I’m about to turn 59 in a couple weeks, and I guess I’m holding up OK looks-wise. At least, that’s what I thought until I had my friend Debra take some photos of me this week for a new website I’m building for my recording business. It’s a good thing we took about a hundred photos, because in about 95 of them I look like I ate bad clam chowder and then was beaten with hammers. In my mind I’m still about 26, so when I look at pictures of myself today I’m like, “Who are you, you droopy-faced, blotchy fat guy, and what have you done with Frank?”
But I’m still a very good musician, and I haven’t lost my desire to play, although I have lost my desire to stay up until 2 a.m. every night breathing smoke and talking to drunks. So I don’t perform as much as I used to.
But for rock bands that were big in the 70’s through the 90’s, there is still big money to be made by hitting the concert trail, money that is sorely needed to pay for divorce settlements, plastic surgery, and occasional stays at rehab facilities. Many of those aging rockers spent the huge paychecks they received back in their heyday on wine, women, and song. The rest they just wasted. So now, desiccated singers are putting aside old feuds with their bands and getting together again to tour America and the world. Only this time, the tours are more likely to be sponsored by Metamucil than Jim Beam.
Last week on “60 minutes” they did a profile on Steven Tyler and his band Aerosmith. The band looks like a normal bunch of old guys, like ones you would see at the bowling alley or tavern. But Steven, with his misshapen features, long hair, and gauzy clothing, is looking more and more like a retired Jewish lady that you might see on a bus bench in Miami Beach.
His ego is fully intact, however, and much of the 60 Minutes program involved Tyler and the band sniping at each other about who was more important. There was some eye rolling when the band was asked how they get along with their obnoxious front man, but they know that they have to bite their tongues about how they really feel about Steven Tyler if they want to have a successful tour and get another payday.
Aerosmith is not the only geriatric band hitting the concert trail this year. Other grizzled veterans coming to your town include Rush, Alabama, Bad Company, The Beach Boys, Billy Joel, Fleetwood Mac, Kansas, Peter Frampton, The Moody Blues, The Eagles, The Who, ZZ Top, and scores of others.
However, some name changes might be in order. Rush will now be known as What’s Your Hurry? Bad Company will be called Bad Arthritis Company. The Beach Boys will go by The Surfin’ Grandpas, Billy Joel will be The Singing Rabbi, Fleetwood Mac will go by Fleetwood Mac and Cheese, Peter Frampton will debut his new album, “Peter Frampton Not Quite Dead Yet!”, the Moody Blues will be called The Extremely Moody Blues, The Who will be the Who Hid My Reading Glasses?, and ZZ Top will heretofore just be known as ZZZZZZZZZ.
Rabbi Billy Joel
Actually, I’m kind of glad that the musicians that provided the soundtrack for my youth are still able to get out there and pull in big crowds. Playing those old songs for the fans who love them must give them a small taste of what it’s like to be young again. And I know if someone called me to go out on the road, I’d be there in a heartbeat.
Now where did I put those leather pants?