Last weekend, Chuck Berry gave fans in Chicago a scare: A New Year's Day concert ended prematurely after the 84-year-old fell ill. This gig aside, however, Berry remains a workhorse: Without fail, he plays monthly at Blueberry Hill's Duck Room, and he told Rolling Stone last year that he's working on new music. Berry's not the only aging musician still plugging away at touring or recording, however. The following ten people transcend their ages -- and continue to be relevant, resonant artists who make rich contributions to music.
Willie Nelson Age: 77 Nobody -- nobody -- will ever be as cool as country legend Willie Nelson. The musician still tours constantly -- and even a November 2010 bust for pot possession didn't slow him down. In response, he cheekily formed something called the TeaPot Party.
Loretta Lynn Age: 78 The country star amassed a new generation of fans after the release 2004's Van Lear Rose, which was produced by White Stripes/Dead Weather front man Jack White. She appeared on last year's tribute album in her honor, Loretta Lynn: A Tribute to a Coal Miner's Daughter, and still tours.
Herb Alpert Age: 75 Besides facilitating the reissue of his prodigious back catalog, Alpert continues to play trumpet. In 2009, he released a live album, Anything Goes, with his wife Lani Hall, and he's guested on albums by Sergio Mendes and Jim Brickman.
Leonard Cohen Age: 76 Leonard Cohen's most recent world tour spanned nearly two years, from May 2008 to December 2010. His concerts, on average, ran for three hours every night.
William Shatner Age: 79 Sure, Shatner's acting career is still going strong. But so's his musical career: As if collaborating with Ben Folds and covering Pulp wasn't enough, in November 2010, he covered Cee-Lo Green's "Fuck You" on Lopez Tonight.
TIna Turner Age: 71 At the ripe old age of 69, Turner embarked on a 50th Anniversary North American and European arena tour, which drew sell-out crowds and critical raves. In April 2010, Turner's song "The Best" hit the U.K. and Scottish top ten singles charts after a Scottish football team backed it.
Dave Brubeck Age: 90 Brubeck had a pacemaker installed last fall, which forced the cancellation of some shows (including a date in St. Louis). However, the jazz pianist bounced back and went right to performing; the Dave Brubeck Quartet even played with the Cleveland Orchestra a week before Christmas.
Tony Bennett Age: 84 The smooth standards vocalist seems to show up everywhere. He dueted with Billy Joel in 2008 at the final Shea Stadium concerts, and last year was on the charity single, "We Are the World: 25 for Haiti." Most recently, he appeared at the 2010 World Series -- he sang "I Left My Heart in San Francisco," natch -- and also crooned "America the Beautiful" at Washington, D.C.'s Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear. B. B. King Age: 85 Although the legendary blues guitarist/songwriter keeps calling his concert treks "farewell tours," he hasn't actually stopped performing live. In fact, he played at the Family Arena last February. King also guested on Cyndi Lauper's 2010 release, Memphis Blues.
Wanda Jackson Age: 73 Thanks to the dogged efforts of rockabilly revivalists, cult guitarist/vocalist Jackson has enjoyed a surge in popularity in recent years. She was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2009, while a new album, the Jack White-produced The Party Ain't Over, is due January 25 via Nonesuch/Third Man Records. Oh, and she continues to tour as well.
Support Local Journalism.
Join the Riverfront Times Press Club
Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.
Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.
Join the Riverfront Times Club for as little as $5 a month.