Why Rock Stars Never Fade Away

Rock Stars Never Fade Away

Phoro: Jim Pietryga [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)]

Was Neil Young correct when he wrote that famous line it’s better to burnout than to fade away? Forty years later many of us are still trying to figure out what he really meant. Nonetheless forty to fifty years later almost all of us are still listening to the same music we listened to in high school. When we were back in high school listening to rock and roll we thought yeah, we’re not going to be like our parents, when we get older we will still  be listening to cool music. As we listened to our parents play Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett records we had Zeppelin, Charlie Daniels Band, Black Sabbath blaring from our turntables. We thought our kids were going to think we’re so cool because we’re going to be listening to the same music they listen to. We had no idea that this new horrible form of music called rap was on the horizon.

In the twenty first century, most of the great great music that came from bands like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin is pretty much hated by young kids. Of course, there are exceptions, there are some young kids who do like classic rock. Queen’s hit movie Bohemian Rhapsody has really turned some of the youth of this generation onto the brilliance of classic rock. But it hasn’t captured everyone, and the youth culture of the twenty first century is still mostly into hip hop and rap.

So here we are in our 50s and 60s some of us in our 70s, still listening to the bands of our youth. What’s even more interesting is many of us are still going to concerts featuring the bands of our youth. At least those bands who still have some core members left. And that’s where Neil Young probably got it right. Those classic rock bands who still contain members still breathing, still continue to tour. Maybe Neil Young should have old rock stars don’t fade away they just continue to tour getting amphitheaters theaters in the summer. Nowadays, you could see three major rock bands from the 1970s in one show. I remember in the 1970s when I would see multiple 1950s bands playing at a dinner theater and finding that so amusing. Well, our amphitheaters are basically now just overgrown dinner theaters.

Maybe the only part in that line about better than to fade away that has come true for many old rock stars is the point of releasing albums. Many old time rock stars do not do that anymore. It’s not because of a lack of originality or lack of a voice or no desire to record records. It’s simply because nobody buys records or CDs anymore. Why spend a year in a recording studio recording a new album when nobody’s going to pay for it. Yes, there are exceptions. If The Rolling Stones released a new album full of new material other than blues cover songs, people will buy it. But even mega classic rock stars like Bruce Springsteen do not sell albums like they used to. Sammy Hagar had even been quoted in an interview saying why record a new album when no one’s going to buy it

There are many old time rock stars who turned to releasing standards albums. Linda Ronstadt got that started in the early 80s with her What’s New album. Rod Stewart soon followed along and actually proved to be pretty successful with 5 or 6 standards based albums. Boz Scaggs released a couple of really good ones. Nonetheless both Boz Scaggs and Rod Stewart returned to their rock and roll roots. Old school fans of those great artists want to hear the old stuff.

When classic rock artists do release a new album and tour to promote the album they are faced with a dilemma. The majority of their audiences have no idea that they’ve just released a new album. Most people in their 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s are busy raising families or watching grandchildren They have kind of lost touch with new album releases. Conversations with friends or about replacing the oil burner or knee cap. It’s not like in the old days when they were in high school all we did was discussed new albums and tours. How do people in their 40s fifties 60s and 70s find out about new records or even new tours? It used to be newspapers would announce tours. But nobody even reads newspapers anymore.

Most of us now find out about tours just like everybody else does on the Internet. Usually we will see on of those little Google ads that you probably see right next to this article itself, saying that The Rolling Stones are coming too MetLife Stadium. That’s how they get us.  However, the only problem for the artists that are still trying to be creative is that no one wants to hear new material from a show that they paid $350.00 a seat for. They want to hear the hits.

Most bands will give them the hits. Elton John’s final farewell tour that is currently going on in 2019 is all about his hits. To the casual fan that’s a good thing, but one must understand there is a good portion of those fans attending Elton John shows in their 60s who are die hard Elton John fans and they want to hear more of the rare stuff. Rock artists still on tour are faced with the dilemma over should they play new material if there is new material, or just stick with the hits.  Perhaps the most famous rock star of all time that still tours is Paul McCartney. The man has continued to release new albums and Paul McCartney plays his new material in his concerts. Paul McCartney will even mention at his concerts that he knows people don’t want to hear the new material, but him and his band like to play it, and they’re going to play it, because they enjoy playing it and they don’t care what anyone thinks. Paul McCartney can do that, most other rock stars can’t.

In the end, those of us who grew up with those classic rock artists in the 1960s and 1970s are still going to follow those bands. We’re still going to go through those concerts as long as our health and wallets allow us too. These are rock stars that have not faded away, there still around. As long as there still around and were still around, those rock stars will never fade away.

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