Musicians Should Know When to Retire


Kira Camacho, Staff Writer

Two Beatles, two Who(ligans), three Rolling Stones, two members of Rush; the dwindling numbers of classic-rockers are slowly bringing the era to a close. No matter how many pass, their music and stories will still live on. However, there comes a time when older musicians should know when it’s time to stop. It’s their responsibility to be realistic about their talent as they age, and really think about if they’re able to give a quality show. 

Upon seeing members of various iconic groups pass away, I started to think about what the groups would do without their core members. Led Zeppelin almost immediately disbanded after their drummer died in 1980 because he was such an integral part of the band. 

On the other hand, bands like AC/DC were never afraid to fire and replace band members. When one member passed away, or was out, someone was simply hired to take their place. Out of the five original (pre-Cliff Williams) members, only two remain.

Though some of these rockers still have the drive, and most importantly, talent, to continue, others don’t. For some reason, these other bands don’t realize that they don’t have what it takes to continue on the road of touring. 

Genesis’s reunion tour was this year, and it was definitely interesting. The tour included Genesis members Tony Banks, Phil Collins, Mike Rutherford, along with Nic Collins, Daryl Stuermer, Daniel Pearce, and Patrick Smyth. Honestly, the musicians did great. Phil Collins’ son, Nic Collins, sounded amazing. Phil Collins, on the other hand, had to sing in a chair. This isn’t exactly a bad thing, if you can still give an amazing performance in a chair, so be it. But Phil Collins couldn’t. 

While the musicians were going on solos, Collins just spun around in his chair. He just sort of seemed awkward. His age and inability to give an exciting performance really showed. Collins can’t play the drums anymore, and his voice just wasn’t as good as it once was. 

Aging isn’t a problem; it’s going to happen to everyone. It’s just sad to see your favorite rockstar in that state, yet still trying to tour. 

If you can barely get out the words, stand on stage, or play your instrument, it’s really time to stop. I’m sure Genesis fans are more than happy to see the band, but watching the tour videos as a non-hardcore fan just made me cringe. 

Though Phil Collins should get off the road, many other older bands are still going strong. The Grateful Dead has cleverly revived their band, and sound, with Dead & Company. This band includes the original Grateful Dead members; Bob Weir, Mickey Hart, and Bill Kreutzmann. They are accompanied by newcomers John Mayer, Oteil Burbridge, and Jeff Chimenti. Unlike with Genesis, their mixture of old and new really worked. I believe it’s because Bob Weir is still able to tour. Without the late Jerry Garcia, Weir is the heart and soul of the old Grateful Dead. His presence and skill in the shows make the band work. On top of that, he can still play and sing pretty well! Plus, he can do all that while standing.

The remaining members of the Grateful Dead chose great newcomers to join them onstage. John Mayer does a great job improvising on the songs in a way similar to Garcia, but he doesn’t seem like he’s attempting to replace Garcia.

I also think this is a great idea because they’re blending in the old with the new. For one show, you get fresh takes on the Dead’s classic acid-test tunes. Even the name, Dead & Company, is smart. They’re not promising to still be the same fresh-faced band, but a rendition of it. Maybe it’s John Mayer holding them all up, but it sounds like the original members of the Dead have definitely passed the test of time. 

As we’ve seen, a few bands can keep on truckin’ ; a few can’t. It’s really about knowing when is the right time to stop. For example, a band that is closing in on retirement is the Beach Boys. They’ve been a band for 60 years, starting in 1961. 

In my opinion, they’re definitely not as bad as Genesis, but they’re obviously not the same. Unfortunately, they will never be the same band. The Beach Boys can’t just bring in fresh musicians to revive the band. The world’s favorite Beach Boy songs were built on the harmonies of the deceased members. Even now, having different people singing “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” makes it sound odd. Bringing in new voices might keep the band on tour, but it wouldn’t be The Beach Boys. I don’t think it’s quite yet time for the Beach Boys to leave, but that time is approaching quickly. If not for all of the remaining members, definitely for Mike Love. 

Some musicians, specifically Jimmy Page, seem to feel guilty about their retirement. Page has repeatedly expressed his want to get back onstage and tour, but he’s 77-years-old. Jimmy Page has performed for plenty of years, and even though I’ve never had the pleasure of seeing him live, I think he’s done quite enough. Musicians basically owe their entire career to their fans, retiring when fans regularly beg you to continue must make retirement feel selfish.

Jimmy Page is one of the rockstars who has let his career take its course, and even though he indicates his want to tour, he doesn’t. In early 1975, Page broke his finger, and almost instantly, Led Zeppelin fans were already noticing a difference in his playing. Similarly, I can’t imagine how different his guitar style would be now. But unlike other musicians, Jimmy Page has accepted his circumstance and made the right decision to stop touring. 

The entertainment industry proves that it’s hard to stop when you have something good going. This has happened countless times in film, television, and music. Producers, artists, and filmmakers just don’t know when to close the curtain on a project when it isn’t good anymore. It’s especially hard to end something that makes money, or provides lots of jobs. Though there’s so many factors to postponing retirement, hopefully these rockers won’t continue to tour if they can’t put on a good show anymore.