Have our old favourites outstayed their welcome?

I’m going to come out and say something I’ve been thinking for a long time – and it may not

I’m going to come out and say something I’ve been thinking for a long time – and it may not be a very popular opinion…

The thing is, I really wish some – okay, most – of our old rockers would retire.

This feeling came to a head recently when I saw a clip of Paul McCartney performing She Loves You with Dave Grohl from a band called Foo Fighters. It was a YouTube clip shot on a phone so the sound wasn’t great but, quite frankly, Paul sounded awful.

What’s worse than that, he looked so old creaking around the stage, his movement just a little behind the beat in that old-man way.

The crowd in London, made up of plenty of young people, was going wild. But were they cheering Paul for being Paul or were they thinking patronisingly, “he’s so cute!”?

I’ve been to several “old rocker” concerts over the years and have been largely disappointed. Art Garfunkel has truly lost his beautiful voice, as has Mark Seymour from Hunters and Collectors. Brian Wilson from the Beach Boys just breaks my heart; having had a stroke, his movement was quite limited when I saw him wheeled out to play at Carols in the Domain in Sydney, and there’s something devastating about him being the only Beach Boy left.

That said, The Eagles were great, and Paul Simon was definitely the highlight of the Simon & Garfunkel concert I saw. But there’s always that period where you have to sit patiently through the new material, when all you want is to hear your old favourites. And then, when you hear them, the joy slips a little as you catalogue the raspy voice, the reduced range and frailty of the person you once believed was close to immortal.

By all reports Fleetwood Mac is still performing once, but as Grace Slick from Jefferson Airplane recently said, there is something missing from the picture.

The singer, now 76, said, “I saw a film of Fleetwood Mac doing something, and I was okay as long as I didn’t look at them. I couldn’t look at them. They sounded great, and if I looked away and imagined young people singing I was okay with it.”

Flick has previously said she left it 10 years too late before retiring at the age of 50 iand believes rockers should retire at 40 if they don’t want to be remembered as some sort of joke.

“There’s something about old people singing rock n’ roll lyrics that bothers me – it just doesn’t match,” she said.

Sometimes I think it’s a good thing Elvis Presley passed away when he did. How heartbreaking it would have been to have seen him clinging to sexiness like Cliff Richard, or worse, performing matinees in country towns.

Sometimes I wonder if it’s vanity or money that makes “old rockers” come back again and again. Surely Paul McCartney can live off the Beatles’ royalties forever? Or is it the love of the music? Could he, and indeed many others, not have poured their creative energy into other pursuits, like creating opportunities for the next generation of superstars?

So there you have it, my terrible confession: I prefer to remember the music gods I worshiped in my youth as they were, not as they are today.

How about you? Do you like to see the “golden oldies” still performing, or do you prefer to remember them as they were?


  1. I tend to agree with you after having bought Neil Diamond’s last CD. Unfortunately he has lost the richness & tone from his voice, & I was quite disappointed that I had wasted money. Much better to remember the old days. Earlier tonight on Starts at 60, I watched a recent Tina Turner performance. At 76 she still looks pretty good, but she has lost tone also, & her body movements just looked awkward to me..

    • I also saw Neil Diamond and thought he was fantastic. Still got that beautiful voice and can still move. 75 years old and for me has still got it. Also saw John Farnham and seems to me his voice has gotten stronger over the years. Franky Valley is another story. Seemed quite fragile at 72 and voice had weakened

    • I also saw Neil Diamond in November this year I also though he not only looked good but could still sing.

    • At least they are still doing something and not vegetating or whinging. Moving is the best thing no matter if it looms awkward.

    • Having missed out on seeing Neil Diamond, I went to see Peter Byrne recently who impersonates Neil Diamond and he was excellent.

    • I totally agree. Paul McCartney is beginning to sound very ordinary and he’s also looking rediculous with dyed hair.

    • Tina Turner still performing???? She supposedly retired on the Operah Show, for those very reasons!

    • I’ve been to 2 Neil diamond concerts over last couple years and he is fantastic. He still has it. You must have got an album that wasn’t done very well, because live he is still great

    • .Robyn, I cannot recommend his ‘Hot August night ‘ live cd enough……buy it and you’ll fall in love with him all over again.

    • We saw Neil diamond a couple of weeks ago & he was amazing!!!! Couldn’t believe his voice …. We were up dancing & singing. Loved every minute of it & went home on a huge high! Go. Neil….. You’ve still got it! 👍🎶👍🎶👍🎶👍🎶

    • Jonathon Buck.. I have that album,plus a double album “The Greatest Hits 1966-1992, & a 3 pack album “In My Lifetime’, all being CD’s & I love them, have had them for many years. But the CD brought out last year “Melody Road” doesn’t compare at all. It just doesn’t seem to have that same tone & beat that I liked about him. With live shows also, it’s amazing what a great sound mixer & different types of microphones can do for a person’s voice. They can make anyone sound good..

    • Sandy Gray ..the CD ‘Melody Road’ was new, & released just before his tour here last year.. There are a couple of tracks with his usual style, but he sounds to semi talk rather than sing with these new songs, & you can hear that he doesn’t have the range in his singing now. As I have said elsewhere, nowadays with an expert sound technician & different types of microphones, anyone can sound good, even me, & that’s saying something-I’m hopeless, lol..

    • Heather A  

      That Tina Turner clip was five years old. Still, 71…..

  2. No. I haven’t thought about it. But now you mention it, I love the fact that they are still performing, I enjoy seeing them now. I move with the times and embrace change, couldent bear to be stuck in the past.

  3. it depends the rolling stones have become pretty gruesome but Paul McCartney is as good today as he ever was.

  4. Hey everyone. Can’t believe this topic. Yes they sound different but they still have our respect and admiration. Enjoy them anyway! Don’t cast the oldies aside. They are precious.

  5. Your supposition is blown to bits if you go to a Rolling Stones Concert like I did earlier this year in both Adelaide ( Stunning!) and Brisbane ( breathtaking! ) – ask anybody their opinion if they were at either of the Concerts !! 👍👍🎸🎼🎤

  6. While they still have fans who are willing to pay to go and see them, why should they retire ? If nobody want to hear them, they would have no choice but retire gracefully. It is easy for us to sit here and judge but we are not the ones going out there stressing our bodies to entertain others

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