Guest Post: Old Rock Stars Never Retire?

And for the third and final birthday guest post, we’re looking at how rock ‘n’ rollers will never really retire, let alone die (although personally, I think both Lemmy and Keith Richards are both undead already…). Thank you to BeatCityTone for this excellent post, and over to him for the important info:

Beat City Tone does a New Music podcast called Beat City and an Old Music podcast called Retro Beat City. He can be found on Twitter here @beatcitytone. The only thing Beat City Tone hates more than people who use stupid pseudonyms on Twitter is people who refer to themselves in the third person. And more power to him for that.


You may have seen the news that grizzled old former Jimi Hendrix roadie, current Motorhead-fronting Nazi-memorabilia collecting ex-rocker Lemmy has had to cancel a few dates in Texas owing to experiencing breathing problems during a gig in Salt Lake City, Utah.

According to the band’s Facebook page:

It’s been quite a while since Lemmy was this “high” in the US, and thus having got a burst of altitude sickness (which made it hard for him to breathe and sing properly) he has very reluctantly decided not perform in Denver. Lemmy is really sorry and wants to thank the fans for their support and trust. He looks forward to the next-up Texas shows… at low elevations.

By the time you read this it will have become clearer whether this IS merely a problem Lemmy has when getting high, or if there’s something more potentially career-halting there. There are more than a few fans who are encouraging him to call it a day.

I’m not being flip or callous when I say that news of Lemmy’s demise – rather like Keith Richards’ – would not in any way be a surprise, and I think the man himself would probably agree.

“You know I’m born to lose and gambling’s for fools
But that’s the way I like it, baby
I don’t wanna live for ever…” – ‘Ace Of Spades’

But I’m not here to talk about the excesses of the rock’n’roll lifestyle – that’s been covered extensively and vicariously elsewhere (and for the record, those Stones biographies just get tedious after a while).

See, what Lemmy shares with Keith, and Mick and the rest of the Stones; and Paul McCartney and Public Enemy; Dolly Parton, Cliff Richard and Paul Weller, and any musician of any level of ability who ever who ever stepped onto a stage to play music (including that fat middle-aged bloke you saw playing dodgy blues covers down the pub last week) is this.

You never retire. You never stop. There is no point at which you say “that’s it, I’m never going to play again”. Not if you care about what you’re doing. Not if it’s your life – or in the case of the many of us who will never make a living from music – if you desperately wanted it to be your life, even though you accept that you’re probably leaving it a tiny bit late having now hit forty …

My own extremely modest and intermittent history of playing in bands has been on pause for periods of years sometimes, but I know with total certainty that I will always give it another go.

Lemmy will not retire. By the time you read this he may have cancelled the current tour or announced he is going to take it easy for a bit. He may even have died. I hope not, as that would be a huge loss to rock, and it would also make me look a right bastard.

But retirement for the likes of Lemmy is not an option. Yeah, if he was family I’d be like “slow down you silly old sod, don’t you want to see your grandkids grow up?” But even then, to be honest, I think I’d respect his decision to just keep going.

What the hell else is he going to do?


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