Late nights in loud, hot, stinky clubs… crappy hotel rooms in one city after another… food from bars, truck stops, and all-night diners… Rock and roll, by all these measures, is really a young person’s game. Very few people past a certain age would ever dare to keep that pace. But some, for whom playing music is like breathing, really have no other choice. They were built for it, whether they like it or not. And that’s why they are still at it well past retirement age.
Some artists — Morrissey and Belinda Carlisle, for two examples — have vowed to walk away once they hit 55 which, for both, is in the next year or two. While they aren’t rockers but they are over 55, both George Strait and George Jones announced their respective retirements from touring this year. But then there are dudes like the Rolling Stones, Iggy Pop, Neil Young, David Byrne, and others who keep on rocking in the free world as they head toward 70. And some of them insist upon doing so with their shirts off.
The Rolling Stones rock, pure and simple. And while they still swagger and strut the same (well, maybe not exactly the same) as always, both Mick Jagger and Keith Richards turn 70 next year. That’s 70 years of hard living which would have — and has — put lesser men in the grave. Not these guys. Instead, the Rolling Stones hit Newark, New Jersey, in mid-December for two shows at the Prudential Center. No doubt, Jagger and Richards will rock the faces off all who attend. That’s not the sort of thing old fogies can easily pull off.
Oh, Iggy… 65 years old and still going shirtless. The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer has earned that right, though, and his place in history as the sort of godfather of punk. A performance last year on American Idol earned him a description of “still magnetic, still disturbing.” Still, he’s had to temper his behavior a little. In 2010, Iggy had a bit of an accident while stage diving. (Yeah, he was 63 and stage diving!) Though he attempted to swear off that particular brand of madness, he broke his vow several more times that same year — one subsequent incident in Belgium ending in a bloody face. Oh, Iggy…
A legend in his own time, Young is unstoppable. Such is his power and presence, famed film director Jonathan Demme has done a trilogy of documentaries on the iconic rocker — 2006’s Heart of Gold, 2010’s Neil Young Trunk Show, and 2012′s Journeys. The latest installment followed Young on his solo Le Noise Tour, showing the truest story in an up close and personal way that can only be captured while on the road. Especially because the road is where Young is most himself, whether touring in a bus or driving in one of his myriad cars. So, it’s safe to say that he’ll keep on trucking until he can’t truck no more.
Having turned 60 this year, Byrne has kept his class act classy and his artistry artsy. His latest collaboration with Annie Clark (aka St. Vincent) has likely even turned a whole new generation of fans onto his massive, eclectic discography. The two had tested the collaborative waters a couple of times in the past and took more than two years to finish their official duet project, Love This Giant. The album was released last month with Byrne and Clark hitting the road to support it. The show will rock in its own way thanks to an eight-member horn section.