Editorial – What compels infirm, aging rock stars to keep on touring

Tom Henihan

Rock and Roll is a musical genre indelibly associated with adolescence and one’s formative years.

A form that exudes a sense of rebellion, youthful idealism and ardent emotion is difficult to associate seriously with not just aging rockers but also their aging fans.

The lyrics of most rock music have an anthem-like ring to them; they are evocative and stirring but upon scrutiny possess no real substance, especially for people in their sixties or seventies.

Of course, everything gets old including musical styles and the people who play music.

When we say “the sixties” in reference to rock music it is not the counter culture era of liberation and free love that we think of but the age of the musicians themselves, many of whom have left the sixties behind for a second time.

In some ways, rock and roll fans are no different from people aging in any context, as going to a Rolling Stones or Ozzy Osbourne concert is little more than a trip down memory lane in a wistful effort to recapture some essence of one’s glory days.

What was once sex, drugs and rock and roll, is now medication, back braces, stints etc., and yet, something compels these geezer rockers too keep touring and performing, though they are no longer central to the time we live in, no longer provide the soundtrack to our contemporary circumstances.

Instead, geezer rockers offer a retro circus that is in most cases farcical, almost laughable.

No one questions anymore whether these musicians will be too inebriated or stoned to perform but rather will they suffer a fall, catch a cold or need invasive surgery.

When the remarkably fit and apparently invincible Mick Jagger has to postpone a tour because of heart problems and the “Prince of Darkness” Ozzy Osbourne has to forego his 2019 tour due to pneumonia and being injured in a fall, maybe the curtain should finally come down on touring geezers, in the name of safety and good taste.

Considering the lifestyles and antics of the band in their former years, it is impressive that the Stones are still capable of performing but after 57 years and being enormously wealthy by any standards, one has to wonder what they don’t hang it up and let their extensive catalogue of recorded work speak for itself.

Like athletes, most musicians take a final bow when they recognize their stamina and creative powers are beginning to wane. If they have pride in the work they create, they prefer to quit rather than compromise their reputation or diminish their oeuvre by adding inferior work to the canon.

Others can never accept that their time has come and gone, so they desperately try to solicit what little adulation may be out there. More importantly, and the Rolling Stones serve as a perfect example, many old rockers want to squeeze every dollar they can from what remains of their once dazzling enterprise.


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