22 Coots and Codgers Making the Rest of Us Look Bad
B.B. King at House of Blues in October 2011
Photo by Marco Torres
While the rest of the music business has been slow to awaken from its holiday slumbers, the biggest shows in Houston this weekend come from two artists who have been up a long, long time -- 87 years, to be exact: Bluesman B.B. King and country crooner Ray Price. (Actually, Price will turn 87 on Saturday, so happy birthday.) Thanks a lot for making the rest of us look lazy, y'all.
This isn't the first time Rocks Off has pondered the questions of mortality and longevity among some of our more aged, esteemed performers. In January 2011, we asked "Who's Too Old to Rock and Roll?" The answer was no one -- all of those people are still with us and at least semi-active.
Furthermore, that list included relative spring chickens like Bob Dylan, Rod Stewart, Debbie Harry and Eric Clapton. This time, even disallowing anyone younger than 75, we had no trouble coming up with quite a few more. Like Hayes Carll says, this line of work, no one retires.
SHIRLEY BASSEY Age: 75 Recent Activity: Happy birthday, Shirley! The Welsh pop diva behind "Goldfinger" and '90s dance hit "History Repeating" turned 75 on Tuesday. Sang "Diamonds are Forever" at the Queen's 60th Jubilee concert last summer.
Merle Haggard at Mo's Place in 2010
Photo by Jason Wolter
MERLE HAGGARD Age: 75 Recent Activity: Released amber-tinted album Working In Tennessee in 2011, and comes to Stafford Centre March 21.
WANDA JACKSON Age: 75 Recent Activity: Released the strong, Justin T. Earle-produced Unfinshed Buisness last year. Was a little hoarse and flustered at Fitzgerald's in November - the result of several talk-show appearances behind Buisness, plus an overseas flight from performing in Europe.
GLEN CAMPBELL Age: 76 Recent Activity: Finally seems to have completed the hyper-extended "retirement tour" that brought him to the Houston area three separate times in about the past two years.
BUDDY GUY Age: 76 Recent Activity: Blues legend who owns the Chicago club Legends was among the 2012 Kennedy Center honorees. Played House of Blues in 2011 behind the previous year's Living Proof. Pollstar lists dates through the end of September.
KRIS KRISTOFFERSON Age: 76 Recent Activity: New album imminent, though it is called Feeling Mortal. Watch this space for an upcoming interview.
MICKEY GILLEY Age: 76 Recent Activity: Says he's close to bringing another Gilley's nightclub back to Pasadena, where the whole Urban Cowboy madness started.
LEE "SCRATCH" PERRY Age: 76 Recent Activity: Groundbreaking reggae/dub producer and certified space case was awarded Jamaica's Order of Distinction (commander class) last August, and released the album Master Piece in October.
BILL WYMAN Age: 76 Recent Activity: Joined his (younger) former bandmates, whom you may have heard of and are not yet 75, at the recent Rolling Stones 50th anniversary concert in London.
JERRY LEE LEWIS Age: 77 Recent Activity: The Killer has been relatively quiet lately, but per Pollstar, supposedly playing Stagecoach, "the country Coachella," in April.
JOHNNY MATHIS Age: 7 Recent Activity: The sparkling "Chances Are" crooner -- and Texan, born in Don Henley's hometown of Gilmer -- made a country album, Let It Be Me: Mathis In Nashville, in 2010. Plays Galveston's Grand 1984 Opera House March 24.
YOKO ONO Age: 79 Recent Activity: Released YokoKimThurston, a collaboration with Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon in late 2012. Lots of feedback and shrieking, we hear.
WAYNE SHORTER Age: 79 Recent Activity: A titan among jazz saxophonists, Shorter is scheduled to release Without a Net next month on Blue Note.
Willie Nelson at Arena Theatre, January 2010
Photo by Jason Wolter
WILLIE NELSON Age: 79 Recent Activity: Busy as ever, writing books, collaborating with Snoop Dogg, and playing Arena Theatre March 10. Expect quite a bit of hoopla surrounding his 80th birthday April 30.
LITTLE RICHARD Age: 80 Recent Activity: Web search turns up precious little (no pun intended). Flamboyant as he is, probably not a good sign.
LORETTA LYNN Age: 80 Recent Activity: The Coal Miner's Daughter is scheduled to play the Arlington Music Hall in North Texas next month, and celebrates her 65th wedding anniversary today. Kudos.
BOBBY BLUE BLAND Age: 81 Recent Activity: Still on the ribald Southern-style R&B/soul circuit alongside the likes of Mel Waiters, Charles Wilson, Denise LaSalle and Shirley Brown, though for some reason not at the April 6 H-Town Blues Festival.
GEORGE JONES Age: 81 Recent Activity: Still on his valedictory "The Grand Tour" farewell swing, that resulted in a somewhat heartbreaking Arena Theatre show last Labor Day weekend. Told that crowd he was going to make another album too.
ORNETTE COLEMAN Age: 82 Recent Activity: The Fort Worth-born father of free jazz is keeping a relatively low profile these days, and had to cancel an appearance at the San Francisco Jazz Festival this past November due to illness.
SONNY ROLLINS Age: 82 Recent Activity: A saxophone colossus rather than a titan, Rollins will appear an upcoming episode of The Simpsons inspired by the Tupac Shakur Coachella hologram, and is said to be the model for Lisa's mentor "Bleeding Gums" Murphy. He's also on tour, naturally.
TONY BENNETT Age: 86: Recent Activity: Teamed with Lady Gaga, among others, on last year's Viva Duets. On tour now, though regrettably nowhere close.
CHUCK BERRY Age: 86 Recent Activity: The man who arguably invented rock and roll still has a residency at St. Louis club Blueberry Hill and plays scattered road dates. A 1980 interview where Berry spotted his influence on the Sex Pistols and Ramones right away recently surfaced.
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.