So after my last blog, a friend of mine (1 of 3 who read this blog, me and my Mom being the other two) wanted to hear more about Geezer Rock bands. And I thought who am I to deny the request of my one non blood related fan, and today we shuffle into the folds and wrinkles of old men and women still rocking out.
I have to come clean with you right from the get go – I am not a fan of aging rock stars that are performing the same way they did 25 years ago. That’s ok if you’re a crooner and you sing middle of the road songs that will age nicely as you and your fans do. Singers like Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis, for example, got better with age. And they don’t take up much space and play in out of the way places like Las Vegas which hopefully will one day be reclaimed by the desert.
My beef is with rock stars who are pushing 60 and 70 or more and are stuck in the time period of their greatest infamy like the 1970’s/ 80’s and in a genre that suits the young and not the old. And just who are these “ Geezers “ that I write about? Well let’s dive right in.
Nivek Ogre is 51 and cEvin Key is 53 and they just recently announced that they’ll be touring again this year. As you know, Puppy was a big influence on me musically in the 80’s and they had a significant fan base abroad. Let me repeat – in the 80’s! How much industrial angst can these “ Geezers “ have in their early 50’s? I stopped listening to hardcore industrial when I achieved happiness. That genre of music is for pimply, pierced and tattooed misfits who are in their teens and twenties and “ angst “ ridden. C’mon you guys, I’m embarrassed for you!
Oh dear! Still kicking around and in their 60’s, both Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley are 62 and are still doing the glam rock thang. It’s like being an old mime and trying to get work…
Potential Client, “ can you get trapped in an invisible box? “
Old Mime, “ No. “
Potential Client, “ can you walk down an imaginary escalator? “
Old Mime, “ No. “
Potential Client, “ well what can you do? “
Old Mine, “ I can shuffle along with a walker. “
Potential Client, “ an invisible walker? “
Old Mime, “ No. “
See what I mean. Ho hum and not even the make-up has changed. Hmmm, they really missed a money making opportunity as they could have franchised the act like the Blue Man Group and played three different cities on the same night. And yes one of the cities would have been Vegas!
And then there are the Rolling Stones. Mick and Keith are 70 years old! Going to a Stones show is like watching your Dad or Grandfather make fools of themselves in the hotel bar on Karaoke night when you on summer vacation and you’d much rather be back home hanging with your friends. It’s not something young people should be exposed to and it’s certainly not something I want to see. OMG! Mick and Keith are the quintessential “ Geezers “ and someone please create a niche for them in Las Vegas.
I’m thinking dinner show kind of theme and shows would be at 6 pm with an all you can eat roast beef buffet. And there could be prize draws and the winners could cut Mick and Keith’s roast beef for them and The Rolling Stones beef juice stained bibs could be auctioned off for charity and … Well you get the idea.
If you are upset that I’m picking on the Stones too much well relax because I’m not done yet!
From a dailymail online article August 25 2006…
“…the Rolling Stones front man struggles to keep his energy levels up for an entire two-hour performance, so when guitarist Keith Richards plays his two solo songs Mick pops backstage and straps on an oxygen mask. “
I also know from a very reliable inside source that Ozzy has many oxygen tanks hidden on stage to get him through gigs and many other aging stars partake as well.
So why are they still flogging the dead horse and why are people flocking to their shows in droves?
1/ Well I’m sure money is a motivation. Ironically, back in the day, when the “ Geezers “ were young – they had to play lots of live shows to support the release of their latest record album. Back then, tours lost money but album sales made money – lots of money. Today, tours make money and promoters have it all down to a fine art.
Average ticket price in the 70’s = $ 10
Average ticket price in 2014 = $ 47
And of course there is all the merchandise on top of that.
2/ Change, and more specifically – the unwillingness to change. Playing “ Satisfaction “ a thousand times or more is what The Rolling Stones do. If you were making that kind of money, would you want to change and try something new and scary? Probably not because that has become your world and your lifestyle and you have support staff making life very smooth and easy for you.
And if the fans are willing to fork over $ 47 well why not take it?
The unwillingness to change is what also draws the fan base. Have you ever noticed how many “ Classic Rock “ stations there are and their popularity? When I have listened to one of these stations, patterns begin to emerge. They don’t play everything from the 70’s and 80’s like punk and new wave but they concentrate on specific bands. On a regular rotational loop, you’ll hear classic Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Rolling Stones, Dire Straights and so on. It’s as if the people who were young fans in that era, were like Peter Pan and never wanted to grow up or out of that style of music. When the music changed, they didn’t want to for whatever reason. Granted most of today’s popular music is SHITE! But there are a few good bands and artists out there who are doing something unique and pushing the boundaries. Or is it that the folks caught in the classic rock loop realize that that era was the last of the true musicians – those capable of playing their instruments well and not relying on auto tune to fix sloppy vocals. I’m down with that but if you care to invest the time and look hard – true musicians still exist but just not in the mainstream.
So are there any rock stars from the 70’s and 80’s who aren’t oxygen mask sucking “ Geezers “?
Of course there are and here are a few to send you on your way.
Nick Cave, aged 56
Started out in the post-punk group, The Birthday Party, in the early 80’s and formed the Bad Seeds in 1983. Now you may be saying, “ but he still plays with the Bad Seeds and they still play a similar style. “ and I would agree. However, Nick is no lay about and is frequently pushing his own boundaries and trying new and scary things like Grinderman…
The Swans. Michael Gira, founder, aged 60
Formed in 1982, The Swans have taken on many musical genres from no wave to experimental folk to musical brutality and were known for their excessive volume and morbid lyrics.
The Seer was released in 2012 and from Wikipedia…
Front man Michael Gira described the album as taking “30 years to make. It’s the culmination of every previous Swans album as well as any other music I’ve ever made, been involved in or imagined.