Morrissey announced this week that he plans to retire in two years. That's tragic news in some circles, but we think it's a good move. In 2014, he'll turn 55, and the Smiths thing is never happening. How much longer is he supposed to do this? Another ten years 'til he's 65? He's Morrissey, not a Chicago bluesman. Better to go out on your own terms and enjoy your success than to wait for your fanbase to die of old age before settling down.
There's a lot to be said for knowing when to call it quits. Take R.E.M., for example. Michael Stipe and his bandmates walked away last year with their dignity and esteem intact, leaving fans only memories of their best. Would it be such a bad thing if more of '80s superstars followed their lead?
The concert industry would shit a brick, but no, it would not be such a bad thing. Rock stars shouldn't need a Golden Jubilee. After 30 or 40 years of touring and recording, your message has been received. It would be unfair of us to ask you to squeeze into those leather pants again so we can make a futile attempt to travel back through time for a night.
The Moz has the blessed vanity to quit before he becomes hideously old. Good on you, pal. Here are eight more '80s icons who could stand to do the same:
Years in the Game: 36 Last Time We Loved Them: 1993
After nearly four decades together, even Bono admitted to Rolling Stone that U2 has been "on the edge of irrelevancy for 20 years." The group's last album, No Line on the Horizon, failed to deliver anything resembling a hit single, and fans won't likely be mentioning it in the same breath as The Joshua Tree anytime soon. Must we really demand another one?
At this point, U2 are more famous for their lavish stage shows and Bono's humanitarian work than for the brilliant songs they're putting out. After 36 years, is there anything left for them to say? Stick that mirror-ball lemon in the Rock Hall of Fame and go bail Ireland out of its financial crisis or something.
7. Van Halen
Years in the Game: 40 Last Time We Loved Them: 1991
Can anyone really deny that today's Van Halen is a big ol' clusterfuck of a mess? The Van Halen brothers and David Lee Roth openly despise one another, Eddie's kid is playing bass, and no one in the group even appears to be on speaking terms with former members Sammy Hagar or Michael Anthony. All that appear to be keeping Van Halen going are the massive egos involved.
Sure, their recent LP, A Different Kind of Truth, wasn't horrible. But a lot of the material was repurposed from '70's-era demos. Their new album ain't even new! In fact, its chief accomplishment is existing at all -- faint praise for a group that was, at one time, the biggest band in the world. Van Halen has been a model of dysfunction for nearly 20 years. Let's not drag this out any longer, OK?
6. New Kids on the Block
Years in the Game: 28 Last Time We Loved Them: 1991
It's virtually unheard-of for a boy band to have a second act to its career, no matter how popular. The cute little guys grow up and get ugly. The tunes were never any great shakes to begin with. After a short shelf life, we want to know their names no more. The game goes on.
So why are these guys still around? There is absolutely zero demand for new music from the New Kids, and they've probably got kids who'd be considered too old to form their own boy band by now. We're not even going to get into that thing with the Backstreet Boys.
There's only one reason for NKOTB to exist in any form in 2012: Pure nostalgia. Lucrative as that gig may be, there's something a bit unseemly about middle-aged men singing tunes intended for pre-teens to a bunch of wives and mothers. Go home, guys.
Years in the Game: 42 Last Time We Loved Them: 1995
Aerosmith has broken up more times over the years than anyone cares to count, but it never sticks. If you watched American Idol (which you'd never, ever do, right?), you'd know that the band is set to release its first new album of original music in more than a decade this year.
I used to hear women say that Stephen Tyler was hot even though he was old, but I haven't heard that shit in a long time. Is anybody asking for new Aerosmith? I mean, what's left for them to rehash? They're still a major touring draw, but they've been seen lots.
Now that Steven Tyler and Joe Perry have both added gray streaks to their dye jobs in a grudging nod to their advanced age, perhaps it's prudent to put "Love in an Elevator" on the shelf and bow out gracefully before somebody (Tyler) breaks a hip.
Years in the Game: 35 Last Time We Loved Him: 1996
For the last ten or 15 years, music fans only wanted one thing from Sting: A Police reunion. Well, we got it. As far as we're concerned, Sting, you're free to just hang out and do yoga. Score a Disney film. Do an episode of Doctor Who. Thanks for everything; we're cool.
3. Guns N' Roses
Years in the Game: 27 Last Time We Loved Them: 1993
By Guns N' Roses, of course, we mean Axl Rose. Honestly, for about a decade, we thought Axl was retired. Then came Buckethead, a couple tours and Chinese Democracy. All of that was mighty interesting and everything, but what we really wanted was Guns' original lineup back on the same stage. After Axl skipped the group's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony, it's clear that's never happening.
No need to risk any more riots, Mr. Rose. You're looking way too much like a bloated, greasy pimp these days, and frankly, we're no longer willing to spend money on tickets only to wait around for hours until you're ready to perform. We were better off estranged.
2. Motley Crue
Years in the Game: 31 Last Time We Loved Them: 1991
If Motley Crue doesn't retire soon, Mick Mars is going to die. Period. He already looks halfway dead, can we avoid finishing the job, please? Mick has a severe form of inflammatory arthritis that's caused his lower spine to seize up completely over the years, limiting his movement and causing him untold pain. The man is not well. He does not need to be climbing stairs on to a plane every night with his artificial hip in order to keep playing "Smokin' in the Boys Room" another few dozen times.
Motley Crue are the ultimate rock and roll survivors, but tattooed 60-year-olds calling for women to bare their breasts ain't cute. We realize that you've got a lot of alimony to pay, and that your dignity left for good somewhere around 1984. But for the sake of your guitar player, guys, please take a final bow and ride those Harleys into the sunset.
1. Ozzy Osbourne
Years in the Game: 43 Last Time We Loved Him: 1995
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
There's basically no hope for Ozzy. The man is simply going to die onstage. The all-consuming money maw of Sharon Osbourne will never allow him to rest, no matter how old and demented he gets.
Shit, Ozzy was considered over the hill the first time he retired--19 years ago, in 1993. We loved the comeback. We loved The Osbournes. We even loved Ozzfest, including the nu-metal years. But Black Rain was terrible. Please don't do that again, Oz. We got one final Sabbath reunion out of you this year, and we dare not ask for any more. It's time for us to be responsible fans and find you a nice nursing home where you can relax.