I imagine many of you out there at one time or another imagined yourself up there on the stage, under the lights, guitar in hand, shredding your latest hit, vocally filling the stadium, with thousands of fans screaming your name. No? Maybe your ambitions stopped at a piano bar playing Billy Joel and Elton John songs for tips, in front of a few folks watching Monday night football telling you to hold it down.
Wait, you say, performing rock and roll is a young man’s (or woman’s) game? Sure, I took piano lessons for twelve years, sang in the high school choir, and picked out Stairway to Heaven on a steel-string guitar until my fingers bled, but I’m in my 60s! I’d look silly in striped bell bottoms. Who would hire me as a performer?
You’d be surprised. Never give up on a dream or doing something you enjoy. Where there is a will – there is a way, as they say. If you are happy playing an instrument for fun or relaxation, or just singing in the shower, that’s cool. But if you yearn for that audience interaction and applause (or think you do), don’t let your age get in the way. There are plenty of opportunities out there. Some jobs pay, some are volunteer, but all get you up there on that stage.
How do I know? I did it! I am 73 years old and still playing and singing rock and roll.
I started out in my church basement at four years old, imitating Frank Sinatra. Once I heard that applause, I was hooked. Fast forward to church camp, where a fellow lifeguard and I started imitating the Smothers Brothers on talent night: more applause. The ’70s found my brother and I starting a duo, him on guitar and me on bass (and an occasional cowbell), doing tight harmonies in hotels, clubs, and restaurants, six days a week and actually making a living as musicians.
Forty years later, after the Army, marriage, college, children, moving seven times, getting a “real job,” as my parents described it, I saw a posting for a bass guitar player/singer in an L.A. ’60s band called “Big Bertha.” I dusted off my bass, auditioned, and got the job.
Big Bertha evolved into Revolution Road. Members have come and gone (like any band) but we still practice once a week and perform once or twice a month. Revolution Road plays classic rock from the ’60s and ’70’s complete with a tie-dye background, fringed vests, striped pants, and peace signs everywhere, celebrating the Woodstock generation and beyond. We have been playing in clubs, outdoor concerts, and private events in the Los Angeles area for the last eight years. There are lots of bands in Los Angeles, including quite a few famous ones, but what makes us unique is that everyone in the band is at least sixty years of age.
Some might be ready for the rocking chair at this age, but we opted for rock and roll with Bob on the keyboard, me on bass, Jack on drums, and Bobby on guitar. The three of us sing and do harmonies from the Beatles, The Beach Boys, The Monkees, Eagles, Elton John, The Doors, CCR, CSN&Y, BTO, and many more, including performing at a Summer Concert in Yucaipa in front of a 1000 people. We now have more than 75 songs on our playlist, still enjoy the applause, and are having a hell of a time.