Are the Rolling Stones Getting Too Old?

Posted: July 23, 2011 in Editorials

The Rolling Stones (singer Mick Jagger, guitarist Keith Richards, guitarist Ron “Ronnie” Wood, and drummer Charlie Watts) have gained immortal recognition after first surfacing in 1964 with their debut album, The Rolling Stones.  Nearly fifty years later, The Stones are still active and after releasing countless more classic albums and amazing hit singles, are credited with being one of the greatest Rock and Roll bands of all time. Despite this status, fifty years is a long time, and music buffs are starting to wonder is it time for the Rolling Stones to close up shop?

Charlie Watts (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

During a recent interview, Keith Richards mentioned an upcoming Stones tour in 2011 and the possibility of a new album the following year.  There is no question that these shows will sell out quickly, though, because of the band’s former glory as opposed to the band’s more recent achievements.  People want to see the stones for what they were in their earlier years, not what they are today. Is this upcoming tour going to bare many resemblances to past tours?  Probably.

Keith Richards (photo uploaded to Flikr by Julius Cruickshank)

In recent live performances, the Stones have continued an old tradition of performing sloppily on stage, as clearly showcased by the Martin Scorsese documentary, Shine a Light.   We are all familiar with Mick Jagger’s stage persona as he marches across to the stage, knees high, arms flailing, pointing at the crowd with pursed lips.  Additionally, like many other older artists, namely Bob Dylan, Jagger’s voice is losing its former appeal. His most recent live performances have shown him accompanied by younger, smoother singers to balance out his more gravely and now aging voice.  This is exemplified by his performance of Gimme Shelter with U2, Fergie, and will.I.Am. at Madison Square Garden, in 2009.

Mick Jagger (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

However, as important as the fans’ approval is the question of whether the band members themselves can still stand each other.  Many more weathered bands have experienced inner turmoil, which, if they do not break up, negatively affects their work and image.

Towards the end of 2009, Ron Wood was arrested for abusing his girlfriend while under the influence.  The Stones threatened to fire Ron unless he ceased his alcoholic habits as his actions were threatening the bands’ insurance for the planned 2010 tour, which was quickly canceled.

Ron Wood (uploaded to Flikr by Maxi del Campo)

Recently, Wood released a solo album entitled I Feel Like Playing, suggesting that the guitarist has not been satisfied with the minimal amount he and the Stones have recently worked.

Adding to the talk of inner turmoil, Keith Richards recently published an autobiography Life, accompanied by an album highlighting his solo career.  In Life, Richards makes negative remarks regarding Jagger, “swipes” rumored to have ‘flared up’ the ‘long-dormant feud’ between the bandmates.  This is in light of the media recently exposing internal conflicts between members of Aerosmith.  Are the Rolling Stones following in “The Bad Boy’s of Boston’s” footsteps? Some might say that, yes, the Rolling Stones are collapsing, more slowly than Aerosmith, but they are falling apart.

It would appear as though the members of the Stones have moved on and thus the band should not desperately hold onto a formerly stupendous connection that no longer exists.

If you want to simply see the Stones for the sake of seeing the Stones, then by all means, buy those tickets.  However, if you want to see a band perform at the height of its career, then avoid this tour.

  1. Seth says:

    As you suggest, people “listen” to music, and certainly attend concerts, for many reasons. Some people just like to see confirmation that even in the fast changing world of Rock, a band can last for almost half a century. Seth

    • eak1994 says:

      That’s an excellent point and I’m probably one of those people. And people like that will probably compose the bulk of the audience at a tour like this. When I saw Springsteen and The Moody Blues, I noticed that most of the audience members were older fans who had seen the bands many times before. So, you’re absolutely right. Thanks for your input!

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