A Suburban Dad's Guest Blog: Aging Rockers

By Rick Kaempfer

I just watched the latest video by Van Halen and I had mixed emotions. On the one hand I love Van Halen--and I'm excited that they are back in the saddle again touring the world with David Lee Roth as the frontman. I'd love to see that concert. On the other hand...I'm trying to think of a nice way of saying this...um...I'm not trying to be insulting, but...yikes do they look old.

And this is coming from a 48-year-old man who doesn't exactly look young anymore either.

Some bands just seem to age better than others. For instance, I saw Paul McCartney at Wrigley Field last summer and he looked and sounded better than ever. On the other side of the coin, I don't know if you've seen the Beach Boys over the last twenty years or so, but let's just say they might want to think about renaming the band.

I think we judge the Beach Boys more harshly simply because of the word “boys” in their name. “Boys” should not be pushing 75. If they revised their name slightly, to say the Seaside Shuffleboarders, the expectations would be completely different.

When they perform as the Beach Boys, they're likely to hear: “Whoa, those dudes are old.”

When they perform as The Seaside Shuffleboarders, they're likely to hear: “Whoa, those old dudes can still rock. Rock on, old dudes!”

See how much better that is?

Bands like the Beach Boys are doomed if they don’t rename themselves.

Other bands are luckier. Bands like The Electric Prunes, The Grateful Dead, Gerry & the Pacemakers, The Kinks, and Limp Bizkit knew they would have to live with their names for a long time and planned ahead.

As a public service to the Baby Boomer rock and roll community, I’ve taken the liberty of revising the band names for others that weren’t as prescient…

.38 Special—Blue Plate Special
Air Supply—Oxygen Tent
The Animals—The Angioplasties
Captain & Tenille—Captain & Senile
Country Joe & The Fish—Old Country Buffet & the All-You-Can-Eat Fish Fry
Creedence Clearwater Revival—Creedence Clearwater Florida
The Culture Club—The Hair Club
Def Leppard—Deaf Leonard
Foreigner—We Hate Foreigners
The Four Lads—The Four O’Clock Dinner
The Four Seasons—The Sun Always Shines in Boca
The Four Tops—The Quadruple Bypass
The Guess Who—Guess Who Had a Stroke
INXS— IN-tensive Care
Iron Butterfly—Iron Lung
KC & the Sunshine Band—KC & The Sunshine State
Night Ranger—Rogainger
The OJays—The Ben Gays
Procol Harem—Bifocal Harem
The Replacements—The Hip Replacements
The Rolling Stones—The Gall Stones
Sly and the Famly Stone—Sly and the Kidney Stone
Three Dog Night—Three Bathroom Visits a Night
The Ventures—The Dentures
The Who—Who’s Left?

As for Van Halen, they obviously don't need to change their name, in fact they've added another Van Halen to the band, but they might want to think about slightly updating their act. There's something a little disconcerting about seeing Diamond Dave up there prancing around as if it was 1984. He doesn't seem to realize that he can't pull it off anymore. At least not in the same way he used to do it--that sort of preening macho, 'hey ladies, you want a piece of this?' approach.

The ladies just looked at him and said, "Um, not really."

Should old guys still be allowed to play rock and roll? Of course. I applaud them for doing so! However, they really need to think about how it looks, and how it sounds. It’s all about image and expectations.

The music is still great, fellas. We're happy just watching you play it.

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