I’ve been writing a lot about getting old recently, spurred by my daughter turning 30. However I thought that, with my last post, I’d be done with that subject for awhile, or at least until I found myself going out to dinner at 4:30.
But then came this news: Ringo Starr has become a great grandfather.
And by that I do not mean that he is an exceptional grandfather. I mean that his granddaughter, Tatia Starkey and her partner, Adam Low, have given birth to a son.
If that doesn’t make you feel old, how’s this: Ringo is just four years shy of his 80th birthday. He’s still active, though. In fact, Ringo and His All-Starr Geezer Band are touring now. The current band line-up includes 68-year-old Todd Rundgren on guitar, 69-year-old Gregg Rolie on keyboards and 63-year-old Richard “The Kid” Page on bass.
I don’t know how they manage to do more than three songs without at least one of them having to go to the bathroom.
Getting back to Ringo’s great-grandson: The boy’s name is Stone Zakomo Low, perhaps named after The Rolling Stones. His middle name may be a nod to Tatia’s father, Zak Starkey, Ringo’s son, who will turn 51 next month. Zak is a musician, too, most recently playing the drums for The Who, featuring 72-year old Roger Daltrey and 71-year-old Pete Townsend.
Considering the quantity and variety of substances that these folks consumed over the decades, it’s amazing how many of them are still able to stand up, much less do concerts. We saw Leon Russell a few years ago when he was touring with Elton John, and it didn’t seem as though he could stand up. I think a couple of roadies actually wheeled him up to the piano on the piano bench, and he looked like Gandalf from Lord of the Rings.
We saw Graham Nash in concert recently. He’s 74 and still sounds great. Sometimes he tours with Crosby (75) and Stills (71), but not with Young, who isn’t.
Of course, some of these old-timers, while still technically active, appear as though they’ve been mummified. Mick Jagger comes to mind. He’s 73, but his lips are 97. His bandmate Keith Richards (72) looks like a raisin.
My favorite songwriter of all time, Paul Simon, is 74, and may literally be shrinking. I believe he is now only as tall as Garfunkel’s hair. And have you seen Steven Tyler lately? I think his face is actually melting.
Even rock stars who had the good graces to die when they were young can’t help getting old. That’s because there are websites that show you what they would have looked like now if they hadn’t died then. For instance, here’s Janis Joplin. You have to admit she looks pretty good for being 73 years old and, you know, dead.
A lot of my friends like to go see these folks. They attend concerts with acts like AC/DC (combined age of the four current members: 256) and The Steve Miller Band (combined age of the five current members: well over 300). Very few of these bands are in their original configurations. Often you’re seeing whichever member had the rights to the band name and some other musicians he picked up along the way. For instance, over 50 different people have toured as Blood, Sweat & Tears. The current lead singer is Bo Bice, who lost the Season 4 finale of American Idol to Carrie Underwood.
One of those people has had a more successful career than the other.
With the exception of Simon, what all these acts have in common, besides their demand for having their dressing rooms stocked with Ensure, is that they rarely do anything new. It’s just kind of, whenever they need money, somebody winds them up and sends them out on stage.
I’m proud of the fact that I prefer newer music, created in this century, by artists who were born after Woodstock instead of artists who performed there. I rarely tune to the classic rock station.
It’s not that I have anything against Geriatric Rock. It’s just I have enough reminders that I’m getting old without also listening to them.
See you soon.
*Bob Seger, age 71.