Veteran Icons: Aging Artists Still Making an Impact

Taking a closer look at the remarkable longevity of a handful of persevering superstars.

Johnny Firecloudby Johnny Firecloud

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Sure, age may be more than just a number, but there’s certainly something to be said for the preservative power of a lengthy career as a rock n’ roll icon. While the stereotypical image of excess and recklessness may suggest otherwise, a number of high-profile musicians have successfully ridden the tides of culture and taste through several decades of artistic existence. Below, we take a closer look at a handful of aging artists who still make an impact in the industry today. 

 

AC/DC 

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With an average band member age of 63, Australia’s riot-boys are a picture of perseverance. Last year, guitarist and founding member Malcolm Young had to bow out due to health concerns, but the band is 15 albums deep in pure rock greatness. Packing stadiums and headlining festivals (they topped this year’s enormous Coachella festival), these boys are the hardest rocking act over 60 in the world.

 

The Rolling Stones

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The Stones are old. No way around it. Mick Jagger’s hips are gyroscopic swivels, some kind of immortal force keeping them from coming unhinged after nearly seven decades of rockin’. Do we need to even mention Keith Richards? He’ll undoubtedly outlive the cockroaches – whatever concoction of chemicals he’s filtered through his system over the years has served as some strange kind of preservative. The average band member age is 69, making for a very strange bonding experience with Grandpa at a show – and that’s no joke, with the band still tearing up stages.

 

Tom Waits

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Every year that passes, he gets weirder. He gets better. He gets more and more important in his abstract standards-be-damned approach to sound and songwriting. Nearly 20 albums deep, his gravel-throated hard-living tales are revered by weirdos and eccentrics worldwide, as well as those with a soft spot for astoundingly good, versatile songwriting. Earlier this year, he made a poignantly powerful final appearance on “The Late Show With David Letterman,”  performing a new song called “Take One Last Look”. 

“This is for you, Dave,” Tom said before using his rusty crowbar of a voice to tear our hearts open, urging the departing talk show hero to “take one last look at the place that you’re leaving”. Tears did flow.

 

David Bowie

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The original proponent of glam rock has outlived and outshined the idols, icons and friends he came up with, redefining himself countless times and inspiring a generation of modern-day superstars including Trent Reznor, Marilyn Manson, Lady Gaga and beyond. With his 2013 album The Next Day receiving showers of praise from both fan and critic alike, Bowie’s crown continues to shine as the post-grunge indie hipster movement gives way to more artistically ethereal style designs – undoubtedly influenced by the Thin White Duke.