#GlobalNews: “The long final farewell: Why are so many rock stars suddenly retiring? – National”

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In July 2015, I flew to Las Vegas to see Rush at the MGM Grand. I knew that it would be the last time I’d get to see a band that I’d loved since I was a kid. They hadn’t officially couched this as a farewell tour, but fans knew that drummer Neil Peart wanted out because his arthritic body just couldn’t handle the strain. We had to see them one more time.

It took until last month for guitarist Alex Lifeson to admit that Rush had ceased to be.

“We have no plans to tour or record anymore,” he said. “We’re basically done. After 41 years, we felt it was enough.”

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And it’s not just Rush, of course. Music fans are seeing something very discomforting, a phenomenon never before witnessed in the history of music: mass retirement by the people who have soundtracked our lives.

Our rock heroes from the 1960s and 1970s — those who constitute the first generation of classic rock — are now well into their pension years. For some, it’s weak flesh despite a willing spirit. For others, even the spirit has given up the ghost.

Elton John, frightened by a health scare that he says almost killed him, is going to loop the planet one more time on the 300-date Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour. (He retired once before in 1977, but that one obviously didn’t stick.)

Slayer, one of the most influential metal bands of all time, will pull the chute on a 35-year career after a final tour this year. Seventy-six-year-old Paul Simon maintains his Homeward Bound tour will be his last, with the finale set for Hyde Park in London on July 15.

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That’s just the start of a long list. Ozzy Osbourne is about to embark on a three-year farewell tour after he helped put Black Sabbath to bed for good. Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Last of the Street Survivors Farewell Tour begins next month. Joan Baez is fed up with dealing with voice problems and will retire from public performances. Neil Diamond had to pull out of his 50th-anniversary tour after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s.

This generation thrived in rock’s most wild era. There was plenty of unsafe sex and powerful drugs along with lots of smoking and alcohol. Livers and kidneys get damaged. Bones get brittle. Joints wear out and stiffen. Vocal cords get flabby. Cancers take root.

The string of deaths in 2016-17 (David Bowie, Prince, Tom Petty, AC/DC’s Malcolm Young, Walter Becker of Steely Dan, Gregg Allman, Chuck Berry and literally dozens of others) also exacerbated the issue. They provided a reality check that time in this world is finite. Remaining years might be best spent with family and other pursuits, not living out of a suitcase for months at a time.

Others have no choice but to keep hitting the road. Once upon a time, you could have an album become a classic and expect to see a steady stream of royalty cheques in the mailbox.


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For example, every album by The Doors sold in platinum numbers every single year for decades. None of the surviving members had to lift a finger to keep the money rolling in. But with the rise of streaming, record sales have cratered. The only way to make up for that lost revenue is to go back on tour, even if it means more abuse on the body.

But then there are those who go on raging against the dying of the light. Anyone who’s seen Paul McCartney or Bruce Springsteen in recent years know they’re still having way too much fun to even think of retiring. And of course, Keith Richards will still be alive when the universe meets its end.

And even though AC/DC is down to just one original member (Angus Young), it’s possible that more music and tours may come with the help of Axl Rose replacing the near-deaf Brian Johnson.

These artists have always performed. They know no other way of life. Cutting them off from a live audience is like starving them of oxygen. They will fight to their last breath.

Don’t be surprised when news comes that a rockin’ septuagenarian (or even octogenarian) has died onstage.

And until the last one drops, promoters will continue to refine the concept of a rock’n’roll retirement tour, which is proving to be a big money-maker as fans think “Gotta see [X] before they die, you know?”

If you’re a young music fan, I urge you to see these farewell tours because these artists are the last of their breed. Hip-hop, not rock, is the music that drives modern culture.

We don’t make rock stars like we used to and we never will. And once they’re gone, they’re gone.

Alan Cross is a broadcaster with 102.1 the Edge and a commentator for Global News.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Note: “Previously Published on: 18 February 2018 | 3:00 pm, as ‘The long final farewell: Why are so many rock stars suddenly retiring? – National’ on GLOBALNEWS CANADA. Here is a source link for the Article’s Image(s) and Content”.

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