This is turning out to be a big year for retiring rock stars of the 60s and early 70s.

Music has never seen anything like this: mass retirements and farewells from major stars. Elton John. Lynyrd Skynyrd. Paul Simon. Neil Diamond. Joan Baez. They and a number of others have all vowed to hang it up for good this year–or at least once the tour they announced this year is over–after realizing that age and/or ill health has taken its toll.

When the favourites of several generations finally go away forever, what does this mean for music? The Independent takes a look.

Who’d have thought that the time-honoured excuse for politicians stepping down would become the parlance of rock stars? But two of the biggest names in music have decided they “want to spend more time with their family”.

When Paul Simon, 76, announced that this year’s American and European Homeward Bound tour would be his last, part of his statement said: “I feel the travel and time away from my wife and family takes a toll that detracts from the joy of playing. I’d like to leave with a big thank you to the many folks around the world who’ve come out to watch me play over the last 50 years. After this coming tour, I anticipate doing the occasional performance in a (hopefully) acoustically pristine hall, and to donate those earnings to various philanthropic organisations, particularly those whose objective is to save the planet, ecologically… I am very grateful for a fulfilling career and, of course, most of all to the audiences who heard something in my music that touched their hearts.”

And thus a man who started performing with Art Garfunkel even before the Sixties dawned, and has spent the last nearly five decades touring as a solo artist, explained why his touring days were ending and this summer’s concert in Hyde Park would be the last British audiences would see of him.

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.

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