Alice Cooper was the guest “legend”on Liz Kershaw’s BBC Radio 6 lunchtime programme. The truly legendary rock star spoke of how he was now seventy-one years of age, an age shared by his friend Iggy Pop.
Liz Kershaw talked about the significance of musicians like himself being in their seventies and how the passage of time is not being recognized by those providing care for seniors. She talked about how her charity work took her into nursing homes where staff insisted on playing wartime music to the residents who sat passively while it was played. Recognizing the reality of the ages of those in the homes, Liz Kershaw plays music from Chubby Checker onward and people rise from their seats and dance.
People born after 1935 were young during the 1960s and are much likely to be imbued with the spirit of the times. People now in their seventies and early-eighties are more likely to share the attitudes of people in their forties than to identify with the attitudes more typical of people aged over ninety.
Watch family celebrations and it is more likely that seventy-somethings will be found dancing to music by artists like The Eagles and John Denver and disco artists, rather than to the tunes that might have been played on the radio in the 1940s. Being a seventy-something means being someone who might have been someone riding a big motor cycle or a scooter in the 1960s, Watch pictures of the style clashes between mods and rockers, on the beaches of English seaside resorts on bank holiday weekends, and then think what ages the participants must now be.
A twenty-four year old young man on the beach at Margate in 1964 would now be 79 years old, was it likely those who wore parkas or leather jackets were suddenly going to simply give up the music of their youth and listen to Jim Reeves or Glen Miller? And if the seventy-nine year olds might have been shaped by the mods and rockers, then what of the 69 year olds? Would someone who was seventeen during the “Summer of Love,” be likely to develop an affinity for music that was popular decades before they were born? Were the baby-boomers likely to slip placidly into old age?
It is more than fifty years since The Who’s song “My generation” was released. “I hope I die before I get old,” sang Roger Daltrey, now aged 75. Would Daltrey now say he was “old”? Would Pete Townshend, who penned the lyrics, now consider himself “old”? Wouldn’t it be more likely that they would be listening to rock music rather than to light classics or big bands?
Liz Kershaw is right. Alice Cooper, seventy-one years old and on a UK tour, represents an older generation who are not getting old.