The coming death of just about every rock legend.
September 3, 2019 8:23 PM   Subscribe

Behold the killing fields that lie before us: Bob Dylan (78 years old); Paul McCartney (77); Paul Simon (77) and Art Garfunkel (77); Carole King (77); Brian Wilson (77); Mick Jagger (76) and Keith Richards (75); Joni Mitchell (75); Jimmy Page (75) and Robert Plant (71); Ray Davies (75); Roger Daltrey (75) and Pete Townshend (74); Roger Waters (75) and David Gilmour (73); Rod Stewart (74); Eric Clapton (74); Debbie Harry (74); Neil Young (73); Van Morrison (73); Bryan Ferry (73); Elton John (72); Don Henley (72); James Taylor (71); Jackson Browne (70); Billy Joel (70); and Bruce Springsteen (69, but turning 70 next month). A few of these legends might manage to live into their 90s, despite all the … wear and tear to which they've subjected their bodies over the decades. But most of them will not.
posted by DirtyOldTown (211 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
 
Keith's going to get tired of carrying all those caskets, I tell ya
posted by armoir from antproof case at 8:27 PM on September 3 [70 favorites]


Okay? I mean, we lost musical legends who were in their 20s-50s too. Part of the whole mystique of being a rock star is that they die.

Pretty crazy to think that Mick Jagger’s coming up on eighty though.
posted by Autumnheart at 8:29 PM on September 3 [7 favorites]


Lmfao what on earth is the inspiration for this post? Pre-mourning? This is a little despondent.
posted by yueliang at 8:32 PM on September 3 [63 favorites]


Imagine a retrospective, stamping on a human face, forever.
posted by thelonius at 8:32 PM on September 3 [30 favorites]


Whenever I read a eulogy of a fallen great, I think to myself what a shame it is that I wasn’t more aware of their achievements while they were still alive. So I appreciate this article/post.
posted by mantecol at 8:40 PM on September 3 [7 favorites]




When I hear McCartney/The Beatles on more than one station at the same time, I pull out my phone and do a Google News check... just to be sure.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:43 PM on September 3 [21 favorites]


There's a certain age where - if you are famous enough and long enough - that news sources keep a running obituary waiting in the wings for you... The obituaries for these folks have largely already been written.

'Keith Richards, famous for falling out of a coconut tree, has passed' has not been published... yet.
posted by Nanukthedog at 8:44 PM on September 3 [4 favorites]


On the one hand, sucks to be a boomer. On the other hand, holy fuck I had no idea some of these people were that old. Also, holy fucking fuck how are some of these people still alive after all the aforementioned "wear and tear" they've inflicted on themselves.
posted by Greg_Ace at 8:48 PM on September 3 [6 favorites]


I would like to nominate DirtyOldTown as worst human on MetaFilter for this post especially just after I posted this comment.

I love you DirtyOldTown. I have for years. But even while I still love you you're the worst human on MetaFilter. No hate, just love and recognition of your status.
posted by hippybear at 8:50 PM on September 3 [5 favorites]


Not rock, and not yet in his 70s, but I'm going to be wrecked when I get the news about Stevie Wonder.
posted by vverse23 at 8:54 PM on September 3 [15 favorites]


Barry Manilow for me. Wait, is he still alive? Yes!
posted by hippybear at 8:57 PM on September 3 [1 favorite]


It's when we start digging down into Alanis and Eddie Vedder and either of Indigo Girls and probably never Trent because he's obviously a cyborg already... but that generation... that's going to sting. We've already had some, always from opiates (except Kurt)....

Anyway, it's all going to come rolling around. I just don't need another 2016.
posted by hippybear at 8:59 PM on September 3 [8 favorites]


I can’t imagine what reading this kind of post must feel like when you‘re 70+
posted by The Toad at 9:01 PM on September 3 [35 favorites]


Much as I admire and even love the work of a number of these musicians, I'm really not prepared for the upcoming orgy of Boomer autofellatio that's going to be unleashed.
posted by praemunire at 9:04 PM on September 3 [50 favorites]


I can’t imagine what reading this kind of post must feel like when you‘re 70+

I know, right?

Like, one of the main radio stations I listen to at work plays songs that were in the charts from about 1953 until about 1990. So we have Doris Day playing along side Village People playing along side Fleetwood Mac playing along side The Cars.

Time is a cruel master.
posted by hippybear at 9:04 PM on September 3 [8 favorites]


yeah the linear progress of time is still a thing.
posted by The Whelk at 9:05 PM on September 3 [23 favorites]


My own musical heroes tend to be jazz musicians, most of whom have already died so long ago that it's hard to identify too personally and strongly with their passing. Although a few deaths, such as Jaco Pastorius and Michael Brecker, were hard for me to cope with at the time.
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:06 PM on September 3


You know, all this plaintive worship of mortal music gods reminds me.

Who is an aging music legend, but is also humble, and rather noble about knowing his place and staying out of the way of younger musicians/legends in the making?

Henry Rollins:
I am not one of those people who says, “You young people need to understand…” I just get out of their way. I really am very big on getting out of the way of young people. And so, if people who are going to cool shows here in Los Angeles tonight never give a thought to how, 35 years ago, we created the scene in someone’s basement, where the cops came and people got arrested and beat up and actually did time, so that today they can just walk in and have a great night, well, I’m not one of those people who is going to say, “You owe me.” Because I don’t want to become my Dad.

But I think the legacy is about somehow finding a way, inherently or intrinsically, to pay it back by paying it forward. Like, if you’re someone whose band is doing well? Help another band get signed. Or start a label and you put your own stuff out, but also sign other bands, and produce them and give them a leg up. On X’s More Fun in the New World, they name-checked the Minutemen and me and Black Flag. And that was huge. To hear that name check, like we were all in it together? That kind of camaraderie, I don't know what it did for Black Flag, but it was a real shot in the arm for me. So now I have two radio shows, and I’m always trying to vigorously promote new music that I love. I’ll get letters from bands that say, “Man, people are coming to our shows every night on this tour saying they first heard us on your show. Thank you so much.” Man, that’s the best email I could ever get. Because I’ve done good to keep this thing going without getting my old ass in the way, so they didn’t have to run over me to get up the road. I’m not in the road. I’m on the side waving and handing cups of water as the new bands go by. So if there’s anything on my headstone, it should be, “He got the hell out of the way.”

posted by nightrecordings at 9:08 PM on September 3 [163 favorites]


I mean, most of the ‘50s rock stars are already dead. I think Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis are still around, and is there anyone else? Every generation of entertainers does eventually die. I’m not convinced there’s anything hugely different about this one.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 9:08 PM on September 3 [3 favorites]


It's the pervasive whiff of "I'm nearly that age, surely I'll be next?" that always surrounds the death of well-known people and that will never ever go away.
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:09 PM on September 3 [6 favorites]


I find celebrity deadpools tasteless, but the subject itself fascinates me. So naturally, I try really hard not to think of the Traveling Wilburys as some kind of good-natured supergroup-tontine.

Still...every time one of them dies and it’s not Ghostly-Ass Bob Dylan, I confess to a certain upside-downy feeling.

It’s down to him and Jeff Lynne, and I ponder it way too often.

I’m a woman born in the early ‘80s, but my car radio presets suggest I am actually your dad.
posted by armeowda at 9:12 PM on September 3 [31 favorites]


Everything in the post is straight from the article. I could add: Jerry Lee Lewis (84), Little Richard (86), Mavis Staples (80), David Johansen (69), Bryan Ferry (73), Ric Ocasek (70), Ringo Starr (79), Al Green (73), John Fogerty (74), Ozzy Osbourne (70), Steven Tyler (71), Stevie Nicks (71), Grace Slick (74), Bill Withers (81), Alice Cooper (71), Eric Clapton (73), Steve Perry (70), Brian Johnson (71), Iggy Pop (71), Peter Gabriel (69), Rod Stewart (74), Carlos Santana (71), Billy Gibbons (69), Gregg Allman (71), Lindsay Buckingham (71), Gene Simmons (69), Mark Knopfler (69), Darryl Hall (72), Jeff Lynne (71), Lionel Richie (69), Todd Rundgren (70), Stephen Stills (74), Patti Smith (72), Eric Burdon (77), Smokey Robinson (79)...

A person does not have to be a boomer or a fan of the artists in question, let alone someone flummoxed by the passage of time to note that the deaths of a handful of major rock stars a year has been big news, but based on the age bracket classic rockers fall into, it's liable to start happening much, much more often and it uh, might be newsworthy.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:14 PM on September 3 [14 favorites]


My dad is 81, so that's an odd set of presets, truly.
posted by hippybear at 9:15 PM on September 3 [3 favorites]


Are they all white? I mean they are skipping over Little Richard (among others).
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 9:16 PM on September 3 [8 favorites]


Honestly, after the utter fire destruction of basically the entire master and other studio recordings of the entire Universal (and orbiting associated) music groups, these people can die, and possibly die in peace, They can't be exploited after their deaths by their record company because their record company was content to see their recordings burn and then actually lie about the fire to the public and to their artists for months until forced to.
posted by hippybear at 9:17 PM on September 3 [6 favorites]


Can you imagine us
Years from today
Sharing a park bench quietly?
How terribly strange
To be seventy

/70
posted by emf at 9:17 PM on September 3 [12 favorites]


Side note: is Bill Withers gonna have to die for people to remember he was one of the biggest and best pop stars of the 20th century? Looks like.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:18 PM on September 3 [15 favorites]


It's okay to add more to the list, if you feel the need. It seems the list is being imported in here through various independent means, so let's make it as complete as possible if you feel the need.
posted by hippybear at 9:18 PM on September 3


emf: that is my utterly favorite S&G album ever and will always will be so.
posted by hippybear at 9:19 PM on September 3 [2 favorites]


Also, if we're making aging jokes, just a reminder that Heather Mills McCartney divorced Macca just weeks before his 64th birthday, which answers that song conclusively.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:24 PM on September 3 [53 favorites]


I’m not convinced there’s anything hugely different about this one.

I think the difference is just in the number of people who became famous and the ubiquity of their work. While there certainly was pop culture before the early 1960s, there was just a handful of very famous entertainers at any given time. Baby Boomers reached their mid- to late-teens, and thus had money to spend, around the same time television ownership was becoming universal so all of a sudden conditions were ripe to have more than a few famous pop stars at a time.
posted by plastic_animals at 9:24 PM on September 3 [6 favorites]


Side note: is Bill Withers gonna have to die for people to remember he was one of the biggest and best pop stars of the 20th century? Looks like.

Bill Withers won't die, he'll just get used up.
posted by axiom at 9:25 PM on September 3 [15 favorites]


"Now, like the cowboy, the cavalier, the wandering minstrel, the
chorus girl, the burglar in the striped sweater, the top-hatted banker,
the painter with his beret, and the writer in his smoking jacket,
the rock star must finally be consigned to the wardrobe of anachronistic
stereotypes. ... His power has been destroyed by the disappearance
of the record industry, his magic fleeting before the twenty-four hour
daylight of social media. ... "

- from Uncommon People: The Rise and Fall of the Rock Stars, David
Hepworth, Henry Holt and Company, NY 2017

This book is amusing, but makes a real point - the rock star persona could only exist for a moment in history, the forty years from about 1954 to 1994. People no longer experience popular music the way they did in that era, so rock stars in that sense can no longer appear. The deaths of musicians from that era make the impression they do because they are reminders of that experience, which cannot be recreated in the present any more.
posted by JonJacky at 9:30 PM on September 3 [18 favorites]


We are now 77 years away from the premiere of Casablanca which, when it premiered, was 77 years away from the end of the US Civil War.

the past isn't even past and all that.
posted by The Whelk at 9:30 PM on September 3 [35 favorites]


Bill Withers won't die, he'll just get used up.

I don't even know if that is a joke, a paean, or a quote, or a sad statement of late capitalism.
posted by hippybear at 9:32 PM on September 3 [2 favorites]


Casablanca may be, possibly for me, the best movie ever made. That's the subject for a different thread, but I've never seen anything better as of yet. Not here -- DM.
posted by hippybear at 9:33 PM on September 3 [1 favorite]


Remember when Roy Orbison was the old guy in the Travelling Wilburys?

He was 52 when that album came out and passed away the same year.

Rock stars are getting a lot better at aging.
posted by thecjm at 9:36 PM on September 3 [19 favorites]


*strums Richard Cory chord*

He had everything a man could want: power, grace and style.

But I worked in his factory. And I curse the life I’m living, and I curse my poverty.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 9:37 PM on September 3 [4 favorites]


A quote, possibly also a joke.
posted by axiom at 9:37 PM on September 3


I’m jazzed for 77 years when sea levels are 5 feet higher. Did I do it right
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 9:39 PM on September 3 [4 favorites]


Most people are hoping they won't be alive by then and get angry when you say its closer to 33 years.
posted by The Whelk at 9:41 PM on September 3 [3 favorites]


Ginger Baker is 80, bless him.
posted by Mary Ellen Carter at 9:43 PM on September 3 [2 favorites]


Willie Nelson (86) hasn’t been mentioned yet. He’s still touring up a storm but recently had to cancel some dates for health reasons.
posted by mantecol at 9:43 PM on September 3 [18 favorites]


Highly recommend the documentary Still Bill for anyone who hasn’t seen it. Even if you don’t think you love the guy. You just don’t know yet.

Can’t resist: How do you turn a duck into a soul singer?

Microwave it until it(’)s Bill Withers.

posted by armeowda at 9:46 PM on September 3 [11 favorites]


Eh. I survived Bowie passing.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:52 PM on September 3 [3 favorites]


yeah the linear progress of time is still a thing.
posted by The Whelk at 9:05 PM on September 3


Still pointlessly chuckling about this across the evening since this was posted.
posted by hippybear at 9:53 PM on September 3 [2 favorites]


And Prince.
posted by chavenet at 9:53 PM on September 3 [1 favorite]


They all need to do one last big tour together before it's too late.

They can save on costs by sharing a plane.
posted by metagnathous at 9:53 PM on September 3 [8 favorites]


But... Prince!
posted by hippybear at 9:54 PM on September 3 [1 favorite]


*needle scratch, crowd gets silent*

(I'm going to need a writer's room to get me out of here, help me out lovely MeFites)
posted by hippybear at 9:56 PM on September 3


I am going to see Johnny Mathis in Branson this November with my aunt, a bona-fide superfan.

It seems appropriate to share this here.
posted by grumpybear69 at 9:59 PM on September 3 [2 favorites]


>Not rock, and not yet in his 70s, but I'm going to be wrecked when I get the news about Stevie Wonder.

He's a long way from fingertips. "...time will not allow us to forget..."
posted by Catblack at 10:00 PM on September 3 [2 favorites]


For me, it was Joe Strummer and Joey Ramone. So weird to think that it's been almost 20 years since they both died.
While there certainly was pop culture before the early 1960s, there was just a handful of very famous entertainers at any given time. Baby Boomers reached their mid- to late-teens, and thus had money to spend, around the same time television ownership was becoming universal so all of a sudden conditions were ripe to have more than a few famous pop stars at a time.
I think that's just demonstrably false. There was, for instance, a whole generation of movie stars who came of age in the early days of the talkies. There are actually a very few of them still alive: Olivia de Haviland and Kirk Douglas are both 103. But I could rattle off dozens and dozens of golden age of Hollywood stars, many of whom died between, say, 1980 and 2005.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 10:08 PM on September 3 [13 favorites]


Some others in that age bracket or not far behind: Diana Ross (75), Cher (73), Dolly Parton (73), Kate Pierson (71), Rick Springfield (70), Ann Wilson (69), Huey Lewis (69), Phil Collins (68), Fred Schneider (68), John Mellencamp (67), Cyndi Lauper (66), Nancy Wilson (65), Adam Ant (64, will turn 65 in November), and Annie Lennox (64, will turn 65 in December)
posted by SisterHavana at 10:10 PM on September 3 [10 favorites]


I don't know if this is fascinating or morbid.

I'll take suggestions.
posted by hippybear at 10:14 PM on September 3 [3 favorites]


A rockstar of a different sort, but Martha Stewart is 78!! Never would have guessed by looking at her.
posted by mantecol at 10:18 PM on September 3 [9 favorites]


I don't understand how so many of these geezers can still tour constantly and play three hour arena shows. Are they all taking Human Growth Hormone or something?
posted by PhineasGage at 10:22 PM on September 3 [4 favorites]


It's good Bob Weir's not on that list cause Bobby's never going to die.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 10:23 PM on September 3 [1 favorite]


If the cutoff is 70...Mike Nesmith (76), Tim Bogert (75), Ian Anderson (72), Annie Haslam (72), Maddy Prior (72), Christian Vander (71), Brian Eno (71), Richard Thompson (70), Rick Wakeman (70)...and so it goes. I gotta say, though, that they generally seem to be pretty recently active and doing well.
posted by foonly at 10:27 PM on September 3 [3 favorites]


Drugs are the only thing that’s preserved Keith Richards this long. He won’t need any formaldehyde, they can just pour him into the grave.
posted by cenoxo at 10:33 PM on September 3 [2 favorites]


Singer-songwriters in the country music genre (since you mentioned Willie Nelson)....
Loretta Lynn (87), Dolly Parton (73), Linda Ronstadt (73), Emmylou Harris (72).
posted by TrishaU at 10:35 PM on September 3 [7 favorites]


I don't understand how so many of these geezers can still tour constantly and play three hour arena shows. Are they all taking Human Growth Hormone or something?

My take is that these people are all successful because they are extremely passionate about what they do. I’m generalizing, but it would probably kill them faster not to be able to do it, despite the wear and tear of traveling.

I’m going through the experience right now if watching my dad’s aging process seemingly accelerate in his first few years of retirement. He was always a live-to-work kind of person, and while he’s got a good pension and should be on easy street now, he just doesn’t have as much to wake up for, or to engage his mind and body with anymore. I support lifelong working, if the person is in a privileged enough position to be able to lay down some boundaries as they get older. An endless vacation sounds about as dull as no vacations.
posted by mantecol at 10:38 PM on September 3 [8 favorites]


In hindsight, they probably shouldn’t have booked them all on the same flight
posted by Atom Eyes at 10:41 PM on September 3 [17 favorites]


Ginger Baker is 80, bless him.
posted by Mary Ellen Carter


As a fairly close contemporary of Mr Baker and a fan of Cream in the day, No. Ginger Baker, although an admirable drummer, is a horrible human being.
posted by skyscraper at 10:43 PM on September 3 [5 favorites]


IMDb Oldest Living Actors and Celebrities 2019 (523 names and counting).
posted by cenoxo at 10:47 PM on September 3 [2 favorites]


Okay, no offense, but I'm not about to get sad about looking forward to people dying. It seems... passively ghoulish?

If you haven't heard it, go listen to Paul Simon's 2016 Stranger To Stranger album, it's stunningly original. And then follow it up with In The Blue Light, a 2018 album of reinterpretations of songs from throughout his career. Including a version of Renee And Georgette Magritte With Their Dog After The War that aches with understanding.

Instead of asking when we'll be mourning their deaths, let's wonder at what this amazing collection of talent is going to be able to tell us about what they've learned.
posted by MrVisible at 10:48 PM on September 3 [10 favorites]


once Olivia and Kirk die its gonna serve our living link to the classical era.
posted by The Whelk at 10:49 PM on September 3


Let's not get too hasty with some of this vulture-circling. Yes, Annie Lennox will be 65 in December, but only 65, ffs, and very much alive and healthy. She should not be on anyone's death watch. In fact, I suspect she is immortal.
posted by pracowity at 10:57 PM on September 3 [7 favorites]


Annie Lennox better fuckin' be immortal.
posted by prismatic7 at 11:05 PM on September 3 [8 favorites]


Buddy Guy (83 forever)
posted by sylvanshine at 11:07 PM on September 3 [2 favorites]


.
posted by Wordshore at 11:13 PM on September 3 [1 favorite]


hmmm ... this article showed up on my Facebook yesterday, or maybe the day before, and just seeing the title made me scratch my head and (perhaps cynically) leap to the conclusion that this is the kind of piece that somebody writes because well, the profoundly bloody obvious occurred to them (ie: people of a certain age tend to be way more likely to die) and they pitched it to an editor who rather astutely saw that yeah, this is the kind of piece that, with the right headline, sells itself because, well, it's profoundly bloody obvious.

And sure enough various folks on Facebook got to talking about it, riffing on it, talking death pools and whatever ... but I didn't feel compelled to actually read the thing, because why!? But then it showed up here and what the hell, it's less than 1500 words, I've wasted my time on much longer misadventures, but then I got to such profound stuff as ...

Like all monumental acts of creativity, the artists were driven by an aspiration to transcend their own finitude, to create something of lasting value, something enduring that would live beyond those who created it. That striving for immortality expressed itself in so many ways — in the deafening volume and garish sensory overload of rock concerts, in the death-defying excess of the parties and the drugs, in the adulation of groupies eager to bed the demigods who adorned their bedroom walls

[blah-blah-blah etc]

All of it was a testament to the all-too-human longing to outlast the present — to live on past our finite days. To grasp and never let go of immortality. It was all a lie, but it was a beautiful one.


... and all I'm left with is ... whut?
posted by philip-random at 11:21 PM on September 3 [8 favorites]


Not every day you see Metafilter praise an article feigning the victimhood of mostly white, mostly male Boomers from a dominant cultural force ("But rock — amplified and often distorted electric guitars, bass, drums, melodic if frequently abrasive lead vocals, with songs usually penned exclusively by the members of the band — barely registers on the charts.") and making dogwhistled aspersions on inferior groups ("Before rock emerged... the norm for popular music has been songwriting and record production conducted on the model of an assembly line... Today, something remarkably similar happens in pop and hip-hop, with song files zipping around the globe to a small number of highly successful songwriters and producers who add hooks and production flourishes in order to generate a team-built product that can only be described as pristine, if soulless, perfection.").
posted by J.K. Seazer at 11:33 PM on September 3 [22 favorites]


Not every day you see Metafilter praise an article

Sorry, that was unnecessarily snarky. But it bugged me that no one had mentioned it.
posted by J.K. Seazer at 11:37 PM on September 3 [3 favorites]


God. My first band went into the studio the day Roy Orbison died. I took that as some kind of sign of the continuity of rock. The brilliant old masters pass on as a new young generation pick up and try to do them justice. He was 52. This year I’ll turn 50.

I don’t care so much about Townsend or Keith Richards. I’m thinking about the zillions of geniuses out there who will soon be lost without their due Rock Star moment — Dave Edmunds, Nick Lowe, John Prine, Joe Jackson, Lucinda Williams, Gerry Roslie, Eddie Spaghetti and hundreds of others who’ve been kicking it up for 4+ decades without a gold record or Grammy or award to mark the persistent success, the ongoing inspiration to other musicians, their careers have produced.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 11:49 PM on September 3 [8 favorites]


Adding to the not-white-men legends list:

Yoko Ono (86)
Patti LaBelle (75)
Gladys Knight (75) (who just rocked out on The Masked Singer)
posted by mantecol at 12:00 AM on September 4 [10 favorites]


I was all set to dispassionately skim the comments for this until I realized Springsteen got tacked onto the end of this preemptive pre-mourning morbid impending demise round-up, and now that one of my favorite token old white musicians has been named, I, too, now feel the existential crisis provoked by this reminder of the linear progress of time :(
posted by rather be jorting at 12:10 AM on September 4 [3 favorites]


Compulsory achewood:
Welcome to the only game in town
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 12:12 AM on September 4 [12 favorites]


Kris Kristofferson (83).
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 12:14 AM on September 4 [3 favorites]


Sorry to be the bearer of bad news but Gregg Allman died in 2017.
posted by Clustercuss at 12:21 AM on September 4 [2 favorites]


Diana Ross - 75
Smokey Robinson - 79
posted by Faintdreams at 12:32 AM on September 4 [3 favorites]


Ginger Baker is 80, bless him.

I saw him play about forty years ago and he looked about 80 then.
posted by Grangousier at 12:37 AM on September 4 [3 favorites]


An endless vacation sounds about as dull as no vacations.

Do it before you get old, it is glorious!
posted by Meatbomb at 12:44 AM on September 4 [2 favorites]


When I got older, losing my hair
Many years ago
posted by kyrademon at 1:01 AM on September 4 [6 favorites]


My first band went into the studio the day Roy Orbison died. I took that as some kind of sign of the continuity of rock.

Keith Richards would have agreed with you. He once told an interviewer he hoped his own obituary would read: "He passed it on". It was his love of the blues Keith had in mind there rather than rock, but the principle remains the same.
posted by Paul Slade at 1:36 AM on September 4 [1 favorite]


People have always aged, but people haven't always paid this much attention to this many other humans who we don't actually know and who have negligible practical impact on our lives. I mean, huge artistic impact, sure, but you probably don't see Joni Mitchell just around town to miss her in that kind of respect when she's gone. As a society, we're going to have to get used to the idea that if we get invested in more stranger's lives, then we're going to have their deaths, too. That's just... part of it. Grief is something I think that we--in terms of Western culture generally, I guess, but especially in the US--do not really do particularly well. It may be good to have some practice at feeling sadness when you hear someone's passed, but not being crushed by it every time.

I mean, every artist now living, every actor and musician and writer and anything else you care about, one of two things is going to happen: Either they will die in your lifetime, or you will die before they do. A lot of these people have actually made parts of their artistic career off the idea that it is good to feel a bit sad sometimes. One of the things that I appreciated most about the end of Leonard Cohen's life was that You Want it Darker was such a spectacular album to go out on. I hope that as this becomes a more usual thing, we start paying more attention to the things people create towards the end of their lives, and not just the stuff that got them noticed when they were young.
posted by Sequence at 1:51 AM on September 4 [7 favorites]


Apparently most news organisations run a betting book at the end of the old/beginning of each year on who is going to "pass on" that year.

Most/all of them have "one I prepared earlier" obits for older prominent people - (hmmm - could this be a niche media market?)

so you get extra points for combinations/unexpected entries

my deeeeply cynical soul - someone is trying to vary the payout in some newsroom

Welcome to the lottery of life
posted by Barbara Spitzer at 1:52 AM on September 4 [1 favorite]


which is also pretty meta
posted by Barbara Spitzer at 2:01 AM on September 4 [1 favorite]


Sequence: " I hope that as this becomes a more usual thing, we start paying more attention to the things people create towards the end of their lives"

Start with John Prine & Tree of Forgiveness
posted by chavenet at 2:08 AM on September 4 [3 favorites]


You are slippin mefites...

(what I consider the obligatory:)

Live life like you re gonna die, because you re gonna
(please listen thru til the `Joey Ramooooone`)


-Bill Shatner, age 88
posted by Reasonably Everything Happens at 3:04 AM on September 4 [5 favorites]


A Brit-centric list :-

Bill Wyman (82), Herbie Flowers (81), Georgie Fame (76), Andy Summers (76), Dave Edmunds (75), Gary Brooker (74), Noddy Holder (73), Roy Wood (72), Wilko Johnson (72), Brian May (72), Andy Fairweather Low (71), Graham Parker (68), Elvis Costello (65), Midge Ure (65), Jimmy Pursey (64), Chris Difford (64), Adam Ant (64), Phil Oakey (63), John Lydon (63), Gary Numan (61)...
posted by Cardinal Fang at 3:06 AM on September 4 [5 favorites]


I had hoped that death pools went out with the 90's.
posted by fairmettle at 3:20 AM on September 4 [2 favorites]


As a slobbering Pink Floyd fan from way back I will add Nick Mason (75).
posted by hearthpig at 3:23 AM on September 4 [1 favorite]


I can’t imagine what reading this kind of post must feel like when you‘re 70+

It isn't any fun.


I'm really not prepared for the upcoming orgy of Boomer autofellatio that's going to be unleashed.

Good. I hope you suffer.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:44 AM on September 4 [16 favorites]


I’m going to wear Victorian mourning garb when Tom Verlaine dies.
posted by pxe2000 at 3:51 AM on September 4 [3 favorites]


People Who Died by Jim Carroll (who died, in 2009)
posted by chavenet at 4:11 AM on September 4 [8 favorites]


whosaliveandwhosdead.com is one of my top bookmarks.

Yes, I am the love child of Eeyore and Hans Moleman.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 4:12 AM on September 4 [6 favorites]


Who is an aging music legend, but is also humble, and rather noble about knowing his place and staying out of the way of younger musicians/legends in the making?

John Prine! I’m not putting his age because why borrow trouble. Sure, these people will die at some point, and we can properly mourn them then.
posted by sallybrown at 4:27 AM on September 4 [6 favorites]


After August 9, 1995, I'm prepared to deal with this...
posted by mikelieman at 4:29 AM on September 4 [2 favorites]


For me, it was Joe Strummer and Joey Ramone. So weird to think that it's been almost 20 years since they both died.

Yeah, the loss of those two really shook me.
posted by octothorpe at 4:32 AM on September 4 [2 favorites]


"It's every generation throws a hero up the pop charts" - Paul Simon
posted by terrapin at 4:36 AM on September 4 [6 favorites]


Betty White smiles knowingly...
posted by briank at 4:52 AM on September 4 [5 favorites]


Most/all of them have "one I prepared earlier" obits for older prominent people - (hmmm - could this be a niche media market?)

Well, yes. I am shocked that some mefites seem surprised by this (nothing against Barbara Spitzer in particular). Betty White, Queen Elizabeth, Henry Kissinger — these folks are all in their nineties and have had canned obits on file with every newspaper for decades. The deaths that can catch news orgs off-guard are the Diana ones.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 4:53 AM on September 4 [3 favorites]


/Metropolis (1927) - Freders Dream - Death

Hasn’t aged a bit, still sharp as a tack.
posted by cenoxo at 4:58 AM on September 4 [1 favorite]


May they all live on in hologram form.
posted by barrett caulk at 5:02 AM on September 4 [2 favorites]


Jeepers, my takeaway here is that WOW there were a lot of talented people born in the mid-to-late 1940s! I wonder how much the postwar environment had to do with things. Sucks that they’re all gonna hit the wall at once though.
posted by kinnakeet at 5:14 AM on September 4 [4 favorites]


Keith Richards learned to play tennis on heroin. His body should be donated to scientific research, non?
posted by DJZouke at 5:16 AM on September 4 [2 favorites]


I saw Willie Nelson's tour in June and he was so energetic! I can only hope to be singing when I'm 86. He doesn't hold any long notes anymore, but that was never really his shtick anyway.

/me bubble wraps all the singers
posted by wellred at 5:16 AM on September 4 [5 favorites]


I'm not sure if Tom Waits is still alive and I'm afraid to look it up
posted by um at 5:29 AM on September 4


Not every day you see Metafilter praise an article feigning the victimhood of mostly white, mostly male Boomers

Did anyone praise the article? Pretty sure we just took it as a cue to note how the first and second generations of rock n' rollers are nearing the end of the line.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 5:31 AM on September 4 [5 favorites]


Good lord, Cicely Tyson was born in 1924 and is still working. She's a series regular in Ava DuVarney's forthcoming TV show!
Jeepers, my takeaway here is that WOW there were a lot of talented people born in the mid-to-late 1940s!
There were a lot of people born, period, in the post-war period. That's the baby boom. But also, this is not just about raw talent. This is about the fact that white Gen Xers and Millennials grew up idolizing white, male rock musicians of the '60s, so younger people take the "rock legends'" aging personally in a way that they maybe didn't with earlier generations of famous people (and other famous people from that generation.)
I'm not sure if Tom Waits is still alive and I'm afraid to look it up
He appears to be fine. He acted in a Coen Brothers move last year.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 5:34 AM on September 4 [5 favorites]


This is a thing I think about a lot, too, especially since the brutal run of 2016; I care really deeply about music, and the convergence of demographics and when mass culture became a thing just means that the rest of my life is going to be a parade of hearing about the deaths of people whose work I love.

But it also makes me think about the mid 90s, when I was an undergrad starting to assemble my adult self and hadn't come across the internet. I was really, really into Husker Du and Sugar at that point, and I remember having this weird, sad conviction that I loved the work of Bob Mould but he was such a second- or third-tied public figure that if he ever died I'd never hear about it. Thinking about that weird conviction is one of my main ways to remember in my head what life was like before we were all wired into each other 24/7.


also it's gonna be weird when we lose Iggy
posted by COBRA! at 5:35 AM on September 4


Yes there are an awful lot of talented people who were huge back in the day (many of whom are still making good music, a few who have been coasting for decades but damn did they earn it). But the article itself is just... tone deaf? “These are the last people alive who play Rock Music and when they are dead so is Rock.” It’s like hearing my father-in-law droning on once more about how so-and-so is pretty funny and all but no one will ever be as funny as Johnny Carson was. Dear FPP author: Your personal experience is not the personal experience of everyone, and if you think that rock is dead because it “barely registers on the charts” then maybe you are not actually paying attention to music any more. Or perhaps you can’t pick up a station that isn’t one of the soulless ClearChannel-owned garbage pits of mindless corporate pop?

Asserting that no one out there today is making music like they used to, writing it themselves, is bunk. That’s an old man’s game, staring back into the dust of history and sadly lamenting what has passed, without turning around and looking forward with joy to what is coming. Music has evolved, for sure, bands are somewhat different in form than they used to be, but guess what - the kids are all right, they are still picking up instruments and making music that scares or confuses their parents. As long as that keeps happening, rock will live on. Just as 1960s Beatlemania gave way to 1970s arena rock gave way to 1980s punk and 1990s grunge, we may not call it “rock” but goddamn the stuff that is being made right now by young up-and-coming artists sure as heck rocks.

Every time my kid picks up his guitar to practice I wonder what he’ll do with it. I play for him the heroes of my generation and my parent’s generation, with a healthy dose of the people who came after. Because while it is good to understand the history, it is more important to recognize that history is not static, it keeps happening, and I am careful to show him that the musicians he hears were nearly often inspired by people who came before them, and in turn inspired the people who came after. We have a vibrant and massive music scene today BECAUSE of the rock heroes of old, and thank god many of them have been nice enough to pay it forward.
posted by caution live frogs at 5:35 AM on September 4 [14 favorites]


Keith Richards learned to play tennis on heroin. His body should be donated to scientific research, non?

I'd love to see him play Nick Kyrgios.
posted by Cardinal Fang at 5:41 AM on September 4 [5 favorites]


Every time my kid picks up his guitar to practice I wonder what he’ll do with it.

Goddammit, Daddy! You know I love you... But you've got a helluva lot to learn about ROCK AND ROLL.
posted by Cardinal Fang at 5:43 AM on September 4 [4 favorites]


Jane Birkin (72).

Particularly appropriate, as whenever I hear yet another breathless, gurgly millennial vocal, I am reminded it was Serge Gainsbourg who pioneered this style in the first place - he got Birkin to sing higher than her natural range, in order to make her sound younger and vulnerable, and with the deliberate intention of provoking unsettling emotions in the listener.

I'd venture that most of today's 'contemporary, edgy' vocalists have never heard of Birkin, and if they did, would exclaim 'Er, wait, no, this is a bit pervy, I don't like it, can I sing normally now please?'
posted by Cardinal Fang at 6:08 AM on September 4 [1 favorite]


I'm the same age as most of these people were in 2000....fuck.
posted by bonobothegreat at 6:12 AM on September 4


Eh. People die. Even the famous ones.

More interestingly (to me, anyway), the people who grew up with these artists and loved their work contemporaneously to its creation are going to die, in a window largely only a few years younger than these artists, and when they do, it'll be... clarifying to see which artists fall sharply into the cultural memory hole, and which will persist. The judgement of an artist's relevance is widely dependent on the living, and there's no guarantee the living will agree with the dead about who matters in the current timeframe (or indeed, if any of the formerly relevant artists matter at all).

Mind you, the cultural sifting has already begun and has been going on for some time, as it does for every generation of creative and/or famous person, and their work. But the Judgment of History really accelerates when everyone who ever loved your work when it first came out is gone too.
posted by jscalzi at 6:17 AM on September 4 [19 favorites]


Mick and Keith are each worth hundreds of millions of dollars, they can afford the best health care in the world. It can't be much more expensive than a heroin-and-coke habit.

The Rolling Stones is a business entity with annual revenue in the hundreds of millions. The corporation's income is highly dependent on the continuing good health of its principals, so it is essential that they not only can, but regularly do, get the best health care in the world. The cost of having doctors and physical therapists living on-site with Mick and Keith is less than the amount of income the company would lose if they could no longer tour.

They will tour until they die. The corporation wills it. Their bodies have already been scanned and animated for the singing, dancing, guitar-playing holograms that will replace them after death. The corporation needs it.
posted by at by at 6:25 AM on September 4 [5 favorites]


Imagine a rolling stone rolling on a human face forever
posted by kokaku at 6:30 AM on September 4 [5 favorites]


More living legends who haven’t been mentioned yet:

Quincy Jones (86)
Julie Andrews (83)
Booker T. Jones (74)
Nile Rodgers (66)
posted by mantecol at 6:32 AM on September 4 [7 favorites]


Gerald Casale - 71
Mark Mothersbaugh - 69
Bob Mothersbaugh - 67
posted by Thorzdad at 6:32 AM on September 4 [7 favorites]


it'll be... clarifying to see which artists fall sharply into the cultural memory hole, and which will persist.

This is the rub: as the Rock Era passes into history, the story of that era is likely going to look a lot different than it did for those of us who grew up with it as a hegemonic force. Like, I think the Rolling Stones are going end up being regarded as something like Matthew Arnold is in literature: hugely popular at the time, but mostly forgotten now. In part that will be due to the fact that hip-hop and electronic music have become much more culturally dominant, and so the ancestors of those genres are going to receive much more attention relative to rock-and-rollers. This is why I think Stevie Wonder, for example, is going to loom even larger in histories of 20th century music than he does already.

Conversely, I wonder which musical acts of the 20th century are going to be like Moby-Dick: obscure in its day, but rediscovered as a forerunner to what's going on in the present.
posted by Cash4Lead at 6:36 AM on September 4 [10 favorites]


Mike Nesmith (76)

Nez had quadruple bypass last year, and he still looks a little frail to me.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:46 AM on September 4 [1 favorite]


I could see the Beatles going the way of Bach. Forever changed the course of popular music, but sounding pretty tame centuries out, due to the now-ubiquity of the stylistic elements they pioneered. But, still enjoyable to listen to the purity of a style in its inception.
posted by mantecol at 6:47 AM on September 4 [2 favorites]


Maybe it's the "Bea..." thing but I think the Bach suggestion is valid for the Beach Boys as well. Their music sounds pretty tame now, on a superficial listen, but of course it isn't -- at all.
posted by chavenet at 6:54 AM on September 4 [5 favorites]


We grow old, we count years, we feel sad when the last soldier of a war or actor from a movie goes. It’s part of being alive.
posted by argybarg at 7:04 AM on September 4 [1 favorite]


Who gets the money made by dead celebrities?

Imagine the inheritance lawsuits to come...
posted by cenoxo at 7:18 AM on September 4 [1 favorite]


An important part of the ascendancy of these stars was the dramatic improvement of technologies after WWII. A generation before, improved microphone and recording technology made soft crooners like Bing Crosby into huge stars. Before that, performers had to be really loud to be heard from a record or on the radio. High-fidelity recording progressed dramatically in the 50's, and high-fidelity playback technology became affordable and a status symbol in the late 1960's. The rise of visual radio - television - was there too.

The post-war booms in the economy and in babies helped create the money and its spenders to make the market for hifi systems and albums. FM stereo radio and AOR stations were fostered by record companies to build and then feed that market. These folks were there to create the art that became commodified. It's not only this kind of music that's going away, but the system of production and distribution.

No time to talk about the growth of independent media covering rock music too: Rolling Stone, Creem, the various British mags, etc.

Great post, DirtyOldTown.
posted by conscious matter at 7:19 AM on September 4 [8 favorites]


A generation before, improved microphone and recording technology made soft crooners like Bing Crosby into huge stars.

Who, himself, had a major role in bringing magnetic tape technology to the recording industry.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:24 AM on September 4 [4 favorites]


if you really want to have fun with WW2 era pop / swing / bebop / big band / etc music, go down the V-Disc rabbit hole sometime. YouTube can get you started.
posted by lazaruslong at 7:32 AM on September 4 [2 favorites]


Yeah, the changes in technology and the huge growth in "known" recording artists make the idea of lasting impact or recognition going forward a very different thing than say for Bach to today. The concept itself is pretty Anglo-oriented, seeming to assume "lasting impact" follows a model of society that we currently live under, more or less, instead of going in an entirely different direction, leaving virtually all of rock history as more of a footnote for historical music aficionados than something that maintains lived cultural relevance. Since the music is mostly so tied to the performers too makes it something different than say a classical composition or even some jazz.

None of that is to say none of the music will last for a long long time, some might or maybe the names of the artists will hover on the periphery of standard musical knowledge, but I wouldn't assume any of it is definitively more vital than say the popular music of the twenties or thirties is to most people today, and that's just outside living memory where recordings do exist.
posted by gusottertrout at 7:33 AM on September 4 [2 favorites]


Elvis Presley (84)
posted by paper chromatographologist at 7:35 AM on September 4 [31 favorites]


Jeepers, my takeaway here is that WOW there were a lot of talented people born in the mid-to-late 1940s! I wonder how much the postwar environment had to do with things.

Along side the technological change there was also the economic change of collapsed Gini Index. A lot more people outside the 1% had the resources to pursue something besides putting food on the table.
posted by Mitheral at 7:45 AM on September 4 [5 favorites]


> Maybe it's the "Bea..." thing but I think the Bach suggestion is valid for the Beach Boys as well.

I've also always assumed casual listeners from future generations will lump the Beach Boys and Ramones together.
posted by smelendez at 8:04 AM on September 4 [2 favorites]


After listening to this excellent episode of Studio 360, I'm convinced the Ramones will be lumped in with Sha Na Na more than anyone else. They were fast-playing greasers with a visual hook.
posted by argybarg at 8:08 AM on September 4 [1 favorite]


Really, MetaFilter? I know we skew old for the www, but have we really been reduced to this??
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 8:11 AM on September 4 [1 favorite]


I do agree that the early 60s were a technological inflection point. Suddenly you could own, in your home, equipment and records to generate a sound that (mostly) matched live music for excitement.

I think when technological shifts happen rapidly enough to feel like magic, we attribute that magic to people. Hence the very real idolatry of silent-movie stars, and of rock stars. They arrived riding on such a huge wave we felt they were floating in the air.
posted by argybarg at 8:16 AM on September 4 [5 favorites]


Elvis Presley (84)

Sam Cooke (88), Carl Perkins (87), Patsy Cline (86), Jackie Wilson (85), Gene Vincent (84), Sonny Bono (84), Roy Orbison (83), Bobby Darin (83), Buddy Holly (82), Eddie Cochran (82), Rory Storm (81), Ian Stewart (81), Marvin Gaye (80), Claude Francois (80), Dusty Springfield (80), Billy Fury (79), Eddie Kendricks (79), John Lennon (78), Stuart Sutcliffe (78), Frank Zappa (78), Harry Nilsson (78), Otis Redding (78), David Ruffin (78), Brian Jones (77), Mama Cass (77), Jerry Garcia (77), Tammy Wynette (77), Curtis Mayfield (77), Frankie Lymon (76), Jimi Hendrix (76), Janis Joplin (76), Florence Ballard (76), Harry Chapin (76), Vivian Stanshall (76), Jim Morrison (75), John Denver (75), Bob Marley (74), Tammi Terrell (74), Peter Tosh (74), Dennis Wilson (74), Bon Scott (73), Terry Kath (73), Keith Moon (73), Mick Ronson (73), Duane Allman (72), Freddie Mercury (72), Gram Parsons (72), Tim Buckley (72), Sandy Denny (72), Steve Marriott (72), John Bonham (71), Nick Drake (71), Marc Bolan (71), Ronnie Van Zant (71), Minnie Riperton (71) ...
posted by Cardinal Fang at 8:17 AM on September 4 [17 favorites]


Sam Cooke (88),[...] Minnie Riperton (71)

How do they relate to Elvis? Those people are already dead.
posted by Mitheral at 8:23 AM on September 4 [9 favorites]


>I could see the Beatles going the way of Bach. Forever changed the course of popular music, but sounding pretty tame centuries out, due to the now-ubiquity of the stylistic elements they pioneered. But, still enjoyable to listen to the purity of a style in its inception.


I like to remind people that The Beatles released 13 albums in 8 years. I just don't see that kind of output today.
posted by mikelieman at 8:34 AM on September 4 [2 favorites]


...I'm convinced the Ramones will be lumped in with Sha Na Na more than anyone else. They were fast-playing greasers with a visual hook.

Nah. The Ramones didn't play Woodstock. Sha Na Na will be lumped in with Santana and Hendrix.

*shudders*
posted by Thorzdad at 8:34 AM on September 4


Nah. The Ramones didn't play Woodstock. Sha Na Na will be lumped in with Santana and Hendrix.
Sha Na Na is a great band name so they've got that going for them.
posted by The_Vegetables at 8:45 AM on September 4 [2 favorites]


I like to remind people that The Beatles released 13 albums in 8 years. I just don't see that kind of output today.

Then let me introduce you to King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, a stunningly original band who've done fifteen in seven.

Live performance on KEXP
posted by MrVisible at 8:48 AM on September 4 [7 favorites]


For the folkies, Tom Paxton (81) is still touring, and so is John Prine, but he's only 72. And for UK folkies, there's Ralph McTell (74).

I was thinking about this last year, and managed to see Tom P, John P, Ralph McT, Paul Simon, James Taylor and the Stones. Get them before they're gone.

(It was quite a thought that Paxton was in Greenwich Village in the 60s, knew Mississippi John Hurt, and is still playing and enjoying himself)
posted by 43rdAnd9th at 8:49 AM on September 4


I can’t imagine what reading this kind of post must feel like when you‘re 70+

I'm older than all these guys, and this info doesn't do much. I'm used to it, you get old, you die. Truth is I never really cared for any of their music and will not really miss any of them. But fuck, when Sonny Rollins goes, I will die a little.
posted by charlesminus at 8:51 AM on September 4 [8 favorites]


Saw Paxton last year and he was still terrific. Arlo Guthrie is 72 and still touring too.
posted by octothorpe at 8:52 AM on September 4


Though popular music sales in general have plummeted since their peak around the turn of the millennium, certain genres continue to generate commercial excitement: pop, rap, hip-hop, country. But rock — amplified and often distorted electric guitars, bass, drums, melodic if frequently abrasive lead vocals, with songs usually penned exclusively by the members of the band — barely registers on the charts.

...

But there's another sense in which rock is very nearly dead: Just about every rock legend you can think of is going to die within the next decade or so.


Gah, huh? I can think of lots of legends who make music with amplified and distorted electric guitars, bass and drums, with melodic and frequently abrasive vocals, with songs penned by members of the band who are nowhere near old age, which the article implies is 70+:

Courtney Love (55), Trent Reznor (54), Dave Grohl (50), Carrie Brownstein (44), Corin Tucker (46), Billie Joe Armstrong (47), Ian McKaye (57), Henry Rollins (58), Slash (54), Axl Rose (57), Eddie Vedder (54), Kathleen Hannah (50), Kim Deal (58), Black Francis (54), Joey Santiago (54), Billy Corgan (52), Rivers Cuomo (49), Tom Morello (55), Robert Smith (60), Marilyn Manson (50), Perry Farrell (60), Jack White (44), Bono (59), The Edge (58), Thurston Moore (61), Stephen Malkmus (53), Liz Phair (52), Robert Pollard (61), Bob Mould (58), etcetcetc...
posted by 23skidoo at 8:56 AM on September 4 [8 favorites]


After thinking it over a bit, I guess my feeling is more blunt than I previously stated. It's more that I hope most of these guys won't be remembered beyond the lifetime of those of us who grew up listening to them and thus tie ourselves to that moment in time. I hope they are remembered like Al Jolson is today, where the rampant misogyny that is at the heart of so much of this music isn't still celebrated in the future and kids growing up in future generations find something better of their own to hold as dear to their memories.

We can't help when we grow up and the world we find ourselves invested in, but we can hope things keep changing for the better and allow our moment to pass along with us. Leave the Ready Player One of the future being forever trapped in the male adolescence of the past to fiction. Caring deeply about the world you know is understandable, wishing to inflict it on everyone else much less so.
posted by gusottertrout at 9:03 AM on September 4 [1 favorite]


Everybody dies sometime. What is the point of this article, again?
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:11 AM on September 4 [2 favorites]


So my favorite rock stars all killed themselves early so I had plenty of time to mourn them each individually. :(

Also it's not like the rappers are much younger. Ice T is 61, Dr Dre is 54, Ton Loc is 53, Young MC 52, Ice Cube is 50.

Finally, Justin Bieber is just as bad lyrically (I'm not talking quality, I'm talking content - misogyny, social issues ) and he's only 25.
posted by The_Vegetables at 9:16 AM on September 4 [1 favorite]




Weird article. Weird thread.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 9:23 AM on September 4 [7 favorites]


“Well, you don't scare me, doc, 'cause dying would be a stone groove. Got any messages for Jimi Hendrix?”

“Yes. Pick up your puppy."
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 9:39 AM on September 4 [1 favorite]


I used to think grief for celebrities was weird, and then I went to therapy and now please don't let Neil Young die please
posted by wellred at 9:43 AM on September 4 [3 favorites]


"Being over seventy is like being engaged in a war. All our friends are going or gone and we survive amongst the dead and dying as on a battlefield."
posted by betweenthebars at 9:45 AM on September 4 [2 favorites]


Diana Ross - 75


SHHHHHH! Quiet, you.

Miss Diana just KICKED ASS at a sold-out show here in Toledo in July. Eight thousand people packed the park, and I don't think a one of us thought she was anything less than ON FIRE. She's healthy and loving life, let's not jinx it.
posted by MissySedai at 9:46 AM on September 4 [3 favorites]


I like to remind people that The Beatles released 13 albums in 8 years. I just don't see that kind of output today.

Well if you want to make the argument that the Beatles were a band that was more about quantity than quality you sure won’t hear any disagreement from me.
posted by Caduceus at 9:57 AM on September 4 [4 favorites]


Annie Lennox better fuckin' be immortal.

Lennox good!
posted by SteveInMaine at 10:13 AM on September 4


I read this nodding, like, "Sure."

And then I realized that the reason Patti Smith is absent from the list wasn't because she was too young to be included.
posted by thivaia at 10:16 AM on September 4 [5 favorites]


I like to remind people that The Beatles released 13 albums in 8 years.

It's interesting to consider the reasons why that might be. I'm not sure that The Beatles were singularly unique in terms of creative potential, vs. any other band that's come since; I tend to believe they were in the right place culturally, at the right time, with the right sound, and rode the wave. That's how huge success usually happens, anyway. There are plenty of other bands you can point to from the same era who didn't have as much success and were arguably at least as musically talented.

But yeah they really cranked out albums.

You'd think that modern technology would make producing albums at that rate easier, rather than harder, and so you'd see more bands turning out albums at 1+/year... but you don't really see that.

Makes me think that it's more commercial concerns that cause artists to limit their output and release it at a more relaxed pace. If you're not in the middle of ridiculous success that you're trying madly to capitalize on, it's probably better not to do more than an album a year or every couple of years if you want to maximize sales and have time to tour—and touring is where the money is (for the band, anyway).

It'll be interesting to see if modern artists who have forgone big record label contracts and retained control of their recordings, and thus can profit more directly from them rather than just using them as advertising for tours, will release albums more frequently.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:17 AM on September 4 [2 favorites]


Also, I just realized Ian MacKaye is going to be 60 in a few years and whoa
posted by thivaia at 10:19 AM on September 4 [1 favorite]


People no longer experience popular music the way they did in that era, so rock stars in that sense can no longer appear

I mean, it's not like we don't have stars in popular music. But I guess rap stars have been talking about living like rock stars for years now (because there was more money in it when the rock stars did it).
posted by atoxyl at 10:30 AM on September 4 [1 favorite]


Ian MacKaye is going to be 60 in a few years

I rarely pine for bands to reunite, but I've got my fingers crossed that Minor Threat will tour as Senior Threat at some point
posted by 23skidoo at 10:37 AM on September 4 [12 favorites]


I've also always assumed casual listeners from future generations will lump the Beach Boys and Ramones together.

Along with the Jesus and Mary Chain
posted by thatwhichfalls at 10:49 AM on September 4 [3 favorites]


You'd think that modern technology would make producing albums at that rate easier, rather than harder, and so you'd see more bands turning out albums at 1+/year... but you don't really see that.

Because the ultimate outcome isn't that great - witness Lou Barlow's output during the '90s with Dinosaur Jr, Sebadoh, various Sebadoh renamings, and Folk Implosion (who had a top 30 pop hit song). Guy probably wrote, played on, and released close to 1000 songs in 10 years. But a lot of his output wasn't anything special.

Guns N Roses might be a more popular example - with like 4-5 albums put out in 5-6 years. Some good songs but also a lot of trash.

Also modern technology makes endlessly messing with individual tracks easier, which allows - endless re-recording and endless producing, if someone doesn't step in to shut it down.
posted by The_Vegetables at 11:08 AM on September 4 [2 favorites]


Ask not for whom the gong bangs.
posted by No Robots at 11:24 AM on September 4 [9 favorites]


(covers my eyes) Dr. Brian May is eternal, don't you dare remind me of his mortality
posted by rather be jorting at 11:42 AM on September 4 [1 favorite]


I read this article this morning, and have been struggling to put my finger on why it bugs me. The list is a bunch of boomer artists who were prominent from, roughly, the mid-Sixties to mid-to-late-Eighties. Even as an embittered Gen-Xer, I recognize their legend status. But I wanted to make a "legend" list of my own, and kept coming up short. Is it:
  • That folks whose rise occurred during my adulthood (Indigo Girls (55/56), Lisa Loeb (51), Barenaked Ladies (48-51), Duran Duran (57-62), Weezer (49-54), Red Hot Chili Peppers (56-57, with one guy at 39), and Beastie Boys (47-52) to name a few who popped into my head and I bothered to look up) aren't necessarily "legends".
  • "Rock," with some overlap into folk and R&B, was the dominant sounds of the Boomer era. "Legends" subsequent to that are more likely to be described as other types of artists (alternative, hip hop, etc.). Even my mini-list above jumps a lot of genres.
  • Digital music, starting with the Napster era of MP3s, iTunes, and now streaming has fractured the landscape a bit, making it harder for a single artist/group to produce the critical mass of material across a large enough fanbase to be "Legend" (while, on the other hand, enabling more smaller niche acts (Jonathan Coulton comes to mind) to pop up).
My guess it's some some combination of all of that: few artists really produce a big enough catalog over a large enough fan base to really make the same impact.
posted by MrGuilt at 11:46 AM on September 4 [4 favorites]


Agree with your third point, starting even with mix tapes.
posted by wellred at 11:48 AM on September 4


Barry Manilow for me. Wait, is he still alive? Yes!

What's the difference ?
posted by y2karl at 11:57 AM on September 4 [2 favorites]


This thread has somehow dredged up a 30-year old PBS memory and wedged this song from the short-lived Steven Banks Show into my brain and IT WONT LEAVE.
Rock and Roll R.I.P.
posted by onehalfjunco at 12:01 PM on September 4 [2 favorites]


Many of these artists have an outsized cultural presence in living memory because they were making music through the period when we invented, established, and then innovated studio recording and production techniques, resulting in kinds of music no one had ever heard before; while we were also inventing and widely using gadgets that let music be personal (listened to in the home, i.e., radio and phonograph), then portable (transistor radio, cassette players) and private (headphones!, stereos in cars and bedrooms).

So the age cohort of musicians whose work coincided with all that have had more of a presence and impact in our lives than any other artists could have possibly had prior to the emergence (and confluence) of these technologies; and the continued growth and development of the same set of creative media technologies has since eliminated the cultural conditions that allowed for that kind of massive, personal stardom. I see something similar now happening to the cultural role of 'movie star'.

I think MrVisible really made a great point when they encouraged us to look at those among these musicians who are still actively creating interesting work. Recording technology has kind of fixed our cultural gaze backwards when it comes to music, which ironically is the creative medium that's innately most insubstantial and temporal, and thus of the moment. (And yeah, Paul Simon is making maybe his most compelling and thoughtful music in his late 70s...that is remarkable to me. Reminds me of the terrific composer Elliott Carter, who lived to 103, actively composed music until his death, and once said that he really was most proud of the music he'd written after age 90, because he'd figured out a new, more effectively expressive musical language for himself.)
posted by LooseFilter at 12:02 PM on September 4 [7 favorites]


One thing about being old is who you got to see. In my case, Clifton Chenier, Johnny Guitar Watson, Son House, Fred MacDowell and Bukka White, among others.
posted by y2karl at 12:03 PM on September 4 [3 favorites]


Because the ultimate outcome isn't that great - witness Lou Barlow's output during the '90s with Dinosaur Jr, Sebadoh, various Sebadoh renamings, and Folk Implosion (who had a top 30 pop hit song). Guy probably wrote, played on, and released close to 1000 songs in 10 years. But a lot of his output wasn't anything special.

Yeah, but he really embraced the lo-fi DIY basement-tapes thing and I love it all, even the crap. Also, there was some real gold in all those tailings. I like to think he encouraged the spate of acts that followed that path (even if my chronology is wrong): Elliott Smith, Conor Oberst, the Mountain Goats, Bill Callahan, etc. And the more refined chamber-pop that followed owed a lot to the lo-fi movement before it: Grizzly Bear, Sufjan Stevens, etc. It was the end of the arc for indie, and probably also for rock music tout court, but it was a fine way for it to end.
posted by sjswitzer at 12:44 PM on September 4


Some alien who heard, say, the isolated vocal tracks from "God Only Knows," might assume they were the natural progression from Bach.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 12:47 PM on September 4 [3 favorites]


speaking of Old Neil Young
posted by philip-random at 12:48 PM on September 4 [1 favorite]


Ask not for whom the gong bangs.

Needs more death knell.
posted by pracowity at 1:17 PM on September 4 [4 favorites]


You'd think that modern technology would make producing albums at that rate easier, rather than harder, and so you'd see more bands turning out albums at 1+/year... but you don't really see that.

How Long Does it Take to Make a Classic Album? (Pitchfork), which notes that Frank Sinatra released forty-plus albums in the first twenty years of his career, while D'Angelo released three, and Fiona Apple four.

It also points out that, between 1999 and 2018, Lil Wayne released a dozen solo albums and about eighteen mixtapes. Lots of rappers are really prolific--between the two of them, Westside Gunn and Conway released something like 70 mixtapes between 2004 and 2019 (or, if you prefer beatmakers, Knxwledge stays pretty busy).
posted by box at 1:17 PM on September 4 [1 favorite]


You'd think that modern technology would make producing albums at that rate easier, rather than harder, and so you'd see more bands turning out albums at 1+/year... but you don't really see that.

I'm also gonna be the guy to point out that a lot of rappers have been putting out material at that sort of clip in recent years - only with half of it arbitrarily labeled as "mixtape" instead of "album."

I'm also gonna say that doesn't seem to be a great thing for some of them in terms of quality control. What's really impressive is people who put out really good material at that rate, and technology is seldom the bottleneck there.

Also technology has made recording a lot more finicky and potentially time-consuming in some regards, since it's now possible to get hung up on things nobody even had control over in the past.
posted by atoxyl at 1:33 PM on September 4 [2 favorites]




Everybody dies sometime. What is the point

Yeah glad we’re done with this topic once and for all
Let’s do Love next
posted by The Toad at 1:51 PM on September 4 [5 favorites]


The list is a bunch of boomer artists who were prominent from, roughly, the mid-Sixties to mid-to-late-Eighties. Even as an embittered Gen-Xer, I recognize their legend status. But I wanted to make a "legend" list of my own, and kept coming up short.

I think looking back historically, the mid-to-late-Eighties is when you can first start to realize that hip-hop was going to surpass rock as the dominant musical style in USA culture, and I think by the early-to-mid-Nineties, hip-hop was mainstream music and rock was wayyy less popular. But there are still tons of hip-hop legends before 1990- sure, they're not as famous as like Jay-Z or Snoop Dogg, but like, Eric B and Rakim are hip-hop legends, Big Daddy Kane is a hip-hop legend, etc. I think the same thing applies to rock music (but in reverse)- there are still rock legends after like 1989, but their legendariness is going to be more obvious to rock music fans than it will be to music fans in general.
posted by 23skidoo at 2:43 PM on September 4 [1 favorite]


I feel like these kind of relate: The King Is Dead and The Secret Plan for the Days After the Queen’s Death.
posted by jenfullmoon at 2:54 PM on September 4


Hmmm. Most of these folks are -a lot less- mortal than we commenters. Who'll be reading -our- work in 20 years?

Oh, and after mentions of Stills and Young, there's Crosby and Nash.

"It's just a ragged clown behind
I wouldn't pay it any mind
It's just a shadow you're seein' that he's chasing"
posted by Twang at 3:28 PM on September 4 [2 favorites]


Who'll be reading -our- work in 20 years?

I don't care, I just want to outlive Conor Oberst and most of Belle and Sebastian.
posted by betweenthebars at 6:28 PM on September 4 [4 favorites]


As more forms of popular media appeared in the 20th century and greater overall purchasing power in a growing middle class gave them more access to them, it's only natural that there was a huge growth year over year in the set of current celebrities. I don't know if anyone's done the math to figure out the rough percentage of the population who would be considered a celebrity in the 18th and 19th century (or even if that kind of comparison makes sense), but I'm sure the percentage has only grown steadily since roughly the 1930s.

TLDR: it doesn't stop with this crop of septuagenarians. Unless civilization collapses in between, when those of us in our 30s are in our 70s there will be several times this many Big Huge Celebrities on death's door.
posted by chadlavi at 6:38 PM on September 4


I could see the Beatles going the way of Bach. Forever changed the course of popular music, but sounding pretty tame centuries out, due to the now-ubiquity of the stylistic elements they pioneered. But, still enjoyable to listen to the purity of a style in its inception.

what
even the people who say he sounds like a sewing machine, which he does, don't say tame
and ubiquity of his stylistic elements?? where? and like which ones in particular do you mean?
it's fine to have never listened to any Bach, nobody needs to, but in that case don't drag him into this
posted by queenofbithynia at 7:19 PM on September 4 [5 favorites]


Wow that's a lot of (mostly) white (mostly) men.

Incidentally, can you believe Tina Turner is 79?
posted by lollusc at 7:47 PM on September 4 [5 favorites]


I can’t imagine what reading this kind of post must feel like when you‘re 70+

It is:
10 bittersweet
20 melancholy
30 depressing
40 horrifying
50 goto 10
posted by Chitownfats at 8:33 PM on September 4 [5 favorites]


when you‘re 70+

I just turned sixty and as related above, mostly annoyed with the writing in question. Mainly because it's a rather pointless. As regards the relevance of the aging etc, I'm with jenfulmoon ...

Everybody dies sometime. What is the point of this article, again?
posted by philip-random at 8:47 PM on September 4 [2 favorites]


Intimations of mortality.
posted by emf at 9:43 PM on September 4 [2 favorites]


i can’t imagine what reading this kind of post must feel like when you‘re 70+

Somewhere between catmeat and a dog's breakfast.
posted by y2karl at 7:31 AM on September 5 [1 favorite]


Ctrl-F "Ian Hunter" nope.... 80 years old
posted by e1c at 8:44 AM on September 5 [1 favorite]


Ian Hunter is one of those musicians who's much older than you think he should be since he was well into his thirties when he had his first hit.
posted by octothorpe at 8:53 AM on September 5 [1 favorite]


Joan Baez (78)
posted by e1c at 9:08 AM on September 5


Ian Hunter and the surviving members of Mott the Hoople (Ariel Bender, 72, and Morgan Fisher, 69) are out on tour right now as "The Class of '74". I saw them the week before Hunter turned 80, and by all that's holy it may have been the best rock show I've ever seen.
posted by Devoidoid at 9:55 AM on September 5 [1 favorite]


I like to remind people that The Beatles released 13 albums in 8 years.

During those same 8 years, The Beach Boys released 16 albums. Sure, one was just the instrumental tracks of previously released songs, but be fair, Brian Wilson was awfully busy.
posted by Devoidoid at 10:08 AM on September 5 [3 favorites]


I don't understand how so many of these geezers can still tour constantly and play three hour arena shows. Are they all taking Human Growth Hormone or something?

The trick that people don't understand about the actively old is they are active only for the time you see them active. Then they collapse in formless puddles for the remaining 20-23 hours so.
posted by srboisvert at 11:39 AM on September 5 [2 favorites]


The trick that people don't understand about the actively old is they are active only for the time you see them active. Then they collapse in formless puddles for the remaining 20-23 hours so.

It's true. When I was interning on a TV show back in my own youth in the 90s, James Brown came on to perform, and he was literally shuffling in the hallway to the set. Then he was announced, and when the lights and cameras were on him, you'd've thought it was 1966. After the song, as soon as he was away from the audience and at the doorway of the green room, he sagged into his (REALLY MEAN) much younger wife's arms. She was taller and bigger than him, and probably could pick him up and tote him for a couple of miles if she'd needed to. I was shocked when I'd read some years ago that she'd died, that how much younger she was than he.

I have to say, the ones who have been on my mind lately are Mavis, because, ugh, I literally grew up with her music, and Stevie. I'm hoping that his operation and recovery go well. He's been there to support the families and sing for so many people, that when it's his turn, it's going to be so sad.
posted by droplet at 4:08 PM on September 5 [2 favorites]


Are we really worrying right now that people who are 62-64 are on death's doorstep??? My parents are in that age range, and all but one of their parents are still alive ffs... Not to mention my 78 year old father in law... whose 101 year old mother still lives independently with her 93 year old boyfriend.

(More worrying,,,, did it really take nearly 200 comments for Tina Turner's name to be mentioned???)
posted by wats at 10:25 PM on September 5 [1 favorite]


Gordon Lightfoot is 80.
posted by Literaryhero at 3:00 AM on September 6 [2 favorites]


Are we really worrying right now that people who are 62-64 are on death's doorstep???

We're talking about people who didn't always have the healthiest lifestyles. For what it's worth, only one of my grandparents made it to 60 and only one blood relation ever hit 80. My cousins in their fifties and sixties are dying off at a scary rate.
posted by octothorpe at 3:42 AM on September 6 [1 favorite]


Are we really worrying right now that people who are 62-64 are on death's doorstep???

Life Expectancy and Cause of Death in Popular Musicians
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26966963

".... Results showed that popular musicians have shortened life expectancy compared with comparable general populations. ..."
posted by JonJacky at 9:11 AM on September 6 [3 favorites]


Then they collapse in formless puddles for the remaining 20-23 hours so.

And their Jem'Hadar warriors commit seppuku when they finally fall into piles of lifeless silicates and carbon.
posted by y2karl at 9:13 AM on September 10


Ohboy, I know he may not qualify for some, but I feel like Daniel Johnston is a rock legend, and he died last night from a heart attack at the age of 58.
posted by 23skidoo at 2:27 PM on September 11 [2 favorites]


.

The Devil and Daniel Johnston is one of the more memorable musician-focused/indie documentaries I've seen. IIRC - though it's been a while since I've seen it - the documentary had an empathetic look at his mental health issues as well. Outsider lo-fi isn't my usual bag, but I've enjoyed more than a few of his songs, especially "Some Things Last a Long Time." Sad to hear about his passing.
posted by rather be jorting at 2:50 PM on September 11 [1 favorite]


Outside of the remaining Beatles, Bryans Ferry and Wilson, and Simon and Garfunkel, I won't grieve over much for this list. I'm way more freaked out about losing people of my own generation: Eddie Vedder, etc.

When Chris Cornell died I took it really hard.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 9:25 AM on September 13 [2 favorites]


Ric Ocasek
posted by thelonius at 6:16 PM on September 15 [5 favorites]


That one hits hard. That first Cars album came out the summer before I went into highschool when I was just starting to listen to FM radio.
posted by octothorpe at 6:54 PM on September 15 [2 favorites]


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