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A Tough Act To Follow While 1994 Shattered A Lot Of Concert Records, The New Year Promises A Full Plate For Rock Artists And Their Fans

Gary Graff Detroit Free Press

After the busiest concert year in rock ‘n’ roll history - during which a record for gate receipts was set by Pink Floyd and then broken by the Rolling Stones - it’s hard to imagine what 1995 can offer for an encore.

“We had everybody in 1994,” says Cellar Door Productions’ Rick Franks. “I hope my colleagues do income averaging, ‘cause I don’t know who’s left.”

But Franks and other promoters will tell you that there will be plenty of live rock ‘n’ roll during 1995 as well. And if the new year isn’t quite as jam-packed - probably a good thing for all concerned - it will be marked by a steady stream of major names that will keep concert sites filled throughout the year.

Pearl Jam is rock’s designated monster, with its new album “Vitalogy” sitting atop the Billboard charts. Despite the Seattle group’s battle with Ticketmaster, the band is hoping to play some shows during 1995 beyond its Jan. 14-15 Voters for Choice benefits in Washington, D.C. It has promoters all over the country scurrying to find alternative sites - preferably outdoors - for its concerts in an effort to sidestep Ticketmaster’s hold on most major cities.

A Michael Jackson tour also is burning on the rumor mills. His new album “HIStory, Book 1” - a greatest hits set with enough new songs to fill a regular release - is due out Feb. 14, though there’s concern over how much his appeal has been damaged by child molestation charges and his curious marriage to Lisa Marie Presley.

The main concern about Madonna is soft sales for her latest album, “Bedtime Stories.” Nevertheless, there are reports she’s putting together another one of her opulent, theatrical productions to take on the road during the first half of ‘95.

Other tours are more certain. R.E.M. kicks off its first tour in five years in Europe and moves to the United States for spring and summer dates, the first of which will be announced later this month. Jimmy Page and Robert Plant have slated Jan. 11 - the day before Led Zeppelin is inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame - to announce tour dates for their de facto Zeppelin reunion.

Van Halen, whose new album “Balance” will be the first megaseller of ‘95, will tour throughout the year, with North American dates during March and April. In Europe, the hard rock group will perform shows with Bon Jovi, which expects to tour the United States itself after a new album is released in May.

The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Ministry, Sheryl Crow and Siouxsie & the Banshees are among the hot new music acts planning live dates to follow the release of new albums. The Beastie Boys also are planning a tour to follow up their successful run with Lollapalooza ‘94.

And there will be a Lollapalooza ‘95, though there’s no word yet on the lineup; candidates include the Cranberries and long-absent British rockers Stone Roses, whose first album in six years is just out in Europe and Canada and will be released in the United States during January.

But the Lollapalooza headliner may well be Neil Young, oft cited as the spiritual godfather of the modern rock movement.

Bruce Springsteen is scouting a summer concert schedule to promote the release of a new album in the spring. The Eagles and Amy Grant already have announced dates, while Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers and Gloria Estefan also are expected to hit the road.

Billy Joel and Elton John will reprise their stadium-only co-headlining excursion, though only in cities where they didn’t perform during ‘94. John will stage his own tour to promote a new album.

Modest sales of its “Amorica” album, meanwhile, have pushed the Black Crowes back into theaters, where the band will head during the spring after touring Europe.

Now that its legal battle with Elektra Records has been settled out of court, top draw Metallica may unleash a new album and tour to join a crowded metal market that includes Megadeth, Slayer and Pantera. Guns N’ Roses will be silent, but Slash’s Snakepit - a side project by the band’s guitarist - will play clubs from April to July.

Boyz II Men’s joint outing with Babyface will not be the end of the touring road for the vocal quartet; the Boyz also are planning to tour the world on their own. Anita Baker will be on the road as well, while Prince is reported to be gearing up for a new tour.

Stevie Wonder also will continue playing live to support his February release, “Conversation Peace.”

And Bob Seger? After saying he hoped to have a new album and a fresh tour in ‘95, he’s backed off a bit in anticipation of the April birth of his second child.

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