Your favourite rock star is probably about to die
WE’RE getting to a special time in rock ‘n’ roll where the pantheon of Peter Pans is looking more mortal than ever. The music of the babyboomers is finally creaking with age.
Lennon, Joplin, Redding and Gaye all had the decency to die young, thereby making them immortal. The babyboomers did not feel worried. We’re the rock ‘n’ roll generation! That’s exactly the kind of exciting thing that happens to us! I HOPE I DIE BEFORE I GET OLD, MAN! Just like Keith Moon! Just like Brian Jones!
All the while, the rest of rock ‘n’ roll survived and got old. Just For Men, Facelifts and increasingly younger partners plastered over the cracks in the wall.
Then everyone started dying of old age.
Initially, Syd Barrett and Arthur Lee left and the babyboomers (and their kids) all felt bad, but brushed it all off with “well, they had a pretty crazy life! It was always going to catch up with them at some point! Shine on you crazy diamonds!”
And now everyone is dropping like flies. The sheer volume of dying rockstars over the past decade has been astonishing. Not a week goes by without someone tweeting RIP to one of their favourite musicians dying. They’re all in the 60s and 70s now. They’re old. There’s no escaping it.
This week, Ramones drummer Tommy Ramone shrugged off his mortal coil, leaving zero original Ramones left. Even punk is getting old. No-one is safe.
Of course, there’s a good number of rockstar legends knocking around the circuit, such as Mick ‘n’ Keef, Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder, but there’s something gnawing at the back of fans’ brains about their idols.
They’re nearly dead.
This weekend, fans in the UK watched Neil Young roll back the years. The sad fact is, that is statistically likely to be the last time they see him in person. Neil Young may have said that it is better to burn out than fade away, but fade away he will – he’s not got long left.
The babyboomers are going to watch every single one of their idols die. The Woodstock Generation… the Mods… the dadrockers… for the first time in their lives, they’re faced with the very real possibility of every single thing they like turning into compost before their eyes. And with them will go their own youth.
We’re in the middle of rock music’s retirement, with only bands like The Black Keys, Jack White and Arctic Monkeys still clinging on to the old fashioned idea of ‘rock ‘n’ roll’ to be played in huge stadiums, revering the blues.
This all sounds desperately negative, but if you want to cherish these acts, do it now. Watch their final flings and roll around in nostalgia because, like it or not, the people who invented the teenager, the people that shaped what popular music could achieve, are all this close to joining the choir invisible.
Magazine will beatify these men and women, but soon, they’ll stop being in the present, and soon become very much of the past. And that, for the true spirit of rock ‘n’ roll, is incredibly exciting indeed.