Over 40 and still playing music. Is it over?

Ok, so I got this idea off of Metal Sludge. It’s a call out or is it a wakeup call for anyone and everyone playing that has reached a point like I have that I guess it wasn’t in the cards for me to be successful on a level that I would consider “successful” for the lack of better terms. I have played out since I was 12 years old with my first gig being to my old boy scout troop 99 way back in the day. Four simple songs back then and now I can play probably an easy thousand or more songs from the 50’s style to Modern songs and if I don’t know the song I will know it by the time I play through it once or twice or if it’s on “the fly” live I can read someone else’s guitar neck fast enough to stay in there with them and play a song like I have known it all my life….

So where are you at in your musical career? Did you “make it”? Are you still trying to “make it”? What is “making it” by the way? Do you play all the time and it supports you or, are you a weekend rock star with a real job during the week? Do you still dream of tour buses, big stages and playing before thousands of people or just a few bar flies and drunks? Is playing music for a living a young man’s game?

I know there are many professional bands out there making a good living and the musicians’ are over 40, over 50, over 60 and some even over 70. But they found success when they were younger so their career was already “in play” when they were younger and it continues to carry on. We have a couple of bands here locally that have members that are in their late 30’s and early 40’s and even though they have been trying to “make it” forever like me they are just now releasing their “sophomore” albums. How does that set with them? Are the odds stacked against them because of their age? And does it really matter?

I don’t think there are any set rules in today’s music but with American Idol having the age cut off at 29 and pop music being filled with Disney kids that aren’t even old enough to drive yet saturating the markets it has to make an older guy, that even though still has his chops wonder if it’s time to hang “the guns” up.

So what’s up guys and girls? When I was an arrogant young punk ass kid that had a guitar slung over my shoulder, I too thought if you didn’t make it by 30 you were washed up. Little did I know that the Producer that told me I would be famous in five years when I was 17 was dead wrong and I too would one day hit 30 without the fame and fortune and then hit 40 too…Hell I am five years from 50 and 15 years from 60. Did I waste my time? Is it over or has it just begun?

A fellow musician and good friend of mine recently turned 50. That’s not old by any means but he said when he turned 50 he was hanging it up. And well he did… According to him he has played his last show and he always put on a great show and was very entertaining and brought his “A” game to the table.

Another lifelong friend of mine that is a year older than me and he too like me and my friend in the above mentioned paragraph has played music all his life recently said he is through with it too and not playing anymore… He has reached his limit and I guess in his mind realized success on a large scale has eluded him too. I just can’t come to bear that yet for myself….

Now I am not talking about sitting around a campfire playing songs for friends. I am talking about playing out live in bars, lounges and stages…

What are your thoughts and opinions?

And enclosing, if you are a young kid musician like I was once too….try not to put your foot in your mouth like i did…And if you have a band and need a guitar player that can travel. Hit me up!

Chuck

Share on Facebook

10 Comments


  1. //

    i am 45 yrs old i have been playing in bands since i was 16. I play 6-10 gigs a month traveling around the south and work a job when not playing.as long as I still enjoy playing “out’ I will continue to do so. I think it helps if you have someone in your life that backs your decision. Here’s to all the grey beards still rockin


  2. //

    If it was ONLY a business venture that failed, then by all means, give it up….BUT, if music is something you love, really love, you should play it till the angels call you home. God is an amazing God, and can cause anything to happen in His own time. Problem is we human’s are so full of pride and foolish enough to think that we are in control, when in fact it is God who is the big record exec in the sky. My point is you don’t quit what you love even if you don’t “Make it Big”, but if your fire has gone out and your just going through the moves you’re just waiting for death to come along anyway.

    Never Give Up, Never Surrender because the very next swing of the pick may just hit a vein of Gold….How would you ever know that you stopped just inches from where the Gold lives other than that empty feeling in the pit of your stomach that nagged at you for having wasted the best part of your talent by not sharing what you had mastered your entire adult life with those who could learn from you by listening to and watching you? Don’t quit unless you see it as a failed business venture. Assume your new position in life as a Master, teacher, and mentor to help those who follow in your footsteps….who knows maybe you can help them past some of the most treacherous traps in the business. Besides, really…what else are you going to do if music is all that you’ve ever done?


  3. //

    I am in my sixties and still play music (jazz). Our drummer is seventy. The bandleader is sixty. Our guitar player is nineteen. Jazz is difficult enough to play without worrying or caring about the player’s age. We play here every Thursday evening:

    Wayne R


  4. //

    I guess it’s all in how you define success. The age thing is just secondary in my mind and I think the decision to pack it in is a personal thing and only you’re going to know when you’ve decided that you can see the end of the road.
    I personally believe that frustration , disgust, and contempt for the business as a whole does in more musicians than any perceived age limit ever will
    Let me preface what comes next by saying that this was all done after my tossing aside a pretty normal lifestyle at the age of 30.
    I was ready to cast off my weekend warrior status, and become a professional musician.
    I entered into the game at a time when most guys would be considering bailing out.
    I did a tour of duty with a band that was trying to break into the”big time” cutting and pitching tunes, playing showcases, doing live shows from 4 to 6 nights a week and all while scrounging all of the side work I could stand and dividing my time between 3 different cities for a solid 8 years.
    At the end of the day there was nothing to show for it but a great live band with some great songs that imploded under the weight of trying to break down the wall, so in that respect no, I was not successful.
    I spent a full year with a lot of bitterness towards the business, the desperate struggle of trying to re-enter the “straight” world, and I didn’t pick up a bass for most of that year.
    On the other hand, with all the great shows I played, all of the friendships that endure to this day, what I learned about the up and down sides of the business, and about myself as a musician made it a successful time personally, and to a degree, professionally.
    I gradually returned to gigging, but returning to my weekender status.
    Even though health issues have kept me out of the game for the past year, I would welcome going back to gigging on a regular basis and even at the age of 52, I’d even consider a road gig under the right circumstances.
    “Making it” is no longer an option, but making music still is.
    For better or worse, I’ll pack it up kicking and screaming all the way.


  5. //

    I’m in therapy trying to deal with this very issue. Came really close a few years ago to “making it”, which for me would have been just making a living playing music without having a day job. After things imploded, I have almost completely lost the desire to play at all. Yet this is all I’ve ever wanted to do. Go figure! Now in my mid forties, do I continue or try to figure out what I want to be when I grow up?


  6. //

    Yo, just a few quick thoughts. I play music because I was born a musician. I write songs, because they keep rearing their ugly head. I play out once a week, make a few bucks, have a lot of fun. I have been running an open mic for awhile in Red Bud, Il, giving the young musicians a venue to strut their stuff. Music is magic, it’s electric, it’s crazy because you never know when that true feeling will hit. When it does, it doesn’t matter if your’e playing to 20 or 2000, it is well worth the effort. I have never enjoyed it any better than right now, and I’m 52. Peace, and keep the faith…keep on jammin,…….


  7. //

    Age has nothing to do with it. Susan Boyle happened, finally. Proof it has nothing to do with age, looks, or music type. If you can capture the attention of the public, you can get it done. Young people have more physical energy and stamina, that is the main reason age discrimination is so dominant, because they intend to ring you out like a rag and you’ll get 4 hours sleep for 5 years strait if you sign that major deal. Nobody has to do that anymore. Making it, is that financially (money) socially (fame) or artistically (historically documentable and relevant). Very few get all three done, even many with the money and the fame. You cant buy being the real thing thats for certain. Look at Paramore, everyone suspected it was just a star vehicle for the singer, now we all know thats exactly what it was. Most of it is all phony.


  8. //

    Hell Im 58 and just played some gigs to people more than half my age and they loved it.
    I was forced to return to the stage due to the recession and damn it sure wears me out- not the playing, that’s easy. It’s the carrying my gig on my back, sleeping in bus stations, staying up all night waiting to break down and get paid. Most people my age are in bed when Im walking on stage. The truth about gigging is many people are not interested in live music anymore, unless you’re a big named concert band. What sells after that are tribute bands, cover bands. No one pays to see original songs by unknown artists, so I play country classics, sprinking in a few of my own compositions. The other big pain in the ass is the idea of “do-it-yourself” marketing and promotion. I really dont want to spend my whole life digging around looking for fans one at a time.
    Im thinking of doing something like billboard sitting for radio stations or getting on some reality show just so I can promote myself in front of masses of people. That hooker that gave up Governor Eliot Spitzer ended up selling half a million downloads of her crappy song because of the publicity. How can I out-whore a whore?


  9. //

    i always figured once you hit 30 no record deal that was it .give up the rock star dreams.rock n roll aint for cats over 30.


  10. //

    Well, I typed in the very same question you posed, and this page jumped up. In the early 90’s, I toured with a fairly well known band. I guess we were triple A, and just waiting for our chance to step up to the majors. I wrote songs, sang lead, and thoroughly enjoyed myself touring the USA, Canada, Europe, South America, and I thought that with a little more effort the complete dream would materialise. The birth a child, the breakup of a relationship, and my dissatisfaction with the music the band wanted to do, ended that chapter in my life. It has been 17 years since then, and like others here I would not play or even listen to the radio for about a year or two after. Eventually, I started playing some community shows and that seemed to help. The music has alwasy been in my head and I cannot turn it off. This year my wife and I are going to be hosting house concerts, which will give me an opportunity to play as well as present new artists. I personally feel blessed most of the time because I meet many musicians who nevr had the experience that I had, but sometimes I do feel a little angey that the dream did not fully manifest. What can I say…I’m still in love with my guitar

Comments are closed.