Top 10 Pop / Rock stars still performing live in their 70s

Stoutly refusing to succumb to geezerhood, these artists are in no mood to retire. Photo: John Mayall/Wikipedia

WASHINGTON, December 18, 2013 – Famed blues singer John Mayall, who is currently on his “80th Birthday Celebration” tour, recently celebrated his 80th birthday on Nov. 29. The British singer founded John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers, the blues band whose members have included such famed rock stars Eric Clapton, Mick Fleetwood, Peter Green, Jack Bruce, John McVie, Mick Taylor and Dave Navarro. 

This week, inspired by Mr. Mayall’s amazing career, The List looks at noted singers from 1960s who are still performing live concerts in their seventies and beyond. 

Joan Baez and Bob Dylan, in Washington DC for the 1963 Civil Rights March. (Wikipedia)

10. Joan Baez, 72. Love her or hate her for her political views, but Joan Baez has one amazing voice. With her distinctive, haunting vibrato, Miss Baez, performed concert dates in New York, and toured Australia and New Zealand in 2013. Ms. Baez’s son, percussionist Gabriel Harris, has actually been a member of her touring band. Her most recent album was the soundtrack to the 2009 documentary “How Sweet The Sound.” 

9. John Mayall, 81. The “Godfather of British Blues” has currently been touring on the East Coast. “I’m lucky my voice is still holding up, or whatever you’d call it,” Mr. Mayall told the Philadelphia Daily News this past October. “That’s a blessing.” We agree. 

Petula Clark, performing live in 2011. (Wikipedia)

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8. Petula Clark, 80. Her iconic, breakthrough 1964 hit “Downtown” made her an international star. Over the years Ms. Clark eventually became the best-selling British female singer in recording history. Just this October, she performed a whistle-stop ten-date live tour of the U.K. She has also released a new album called “Lost In You,” which features a reworking of her signature hit, “Downtown.” Ms. Clark launched her singing career as a nine-year-old on BBC radio during World War II. She currently lives in the Swiss Alps. 

7. Leonard Cohen, 78. On Aug. 12, 2012, in Belgium, Mr. Cohen kicked off a world tour to support his new album “Old Ideas,” a tour that will ultimately include 125 shows in total. This musical marathon - amazing for a man of 78 who sings 32 songs at each gig - ends in Auckland, New Zealand, on Dec. 21, 2013. 

Rolling Stones in Berlin, 2008. (Wikimedia)

6. Rolling Stones, various ages. They never stop. Maybe they can’t stop themselves. Unable to gather moss, the Rolling Stones roll on. They celebrated their 50th anniversary as a band this year staging 18 arena shows in the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. In June 2013, the Rolling Stones’ “50 & Counting” tour came to Washington’s Verizon Center, still commanding ticket prices ranging from $171.90 to $640. 

In September, Stones frontman Mick Jagger, who turned 70 on July 26, became a great-grandfather. Drummer Charlie Watts is 72. Guitarist Ronnie Wood is 66, while compatriot Keith Richards turns 70 on Dec. 18. Former band members Bill Wyman, 76, and Mick Taylor, still young at 64, also performed with the band at their concerts in London this month. 

Over its long career, the band has sold over than 200 million albums. Live performance-wise, they’re not done yet. They’ve added more dates to next year’s “14 on Fire” tour through Australia and Southeast Asia. 

Sir Paul McCartney in 2010. (Wikipedia)

5. Paul McCartney, 71. Believe it or not, this former Beatle turned 71 on June 18 of this year. Just this past July, Sir Paul energetically bounded from guitar to piano before over 39,000 fans who packed the house for his open-air concert at Washington Nationals Park here in Washington D.C. In November, he wrapped up his 31-concert “Out There” tour with three nights performing at the Tokyo Dome. 

4. Paul Simon, 72. Paul Simon scored his first top 50 hit when he was just 15. He has been producing classic hits such as “Bridge Over Troubled Water” and “Graceland,” ever since. More recently, he embarked on a world tour in 2011. This year he performed concerts in Taiwan, Australia and New Zealand. Over a long and active career, has won 12 Grammy Awards, including a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2001. 

3. Judy Collins, 74. American folk singer Judy Collins was already famous for her top ten cover of Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now” back in 1968, not to mention her evergreen renditions of Stephen Sondheim’s poignant Broadway hit, “Send In The Clowns.” Her 1967 album “Wildflowers and “Who Knows Where The Time Goes” (1968) were also huge hits. 

More recently, she surfaced to perform new material in Belfast, Northern Ireland and is currently involved in a U.S. tour. She will be performing in the DC area at the Birchmere, just across the Potomac in Alexandria, Virginia on Jan 24, 2014. Miss Collins’ father was a Seattle radio personality who introduced his daughter to classical music when she was 5. Good move, dad.

2. Roger Waters, 70. Pink Floyd co-founder Roger Waters turned 70 on Sept. 6 of this year, but he hasn’t let his status as a septuagenarian slow him down one bit. He commenced his lengthy, grueling “The Wall Live” tour, based on the band’s iconic hit 1970s album, on October 15, 2010 and only recently wrapped it on September 21, 2013. The tour involved 219 concerts that were performed before over 4.1 million people while earning an astonishing sum in excess of $458 million. 

During 2013, he discovered the place where his father died in World War II when he was he was only five months of age. No stranger to controversy, he became embroiled in a political brouhaha this month after calling for a boycott of Israel in the left-wing magazine CounterPunch. Displaying another side, he also performed as part of the “Stand Up for Heroes” concert at Madison Square Garden on Nov. 6 of this year.

Bob Dylan performing live at the Akzena Festival in 2010. (Wikipedia)

1. Bob Dylan, 72. The iconoclastic Bob Dylan never seems to take a break. He’s the hardest working rock star on the planet. This summer he began touring the U.S. yet again, and was scheduled to perform 80 dates around the globe. 

Dylan concerts can be a bit tricky, and you never know what you are going to get when you buy a ticket. As one writer said, “On a good day, he sounds like a chain-smoking bluesman celebrating his 100th birthday. On a bad day, he sounds like a bullfrog gargling broken glass.” 

Mr. Dylan has battled heart disease in recent years, but has refused to slow down. This month alone, he performed 20 concerts, including dates in Italy, Belgium, France and Britain. He has recorded 46 albums during his lengthy career, selling 110 million recordings worldwide. 

Compiled by John Haydon

 Sources: East Anglian Daily Times, The Philadelphia Daily News, Western Daily Press,, The Huffington Post, The Washington Times, Wikipedia, News Letter.


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John Haydon

John Haydon has covered soccer for The Washington Times for two decades. He has reported on international soccer events in Germany, South Korea and Spain. John hails from Birmingham, England and has lived in the Washington D.C. region for over twenty years.  

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