Fleetwood Mac And Other Aging Rock Bands
On Oct. 18, at the end of a Fleetwood Mac concert at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Mick Fleetwood proclaimed “The Mac Is Back.”
Despite the fact that Fleetwood Mac toured in 2013, Mick is one-hundred percent correct. The band has been restored to its classic lineup thanks to the return of Christine McVie (nee Perfect).
McVie left the group in 1998 partly due to an intense fear of flying. That’s not the phobia to have if you’re a member of a band that performs all over the world. She has since overcome her aversion to aviation and rejoined the band.
Are Fleetwood Mac concerts nothing but nostalgia? Well, they haven’t released an album since 2003 (Say You Will) and only three since 1990 (Behind the Mask in 1990 and Time in 1995). So yeah, you can say their concerts are all about the past.
Does anyone really care (minus rock snobs)? Don’t we want Fleetwood Mac to play all of their hits, the ones they made famous in the 1970s?
You buy Fleetwood Mac tickets not to experience the vanguard of rock and roll but to return to the halcyon days when Rumours permanently resided on your turntable.
Another way of saying what I’ve been saying is Fleetwood Mac is old.
How old are they? And while we’re at it, how old are other classic rock bands?
We all know they’re old but have any of us ever crunched the numbers?
For the purpose of this article, when I allude to a band’s beginning I’m referring to the year they released their first record (usually a single), not the year they formed or played their first gig. Also, I only looked at bands that are either still around or have demonstrated that they can still tour (despite being down a man or two). So The Beatles and Doors are out but Aerosmith and Pearl Jam are not.
Fleetwood Mac began in 1967. That means they are 47 years old or nearly four times as old as The Black Keys (who began in 2002).
Fleetwood Mac will celebrate their 50th anniversary in 2017.
Mick Fleetwood has been in the band the longest. In fact, he’s the only original member left. The classic lineup—Mick Fleetwood, John McVie, Christine McVie, Lindsey Buckingham, and Stevie Nicks—has only been around since 1974. That’s when Buckingham and Nicks joined. Christine McVie came aboard in 1970.
So the classic lineup of Fleetwood Mac is older than Journey (1975), Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (1976), Van Halen (1978), and The Pretenders (1979).
It’s feasible that Fleetwood Mac will launch a 50th anniversary tour. It’s a long shot if the band commemorates the same milestone for their classic lineup. I say that because the classic lineup doesn’t turn 50 until 2024.
Since I mentioned 2024… that’s the year Justin Bieber and Harry Styles will exit their twenties; the debut albums of Britney Spears, Jessica Simpson, and Mandy Moore will turn 25; and Nelly will enjoy his 50th trip around the sun.
Surprisingly, the oldest member of Fleetwood Mac is Christine McVie. She was born on July 12, 1943. When the Fleetwood Mac tour concludes on March 31, 2015, in Wichita, Kansas, she’ll be 71. That makes her three times older than Ed Sheeran, Hunter Hayes, and Louis Tomlinson of One Direction.
Of course, Fleetwood Mac isn’t the only band nearing the half-century mark. The Rolling Stones turned 50 in 2013. They celebrated the achievement with a three-leg, 30-concert tour of Europe and North America.
The Rolling Stones released their first single in 1963. That’s the same year Seal, George Michael, Whitney Houston, Bret Michaels and half of Metallica (James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich) were born.
I should tell you that the Stones mark their birthdate as July 21, 1962—their first gig. Like I mentioned before, I’m counting from the release date of their first record which was June of 1963. Either way, the band has been around for half a century.
The three remaining original members of the Stones—Keith Richards, Mick Jagger, and Charlie Watts—are in their seventies. He’s no longer in the band, but bassist Bill Wyman, who joined the Stones before Watts did, was born on Oct. 24, 1936. At the time of writing this article he was three days shy of his 78th birthday.
Ronnie Wood (born on June 1, 1947) joined the Stones in 1975 but didn’t become a full member until 1993. That means Wood has been a bona fide member of the Stones longer than Weezer, Limp Bizkit, Wilco, The Black Eyed Peas, and Coldplay have been bands.
In 2015, The Who will celebrate their 50th anniversary with a jaunt around North America. They actually eclipsed the big 5-0 in 2014.
There are only two original Who members left, Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend. When they conclude what they’re calling their final concert tour, both men will be in their seventies.
Both the Rolling Stones and The Who predate .mp3s by 30 years, iTunes by more than 35 years, and American Idol by nearly 40 years. When The Stones and Who first started making music, television was still broadcasted in black and white, AM stations dominated terrestrial radio, and multi-track recording devices were in their infancy.
Other Classic Rockers
The Beach Boys experienced their 50th anniversary in 2011. Three years later, the honor fell to The Kinks. Three years from now, it’s Pink Floyd’s turn although it’s doubtful we’ll see them tour. But, who knows, time does heal all wounds.
In 2019, Led Zeppelin and Santana will both turn 50. The following year ZZ Top joins the half century club. I’d expect celebratory tours from all three of those bands.
In 2022, the E Street Band turns 50. Also reaching our numerical milestone that year will be the Eagles.
In 2023, Aerosmith will have been the “Bad Boys from Boston” for five decades.
Will we still be rocking in the future?
In 2024, a decade from now, look for 50 candles on cakes belonging to KISS and AC/DC. By then, both Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons will be in their seventies. Angus Young will be 69.
The Next Generation
In 2015, U2 turns 35. That’s not 50 but it’s still impressive especially since the band has all of its original members.
Other bands that began in the early 1980s and will soon reach the 35-year mark include R.E.M. (1981), Phish (1983), Metallica (1983), Bon Jovi (1983), and Red Hot Chili Peppers (1984).
The year 1991 begat Pearl Jam. They’ll hit the quarter century mark in 2016.
For some reason, this band’s age is the most surprising. That’s probably because their sound is so associated with youth and youthful ideas. In 2015, Green Day will be 25 years old. It’s hard to believe that America’s greatest punk band is nearly old enough to pay for their own health insurance.
Be prepared for 2061. That’s the year One Direction turns 50.
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