Giving Thanks For These Ageless Rockers, ALL Of Whom I Saw Live in 2016
2016 is almost over, some of you may think it’s a great relief because of this year’s heavy death toll – as if death was taking years into consideration! The fact is a lot of famous musicians are in their 60’s, 70’s and 80’s and we will continue to see them die in the following years, it’s the sad reality. But people are oblivious to facts and reality these days.
For Thanksgiving, I was thinking about all the aging rockers and musicians I managed to see this year, I treasure these moments forever, especially when it was a close encounter. I didn’t exchange a few words with all of them, as it was the case with Iggy Pop, yes Iggy Pop, but seeing them close and personal was a rare privilege, may be a unique occasion in life.
Joan Jett is not old, she is only 58, but in our youth obsessed society, she is certainly part of the ‘old generation’. I saw her at this amazing Yves Saint Laurent after party on February 10th, and she rocked the house. It was a big surprise when she took the stage, as almost nobody knew she would be playing! It was a treat, she was a blast, and all the girls ferociously pushed and rushed to the front.
On March 15th, I got to see Bruce Springsteen for the first time ever, no cameras were allowed but all phones were up in the air. Didn’t president Obama just award him Medal of Freedom? He is the boss and at 67, he is unbelievable as he still displays a tremendous amount of energy during his marathon shows.
X’s John Doe was playing a show at USC without Exene on April 10th, and if it was not my first time seeing him, this man should be more celebrated, Doe has four decades of rock history under his belt, a career with two bands (X and the Knitters) a solo career and he is also a poet, an actor, and a writer… At 63, he is still very active on the music scene and X has a series of upcoming show to celebrate 4 decades of music.
In May, I had the amazing pleasure to meet Iggy Pop at Mr. Musichead, a photo gallery where he and Josh Homme were attending the opening of ‘Iggy Pop American Valhalla: The Art of Post Pop Depression’. I will never have another occasion to have my shoulder and back rubbed by Iggy fucking Pop, so it was quite incredible. He was very charming, he had this large smile, his piercing blue eyes wide open, and he was just a sweetheart. I know, a career of 50 years makes you very accustomed to this kind of circus, and I must have been the umpteenth person to tell him something totally unoriginal!
In May, Neil Young attended very briefly a listening party of his upcoming album ‘Earth’ at the Museum of Natural History, before its official release in June. The rock legend arrived with a few people around him, I just had the time to snap a few pics at his entourage’s great discontentment, then he went on stage to announce the album and he was gone. It went so fast, but I got very close… I also saw him on stage in October, as he played a glorious marathon-show at the Fox theater, between his 2 Desert Trip dates, but this brief encounter at the museum was truly the entry of a rock star.
On July 7th, Ringo Starr celebrated his birthday in front of the Capitol building with the help of his wife Barbara Bach, brother-in-law Joe Walsh, and a few friends David Lynch, Eric Burdon, keyboardist Benmont Tench of Tom Petty’s Heartbreakers, ex-Eurythmics guitarist-songwriter Dave Stewart, Edgar Winter, Howie Mandel, Richard Lewis,… It was Ringo’s 76th peace and love birthday and I hope he does it again next year!
In July, the Psychedelic Furs triumphed at Santa Monica’s Twilight Concert Series, while playing all their classics ‘Love My Way’, ‘The Ghost in You’, ‘Heartbreak Beat’, ‘Pretty in Pink’… they haven’t recorded anything new for 25 years but they are still touring, and they are as energetic as ever in their 60’s, still finding a lot of pleasure playing their hits.
Richard Hell of Richard Hell And The Voidoids fame (rock nyc friend Jahn Xavier played bass), gave a sort of lecture at the Broad at the end of July, he read excerpts of his books and reminded us that ‘Punk is an idea, not a band. It’s a real good idea. It’s about subversion, but in the service of youthful pleasure. It’s opposed to everything adult. It’s against not just success, but good manner, good grooming, and any education or skill. But no definition of ‘punk’ is true. It’s poetic that way.’ I still want to read ‘Massive Pissed Love: Nonfiction 2001-2014’, Richard Hell is 67 and a hell of character.
Slim Jim Phantom was signing his book at Booksoup on August 17th and he got an all-star audience for the occasion, can you believe I got Sex Pistols’ Steve Jones, Blondie’s Clem Burke, Linda Ramone and Stray Cats’ Jim in the same pic?
Grace Jones headlined one evening of the FYF Fest and she was simply this amazing…Grace. Is she really 68? I saw the queen close and personal, so personal that I even got the chance to touch her hand when she paraded in the pit, piggybacking on a security guard’s shoulders, looking like the queen of the FYF fest and giving high-fives to the entire front row.
At 69, ex-Grateful Dead’s Bob Weir played another long show on October 10th at the Wiltern, proving one more time that this ‘old’ generation can pull a marathon of music like in the good old days.
Beach Boys Brian Wilson signed his book at Booksoup on October 18th, and if he looks a bit sedated these days, it was amazing to approach another legend.
Last, but not least, I saw the Rolling Stones in Las Vegas last October, and they were a Vegas dream despite a previous last-minute cancellation 3 days before. The Stones make you believe that age is an illusion, Mick Jagger is 73 and more energetic than a teenager, he is an experienced rock & roll mover, in fact, he makes you believe he is the only one that has ever existed when you are watching him, he is agile, as light as air, and yes, damn sexy. Is it creepy to find a septuagenarian sexy? He is the incarnation of what rock & roll is about, youth and sex, and he is 73.