How long can the show go on? 7 more rock acts we may not see in concert again

Bruce Springsteen on stage in Tampa on Feb. 1 on the first night of the E Street Band’s 2023 tour. (Courtesy of Rob DeMartin)

Two weeks ago, I wrote a column about seven aging superstar musical acts and the likelihood we’d see them play the metro again. It proved to be a hit with readers and with Bruce Springsteen pulling into town next weekend, I figured it was a good time to look at seven more solo artists and bands keeping it going after 65.

But first, an update from two acts included the first time around, the Rolling Stones and Paul McCartney. The Stones have been talking about a new album for years now, with Keith Richards further fueling the flames with a January Instagram video suggesting it was coming out soon. This week, Variety broke the news that McCartney has recorded some bass parts with Jagger and Richards and Ringo Starr is set to add some drums to the project as well.

Don’t get your hopes up for a Traveling Wilburys-style supergroup, let alone a tour. The Stones songs have been kicking around for a while now and are expected to feature the work of the late, great Charlie Watts on drums. McCartney may have simply acted as an exceptionally high-profile studio musician, although the possibility of a Jagger/Richards/McCartney co-write is intriguing, to say the least.

Anyway, back to the main event. Here’s a look at seven senior acts and the chances we’ve already seen the last of them in concert.

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band

Ages: Springsteen, 73; Steven Van Zandt, 72; Max Weinberg, 71; Nils Lofgren, 71; Roy Bittan, 73; Garry Tallent, 73; Patti Scialfa, 69.

The dirt: Springsteen’s previous outing, a celebration of the 35th anniversary of his album “The River,” was the top-grossing worldwide tour of 2016, pulling in a total of $268.3 million. The following year, he kicked off a solo Broadway show that ran for more than a year and returned for a second run in 2021. Back in 2019, the Boss promised an E Street Band tour in 2020 that ended up delayed due to the pandemic. It launched earlier this month in Florida.

Will we see them again: While Springsteen easily has another decade in him, his audience is probably going to look significantly different from this point forward.

When the tour went on sale last summer, Springsteen allowed it to be sold via Ticketmaster’s dynamic pricing program, which sent the cost of some tickets shooting up to $5,000 a pop. In response, the publisher of Backstreets Magazine – one of, if not the, longest-running fan-run magazines/websites/communities in music – announced it would cease publishing and updating its website after one final issue. “Disappointment is a common feeling among hardcore fans in the Backstreets community,” read a lengthy note posted online from editor/publisher Christopher Phillips. “These are concerts that we can hardly afford; that many of our readers cannot afford; and that a good portion of our readership has lost interest in as a result … (we’ve) reached the end of an era.”

Springsteen has always positioned himself as a Man of the People type of guy and his most serious fans filled the floor in front of him, with many attending numerous dates on each tour. Now, those spots are going to be largely filled by folks with deep pockets, not necessarily with deep reverence for his music.

Billy Joel

Billy Joel sings Friday, July 28, 2017, at Target Field in Minneapolis. (Courtesy of Brace Hemmelgarn/Target Field)

Age: 73.

The dirt: After two decades of success, Billy Joel released his 12th album “River of Dreams” in 1993. While it outsold his previous two records, reviews were mixed and it only produced a sole hit in the title track. Many musicians would take that as a sign to take a break and rethink things, but Joel took the exceedingly rare move and quit making pop music altogether. (Almost, anyway. In the time since, he has issued an instrumental album and a handful of singles, four of which were covers. In 2007, he released two new original songs, “All My Life” and “Christmas in Fallujah,” and has since steered clear of the studio.)

Joel continued to tour, however, including eight joint outings with fellow piano man Elton John. He landed in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1999, the same year he played a New Year’s Eve concert at New York’s Madison Square Garden. At the time, he hinted that it might be his final live performance. It wasn’t and, in 2014, he began a monthly residency at the venue. (His 93rd MSG show is booked for Aug. 29.)


Cher performs during the “Here We Go Again” tour at the Fiserv Forum on Sun, May 12, 2019, in Milwaukee. (Rob Grabowski/Invision/AP)

Age: 76.

The dirt: The greatest thing about Cher is that she’s always been in on the joke. While she commits herself to whatever she’s doing – music, acting, activism, politics – she never takes herself too seriously. And people love her for that.

Thus, even though she embarked on her three-year farewell tour in 2002, no one expected her to live up to that promise. She went on to stage a pair of four-year residencies (2008-2011, 2017-2020) as well as two more tours, including the Here We Go Again Tour that launched in 2018 and was cut short due to the pandemic.

Will we see her again: Last month, Cher took to Twitter – her preferred method of communicating with the outside world – to announce she’s got a new residency likely to start in August and that’s she’s also working on what will be her 27th album. Her Here We Go Again Tour pulled in more than $112 million, with most shows selling out, so another full tour feels like more of a question of when than if.

Garth Brooks

Country music star Garth Brooks performs at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis on Friday, May 3, 2019. (John Autey / Pioneer Press)

Age: A spring chicken at 61.

The dirt: During his meteoric rise to fame in the ’90s, Garth Brooks talked about retiring from touring several times, citing the desire to spend more time with his family. In 2000, he announced he was putting both touring and recording on hold until his youngest daughter graduated from high school.

He started prepping for a return to the live stage by playing a weekends-only Las Vegas residency that began in 2009. Five years later, he returned to action in full force, launching a massive tour that saw him headline 390 shows over the course of more than three years. As he did back during his heyday, Brooks priced all tickets the same ($70.50 with service charges) and he continued to add shows as long as there was still demand. Minneapolis was his fifth tour stop, where he drew more than 203,000 fans to 11 Target Center concerts.

After taking 15 months to catch his breath, Brooks embarked on an all-stadium tour in 2019. Minneapolis landed as the fourth city on his itinerary and he pulled in about 140,000 fans across two nights at U.S. Bank Stadium. (That’s a record for the Vikings stadium that’s not likely to be broken any time soon, as Brooks played on an in-the-round stage, allowing seats to be sold around the entire stadium.) That tour wrapped in September with five nights in Dublin.

Will we see him again: Next on the agenda for Brooks is a solo Vegas residency that begins in May. Given his ego and desire to break records, there’s no way these will be his final shows. He’ll be back, for sure.

Tina Turner

Singer Tina Turner performs at the 50th Grammy Awards in Los Angeles on February 10, 2008.

Age: 83.

The dirt: In the mid-’80s, the woman born Anna Mae Bullock launched what Billboard called “one of the greatest comebacks in music history.” After enjoying more than a decade of well-deserved success, Turner announced her 2000 Twenty Four Seven Tour would be her finale. Soon after, she settled into the private life in her Switzerland home.

But Turner emerged from her retirement in 2008 to perform with Beyonce at the Grammy Awards, sparking enough interest for her to hit the road for a triumphant 50th anniversary outing that earned $47.7 million in North America and nearly double that abroad. And then she disappeared from view once again.

Will we see her again: It’s entirely possible she’ll never make another public appearance, let alone perform another concert. Beyond the fact that she clearly enjoys living in seclusion, Turner suffered a series of health problems in the ’10s, including a stroke, a bout with cancer and a kidney transplant.

Those still seeking a Tina Turner fix do have two options. The acclaimed 2021 documentary about her life, “Tina,” is now streaming on HBO Max. And her jukebox musical of the same name is touring the nation through next year.

Diana Ross

Diana Ross performs during the North Sea Jazz Festival in Rotterdam, Netherlands on July 8, 2022. (Paul Bergen / ANP / AFP via Getty Images)

Age: 78.

The dirt: Of all of the first wave of Motown stars, Diana Ross remains the brightest. She rose to fame leading the Supremes – whose breakthrough hit “Where Did Our Love Go” turns 60 in June 2024 – and went on to establish herself as a successful solo act, actress, fashion icon and diva supreme.

While she probably won’t make any lists of the greatest live performers of all time, Miss Ross knows how to throw a spectacle. Back in 1983, she performed in the middle of a storm in Central Park. Thirteen years later, she lit up the Super Bowl halftime show, entering on a sparks-shooting crane and exiting via helicopter. She felt ageless last year at the Grandstand.

Will we see her again: She has performed live up to 94 times annually for nearly every one of the last 50 years. If she does decide to retire, I could see her either mounting a massive tour or a lengthy residency.

Willie Nelson

Willie Nelson & Family performs at Target Center on August 2, 2019 in Minneapolis. (Courtesy of David A. Sherman)

Age: 89.

The dirt: With his hippie hair and headbands – and a voice that resonates with wisdom, but not weariness – Willie Nelson has seemed like an old dude for decades now. But he has continued to chug along and has survived any number of obstacles that would have killed the career of a mere mortal, including a lung collapse that led to a series of health problems, a serious run-in with the IRS and numerous arrests for marijuana possession.

And yet, the weed-loving crooner will turn 90 in April with no end in sight. Earlier this month, he won his 11th and 12th Grammy Awards and his 73rd solo album, “I Don’t Know a Thing About Love: The Songs of Harlan Howard,” is due out Friday. He’s also on the list of nominees for this year’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, alongside such young whippersnappers as Kate Bush, Iron Maiden, the White Stripes, George Michael and Warren Zevon. (The latter two, of course, are no longer with us.)

Will we see him again: In the decade prior to the pandemic, Nelson played between 83 and 135 shows a year, and managed to wedge in another 110 gigs in 2020, 2021 and 2022. He kicked off his latest run of dates this weekend and there’s a star-studded two-night concert event/birthday party set for April 29 and 30 at the Hollywood Bowl.

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