Should Aging Rock Stars Push Through the Pain For Their Fans?

Joe Perry and Steven Tyler of Aerosmith perform live on stage at the Wells Fargo Center on September 02, 2023 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
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Most people in their 60s and 70s enjoy a nice, quiet retirement if they can afford it. However, it seems that Hollywood actors and musicians often ignore their age and even their health, all in the name of rock… or fame and money. In recent years, many huge artists have postponed or canceled tours due to health concerns but some prove that they can’t stay away too long. While several stars have said that music is their life and they can’t fathom retiring, financial concerns could be at the forefront of their minds as well.

The music industry has changed so much in the past few decades. With streaming services, artists do not earn much money for their albums or songs. Touring is a huge way that they make money and some older rock stars have high bills due to health care costs and multiple ex-spouses and kids. They may not have the option of slowing down.

Bruce Springsteen and Honoree Jon Bon Jovi perform during the 2024 MusiCares Person of the Year Honoring Jon Bon Jovi during the 66th GRAMMY Awards on February 02, 2024 in Los Angeles, California

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Marc Myers, a Wall Street Journal music and arts contributor said, “In addition, much classic rock is out of sync with contemporary pop. As a result, most classic rockers can’t fill large venues, which means they have to take on large numbers of smaller ones to earn what they need. Those that can are selling their catalogs, but some of these lucrative deals compel them to tour and to sustain visibility and keep catalog hits alive.”

Some of the rock stars who have been experiencing health issues that pushed back tours include Bruce Springsteen, Jon Bon Jovi, Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler, and The Rolling Stones. Springsteen suffered from a peptic ulcer that pushed back his tour but he eventually recovered enough to return. As of now, Bon Jovi and Tyler are taking a break from touring due to various health problems involving their voices.

The Rolling Stones perform live at Adelaide Oval on October 25, 2014 in Adelaide, Australia

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Tyler is recovering from a fractured larynx, which largely impacts his singing abilities. Rob Weiner, a pop culture librarian at Texas Tech University added, “There are always naysayers who think these legacy acts should give it up. But people keep going to see these acts whose best work and performance ability is far behind them. Everybody has had health issues, so I do think audiences can be forgiving (not always though, especially when tickets are already bought).” He continued, “Musicians are a unique breed. They often just keep going and going. They don’t or can’t do anything else. There is something that drives them beyond retirement age.”

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February 2024

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