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The long final farewell: Why are so many rock stars suddenly retiring?

[Here’s my weekly column for Global News. – AC]

In July 2015, I flew to Las Vegas to see Rush at the MGM Grand. I knew that it would be the last time I’d get to see a band that I’d loved since I was a kid. They hadn’t officially couched this as a farewell tour, but fans knew that drummer Neil Peart wanted out because his arthritic body just couldn’t handle the strain. We had to see them one more time

It took until last month for guitarist Alex Lifeson to admit that Rush had ceased to be.

“We have no plans to tour or record anymore,” he said. “We’re basically done. After 41 years, we felt it was enough.

And it’s not just Rush, of course. Music fans are seeing something very discomforting, a phenomenon never before witnessed in the history of music: mass retirement by the people who have soundtracked our lives.

Our rock heroes from the 1960s and 1970s — those who constitute the first generation of classic rock — are now well into their pension years. For some, it’s weak flesh despite a willing spirit. For others, even the spirit has given up the ghost.

Elton John, frightened by a health scare that he says almost killed him, is going to loop the planet one more time on the 300-date Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour. (He retired once before in 1977, but that one obviously didn’t stick.)

Slayer, one of the most influential metal bands of all time, will pull the chute on a 35-year career after a final tour this year. Seventy-six-year-old Paul Simon maintains his Homeward Bound tour will be his last, with the finale set for Hyde Park in London on July 15.

That’s just the start of a long list.

Keep reading.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 37974 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

One thought on “The long final farewell: Why are so many rock stars suddenly retiring?

  • I was at that Vegas show in July of 2015. Among the hundreds of rock shows I’ve had the great fortune to see, that one might sit at the very top. Sigh. I still check music sites daily with a faint glimmer of hope that Rush will announce a one-off show in Toronto. Or Los Angeles. No need to tour. Just play one weekend per year. In one city. Your fans WILL travel to take in the majesty.


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