Rock n’ Roll will never die, but it does retire
It’s inevitable for everyone, and that includes the biggest names in rock and pop music: the show can’t always go on, and for many, now is the time to stop rocking. The last couple of years have seen a veritable slew of legendary acts announcing their retirements and subsequent farewell tours. Demographically, it makes sense: the classic rock generation – the most influential artists from the 60s, 70s, and 80s – are all pushing 70 years old and beyond.
Where once specific-anniversary tours (usually for classic albums) were all the rage (and still are a great reason for rockers to hit the road), its now the farewell tour. Last year Paul Simon announced his looming retirement from the road and went on his last tour. The great Neil Diamond unexpectedly retired from touring in 2018: he was out on his 50th anniversary tour when he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s and all remaining dates were cancelled. Legendary southern rockers Lynyrd Skynyrd called it a day in 2018 as did Slayer. Peter Frampton just announced his last tour – thanks to a degenerative muscle disease that will likely make it unable for him to play guitar like he does today.
Of course, for rock and pop starts, retiring can take awhile – several years, in fact. Deep Purple is in the middle of a lengthy farewell tour, aptly called “The Long Goodbye” as it will last a few years. Ozzy Osbourne is in the second year of a three-year farewell world tour; his first band Black Sabbath retired in 2017. Legendary rockers KISS started their “End of the Road” tour in January that will last at least two years – and this is actually their second farewell tour (the first was in 2000-2001, which was essentially a farewell to Ace Frehley and Peter Criss). Elton John is saying so long to long-running tours with his Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour, which will go on well into 2020. The Rolling Stones are doing a 13-date stadium tour this summer, and while its not being billed as a farewell tour, as they’re all pushing eighty (eighty!) years old this might be their last go round.
Obviously, no one lives forever – though Keith Richards might! And whether its for health reasons, age, or the desire to spend more time with the family, just like athletes a rocker’s career has to eventually come to an end. Naturally, saying farewell is a big marketing hook – even if that band or artist might not actually quit playing entirely. Its highly likely that many of the aforementioned artists will be doing Las Vegas residencies or the occasional theater runs in bigger cities. The lure of playing music – what these folks have been doing just about their entire lives – is a hard mistress to ignore. I don’t know how I could stop doing something that I love to do so much, if I still have that passion, unless I just can’t do it anymore.
Many bands, especially classic rock bands, just keep going and going. While there’s some that aren’t close to what they once were, either by way of their current members or performances, one veteran band is still going strong, with no end in sight, and killing it every night! It’s my ‘all-time favorite band of all-time,” Cheap Trick.
If you get the chance to see Cheap Trick live, do it! They are doing 90+ minutes every night, 20 songs, and you’ll hear the hits, but you’ll also hear a lot of deep cuts in the set. The band really mines there awesome discography whey they’re headlining – there’s about seven or eight songs that you might hear on a Tuesday night but not those same songs on Thursday night. Outside of jam bands, you’d be hard-pressed to find a band that varies their set list so much every show. Recent shows have been heaven for hard-core fans like me, with usually at least one or two songs that I hadn’t heard live in a while.
So farewell to those who have to leave, and for those who are still out there, thank you for continuing to rock.