Top 5 Musicians Who Made It Later In Life
guest blog by Christine Backer
A lot of things are acceptable in the music industry. Ideas about drink, drugs and sex are all fairly fluid but there is one area in which the music industry does have plenty of prejudice – age. Most rock stars will start out in their teens, with some famous stars starting out when they are barely out of training bras (and that’s just the boys!). If you want to make it in the music industry past the age of 25 you have a long hard slog ahead of you. Many record companies will just not take an interest in someone with a few more laughter lines. The basic fact is that sex sells, and it is easier to sell a nubile waif in skinny jeans to the rabid masses than it is to get them interested in someone old enough to have a mortgage. Here are some of the stars who did manage to get past the ageism and show the youngsters how it is done.
1. Joe Satriani
Joe Satriani didn’t release his first album until he was 30, having spent his teenage years and 20’s trying to get into the music industry without any success. Now known as one of the most famous and influential solo guitarists on the planet, Satriani still regularly sells out tours across the globe. he has also taught some of the most popular rock guitarists of all time, with Metallica’s Kirk Hammett and Counting Crows’ David Bryson counted amongst his protegees.
Interesting Fact: Joe Satriani named his son Z.Z (Zachariah Zane) because, although he is an incredibly talented guitarist, he is apparently not a very nice person.
2. Susan Boyle
One of the entries on the list who is likely to be known to a far greater population is Susan Boyle, who hurtled into the public eye aged 48 as a contestant on Britain’s Got Talent. Boyle was the awkward, frumpy contestant who sang a beautiful rendition of ‘I Dreamed A Dream’ and got a standing ovation from the crowd and judges alike. Since then, Boyle’s debut album became the UK’s best selling debut album of all time and she was estimated to be worth £22 million as of 2012.
Interesting Fact: Susan Boyle was deprived of oxygen at birth which led to a range of learning disabilities. When she was younger she was relentlessly teased by classmates who are now kicking themselves as she swans around covered in money.
3. Leonard Cohen
Already an established poet and novelist, Leonard Cohen was 32 when he decided to try to break into the music industry. He was told by a number of agencies that he was ‘too old for this game’ and that he should give up and go back to what he knew. He has since enjoyed four decades of music success and is often cited as one of the most influential artists for young musicians today.
Interesting Fact: A lifelong manic depressive, Cohen has claimed to have tried every drug available in the hope of finding a cure, but nothing, even a ridiculously successful career, has worked so far.
4. Debbie Harry
When she started out as a backing singer, Debbie Harry was in her late 20’s, which may seem like a young age to anyone not in the music industry, but is retirement age to those in it. She was in her mid 30s by the time Blondie hit their stride, with several hit singles and an impressive following. Blondie recorded 9 studio albums all in all and Harry was the iconic frontwoman that took the group from strength to strength.
Interesting Fact: Some people credit Debbie Harry with inspiring Madonna’s controversial look. But since she didn’t do it on purpose, we can’t hold it against her.
5. Tuli Kupferberg (The Fugs)
Tuli Kupferberg may not exactly be a household name but as the self-proclaimed “world’s oldest rock star”, he definitely deserves a place on the list. Kupferberg was in his 40’s when he founded The Fugs, an aggressively anti-war satirical rock group. The band had a dedicated following and Kupferberg was an enigmatic leader despite his advancing years (!).
Interesting Fact: Tuli Kupferberg once tried to commit suicide by jumping off the Brooklyn Bridge. He hit the water unharmed, swam to shore and went home again. No one noticed.