal Protective Equipment, BStrong will use the money to purchase "masks, corona kits and hazmat suits for the doctors and nurses in hospitals that are in dire need," notes the statement.

Seventy-five percent of the donation will go to the New York City and Long Island, NY area -- Billy and his wife live on Long Island -- while 25% will go to hospitals in New York State.

"Please continue to practice all the guidelines that have been put in place to protect us all," the couple concludes. "Our thoughts are with every person fighting this illness."

Recently, Billy and Alexis also sent out a message of support to their close friend, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, whose daily briefings on the pandemic have become a must-watch.  Cuomo is the godfather of the couple's two young daughters, Della and Remy.


The Joel Foundation will be making a series of donations to aid relief efforts due to the coronavirus.@Bethenny and #BStrong in partnership with the #GlobalEmpowermentMission

— Billy Joel (@billyjoel) March 31, 2020


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Credit: Jeremy SafferDave Mustaine is using his time in quarantine to record new Megadeth music.

In a video update from his home, Mustaine says he's currently "working on the new Megadeth album," the follow-up to 2016's Dystopia. He adds that he's also "putting the final touches" on an upcoming book.

You can watch Mustaine's video message streaming now on YouTube. Come for the album update, stay for footage of Mustaine's tiny, barking dogs.

Megadeth is scheduled to launch a U.S. tour with Lamb of God in June, which is currently still a go.

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Adrián Monroy/Medios y Media/Getty ImagesKISS founders Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley have both posted recent video messages to fans on the band's official YouTube channel as they sequester themselves at home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In his clip, posted Tuesday, Simmons personally thanks "all the folks in healthcare, the doctors, the nurses, all the people who keep us healthy and alive." He adds, "And our fire departments, the police, the folks in the food industry who bring or food at home."

The rocker then points out, in comparison to the current health crisis, that more than 50 million people died during World War II.

"Your grandparents were asked to serve. Many of them gave the ultimate sacrifice," he continues. "You know what's being asked of you? Stay at home, sit on your rump, binge-watch Twilight Zone all day long, while people risk their lives and bring you food. So let's get over ourselves."

Simmons finishes his message by declaring, "We're the greatest country in the world. Don't be a knucklehead…Love each other. Support each other. We'll get over this. God bless you all."

Meanwhile, Stanley posted a 10-minute video on Monday that begins by showing him playing an acoustic version of "Every Time I Look at You," a song he co-wrote and that appeared on KISS' 1992 album, Revenge.

Paul then tells fans he's missed them, "especially now that I hear that we're gonna be inside for at least another month," adding, "So now is the time to reach out to friends…text them, call them, let everybody know that you love them."

Stanley also talks about his love of Martin acoustic guitars, like the one on which he played his song, and shares some thoughts on the Revenge album, which he says he remains "very, very proud of."

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Credit: Danny ClinchPearl Jam's streak of top-10 albums looks to continue with the band's latest effort, Gigaton.

According to Billboard, the 11th studio effort from the grunge rockers is pace to sell 50,000 equivalent album units in its first week, which would be good enough for a top-10 debut on the Billboard 200 chart.

Every one of Pearl Jam's previous 10 studio albums landed in the Billboard 200's top 10. Five of them -- 1993's Vs., 1994's Vitalogy, 1996's No Code, 2009's Backspacer and 2013's Lightning Bolt -- debuted at number one on the chart.

Gigaton is the first Pearl Jam album in seven years. It includes the singles "Dance of the Clairvoyants" and "Superblood Wolfmoon."

Pearl Jam was supposed to currently be on a North American tour in support of Gigaton, but the outing's been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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