What Do Rock Stars Think of Getting Older?
Rock stars, of any group of musicians, are revered for their seemingly Peter Pan-like ability to stay young forever. No matter what they did in their youth — and some of them partied way too much — these rock stars stay young in our minds because we grew up with them. We saw them when they were rascally 20-something-year-olds, grew alongside them into our more level-headed 30s, and watched as they passed the years into seniorhood right alongside us. But one of the biggest differences between rock stars and us is they’re forced to live life in a very public light. This has its advantages and disadvantages, with the former entailing we get a very public view of what getting older is like for others. Here’s what a few of them had to say.
Joni Mitchell: “I have a tremendous will to live”
Born Roberta Joan Anderson in Alberta, Canada, Joni Mitchell went on to establish herself as one of the leading voices of the ’60s folk rock scene. And even though she skipped playing at Woodstock because of a previous commitment to appear on the Dick Cavett Show, she still made quite a name for herself. What people don’t usually know, though, is Mitchell’s grown up battling childhood polio, vocal nodules, compressed larynx and Morgellons Syndrome…and yet still sees the light at the end of the tunnel. In response to all that, Mitchell says: “I’ve had a very challenging life with disease after disease after disease. I shouldn’t be here, but I have a tremendous will to live; a joie de vivre alternating with debility.”
Ringo Starr: Music is a Lifelong Career
One of the “forgotten” members of the Beatles, Ringo Starr’s contributions are vast and understated. Without him, the Beatles probably would have found another drummer, yes, but his steady presence as an anchor in the back meant that Paul McCartney didn’t have to do a subpar job on them. And an interesting fact: Starr is left-handed and plays a right-handed drum set. but uses his lefthandedness to create a very distinct sound that makes his playing instantly recognizable on Beatles’ songs. When asked if he’d ever hand the reigns over to someone else, he responded: “As long as I can hold the sticks, it [making music] can go on forever; it’s something you don’t have to retire from.”
Keith Richards: Still Doesn’t Consider Himself to be a Master
He’s one of the greatest guitar players around, living or dead, and the body of work that he contributed to the Rolling Stones over the years has made their catalogue one of the gold standards in music. Unfortunately, Richards didn’t exactly treat his body the same way, drinking and doing drugs as though trying to use up the world’s supply. But for whatever reason, he had that magic gene that allowed him to stay alive throughout all that, and lasting so long has given him a humble perspective on his career: “I’m still an apprentice. There’s always stuff to learn. I wouldn’t be surprised if were doing this in 10 years and Mick [age 70] will still be able to do amazing pirouettes.”
Phil Lesh: Organ Donor Advocate
Sometimes, it takes a health scare to gain a new perspective on life and that’s what happened to this Grateful Dead bassist. The multi-intstrumentalist — Lesh knows how to play the violin and trumpet, among others — has had prostate cancer and a liver transplant. Because of this, you’ll find him asking you to fill out an organ donation card at the end of his concert. And he also rocks out with his sons, Brian and Grahame.