Musicians — especially in the rock and jazz genres — don’t always have long lifespans. Accidents, drugs, random violence, suicide, and disease have claimed far too many talented lives too early.
Rock and roll pioneer Buddy Holly died at 22. For Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain, Janis Joplin, and Amy Whitehouse, 27 was as far as they got. Jazz great Charlie Parker died at 33 (though the coroner conducting his autopsy originally guessed that he was about 60), and John Coltrane only made it to 40.
On the other hand…Some musicians seem to beat the odds and make it to 75, 85, or more; some have even achieved 100 or beyond, like country singer Slim Bryant, jazz vocalist Herb Jeffries, and bandleader Orrin Tucker. These are 35 rock stars who are now 75 or older.
Long lives are one thing in the music business, but what’s really amazing about some veteran musicians is not just how many years they’ve been on the planet, but the extent of their professional careers. Some started in their teens or even earlier, some have kept playing or singing well into their eighth or ninth decade, and some have done both. No matter how old you are, here is a list of the most famous musician born the year you were born.
24/7 Tempo has assembled a roster of notable living musicians, in the worlds of rock, pop, jazz, country, and classical, who have been doing their thing for 60 years or more — and in one remarkable case, for 85 years.