Should the Stones and other classic rockers quit?
Perusing the Sunday papers the other day, I chanced to see a full-page ad for the Who’s upcoming summer tour. I couldn’t help rolling my eyes and emitting a snort of disgust. For some reason, it always riles me up when I see this bunch reassembling. Understand, I’ve got nothing against the Who; they were an undeniably great band who certainly belong on anyone’s Top Ten list of Classic Rock acts. But I’ve always kind of felt they should have broken up after Keith Moon’s death back in ’78. That may be a minority opinion, but Moon’s drumming and persona were so integral to the group that it just never seemed the same after he was gone. It’s also always bugged me that after Pete Townshend announced the band was breaking up in the ’80s, he then proceeded to have the group reunite every few years, tinnitus be damned. Jeez, Pete, can’tcha stick to your guns?
Of course, the Who aren’t the only classic rock act that soldiers on… and on… and on. Following is a brief, opinionated look at a few other long-in-the-tooth acts.
THE ALLMAN BROTHERS BAND Sure, the Allmans survived the early deaths of founding members Duane Allman and Berry Oakley. But can they survive the departure of long-time guitar god Dickey Betts? Apparently, they’re going to try. But to me, the Allmans without Dickey sort of feels like the Stones without Keith Richards, no matter what guitar ace they get to fill his slot. Fellas, it’s time to HANG IT UP.
THE ROLLING STONES To paraphrase the title of a new Stones bio, these boys are old gods almost dead. It’s downright unseemly that the putative World’s Greatest Rock & Roll Band rolls on, diminishing it’s legacy with each new album and tour. Jagger once remarked that he couldn’t see himself rocking and rolling around stages in his forties. Now, ol’ Rubber Lips is almost 60. Guys, just HANG IT UP.
BOB DYLAN Defying all conventional wisdom and logic, the Big D is doing some of his most vital work as he edges toward senior citizenship. Five years ago, I would have argued that he’d never again hit the peaks he did with ”Highway 61 Revisited” and ”Blonde on Blonde.” But along came ”Time Out of Mind” and ”Love and Theft,” proving me wrong. Bobbo, HANG IN THERE, babe.
BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN & THE E STREET BAND On a good night, this unit is so tight and so right that there’s no reason not to think they can’t go on for another decade. The indefatigable Boss and his cohorts are a killer combo still capable of making rock seem like a vital life force. HANG IN THERE, Bruce.
SANTANA He proved that there’s life after irrelevance. The guitar guru’s ’98 comeback was so unexpected that you couldn’t help rooting for him. The nice thing is, he’s managed to sidestep being a nostalgia act — his new audience could care less about ”Evil Ways”; they want to hear ”Smooth.” It’s hard not to wonder what he’ll do next. HANG IN THERE, Devadip.
LYNYRD SKYNYRD They should consider changing their name to SKYNYRD, INC. It’s kind of odd how these good ol’ boys are still around, seeing that half the original band was killed in a plane crash more than two decades ago. But the latter-day unit is purportedly a big moneymaker. Refried ”Freebird,” anyone? Yuchh. HANG IT UP, dudes.
MOTORHEAD Ugly old dudes playing savage speed-metal punk — what could be worse? A lot of things, actually. Sue me, but Lemmy and company are one anachronistic archetype I’d hate to see call it quits. HANG IN THERE, blokes.
What bands do you think should call it a day (or not)?