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These Musicians Built the Industry and Continue to Wow Us

Most industries in this world have felt the swift hand of progress pushing them forward, regardless of intentions or desires to stick to old fashioned ideals. The music industry has been no exception, with genres now becoming bewilderingly intertwined and interchangeable, and most artists only enjoying a brief period in the limelight. Gone are the days when bands like the Beatles and musicians like Bob Dylan would enthrall crowds of thousands for years on end. Or are they?

Sure, what's trending and turning heads may constantly be a-changin' with the times, but that doesn't mean that many of the musicians who helped birth the widespread industry we know today aren't still out there wowing audiences the world over. These legends maintained not only their fame and fortune but their talent and their love for the art and performing. These fantastic Golden Age musicians really prove that there's no school better than old school when it comes to the song in your heart - and they made sure their classics stay current! In ascending order, these are the oldest musicians that still travel the world making music. 

1. Pete Townshend & Robert Daltrey, aged 75 & 76 respectively

The British rock band ‘The Who’, formed in 1964, gave us timeless hits like “Substitute”, “Pinball Wizard”, “Baba O’Riley” and “My Generation”, and sold over 100 million records worldwide. The band continues to release albums, tour, and perform, and though many members have changed, Townshend and Daltrey have remained together since its inception.

In 2015, they performed some of their favorites with Bruce Springsteen and other notable musicians (check out the video!). Even in the months prior to the global lockdowns, these two continued to rock. Their most recent tour has been put on hold because of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

2. Bob Dylan, aged 79

The creator of songs like the 1965 classic “Like a Rolling Stone”, the protest ballad “Times They Are A-Changin’”, and the poetic piece “The Tambourine Man”, continues to enthrall us with his unique voice. He has produced nearly 40 albums, his most recent one having been released in June 2020, titled “Rough and Rowdy Ways”.

His Never-Ending Tour, which began in 1988, reached its 3000th show in April of 2019. He was scheduled to play in Japan a year later, but the concerts have been postponed for the time being. This 2019 rendition of “Like a Rolling Stone” shows us that he still enjoys performing as much as he did when he first began. 

3. Paul McCartney & Ringo Starr, aged 78 & 80 respectively

The Beatles were and remain undoubtedly one of the most iconic bands of the 60’s and musical history in general. Their journey to redefining an entire genre of music began with an unlikely but unmatchable friendship between 4 passionate people, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, and George Harrison.

Following their initial success, Paul McCartney went solo in the ’70s, and the band went through some rough times and took heavy losses. However, Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney continue to make music, both independently and together (like in the above performance), proving that we really can get by with a little help from our friends. 

4. Kris Kristofferson, aged 84

This multi-talented country singer and song-writer blessed us with treasures like “Me and Bobby McGee” and “Help Me Make It Through the Night”. In his storied and epic career, he has performed with legends like Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Barbra Streisand, other Nashville based artists like Lady Antebellum and even won a Golden Globe for his performance in the 1976 film A Star is Born.

His latest album, released in 2015, was nominated for a Grammy, and he continues to perform on tour, capturing our attention as he does in this video, with a warm yet heart-wrenching rendition of one his earliest songs. 

5. Buddy Guy, aged 84

George “Buddy” Guy began his career in the mid-’50s in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. His songs, like “Black Night” and “A Man of Many Words”, were love letters to Blues music, a genre that he still keeps alive and thriving today. His skills on the guitar impressed and inspired many notable musicians like Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton. He also performed with legendary bands like Led Zeppelin and Muddy Waters.

Buddy still keeps his guitar close - though not his first guitar, because that is now in the Rock ‘N’ Roll Hall of Fame. He spent a good half of 2019 performing, including this smooth web-exclusive performance of the song “Cognac” for Austin City Limits TV. 

6. Sam Moore, aged 84

Samuel David Moore earned his place in the Rock 'N' Roll hall of fame with a long and still running career that began in 1961 as the first half of a soul and R&B duo called Sam & Dave. It would be a good 2 decades before Sam Moore began his solo career, performing classic Sam & Dave hits like “Soul Man” and “When Something is Wrong With My Baby”, as well as his own numbers.

He spent some time on the silver screen and even sang at the presidential inaugural concert in 2017. This video shows one of his most recent performances in 2019, on his birthday. Neither the audience nor he could resist jiving along to the song. After all, it’s in his soul, man!  

7. Jerry Lee Lewis, aged 84

Here’s a man who stood at the forefront of the rockabilly era, when rock ‘n’ roll music had just found its place on the top of the music charts. Jerry Lee Lewis was and continues to be one of the most formidable pianists in the world, with a preference for beats that leave your feet tapping, like this 2017 rendition of one of his most famous rock classics.

Many of his songs and covers became top 10 rock hits as well as No.1 country hits. Despite being plagued by certain scandals, Lewis’ career survived the decades, and he continues to play many of his old fast-paced numbers live, though he is currently working on his next gospel album. 

8. Bobby Bare, aged 85

Bobby Bare’s voice remains now as sultry and soulful as it did 30 years ago, and his songs, as warm and familiar. This singer gave up a chance at a Hollywood dream to pursue his real dream of making country music. Though his career was filled with numerous treacherous ups and downs, it gave us many touching pieces like “500 Miles Away From Home”, “How I Got to Memphis”, and Grammy Award-winning song, “Detroit City”.

He has released over 30 albums over the years, the most recent in 2017, titled “Things Change”. This 2019 performance of “Streets of Baltimore”, hits all the right notes. 

9. John Mayall, aged 86

A British Blues singer, songwriter and instrumentalist, John Mayall started his full-time music career in 1963 after spending years juggling it with his job as an art designer. The band he had formed in 1956, which he first called the Powerhouse Four, began to take shape in the 1960s when they got a new guitarist, young Eric Clapton.

Their name changed to the Bluesbreakers, and they enjoyed many successful years after that, even though Clapton left within a year and numerous other band members were replaced over the years. John Mayall continues to make sweet music, and show off his newest band member and first female lead guitarist, Carolyn Wonderland, in this 2019 performance of “Have You Heard?”. 

10. Willie Nelson, aged 87

Willie Nelson is quite one of the most popular and recognized country singers in the world. Along with his friend and performing partner Johnny Cash, he revolutionized the style of speak-singing with his soothing deep voice and a whole lot of heart. His career began in the mid-’50s but after a brief period of retirement continued well into the next few decades, with multiple album releases.

Not only has he worked with numerous renowned musical artists, and starred in many films, he is also known for his work as an activist. He continues to perform with his band, The Family, as well as with his actual family, as his sons are also notable musicians. His dusky voice continues to melt hearts, even in this 2019 cover of “You Were Always On My Mind”.  

11. Petula Clark, aged 87

Petula Clark is one high flying multi-talented English lady who really shows that age ain’t nothing but a number. Her career began with a happy accident when she was only 9 years old and performed to entertain some impatient troops. Her performance wowed the audience and she went on to do multiple tours, many alongside her friend Julie Andrews. And while Andrews was making waves as Maria Von Trapp on the big screen, Clark was impressing the real-life Maria Von Trapp with her performance as the kind-hearted governess, in the stage adaption of The Sound of Music.

Alongside her career in theater also grew her career in music which saw 15 consecutive top 40 hits, starting with the all-time favorite “Downtown”. She is set to play a pivotal role in the 2020 cast for West End’s stage musical of Mary Poppins, and she continues to dazzle us with those powerful pipes like in this 2019 performance. 

12. Burt Bacharach, aged 92

A man who needs no introduction. Burt Bacharach is one of the most prolific and renowned composer, singer, songwriter, and pianist of the 20th century, with his songs having been covered by over 1000 different artists. He has produced over 70 US Top 40 hits, and 50 UK Top 40 hits, and such classics like “What The World Needs Now” and “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head”, in his 60-year career.

In 2016, he composed his first original score in 16 years for the movie A Boy Called Po, and in July of 2020, co-produced a new song called Blue Umbrella, his first new release in 15 years. This tearful 2020 rendition of “A House is Not a Home” will take you back in time. 

13. Tony Bennett, aged 94

Born Anthony Dominick Benedetto, this man has released as many works under his birth name as he has his stage name. A connoisseur of the jazzy big band numbers, Tony Bennett is the final piece in every orchestra, creating such hits as “I Left My Heart In San Francisco” and “Blue Velvet”.

While the ’50s was his time to shine, his career struggled in the following “rock” decades, but he had a chance at a comeback in the ’90s and he took it by storm. He has released multiple collaboration albums with artists like Willie Nelson, Queen Latifah, and Lady Gaga, like in this adorable performance of “Cheek to Cheek” in 2019. 

14. The Rolling Stones

This classic and highly influential rock band which shaped not only the genre but the music industry itself was formed in 1962, and its current members (Mick Jagger, 77, Keith Richards, 76, Charlie Watts, 79 and Ronnie Wood, 73) have all been a part of the band since its inception with the exception of Ronnie Wood who joined in 1975. For the last 45 years, this band has continued to tour and rule the stage, standing at a collective age of over 300.

In fact, this band continues to remain a musical force by inspiring all of us to stay home and keep singing with this Together At Home performance of the melodic song, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”, released online in April 2020.

Did this article get your feet tapping? Be sure to share it! 

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