It’s better to burn out, than fade away ---Def Leppard
Hope I die, before I get old ----The Who
Rock and Roll has lived long enough now to maybe want to retract these statements.
Should rock stars and bands go out in a blaze of glory? Rush in, cause excitement and hysteria and then disappear? Or should they be able to do what it is they do for as long as people still want to hear them play? Should The Who, Def Leppard, Bob Dylan, etc. stop playing because they’ve lasted longer than we thought they would?
Perhaps those are bad examples. All three of those bands still headline arenas. So instead let’s go with Night Ranger, Missing Persons, and L.A. Guns. All popular in the ‘80’s.
Just because the main players in these bands have advanced in age past the half century mark, does that mean they should stop? Night Ranger just released a new record called Don’t Let Up. To my ears it’s among some of the best work they’ve done in their careers. In separate interviews I did with drummer/singer Kelly Keagy and guitarist Brad Gillis, I asked why they still make records. Clearly the business has moved from selling albums, CDs, and downloads, to just playing the hits and selling t-shirts. Their answer: “We’re musicians and songwriters, it’s what we do.”
On a recent trip to Southern California I saw that Missing Persons was playing a couple of shows in the course of a week. I was never a huge fan of the band, but I did like a few songs. What would your reaction be, if you saw they were playing at your neighborhood bar? Would you say, hey I saw them back in the day, they were huge, it was fun let’s check it out. Or would it be more like..Missing Persons?!?! They’re still around?
L.A. Guns has had many incarnations and more than once there has been a couple of different versions of the band out on the road touring simultaneously. This is confusing for fans. Do you go see the version with the singer or the one with the guitar player? Phil Lewis and Tracii Guns have hashed out their problems and are back together touring. Those two together are magic. Individually they are okay but it’s just not the same. Should a new generation of people not be allowed to see them because they’re older?
There are other artists I could mention. Two come to mind: Lou Gramm and Eddie Money. Lou was the singer for Foreigner. He suffered a scary brain injury. He worked hard to get back. He doesn’t look the same and he only really sounds like himself on about every 3rd or 4th word. If you go watch him sing, at first you feel sorry for him, but about three or four songs in, you find yourself rooting for the guy big time.
Eddie Money is a completely different story. He’s always been a great showman, but the last time I saw him he let his band and his daughter do all the singing. WTF!! He’s the singer! Not only that, he was verbally abusive to her and the band. I couldn’t get my money back but I walked out.
That is your choice. You don’t have to spend your money to go see these bands if you think they’re too old, or irrelevant. But whether someone's a plumber, a DMV worker, or a rockstar, we should never tell anyone to stop doing what they love, just because we think they’re too old.