Mick Jagger will celebrate his 70th birthday Friday, his ecstatic reception last month at the Glastonbury Festival still ringing in the ears, as just one of a generation of wrinkly rockers determined not to go quietly.
The Stones raised the roof at the British music festival on June 29 with a two-hour performance featuring hits from their 50-year back catalogue, including “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” and “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”.
Still athletic thanks to a rigorous health and fitness regime, Jagger doesn’t have any problems belting out the numbers either.
Pensionable they may be — Jagger’s birthday will bring their combined age to 277 — but superannuated they are not.
The Glastonbury show was so popular one reviewer said a circus contortionist would have been hard pressed to get within 500 yards (metres) of the stage, and it garnered rave reviews as well as affectionately mocking headlines.
“Glastonbury’s night of the living dead”, said the Daily Mail newspaper, joking that while “Mick looked ready for more, Keith looked in need of a warm malt drink”.
Last year, Jagger and fellow pensioners Keith Richards — 70 later this year — Charlie Watts, 72, and Ronnie Wood, 66, also played to packed houses on their “50 and Counting” tour to mark the group’s 50th anniversary.
“I don’t see why there shouldn’t be a 60th anniversary,” said Richards at the time.
And the Stones — creaking hips and knees permitting — are far from alone.
Many of those who started off with them in the sixties are still performing — alongside musicians who grew up listening to their music and are young enough to be their grandchildren.
The Who, with Roger Daltrey, 69, and Pete Townshend, 68, still tour and last year closed the London Olympics with crowd pleasers Baba O’Riley and “My Generation”.
Earlier this year, David Bowie, 66, surprised the music world with a new album, “The Next Day”, his first in a decade.
His wife Iman hinted that a tour might be in the pipeline despite earlier denials.
Last year, Bob Dylan, 72, Leonard Cohen, 78, and Patti Smith, 66, also recorded new albums, dispelling any lingering sense that pop music is the exclusive territory of the young.
All three continue to criss-cross the world to appear on stage.
Brian Wilson, 71, last year reformed the Beach Boys for the group’s 50th anniversary and released an album, and Paul McCartney, also 71, continues to compose and perform to packed houses.
A documentary that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival last year saw forgotten 1970s folk musician Sixto Rodriguez rediscovered.
The “Sugar Man” of Detroit, 71, has since undertaken a sell-out world tour and also put in an appearance at Glastonbury.
But if artists are happy to carry on long beyond what many would have once considered their sell-by date, others wonder if such geriatric rock could stifle younger talents.
“We live in a pop age gone loco for retro and crazy for commemoration. Band re-formations and reunion tours, expanded reissues of classic albums and outtake-crammed box sets, remakes and sequels, tribute albums and mash-ups,” British writer Simon Reynolds said in his 2011 book “Retromania: Pop Culture’s Addiction to its Own Past”.
“But what happens when we run out of past? Are we heading toward a sort of culturalecological catastrophe where the archival stream of pop history has been exhausted?”