Elton John, Paul Simon, Lynyrd Skynyrd: Why are rock stars all suddenly retiring? – British GQ

During two weeks in January, Sir Elton John, Paul Simon, Slayer and Lynyrd Skynyrd all announced farewell tours, while Neil Diamond bowed out due to Parkinson’s disease and Rush confirmed that they were “basically done”, having already quit touring because of chronic ailments. Not all departures are significant — Lynyrd Skynyrd haven’t been creatively vital since the Carter administration. Not all are abrupt — Elton’s typically flamboyant long goodbye will last three years. But never before have so many happened at once.

I’m going to hazard a guess; these guys are all retiring because they’re old.

Touring is a young person’s game. It’s a hard life, hard on the musicians, and hard on their families. When you’re young, the combination of sex, drugs, and music is enticing, but after a while, it can be overwhelming. I’m surprised that some of them have kept touring so long. Take Bob Dylan; he’s been playing about 100 shows a year for nearly 30 years, and he’s going to be 77 in a couple of weeks. For musicians like him – or like, say, the Rolling Stones – it’s not about the money, which could be the case for some of the older, less popular artists. They clearly like performing, and don’t want to give it up. When you get to their level of importance, road life is probably a lot more comfortable, though Dylan apparently still travels a lot in a tour bus.

But they’re old; it’s time for this generation, that has been playing music for 40 or 50 years, to move on. We love them for what they’ve done, but for many of them, it’s really not that great an experience to see them live anyway. Many of these artists and bands have just become official tribute bands to themselves.

Source: Elton John, Paul Simon, Lynyrd Skynyrd: Why are rock stars all suddenly retiring? | British GQ

4 thoughts on “Elton John, Paul Simon, Lynyrd Skynyrd: Why are rock stars all suddenly retiring? – British GQ

  1. Plus, as you age you generally lose the higher registers of your voice. So while some singers–Robert Plant comes to mind–find ways to reinvent their voice and music, most don’t. Or we have national treasures–guys like Bob Dylan and Tom Waits who always traded on lovely, gravely voices. But the result is often croaky, scratchy remainders in exchange for $100+ tickets if you want to hear The Who etc.

    I laugh at those who would love to see one more Led Zeppelin reunion. Do you really want to hear “Stairway to Heaven” sung inevitably worse than it was in 2007, when Robert Plant just barely found his way through it?

  2. Plus, as you age you generally lose the higher registers of your voice. So while some singers–Robert Plant comes to mind–find ways to reinvent their voice and music, most don’t. Or we have national treasures–guys like Bob Dylan and Tom Waits who always traded on lovely, gravely voices. But the result is often croaky, scratchy remainders in exchange for $100+ tickets if you want to hear The Who etc.

    I laugh at those who would love to see one more Led Zeppelin reunion. Do you really want to hear “Stairway to Heaven” sung inevitably worse than it was in 2007, when Robert Plant just barely found his way through it?

  3. You wrote: “Many of these artists and bands have just become official tribute bands to themselves.”

    That is really all that Lynyrd Skynyrd has been since the 1977 plane crash anyway, IMHO.

  4. You wrote: “Many of these artists and bands have just become official tribute bands to themselves.”

    That is really all that Lynyrd Skynyrd has been since the 1977 plane crash anyway, IMHO.

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