Memorable moments from the 2015 Atlanta music scene

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Hundreds of millions watched him Whip and Nae Nae. Photo: Melissa Ruggieri/AJC
There is a reason Air Supply singer Russell Hitchcock is standing in Marietta Square... Photo: Melissa Ruggieri/AJC.

There is a reason Air Supply singer Russell Hitchcock is standing in Marietta Square… Photo: Melissa Ruggieri/AJC.


The Atlanta music scene is never idle, and 2015 brought plenty of electrifying moments.

Billy Joel returned to Philips Arena for the first time in seven years. Taylor Swift affirmed her dominance as pop’s premiere trendsetter and sold more than 55,000 tickets at the Georgia Dome. Elton John revisited his sometime-residence and played his first-ever full show at another eclectic Music Midtown. And we learned that one of the guys from Air Supply lives in Marietta.

There’s always a surprise.

Here are a few other memorable moments from the pop music scene this year.

New music — or appearances – from Atlanta stalwarts: Collective Soul celebrated more than 20 years in the business with their first studio album in six years, the robust “See What You Started By Continuing”; Shawn Mullins got personal with “My Stupid Heart”; Kristian Bush released his first solo album, the engaging “Southern Gravity”; the Indigo Girls reminded us of the power of meaty songwriting with “One Lost Day”; CeeLo Green returned with his first new album of original material in five years with “Heart Blanche”; and TLC launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund their next album before hitting the road for a summer jaunt with New Kids on the Block.

The Rolling Stones: Mick Jagger and his merry caravan returned to the “Ramblin’ Wreck” at Georgia Tech and set a couple of milestones for the venue. It was the first concert held at the stadium in 20 years and marked the Stones’ second time there since 1989. At their June show, which grossed more than $7 million from sales of 42,320 tickets, the band rolled through chestnuts such as “Start Me Up,” “Miss You” and “Honky Tonk Women” with the power of a volcanic eruption.

Hundreds of millions watched him Whip and Nae Nae. Photo: Melissa Ruggieri/AJC

Hundreds of millions watched Atlanta’s Silento Whip and Nae Nae. Photo: Melissa Ruggieri/AJC

Silento: The young man born Ricky Lamar Hawk had just finished his junior year at Redan High School in Stone Mountain when his viral hit, “Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae),” spread from a clubs-and-athletes trend to something that everyone from Hillary Clinton to the “Dancing with the Stars” cast attempted. It might have officially lost its coolness factor at that point, but the song’s video now has almost half a billion hits on YouTube.

TomorrowWorld: The third incarnation of the mega-sized EDM festival in Chattahoochee Hills didn’t hum as smoothly as its predecessors, as the perfect storm – so to speak – of ground-soaking rain and traffic snarls led to the realization that organizers were ill-prepared to deal with weather snafus. Tens of thousands of fans were kept from entering the grounds on the third and final day of the event because weather rendered parts of the site unusable. What followed was a predictable outcry on social media, some well-intentioned mea culpas from organizers, plenty of refunds and skepticism about the festival’s future.

Sir Foster: As the Atlanta Hawks continued their thrilling run to the playoffs last season, in-game organist Foster Carson – Sir Foster to his fans — became a media star, landing stories in GQ and on ESPN and SB Nation’s websites. Six seasons prior, Carson, a native of Fort Valley, answered a Craigslist ad to become the team’s new organist. Now, perched behind his customized keyboard, Carson fields song requests via Twitter during games, sometimes getting a nod of approval from hometown rappers 2 Chainz or Ludacris when in attendance.

The inimitable Alex Cooley. Photo: Kay Hinton, Emory University.

The inimitable Alex Cooley. Photo: Kay Hinton, Emory University.

Alex Cooley: The Atlanta music scene lost one of its greatest champions on Dec. 1 with the death of longtime concert promoter Cooley. In the hours after his passing at age 75, accolades and memorials poured in from music stars around the country – all grateful to the man who gave them a chance in the early days at his famed Alex Cooley’s Electric Ballroom through his co-creation of Music Midtown to his most recent venture as co-owner of Eddie’s Attic. A public memorial will be held at The Tabernacle on Jan. 9.

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