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Should Rock Stars retire?

May 26, 2015

stones

Do rock stars ever retire? With the likes of Neil Young, Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan and of course the quintessential dinosaurs, The Rolling Stones (whose Steel Wheels Tour was referred to as the Steel Wheelchair tour even as far back as 1989), that would be a resounding NO as far as they are concerned. The best of the best rockers from the 60’s, 70’s and even 80’s are still touring all over the world. Of course, the days of hauling your own gear and traveling in used vans are over. Private Jets and tricked out tour buses certainly make the journey a lot easier, but the majority of the older rocker group haven’t had a hit in years.

Touring for a new album can be hard for the most popular bands because the crowd wants to hear the classics. Now many “senior” bands don’t need a new album to go on tour. Unfortunately, these are often called “sell out tour.” The other unfortunate factor is that bands like The Stones and U2 ask astronomical prices for a single ticket. The price for a U2 ticket run you $280.00 for decent seats. For Rolling Stones tickets, you can get obstructed view and nose bleed seats for almost $50.00. For floor seats, you will pay between 166.45 to  $424.35 with fees. Your best bet is to hope for a live stream and watch from home or shell out the money for a festival that could very well include both bands, not to mention many more, for under $400.00. People will pay the astronomical prices for these concerts. Hardcore music lovers don’t want to miss out on what could be the last tour of their favorite band’s career. Paul McCartney seems to always be touring, and even bands who have gone through very public fights, like Fleetwood Mac and the Eagles, are biting the bullet and going on tour. The financial gain can be very inspiring.

Not all musicians are “selling out” and hitting the road. Some are quite content with retirement. Grace Slick of Jefferson Airplane retired and once said, “all rock-and-rollers over the age of 50 look stupid and should retire.” Slick last toured with her band in 1989 and the now 72-year-old rocker is concentrating on a visual art career.

David Bowie stopped touring in 2007, after canceling a comeback show in New York City. No reason was given for the cancelation, but he is often seen around New York on the streets or at events with his wife supermodel Iman appearing in good health.

We can assume the reasons for going on tour even for an Anniversary tour and not to promote a new album. The amount of money a band can make by touring can rival that of the profits of a successful tech company. One year of touring could feed a small country. Very tempting. As for the bands and individuals who chose to retire and aren’t tempted by the monies involved are thinking more about the time involved and regardless of the private jets and fancy buses, it still can be a grueling experience.

All-in-all, the best part of live music is when you get the opportunity to see the bands you love in a small venue. I’m sure the people who got to see Nirvana at a house party in Seattle will cherish that memory more than seeing Fleetwood Mac at an arena. Not everyone gets such an experience, but it truly is a much better memory than that of watching ant-like people on a stage blocked by speakers from the rafter seats that cost a week’s salary.

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