Too old to rock ‘n’ roll?

When I was a teenager and started to find my way in the wonderful world of rock music, I never thought much about the age of the different members of the bands that I liked. However, apparently quite a few other people did, both fans and music journalists. The first time I took notice of this was when I read an article about 10cc around the time of their 1976 release “How Dare You” where the writer somewhat amazed noticed that the members of the band was closer to 30 than 20. Another example that I still remember was when Uriah Heep released “Fallen Angel” in 1978, when a friend who was one year younger than me pretty much refused to even listen to the album because Lee Kerslake looked to old on the band photo on the inside of the gatefold cover. I know that a lot of music journalists at the time had many unbelievable hang ups, but I never thought that the fans of the bands would say something like that. Maybe Jethro Tull’s title to the album “Too Old to Rock ‘n’ Roll: Too Young to Die!” from 1976 was true? No, not to me at least.

Since then I have often reflected on how different people reacted to the age of rock musicians, because it seemed that it was just in genre of rock music that this was a problem. On the other hand, sometimes I felt that for some bands maybe there were some truth to this. As there were some bands in the eighties that really rocked hard in the seventies that seemed to mellow out a bit too much for my taste, Nazareth for example. Thankfully this was not the case with most bands that I liked, especially as we entered the nineties and up until this very present day. Even the bands that tried a more commercial approach in search of bigger success usually returned to their roots when they failed, like for example Saxon. Actually, the only good thing about the decline of record sales is that most bands don’t have to worry about what record labels think and can pretty much write and play what they want, as they have nothing to lose. Bands like Judas Priest, Megadeth, Magnum, Lucifer’s Friend, and Uriah Heep comes to mind, but there are plenty more.

Well, like I said, when I was a teenager in the seventies, I fell in love with rock music. All kinds of rock music, like prog, jazz fusion rock, pomp rock, but mostly hard rock and heavy metal. I was so taken with these styles that I felt that I needed to learn to play an instrument myself. My choice was the bass for several reasons. Some of those reasons were Geddy Lee and Chris Squire, yes even Paul McCartney and Graham Gouldman’s playing fascinated me. All these players used Rickenbacker, so that was what I wanted as well, both for the sound and the look.

To join a band was the ultimate goal and after a couple of years in different projects it was time to form “my own band” with some other musicians, Destiny. However, I told myself that if I didn’t make it before I turned 30 I would give up and find something else to do. In the beginning it was enough just play in a band, but I soon took an interest in the arrangements as I knew exactly what I wanted Destiny to play. The next step was of course to also write more and more of the music. Nothing could compare to having an idea for a song and then to see it evolve until it was recorded, mixed and ready to be released on an album and then play these songs live.

So…. when I turned 30 there was no way that I could stop playing, writing and performing, and no one told me that I was too old to rock… yet. But that would change, as when we released “The Undiscovered Country” in 1998 and we did the usual interviews and I started to get questions about both our age and the bands age. I was totally unprepared for that but soon accepted that this was something we would have to live with from now on. Our response was to use the fact that we had been around for long time and started to market our self as Sweden’s oldest still existing Heavy Metal band.

Destiny - The Undiscovered Country (1998, CD) | Discogs

22 years has passed since that time and lots of my old favorite bands from the seventies are still touring, not just at the moment during the Covid 19 pandemic, and making albums that are pretty much just as good as the ones I grew up with. Kansas just released a fantastic album and both Deep Purple, Blue Öyster Cult and quite a few other veteran bands are also releasing albums this year. Even Destiny is ready to release a new album, called “Global Warming”, but that’s another story. No, I have no release date yet.

So what about me? Well, I turned 60 last week and is just as involved with music as ever, if not more. I have ideas both for at least another Destiny album and a prog rock project as well as another not yet official project. I don’t know if these ideas will result in anything, but the ideas are there and as long as I feel creative and have the skills to play I don’t see any reason not to go on.
Too old to rock ‘n’ roll? Hardly! Too young to die? Hopefully!

Stefan Björnshög

Too old to rock ‘n’ roll?

July 20, 2020

Maybe Jethro Tull’s title to the album “Too Old to Rock 'n' Roll: Too Young to Die!” from 1976 was true? No, not to me at least.

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