A question I ask a lot of musicians is, “At what point should a band call it a day?” and they usually reply with an answer something like, “Dude, as long as their still having fun they should be able to do it as long as they want.” I have pondered this question and this answer for years as I have literally watched some pretty amazing bands deteriorate right before my very eyes. I’ve seen bands/singers that in their prime were untouchable but as they (and myself) have gotten older they just seem unable to achieve the greatness that they achieved in their youth. They seem totally unable to hit the note (literally) and yet they continue to go out on the road and people seem to still pay money to see these acts.
There are many bands who have managed to age gracefully and still put on top notch performances and put out grade A material. Iron Maiden (who are all well into their 50s) still put on an amazing performance and churn out quality material. Testament has put out some of the best material of their career with their last two albums and King Diamond is experiencing a pretty huge comeback at nearly 60 years old and sounding better than ever. So what is the excuse for some other bands not being able to pull it off in their later years?
It’s nearly impossible to deny just how shitty Motley Crue is. Anybody who has seen Motley Crue live at any point since 1984 can probably attest that they are just not that great of a live band. With the exception of their 1994 tour (thanks to John Corabi who had them kicking it up a notch) Crue has been one of the single shittiest bands out there. Take away all the pyro, the huge stage production, and all the distractions and you have a band who plays worse than most club bands who have been doing it for a year or two. Don’t believe me? See for yourself:
How about Whitesnake? Dokken? Ozzy? Kiss? Judas Priest? These are all bands who, in their prime were on top of the world and were better than most at what they did. The singers in these bands were just top notch but over the years each of them has just become a shadow of their former self. David Coverdale has completely lost his power and his range. Ozzy Osbourne’s voice has been toast since 1992’s No More Tours Tour. Don Dokken’s voice has been DOA since following his Up from the Ashes tour and poor Paul Stanley’s been suffering with vocal issues since before Sonic Boom. As for Rob Halford, he has gotten to the point where at times he’s not even singing and having the audience sing the song in full. So if these artists are unable to deliver the goods (pun intended) like they used to, why do they keep going?
The only thing I can think of as an answer is one of two things. It’s either the money, or it’s ego that keeps them from giving up. Maybe as an artist they’ve been convinced by their fans that they still have it when unbiased fans like me can clearly hear the painful truth. There’s nothing more painful that hearing your favorite singer/band struggle through a set that you paid your hard earned money for. I feel that it’s unfair to the fans but again, if the fans continue to pad their wallets and their egos then these acts will continue to carry on long past their expiration date. So the short of it is that maybe it’s time for you to hang it up when you can no longer bring to the stage the quality of performance and delivery that you once were able to in your prime. Then again, if you’re continuing to get paid heartily for giving a half assed show, then more power to you. As for me, I won’t be feeding into that. I’ll just choose to remember you when you were great.