When I saw the Rolling Stones in 1981, Mick Jagger was 38 years old. I was 20 and he seemed ancient. I remember our saying, “Look how old they are!” They had been out for 19 years by then and that seemed forever, especially since I was born a year before they began in 1962.
The Stones just finished touring Europe as a celebration for their 60th year together.
Mick Jagger is 78 years old. Keith Richards is also 78, and Ron Wood is 75.
For fuck’s sake, they are more spry than I could ever hope to be! Especially considering the lifestyle they all participated in for a few decades.
When Queen began in 1970 (I was 9 years old), Freddie Mercury was 24, Brian May was 23, Roger Taylor was 21 years old , and John Deacon was the youngest at 19 years old.
Brian May is now 75 years old and Roger Taylor is 73 years old. John Deacon is now a mere 71 years old. (I will have no older pics of Deacy than from 1997 because that is when he retired from public life and I want to respect that.)
And of course, our precious Freddie Mercury died at the incredibly young age of 45.
Queen is now Roger Taylor and Brian May and they are still performing in 2022.
My (NSH) Thoughts on Older Bands Touring
Because I heard the crowd of people around me, and thinking it myself when I was younger, I thought older bands should just stop presenting themselves on stage. I thought they were old farts and why not just go away for the newer bands like Van Halen and Styx. Little did I know Van Halen would end up touring for 43 years and Styx would still be on the road 52 years later.
Who cares if they have to spread their gig dates out. Who cares if Roger Taylor isn’t as fast on the drums as he used to be. Who cares that health challenges crop up and tour dates have to be adjusted.
They are out there. They are fucking out there.
And that means the world to me.
Wolfie, Eddie, and Alex Van Halen in 2015.
Who Is Still Out There?
What amuses me from this 61-year old vantage point is how many bands I saw way back in the day that are or have toured for 40+ years.
Queen – formed in 1970
Aerosmith – formed in 1970
Styx – formed in 1970
Eagles – formed in 1971
Van Halen – formed in 1972
Def Leppard – formed in 1977
I would pay giant bucks to see any of them again. They were all amazing.
So why shouldn’t they be out kicking ass in their 70s? Fuck growing old!
It’s an attitude I am working hard to adopt.
Even More Bands Out on Tours
These bands (and the year they were formed) have been out on tour for over 40, and some even 50, years.
Blue Oyster Cult – 1967
The Doobie Brothers – 1970
KISS – 1973
Blondie – 1974
Iron Maiden – 1975
U2 – 1978
The Cure – 1978
Metallica – 1981
Red Hot Chili Peppers – 1983
Go On, You Bad Asses!
Note: I got edited by YouTube! The video I had up was taken down. I have arrived!
For some odd reason, like I hear from several others, I fell down the YouTube rabbit hole.
From the COVID Years, Back to Life
I was in a 2.5 year funk during the COVID years. Depression, fear, and anxiety is a more accurate description.
As I came out of this period of advanced mourning, I wondered why I had not worked on the four books I have had in the works for several years I was horrified when I looked back and saw the last time I’d put 10 words on the page.
Watching YouTube was not a conscious thing, but the rabbit hole led me to Queen.
Re-Fallen in Love With Queen
I have re-fallen in love with Queen… Freddie Mercury, Brian May, Roger Taylor, and John Deacon.
I first discovered them when I was 14 with A Night at the Opera and “Bohemian Rhapsody.” I danced around the living room with the speakers blasting as I acted out the song. I know every note’s rise and fall. I called BJ105 requesting it several times a day to make sure it was the number one requested song of that day. It was. For a lot of weeks.
I can sing “The Prophet’s Song” still. “You’re My Best Friend” was played whenever my group of girlfriends got together. Watching “Love of My Life” on YouTube transports me back to those teen years.
1978 Queen Concert
I was blessed to see Queen at Lakeland Civic Center on November 4, 1978 when I was 17-years old.
I remember a lot, but mostly I remember how the audience in the Arena stomp stomp clapped for at least 30 minutes before Queen even took the stage. I can feel the reverberations still, 44 years later. (The bleachers were made of wood back then so the stomping really kicked ass!)
But I did not know so much about the intricacies of the band and how their music was created. While I know a bit more now, I am still learning and they are freakin’ geniuses, including Dr. Brian May, an astrophysicist, who started towards his degree in 1971 and received it in 2007 at the age of 60.
Fascination Turns to Inspiration
So, in listening to Queen for a few weeks, watching interviews they have done, studied the 30-years-later thoughts and memories Brian May and Roger Taylor share (John Deacon retains his privacy… it has been said he took Freddie’s death quite hard), I am moved by their tenacity to continue performing in their 70s when they started singing together in the 70s!
As I learned more, I wanted to know more and began listening to their albums, in order of their release. I have found real gems – Sheer Heart Attack and News of the World, for sure, and then others that didn’t resonate so much.
I replayed their Greatest Hits albums, too. I owned several as a teen/young adult, so I was traveling down familiar territory.
With each step I grew stronger, still not aware of my destination.
Then Finally Comes Made in Heaven
I came to the end of the discography list with Made in Heaven, the album that was released 4 years after Freddie’s death, culling together pieces-parts of lines, verses, singing-thoughts Freddie sang near the end of his life.
Freddie said to his friends and bandmates, “Get me to sing anything, write me anything and I will sing it and I will leave you as much as I possibly can.” He knew and welcomed they would finish his work after he was gone.
How fucking powerful was his urge to perform even as he was so close to dying?
I got chills and a soaring inspiration from that artistic ethic.
“I’m taking my ride with destiny Willing to play my part Living with painful memories Loving with all my heart”
“Made in heaven I’m playing my role in history Looking to find my goal Taking in all this misery But giving it all my soul”
Track 13 is the 13th song on the album, but has no name, although some call it “Ascension.” It is formally known as “Track 13” or just “13.” Ascension comes from the image of Freddie rising to his greatest heights after death: Heaven, Nirvana, the Great Rock and Roll Band in the Sky.
I am used to meditating/pondering to Pink Floyd, but to Queen? Not so much. They do have wondrous lyrics to consider as one considers poetry or art, but for me, meditating is another art form altogether.
But Track 13 is amazing for meditation. 22:32 minutes long and only a few interjections by Freddie’s words: “Are you running?” and the last word, “Fab!”
“Are You Running?”
“Are you running?” might seem an odd thing to put in a meditative song, but it seems a directive to me. Am I running as fast as I can so I can get to the finish line accomplished and complete? Am I running as fast as I need to to complete at least one of these books before my demise?
The answers are no, but I am fixing that now.
Who Knew Queen Would Kickstart My Writing?
I never expected this outcome when I watched that first Disney World YouTube video. I berated myself for not writing and spending hours a day watching video after video. For weeks.
The choices winnowed their way down to Queen, pre- and post-Freddie Mercury. I love Brian May’s and Roger Taylor’s solo works, too. (If you have not listened, do so!)
I watched Bohemian Rhapsody a dozen times, squinting trying to see what was just out of my range of vision.
And then it clicked.
“Nothing’s Gonna Stop Me Now!”
I wrote for a three hours yesterday and it was a joy. Made in Heaven and Track 13 on a loop played in the headphones, urging me on.
Every time Freddie said, “Fab!” I knew he was saying it to me. “Fabulous! Keep going!”
I woke up at 4am this morning, eager to get writing, putting the headphones on and tap, tap, tapping, hearing the stomp, stomp, clap of “We Are the Champions.” I wrote for three hours again and feel the urge to write more after this post.
I Will Rock Me
Of the hundreds of ways I’ve tried to get myself writing again, I am thrilled it was Queen that pushed me to get on it already. Goddess bless that Freddie Mercury with his endless desire to be heard and seen. I am soaking that up and spilling it out my fingers.