“Hope I die before I get old,” Pete Townshend mused on “My Generation” in 1965. Not likely. In fact, rock music hasn’t been the domain of the young since Mick Jagger’s famous lips became the Rolling Stones logo. Some musicians don’t find their true voices until after they turn 40, subsequently creating some of the best work of their lives — Leonard Cohen, Thelonious Monk and Pharrell Williams come to mind.
Here’s a list of 40 artists over 40 who continue to tour and record — and mind you, it’s just a partial list of bands who have records out this year. There’s plenty more on the horizon, including offerings from Wilco, Metallica, Soundgarden and Red Hot Chilli Peppers.
At 74, Dylan’s influence continues to be felt in the 21st century. Dylan is credited with invigorating popular song with honesty and a rare lyrical gift, influencing everyone from The Beatles to Sam Cooke and Otis Redding. His new album, Fallen Angels, is a sequel of sorts to his previous album of standards, 2015’s Shadows in the Night. Release date: May 20.
Wolf, who turned 70 last month, is best known as lead vocalist for the J. Geils Band from 1967-83. On his own, he scored with ’80s hits “Lights Out” and “Come as You Are” while occasionally reuniting with his old band. His eighth solo album, A Cure for Loneliness, features nine originals and a bluegrass reworking of the Geils’ hit “Love Stinks.”
Grant Lee Phillips
The former leader of alternative notables Grant Lee Buffalo, now 53, also moonlighted in a featured role on The Gilmore Girls, but his finely observed songs on seven solo albums have won him a devoted following. Most of the songs on his eighth album, Narrows, are meditations on his Californian birthplace.
Formed in 1983, the Cult was one of the last great rock bands formed in the post-punk years. But these hard rock revivalists have had a bombastic run — once breaking up after a fist fight on a beach in Rio. Fortunately these war lords — singer Ian Astbury and guitarist Billy Duffy — continue to overcome their differences and had the sense to reconstitute themselves in 2006. They unleashed their 10th album produced by Cult stalwart, Bob Rock. Titled Hidden City, it’s last in a trilogy that began with 2007’s Born Into This.
Eric Clapton is the first musician to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame three times, as a member of the Yardbirds (1992), Cream (1993) and finally as a solo artist in 2000. At 71, the ultimate guitar hero is mulling retirement from the road, but he’s recorded a new album, I Still Do, which includes acoustic guitar and vocals by George Harrison. Release date: May 20.
Elton John has sold more than 300 million records, and his rewrite of “Candle in the Wind” to commemorate Princess Diana sold more than 33 million copies, making it the best-selling U.K. and U.S. single ever. Turning 70 this year, he continues to record, including February’s Wonderful Crazy Night, which reunites him with his core band.
Born James Newell Osterberg, he once billed himself as the “world’s forgotten boy,” but that’s no longer the case. From fronting the proto-punk Stooges, Pop, 69, has gradually attained a position of veneration in the rock pantheon. His recent Post Pop Depression, is a fitting homage to the Berlin albums Pop made with David Bowie in the ‘70s.
Mavis Staples is the not only the foremost woman in gospel, with her family group the Staple Singers and solo, but also the most endearing. She began a romance with Bob Dylan when they met in the ‘60s, and Jeff Tweedy produced her 2010 Grammy-winning You Are Not Alone. At almost 77, she continues to be active, and released Livin’ on a High Note in February.
It’s hard to believe Stefani is 46. The perpetually ageless glamor queen of pop, rap and ska is lead vocalist for No Doubt, a fashion designer, actress, and most recently a judge on The Voice. This Is What the Truth Feels Like, her third solo album, deals with her split from husband Gavin Rossdale and subsequent romance with fellow Voice judge Blake Shelton.
With a voice as flat as the Texas plains he hails from, Nelson, 82, has flaunted convention for the past seven decades, effectively deploying arrhythmic Zen guitar playing and idiosyncratic phrasing. He released Summertime: Willie Nelson Sings Gershwin this year, with a little help from famous friends Cyndi Lauper and Sheryl Crow.
The literate, confessional, eccentric Williams, 63, learned early a love of words and writers, meeting a number of her poet father’s friends, including writer Flannery O’Connor, whose work Lucinda’s has been compared to. This year, she unleashed The Ghosts of Highway 20, which finds her dealing with her father’s recent death.
Quirky suburban pop-rock heroes whose hook-happy guitar pop swept away the hegemony of the Seattle sound, Weezer’s River Cuomo, now 45, took inspired geekiness to new heights. Hiatuses and side projects aside, the band has released 11 albums, including one in 2016, its fourth self-titled offering.
This supergroup of producers — Butch Vig (60), Duke Erickson (65) and Steve Marker (57), along with feisty titian-haired Scottish singer Shirley Manson (49) straddled the line between alternative rock and techno, capturing the cultural mood of the late ’90s. They’ll release their sixth studio album, Strange Little Birds, insisting again that they are not like the rest of us. And don’t want to be. Release date: June 10.
While not a couple, Alison Mosshart, 37, and Jamie Hince, who just turned 46, have an undeniable chemistry that sometimes makes them think and write as a single being. Since forming in 2000, they’ve penned songs underpinned by uneasy self-awareness and a seething anger. On their fifth album, Ash and Ice, they’ve gotten rid of most of the anger, replaced by acceptance and wisdom borne of experience. Release date: June 3.
At her ’60s peak, Loretta Lynn was country’s sole successful female singer/songwriter, until Dolly Parton came along. She’s shared nearly every hurt, triumph, battle and foible over two autobiographies, a movie and 51 hit singles. At 84, she is as feisty and driven as ever, releasing Full Circle in March.
A critic’s darling long regarded as the thinking person’s singer/songwriter, Robyn Hitchcock was a member of psychedelic folk rockers The Soft Boys in the mid-’70s before striking out on his own. At 63, he continues to tour regularly, puts together reunions with The Soft Boys and is releasing his follow-up to 2014’s The Man Upstairs this year. Release date: Fall 2016.
Founding member of Roxy Music, big thinker, de facto inventor/popularizer of ambient music and producer of such stars as U2, Bowie, Coldplay and the Talking Heads, Eno, 67, repeatedly claims he was a non-musician, despite evidence to the contrary and the 27 albums he’s released, including the forthcoming TheShip.
The fiery-haired daughter of Broadway star John Raitt dropped out of Radcliffe after two years, lured away by the blues. She’s never looked back. At 20 she was performing with Howlin’ Wolf, Sippie Wallace, Mississippi Fred McDowell, and John Lee Hooker. At 66, she’s still performing, won her 10th Grammy, and released her 22nd album, Dig in Deep, in February.
Tenor saxophonist Charles Lloyd worked as a sideman for B.B. King, Howlin’ Wolf and Bobby “Blue” Bland. He formed his own quartet with Keith Jarrett, and it became the first jazz band to play the Fillmore. He’s been on recordings by the Doors, the Byrds, Canned Heat and the Beach Boys. In January, the 78-year-old released I Long to See You.
Stephen Stills, 71, has been a member of the Buffalo Springfield, CSN/CSN&Y, Manassas and the Super Sessions ensembles — in addition to massive success as a solo artist. His latest group is The Rides, featuring guitar whiz Kenny Wayne Shepherd, 38, and Electric Flag keyboardist Barry Goldberg, 73; the group will release their second album, Pierced Arrow. Release date: May 6.
The original Santana ensemble at the turn of the ’70s fused Latin music with rock in a way that changed popular music forever. On April 15, the 1971 lineup of the band, led by Carlos Santana, 68, and featuring keyboards man Gregg Rolie, guitar hero Neal Schon (both of whom went on to form Journey), drummer Michael Schrieve and percussionist Michael Cambello, reunited for Santana IV.
At 74, Nash remains active, if not hyperactive, building on a legacy comprising The Hollies, all the configurations of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, and his own solo work. One of pop’s most influential and gifted harmony singers, he released his first solo album since 2001, This Path Tonight, on April 15.
When it comes to female guitar idols, Ford was in the vanguard, starting with the Runaways four decades ago and continuing with her ’80s hits and striking videos. For For Time Capsule, released April 15, Ford, now an unbelievable 57, delves into her archives for unreleased informal superstar collaborations from the ’80s.
Bachmann led alt-rock touchstones Archers of Loaf from 1991 on, and continued to pursue his own uniquely off-center pathways under the solo pseudonym Crooked Fingers. Now the North Carolina auteur has ventured into the spotlight under his own name with a self-titled album. Released March.
Beam’s many releases under the Iron & Wine moniker have captivated legions of fans of the subtler, acoustic-based brand of alt-rock. The 41-year-old’s latest venture employs his given name in a collaboration with avant-pop singer Jesca Hoop, Love Letter for Fire. Released April 15.
The range and creativity of Harvey’s quarter-century of recordings is impossible to overstate. The new album by the singer, 46, The Hope Six Demolition Project (released April 15), was inspired by her travels and was recorded as part of an art exhibition in which the public watched through glass as she toiled in the studio.
Successful Antipodean country singers are as rare as, well, successful Antipodean rappers, but the New Zealand-born, Australian-nurtured Urban, 48, bucked the trend with a nonstop barrage of hits in the last two decades. His new album, Ripcord, has already spawned more hits for the guitar wizard. Release date: May 6.
Mould, 55, earned a place on the alternative Mt. Rushmore with Hüsker Dü, and his work with Sugar and varied, intense solo albums has only burnished his legacy. He describes the new Patch the Sky, released in March as the “darkest” of his recent works, but at the same time the “catchiest.”
Few artists have blazed such an individual trail as Bird, 42, over the last several years. His eccentric, but melodic pop creations have enchanted listeners and fellow musicians alike. Are You Serious, released at the beginning of April, features support from Fiona Apple and promises to expand his audience.
Portland’s Dandy Warhols, led by Courtney Taylor-Taylor, 48, have been key players in the alternative realm since the ’90s, and gained new ubiquity when “We Used to Be Friends” was chosen as the theme for Veronica Mars. Distortland, released April 8, is the band’s first album in four years.
LaMontagne, 42, was regarded as one of the top blues-based singer/songwriters of the modern era until 2014, when he took a dramatic left turn toward pillowy psychedelic pop on Supernova. His new album Ouroboros, named after the tail-devouring worm of myth and co-produced by My Morning Jacket’s Jim James, continues that journey.
The veteran Scottish band, led by Bobby Gillespie, 53, was one of the first to meld rock with modern dancefloor culture. Chaosmosis, the band’s 11th album, released in March, continues in that fruitful vein, aided by the backing vocals of Haim and a slightly tighter overall feel.
McKnight, 46, is best-known for his massive 1999 R&B ballad “Back at One,” but he’s been making hits for nearly a quarter-century and continues to thrill adult-R&B audiences. His 15th album, Better., released in late February, will surely add to his sales total of 25 million albums.
For a singer/songwriter who first became popular with 1994’s “If You Don’t Love Me (I’ll Kill Myself),” Yorn, 41, has shown commendable survival skills, including recording a duet album with Scarlett Johansson. Sixth studio album Arranging Time, released in mid-March, reveals his pop-rock skills remain in fine form.
Pet Shop Boys
Deadpan British vocals set to an electrifying pop-dance beat established a winning formula for the Pet Shop Boys in the ’80s, and they’ve been able to refine it for more than 30 years. The predominantly upbeat Super, issued at the start of April, follows in the tradition and specifically previous album Electric.
Led by fiery vocalist/guitarist Susan Tedeschi, 45, and her under-40 guitarist husband Derek Trucks, the TTB is a merger of two separate bands employing the wider range of players to explore new musical territory while remaining rooted in the blues. Let Me Get By, the combo’s third adventurous studio album, was released in January.
The jittery, frantic, inimitable sound of the Violent Femmes (signature song “Add It Up” perhaps should be re-spelled “ADD It Up”) has resonated with two generations of alt-rock listeners. Founders Gordon Gano, 52, and Brian Ritchie, 55, mine and refine older material on We Can Do Anything.Released March.
Kula Shaker’s ’90s advent, K, startled the Brit pop-saturated U.K. scene with its modal psychedelia and nods to the Grateful Dead. Backlash led to a breakup, but Crispian Mills (43) & co. re-formed in 2007 and are back again, continuing to dazzle and surprise, with their third post-comeback album K20, which emerged in February.
The ageless Ono (83 if you insist on mundane facts) has long since overcome widespread criticism to become an icon for adventurous music makers of all stripes. Yes, I’m a Witch Too, released in March, is a sequel to her 2007 collaborative album Yes, I’m a Witch, again remolding older material with contemporary artists, this time including the likes of Death Cab for Cutie and Sparks.
Orton, 45, is a unique presence on Britain’s singer/songwriter scene, having mastered an austere yet affecting style that encompasses folk, pop and even dance remixes to mesmerizing effect. Her forthcoming album, Kidsticks, out May 27, is her first in four years.