Battle of the Aging Rock Stars

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I’ve often been known to mutter – Life was so fun until David Lee Roth started losing his hair

or as Noel Gallagher once said

“If John Lennon were alive today he’d be writing shite like Biker like an Icon too.”

With any band with two live members announcing yet another reunion tour, let’s take a look at our aging landscape.

Prince: 49

Continuing recording relevance: 7
Ability as a live act: 10

Bat crazy in his personal life, but suddenly financially brilliant, no one can match his catalog or on stage brilliance. He’s still likely to release a six hour record that you can’t begin to filter, but it wouldn’t surprise me in the least to see him release a new monster single.

Led Zeppelin: Jimmy Page 63, Robert Plant 59, John Paul Jones 61

Continuing recording relevance: Won’t happen
Ability as a live act: Unknown

After seeing Page in the mid-80s, I was sure he was close to death, and he’s been a musical non-entity for years. An embarrassing Live Aid reunion performance was blamed on Phil Collins. Fans will be excited to see the one off live gig, but with Jason Bonham now 9 years older than the age his father reached, it’s hard to expect much fire.

The Police: Sting 55, Andy Summers 64, Stuart Copeland 55

Continuing recording relevance: Won’t happen.
Ability as a live act: 9

With Sting becoming perhaps the most boring man alive, it was time to give in, cash in the 401k and rejoin his fellow law enforcement officers. Luckily, they did so with their chops in tact.

Van Halen: David Lee Roth 53, Eddie Van Halen 52, Alex Van Halen 54

Continuing recording relevance: 4
Ability as a live act: 4

Who didn’t want this to happen? Unfortunately, it’s ten years too late. Dave has not only re-recorded his hits with a bluegrass album, but more importantly his voice is completely shot. Eddie is about 1,000 shots of Jack Daniels past his prime and easy as it is to mock Michael Anthony’s importance, Roth’s pipes will need his soaring backing vocals more than ever. Expect a train wreck of a tour that may not even reach its final planned date.

Bob Dylan: 66

Continuing recording relevance: 10
Ability as a live act: 5

Dylan, who once seemed like a spent creative force, somehow pulled out of the nosedive and became without a doubt the most relevant aging rocker of all time. Brilliant albums, a great XM radio show, a lauded autobiography, a great Scorcese documentary, and what looks to be a fascinating upcoming interpretation of his life by filmmaker Todd Haynes, Dylan is on top of the world, and refuses to stop touring.

Whether he could sing live years ago is something people still argue about, but frankly at this point to me he often sounds like Porky Pig on stage.

Paul McCartney: 65

Continuing recording relevance: 7
Ability as a live act: 9

Apparently sadness helps. McCartney, though having some personal issues is having a career resurgence and boasts that killer catalog for live performances. Nevertheless, the Fidelity commercial and the Starbucks signing gnaw at me.

The Who: Pete Townshend 62, Roger Daltrey 63

Continuing recording relevance: 4
Ability as a live act: 8

Their recent comeback album was widely lauded, but frankly I don’t see it. Live Townshend still has the fire, and Daltrey somehow still looks like he’s in his 30’s.

Genesis: Phil Collins 56, Tony Banks 57, Mike Rutherford 56

Continuing recording relevance: 3
Ability as a live act: 4

Had they succeeded in drawing Peter Gabriel back into the fold, this might have been interesting. Instead, least necessary reunion ever.

The Rolling Stones: Mick Jagger 64, Keith Richards 63, Charlie Watts 66, Ron Wood 60

Continuing recording relevance: 2
Ability as a live act: 7

An upcoming performance film with Martin Scorcese in a small club setting sounds tantalizing. Keith’s ability to stay alive remains fascinating. Their new records are worthless.

Eric Clapton: 62

Continuing recording relevance: 5
Ability as a live act: 5

Healthy as he’s ever been, both physically and commercially, but he’s always put me to sleep.

Jeff Beck: 63

Continuing recording relevance: 7
Ability as a live act: 9

Still looks fantastic and plays with dynamic passion. When he feels like recording, it’s
always worth listening to.

Ray Davies: 63

Continuing recording relevance: 8
Ability as a live act: 9

Long awaited solo debut was fantastic, and the ensuing tour humorous, joyful and amazingly energetic given the fact that he was shot in the leg during a trip to New Orleans a few years ago. Kinks reunion could happen, dependant on brother Dave’s post-stroke health and the state of the brothers hate/love relationship.

Jerry Lee Lewis: 71

Continuing recording relevance: 5
Ability as a live act: 10

Recent album was definitely worth listening to, but although the ability remains it won’t be easy for him to record. Nonetheless, he’s still as dangerous as ever and when he deems to perform live he still has the fury and passion to play any punk band off the stage.

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