Documentary looking at how rock 'n' roll has dealt with growing up and growing old, featuring the late Lemmy, Iggy Pop, Rick Wakeman, Suggs, Eric Burdon, Alison Moyet and more.
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This programme contains some strong language.
From the moment it first fell on alarmed, old ears,
it was clear that rock and roll was a young person's game.
Music made by young people for young people that never intended to grow up or grow old.
And yet, it did.
So what happened as the music refused to die, and its performers refused to leave the stage?
What happens when rock's youthful rebelliousness is delivered wrapped in wrinkles?
These are the stories of Britain's first rock and roll generations
and their struggle to stay forever young.
# You know I'm born to lose And gambling's for fools
# But that's the way I like it, baby I don't want to live forever... #
The secret of longevity is not dying.
It's easy, really. You know, just keep breathing at all times.
Look at Keith. Dear old Keith.
He looks like he's been dead for 40 years. Do you know what I mean?
But everybody loves him. They say,
"Is he still alive?"
"Yeah." "Is he alive now?"
"I'm not sure."
When I walk on stage and I still put the capes on and I go out,
age suddenly goes out the window.
I am not 60 years old anymore.
Admittedly, when I come off, it's slightly different.
I don't go to a party, I normally go back to my hotel room
and order a hot chocolate and watch the late night movie.
I had a pair of leather trousers. I called them rubber trousers.
And I wore them for the first time as a joke
because I thought it was really amusing, this 50-year-old guy
wearing leather trousers and I got all embarrassed.
It probably looks like I think I'm a bit of a rock sausage guy.
And they were...got rid of.
Now I go out there in sensible clothes.
We are the first generation who I think has cocked a snook at age.
We have carried on being the oldest swingers in town
and none of us are showing any signs
of wanting to not go to rock concerts,
not want to stay up all night, not want to take a lot of recreational drugs if we feel like it.
We want to rock out but we've all got weak bladders now,
so we don't want to be stuck in a long queue for the toilets like it was back in the 70s or 60s.
# People try to put us d-down
# Talkin' 'bout my generation
-# Just because we get around
-# Talkin' 'bout my generation
# Things they do look awful c-cold
# Talkin' 'bout my generation
# I hope I die before I get old... #
If the world wants them to come and sing,
"I hope I die before I get old",
35 years after they first recorded it,
I think Pete Townshend is more than happy to do so
and have a bunch of fans screaming, "Pete".
-# Why don't you all f-fade away?
-# Talkin' 'bout my generation
# Don't try and dig what we all say... #
They were actually saying, "Hope I die before I get old".
# Not trying to cause a b-b-big sensation
# Talkin' 'bout my generation
# Talkin' 'bout my g-g-g-generation. #
Guys, you're old. What happened?
What happened started in the 50s, when an entirely new species emerged with its very own music.
They were called teenagers and their music was called rock and roll.
The jazz critic Brian Case once said
before teenagers, there was just this transition between boy and man
and he called it, Brian called it, junior man.
And there was suddenly a group called youth.
When you're between the age of 12 and 18,
that's where music in general is going to have its most powerful impact on you.
You're going through a rather treacherous path with puberty and post-adolescence.
The music that they latch onto, it represents who they are or who they want to be.
Pop music started a lot of things.
It's spurred that wonderful thing, which is the joy of every young person, of their
parents shouting up the stairs, "Turn that bloody racket down".
One of the social functions of rock has always been defiance of the older generation
and fencing off a particular kind of experience
that young people have for themselves.
Elvis certainly loved his mum, but...
his every gesture, his every note,
was all about social disenfranchisement and rebellion.
Here's this guy who wears weird clothes.
He wears pink and black, for heaven's sake, like a pimp.
I think what rock and roll invented was a teenager as an end in itself.
As a kind of final product.
As a flower of human life.
Some of these wild young flowers
were picked for rock and roll stardom
by a business now trading in youth.
You always heard these stories that people in English showbusiness were sort of discovered.
Someone was driving along in a car
and they saw this really good-looking kid on the side of the street and they said,
"Get in the car, I'll make you a star".
Well, none of my friends would have got in the car.
Unless they had really good sweets.
The man with the best sweets in town was impresario Larry Parnes,
who ran a stable of hopeful performers.
All you needed to gain entry was to be young, male and good looking.
Once in, Uncle Larry re-christened you for the new youth market.
Hello, Larry Parnes speaking.
Marty Wilde was Reggie Smith.
Vince Ego, Duffy Power, Billy Fury.
He wanted to change my name, would you believe, to Elmer Twitch.
Honest. And I said, "I don't think so, Mr Parnes."
Thank you too, mate.
Well, that just about wraps it up, doesn't it?
Georgie Fame, Lance Fortune, Dickie Pride,
and if you saw them when you were a young, as I did,
they were the only musicians that could play rock in the country, the people that played with them.
They were all sort of handsome, pure-skinned guys that all the girls screamed at.
It was very much aimed at the girls.
The music wasn't taken seriously and it wasn't meant to last.
It was only the soundtrack to growing pains,
temporary and disposable, just like the people who made it.
The newspapers gave rock and roll, as it were, "We give this six months".
A hit or a miss?
There they are. They've said undoubtedly that it's a...
All right. Onto the next.
Nobody ever thought that the pop thing ever had more than, like, a quick innings. Like a short...
"We'll have a look at it and then we'll get rid of them."
Do you think that you've got a good chance of being on stage still at 45, say?
I hope to. I don't know about my chances.
They probably thought, "This will last for a couple of years
"and then I'll go back on the coal".
I think Hank and I wanted desperately to have a career somehow.
Didn't know how.
We just wanted to be up there.
Hank was the first real, young,
talented, seriously talented, player
that came up with exciting, fresh stuff, solos and stuff,
and we were British, so we were the British rock and roll bit.
We started writing, Hank and I, at 16, which was really...
it was crap. But we were writing.
Like, I was 15 and I was in a band and we had a number one record
and I went to the bank and, you know, I thought, "I'll get a loan and maybe buy a car and everything".
"Well, what is your income for next year"?
"Income for...I don't know." "Next."
The grown-ups remained doubtful
that the Beatlemania gripping British youth in the early 60s
was a fever that would last.
# Twist and shout
# C'mon, c'mon, c'mon, baby... #
Even The Beatles accepted the idea of their own in-built obsolescence.
There's a great interview with the Beatles around 1964 or 1965
where Lennon and McCartney are saying, "Well..."
Obviously we can't keep playing the same sort of music until we're about 40
because when we're old men playing From Me To You,
nobody's going to want to know at all about that sort of thing.
"Another couple of years and then John and I will write songs for other people, younger people".
The new tyranny of youth meant that by 1963, The Shadows already seemed middle-aged.
By the time the Beatles came, we'd been going nearly five years then.
We were like the Rat Pack because we were in tuxedos, silk shoes,
frilly shirts, bow ties.
It was like Dean Martin on lead guitar, Frank singing.
Whereas all the new stuff, the Beatles with their hair
and the funny collars, they were cool, they were young.
We were like, we were the establishment.
When the Manfreds formed, I was the youngest one in the group.
Manfred said, as we were rehearsing
in his terrifyingly cold flat in south-east London...
.."Man, we're going to be bigger than The Shadows".
And I thought, "Well, of course we are.
"Because they're old."
And of course, they were two years older than me.
# And tonight, you would hear
# The saddest song of the year
# And you'd be mine once again come tomorrow. #
In 1965, The Who recorded one of the ultimate anthems to youth.
One that damned growing up and growing old.
The young went on the offensive, claiming their territory through guitar, bass and drums.
With me, it was like, bam, OK.
You either like it or you don't.
Rock was full impact music
for young people who wanted to go out, have a good time,
have sex, spend a bit of money,
create tribes for themselves, whether it was the mods and the rockers, you name it.
They wanted music that related to their condition
and was on the cutting edge
of the youth experience in whatever era they lived through.
The older generation were still recovering from a world war and just wanted some peace and some quiet.
To the younger generation, old age just seemed boring.
Our image of it was our image of our parents and so that's what we thought age was,
a father who was coming up for retirement,
certainly by the middle-late 60s they would be retired.
The extent of their activity would be going fishing, pottering in the garden.
So, it was very much a kind of a life that had folded down
and had stopped being in any way innovative
and in any way full of changes.
I think the whole point about the baby boom generation
was that we made it up from the beginning
and we've been making it up ever since
and we've been pushing those barriers forward
and refusing to accept the idea of being old.
# Hope I die before I get old. #
How long do you think audiences are going to go on accepting this music that hasn't got any quality?
Don't you think people are going to suddenly come to the conclusion...
What has got quality in the pop business?
What's got quality in anything? It's just a matter of standard.
In the pop business, we're lucky that there are no standards, you know.
In My Generation, you wrote, "I hope I die before I get old".
-Do you in fact mean this?
He wasn't saying that, "That is the case", he was saying that that is how young men feel.
He was reflecting a kind of new confidence in being young.
Ironically, the British beat boom of the mid-60s was, to a large extent, based on music that was already old.
Bands like The Stones, The Animals and Manfred Mann worshiped American blues of the 20s, 30s and 40s.
# I'm in a mood, baby... #
Their recording heroes were still alive, but were, by rock and roll's new standards, old men.
The first music I listened to was jazz
and then when I started to listen to blues, people were all mature.
Miles Davis was born in 1925. Charlie Parker, likewise.
Muddy Waters was born in 1914 or something.
I thought, "I don't care about young people, anyway."
Youth culture, youth movement,
youthful-isation of pop and all that,
has always been mostly complete shit.
It's just been about seizure and marketing of a folk movement
by the same old commercial and industrial forces that take anything
and try to just identify the most defenceless consumer.
# I'll satisfy your every need
# Every need... #
The narcissistic rebelliousness of British rock and roll,
young, gifted and white, gathered speed with The Rolling Stones.
# Let's spend the night together... #
While The Who were busy burying the older generation,
The Stones were singing about finding their satisfaction in sex.
-# Let's spend the night together.
-# Come on, baby. #
'Obviously, you know, rock and roll, especially when you're a young band,'
there's a lot of testosterone flying around.
It has all those great sexual connotations.
Largely, the rock and roll myth has been built up around that sexual thing as well, which is very true.
I'm meeting audiences today that probably,
even with the help of Viagra, they're not going to be into sex, but they still love the music.
# Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I'm 64? #
The arrival of album culture in the late 60s
proved that rock and roll was now thinking more in the long term.
It didn't sound disposable any more.
It was growing up, just like the people who made it.
The Beatles' Sgt Pepper's album dared to imagine what life would be like at 64,
completely unthinkable for My Generation.
People did think Sgt Pepper was going to last.
They might not have thought that Beatles For Sale was going to last,
cos that was still a pop record,
but I think by the time they'd spent £13,000 recording Sgt Pepper's,
they weren't expecting that to be toast by Christmas.
It went serious.
Quite a bit serious.
The 20-year-old experienced musicians
started to take things a bit seriously and think, "Where can we go, what's different?"
Of course, it dragged along the kids as well, but only of a certain age.
People were able to... They were growing up with these bands
and they were able to sort of
appreciate a bit more depth lyrically and musically.
# That her face at first just ghostly
# Turned a whiter shade of pale. #
I always did think that "Somebody is going to be listening to this
"in five years' time", you know, ten years' time.
If rock and roll was attempting to grow up, the grown ups weren't having it.
They're response to this more mature form of musical expression was just as parental.
These new, better educated kids on the block should still be seen but not heard.
Daddy had spoken.
I remember seeing the Pink Floyd when Syd Barrett was in the group being interviewed.
It was the only televised interview with Syd Barrett, in fact,
and Roger Waters is sitting next to him
and here's some crusty old kind of Swiss,
bad classical composer saying, "Well, it's all too loud. It's all too...I can't...".
For me, frankly, it's too loud. I just can't bear it.
I happen to have grown up in the string quartet, which is a bit softer.
So, why has it got to be so loud?
Just being totally condescending and they're sitting there
and they're trying to defend themselves at the same time.
I mean, everybody listens. We don't need it very loud to be able to hear it.
Some of it is very quiet, in fact. Personally, I like quiet music just as much as loud music.
The end of the 60s saw the beginning of the rock and roll casualty list.
The death of Brian Jones in 1969 seemed to crystallise a live fast, die young attitude,
and brought a new reality to, "Hope I die before I get old."
There has long been in human culture the tradition of sacrificing the young men.
It's a recurring theme.
Mozart, Jesus and Charlie Parker all died in their mid-thirties.
If you really want to be a rock star, die young, because then you've fulfilled your role.
Your only role was to be young.
Yeah, I was thinking of writing a song called 27 Forever
cos Jimi died when he was 27, Janis and Jim Morrison, you know.
that will be the chorus,
# 27 forever! #
I tried living fast and dying young and it just didn't work.
The closest I got to death was on LSD and I realised it was the drug.
It wasn't real.
I was only living for the moment, that's for sure.
And, in fact, I had the youth ideology. I didn't expect to live long.
I didn't even learn to do anything properly. I couldn't see the point,
since I had no intention of living long enough to need to know anything very much.
The 1960s were a vertiginously steep learning curve for me. And I didn't get anything right.
In a way, I suppose people expected casualties at that point
because it still was a risky business,
even if you were only a risk to yourself.
When Syd Barrett had his LSD-induced breakdown, there hadn't been any LSD-induced breakdowns.
Even Jimi Hendrix or Jim Morrison, with all those people,
I feel like their demise was part of their trajectory.
They weren't cut off.
Basically, my youth was...
I consider it a failure as an event in itself.
I had to live longer to get anything done.
That's all I know. I had to live this long
in order to just to get every third or fourth track on every third or fourth record I make spot on.
# You'll be different in the spring
# I know you're a seasonal beast
# Like the star fish that drift in with the tide
# With the tide
# So until your blood runs
# To meet the next full moon
# Your madness fits in nicely
# With my own, with my own
# Your lunacy fits neatly with my own. #
It's perfectly accepted for everyone, from poets to politicians, that they mature as they get older.
This is expected.
Especially in really important things like wine and brandy and...serious stuff.
The Stones themselves seemed determined to mature.
After the death of Brian Jones, they picked themselves up and went back on the road.
For the band, it wasn't over yet.
The Stones had been in serious decline at least three or four times,
where, musically, they've been at a dead end
and I don't know if it's Jagger or Richards or whoever,
but someone has picked them up by the scruff
and said, "OK, now we're going to be this."
# Oh, get down brown sugar
# Just like a young girl should
# Oh, get down, get down, brown sugar
# How come, how come, how come... #
If The Stones had discovered the secret of survival, at least for now, The Beatles didn't.
As if to prove that longevity in rock and roll was still a struggle
for a group of young men growing up together, they split in 1970.
You know, I was a kid, I was a young kid
and I saw the Beatles go to London
and one meets Jane Asher and one meets Patti Boyd
and then they stop hanging around together
because you probably don't want to hang around with Ringo
when you've got Patti Boyd or Jane Asher waiting, you know what I mean?
So, I was there. They hung out together, seriously.
They'd be in the dressing room behind at Top of the Pops,
writing Paperback Writer, two of them, you know, two lads,
and bit by bit they were separated by their careers and the money
and they moved to another city, they weren't exposed to the same... You see it all the time.
You know, people make it and they leave behind what it was that made them what they are.
I mean, Paul McCartney, it was a very gentle slope down, if you like.
Lennon never really recovered from Primal Therapy.
Even Harrison, who had been desperate to get out of the Beatles,
once there were no Beatles to compete against, somehow,
didn't seem to have anything to compete with.
The Fab Four would go on to enjoy successful solo careers for many years to come.
But would the surge of creativity that fed them in their youth
prove more elusive for them and their generation as they grew older?
Mick Jagger and Pete Townshend and Paul McCartney can go play arenas 40 years after they first had hits.
But...they ain't writing good songs. You know.
The outpouring of creativity that creates this career
is a factor of youth.
I don't think it's depressing to admit
that you're probably going to do your best stuff
by the time you're 30 as a musician.
I think most people get it right in their first and second albums.
# Something tells me I'm into something good
It's rare that beyond that, people don't just do another version of the same stuff.
# Something good Oh yeah, something good... #
You don't need the hardening of the synapse to be a great musician,
you know, or to write a good song.
No performer of the early 70s demonstrated rock and roll's
reliance on youthful invention and raw power more than Iggy Pop.
As I'm older,
I don't think I can write a rock song like I used to.
I can sing it good.
I can sing one of my own songs better than anybody else,
but to write a new one, it is hard to get them that good
because you don't have the animal energy to work with.
You don't have the same amount of animal energy.
I find. I'm being honest.
But not all rock and roll of the early 70s was an expression
of sexual energy and youthful physicality.
By now, prog rock was plundering the classical music collections
so beloved of its middle class parents
as proof of its intention to last,
while its perpetrators contemplated careers beyond the age of 30.
I remember when I started in the 60s and doing things.
People said, "What are you going to do when you're in your 20s?"
I said, "Don't know".
And then when you're still doing it in your 20s, they say,
"What are you going to do in your 30s"? I said, "I don't know".
Then you find you're in your 30s and people say, "What are you going to do in your 40s? You go,
"There's a reasonable chance I could still be doing this".
As a result, performers found themselves living with their songs and growing into their material.
I go through stages where there's certain songs
that it's, "Oh, no, I cant do that again".
And then, I've been doing it so long, it goes around in a circle
and it comes back into fashion again, you know.
We Got To Get Out Of This Place has been, like, so successful at different times and spaces.
It was the most successful song that troops requested constantly for 10 years in Vietnam.
# We got to get out of this place, baby
# If it's the last thing we ever do... #
And then it faded away and went away again.
And then Iraq, all the troops requested We Got To Get Out Of This Place.
# We got to get out of this place... #
It's a written in the contract. "We want him to come down here
"but he's got to sing We Got To Get Out Of This Place".
It's written in the contract. It's weird.
And there's a wonderful, wonderful version by Joni Mitchell
of a song that she did when she was young, Both Sides Now.
It's an eye wateringly wonderful song.
# Bows and flows of angel hair
# And ice cream castles in the air... #
And she sang it began in her 50s, I think about an octave lower, with an orchestra.
# I've looked at clouds that way
# But now they only block the sun... #
It's so moving because you think it's taken her three decades
and now she understands the song she wrote when she was in her youth.
# So many things I would have done
# But clouds got in my way
# I've looked at clouds from both sides now
# From up and down and still somehow
# It's cloud illusions I recall
# I really don't know clouds
# At all. #
In 1976, before the 60s generation had a chance to mature,
they were rudely thrust aside by punk.
Either you make a punk record or we don't know what to do.
You have to just pack up, go, go and do something else.
It was a three-chord reign of terror. The ultimate Oedipal act,
snarling, spitting and clawing its way to the stage.
It was best to just keep a low profile for a while.
These weren't kids of the optimistic 60s, but a new, young generation who felt abandoned.
Everyone was in their way, and, as always, no-one understood them.
-I know what I would do with them.
-What would you do with them?
-Give them a bloody good hiding.
I went to the Roxy Club when I was about 16,
which was the big punk club, and there was a band on called Eater.
I think the average age of them was 14.
So, yeah, there was a definite feeling that it was a time for young people.
Punk represented the kind of reckless joy
that I remembered that we had at that age, when we were young.
That recklessness of youth, I think, is a great, valuable contribution of new youth culture.
You think, "Blimey, I've forgotten to be that brave."
When punk came along, I felt too old.
I thought, I can't pretend the Beatles never happened.
I don't think music began with Siouxsie and the Banshees.
All of the main people in punk, John Lydon, The Sex Pistols,
The Clash, The Damned, they had a big thing for the Rolling Stones.
Joe Strummer, huge fan of the Stones.
The Who, all those groups, they loved them.
It was just a pose on their part to say, you know, they're passed it.
# No Elvis, Beatles or the Rolling Stones... #
One of the problems is, when you're young, you're part of that group.
You run things.
It's very easy to forget that coming up underneath is the next lot and then one day, you sort of, like,
fall of the end of the cliff and drop down and they take over
and when you look back up at the cliff, you think,
"Oh, shit, is this what's going on"? What happens is,
they'll just pelt stuff down. They'll just drop rocks on you.
# No more heroes any more No more heroes any more... #
I suppose it was an easy target in those big punk rock groups.
They just were, because, if you had no money and you were playing in your local pub,
you weren't going to be wearing a great big cape and have 44 keyboards, of course.
Now you see punks who are 40 years old, plus,
and time is a great leveller and you look at these guys
who've still got the sort of things through their nose and stuff
but, you know, time has made them more mature
and given them some perspective on who they are as human beings.
I sort of like that. I think that's nice.
I like to see old punks. It warms my heart.
This should've been our next single, but they wouldn't play it on the radio.
It's called Too Much, Too Young.
# You done too much, much too young
# You're married with a kid When you could be having fun with me
# Oh, no, no gimme no more pickni. #
The bands of the post-punk era, though less dismissive of the past,
still believed that rock and pop music were part of an essentially young experience.
Only now, that experience was of Thatcher's Britain,
one that the older generation of established bands seemed to ignore.
When I was 16, my favourite act was Elvis Costello,
and you're just talking about five years' difference.
It's big when you're young.
So he seemed like an old geezer to me
and I don't think that it was so much that you were looking for someone who had a similar age,
I think you were looking for someone that could speak for you, really.
When you're 14, you do think someone who is 28 is really old, and certainly 30 is way past it.
I think I remember saying at the time is, even when I wrote Baggy Trousers when I was probably about 19, saying,
"I will never sing this song when I'm 30, because I'll be too old".
# The headmaster's had enough today
# All the kids have gone away Gone to fight with next door's school
# Every term, that is the rule
# Sits alone and bends his cane Same old backsides again
# All the small ones tell tall tales
# Walking home and squashing snails... #
But no, the feeling was that if you were over 25,
you were too old to be in a band, certainly when I started.
# Oh what fun we had But at the time it seemed so bad
# Trying different ways to make a difference to the days... #
I do believe I'm a better act older than I was younger.
That doesn't mean to say that you haven't already written the best song you're going to write,
but I think there's a greater depth to being a performer than just the writing part.
# All I need was the love you gave
# All I needed for another day
# And all I ever knew
# Only you. #
It's having a greater understanding of emotion, of sex,
of all of those things
that allow you to put a message across, or to communicate.
To communicate, I think, you know. I've become a better communicator.
In the early '80s, The Stones were back, again, having been absent from the stage for six years
while punk and its aftermath had been the centre of attention.
They were proving that they were in for the long haul.
No-one was going to call, "Time, gentlemen, please" on them.
# Under my thumb
# There's a woman
# Who once had me down... #
Knocking on 40. How old are you now?
I'm 38, so I'm not 40.
Er, I think I could do this particular kind of physical show
for about another...say five years.
So, I said to myself last year,
I figure I can only do it for five years, this kind of show.
After that it's going to look like Barry Manilow,
or, I can still sing, but you know, I can't do all this other nonsense.
How would you feel if it suddenly all started to fade
and suddenly they'd had enough?
It doesn't happen like that, does it?
It sort of slowly, slowly they sink into oblivion.
It doesn't all stop and no-one comes, you know what I mean?
But I can understand your fears for me, but still,
you know, we'll soldier on, you know?
Thank you. Good evening. It's so nice to be back.
In July 1985 the benefits of soldiering on
reached unexpected and unprecedented heights with Live Aid.
The international event sometimes looked like a rock and roll Dads Army
as acts like Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan, The Who
and The Beach Boys joined pop stars of the '80s on stage.
Watched by more than 400 million viewers in 60 countries,
this was the rock and roll survivors' finest hour.
Suddenly, being 40 no longer meant being uncool.
These were the masters, the legends,
the acts deemed capable of feeding the world.
Now some years ago within spitting distance of the stadium,
four Londoners formed a band to speak for their generation.
They eventually spoke for two. Now they sing to save a third.
Please welcome The Who!
The previous establishment, did come back in.
They did poke their heads above the parapet again.
And, of course, it was ideal for anybody that was still capable
of playing and singing from an older school.
What was your... Your opposition now was the New Romantics.
I mean, easy job.
I have the pleasure of introducing to you a group that's been together for 25 years.
A lot of young people heard some bands for the first time,
some older bands, and went, "These are fantastic!"
And then the most hated people in their musical vocabulary, their parents, said,
"We love them, too."
I'd like to welcome Alison Moyet!
I was picked up in a helicopter with Bono and David Bowie, which was, like, you know.
When I get out of the helicopter I've got Roger Daltrey waving at me
and Freddie Mercury blowing me kisses and it's like, these are, you know, bona fide stars.
I mean, these are the real deal, do you know what I mean?
And, um, so that was kind of a, blew me away, but maybe all it does,
putting those people back on the stage again,
is just reminding people that they really loved those acts.
# Someone still loves you. #
There were, of, course, no rules yet in place for how the older generation of rockers should behave.
How to grow old gracefully or disgracefully,
especially given their essentially youthful, often rebellious back catalogue.
The notion that an artist would be unsettled,
or even disturbed by the fact that having been a rebel in his youth
that he finds himself re-enacting it 10, 20, 30, 40 years thereafter
is, you know, an intellectual critic's construct that has no meaning in real life.
Real life happens in a series of nanoseconds that get strung out, you know, one after the other.
And moment by moment by moment...
people like to survive.
I mean, did these guys, you know, like their fathers, my father as well,
spend six years of the Second World War in a foxhole, you know, dodging bullets?
I mean, now that's something to survive, OK?
Taking a lot of drugs and lying on a ratty old mattress,
it's a lot easier to survive that.
# I can see it in your eyes Take one look and die. #
And survive they did, some despite the booze, the drugs
and a life spent almost entirely on the road. That's why we love them.
Motorhead's Lemmy may not have had to dodge bullets,
but by any reasonable standards he should be dead.
I've been on the road now, man and boy, for almost three years. I'm actually only 17.
I mean there's some days you don't feel like it as much as others,
but I'm sure that's much the same in plumbing, you know?
Some days you don't feel like standing up to your arse in cold water, you know?
Do you think it's a bit weird though?
There was all that, you know, live fast, die young thing in rock music earlier on.
A lot of them did, you know. It's fair enough. I didn't think of much of a plan really.
You know, I thought live fast, keep going. Much more fun.
My hair is not having a good day already.
I dye my hair. I don't understand why people keep their hair grey.
You're all right. Look at the job you're in. You're not in my job,
you know what I mean? I'm talking about people in my job.
There are people that get on stage and it looks like, I don't know,
Rip Van Winkle times four, you know?
But the lifestyle isn't a great one for surviving.
-It depends on how you approach it.
-How have you approached it?
From the side, usually.
On tiptoe, so it doesn't know you're there
and then you get your hands round the throat.
I, you know, I just, you have to be careful about what's offered,
you know? You can't do it all cos it'll kill you.
But, as I say, some people... are in the basket weavers hotel and some of us aren't, you know?
Do you think in the '60s people just thought, well, we don't care cos we don't want to get old anyway?
There was a sense of that, but then again,
you don't know if you want to get old until you get almost old.
That's when you decide on that one. "Oh, it doesn't look so bad now!"
-How is it possible to do what you do?
-How is it possible to stop?
It's what I am, you know? It's what I am, it's not what I do any more.
A long time ago it became what I am.
What had begun with Live Aid in the '80s continued into the '90s with projects like War Child.
Performers from three generations of rock and roll, Paul McCartney, Paul Weller and Noel Gallagher,
came together to record Come Together in the new spirit of multi-generational tolerance.
It was no longer a case of "my generation", but "your generation, too".
# Come together
# Right now
# Over me.
# Over me
# Over me. #
It wasn't only on stage that this spirit was at work.
Audiences for the music also began to span generations.
Every major band I know that reformed
said that if they had a pound for every time someone came along
and said, "There's two generations of the family here"
or "Three generations. There's the grandchildren, my kids and the wife and I."
And it's the only thing they've got in common. It's the only thing that links them together.
They're as old as your parents, but they don't exactly look or behave like them.
Rock and roll survivors can't act their age.
It just wouldn't work.
# Now last year I was 21
# I didn't have a lot of fun
# Now I'm going to be 22
# Well I say oh, my and boo-hoo
# Now I'm going to be 22
# Oh my, boo-hoo. #
It's just, this has been the most comfortable and free part of my life
and I suppose this is the only part of my life
in which I've attained possession of all the cliches
that young rock stars are supposed to have.
Beautiful sexy chick, long legs, check.
A fantastic hot convertible car, check.
House in the country, check.
Place in the islands, check.
Really good band, check. Fans, check.
So, you know, so what if my knee hurts?
I don't give a fuck! I don't care.
It's the travelling that's the bad part, you know, especially today.
But the thing is is that you put up with that
and you make sure you've got a good book
and you do your homework for the next gig
and you get up and walk around and moan and groan about your breaking back
and then when you get off and take a pill, fall asleep and wake up and you're in Budapest!
Hey-hey, you know. You get over it.
You're just swept along with it, you know,
until you either fry or sometimes die.
# I love you only
# I never have thought about any other woman
# Any other woman no... #
I don't practise. I don't rehearse.
# Some foolish thing Some simple thing I've done, girl!
I'm not a home going, "La, da, de, da, da", you know.
# Oh, please don't let me be misunderstood... #
My voice is right there when I call it up,
-never, ever not
We do think it's kind of peculiar that Mick Jagger
still snakes across the stage doing that wriggly hip dance.
You then, you look at the body and then you look at the face
and there's a kind of moment of disconnect.
But there's also a sort of, "Wow, gosh, well, that's great", you know.
He's 67 and he's still able to do that.
I think Mick Jagger is a better performer nowadays than he was in the '70s.
He goes out there and he really pulls out the stops.
He's an amazing performer,
and it's the same with Iggy. I mean, you're dealing with great performers.
You're dealing with some of the greatest performers of the 20th century.
It's one of those things that when you think about it a lot,
the more you think about it actually the odder it gets
that you're singing Let's Spend The Night Together and you're 67.
There's an uncomfortableness, I suppose, that people feel
when they think that somebody is, er, acting,
or their act asks you to pretend that they're still young.
I mean, there's nobody in the world that us old lefties admire more than Arthur Scargill,
but as his personal advisers we would have said, "Ditch the haircut."
And in the same way I think that Arthur Scargill and Mick Jagger have a similar,
create a similar slightly embarrassing frisson.
# I'll see you in my dreams
# Hold you in my dreams... #
I'll do anything that is actually applicable to a 68 year-old bloke
cos I've seen bands go out there and they just think they are teenagers.
They just go out performing teenage songs and they're old men
and I think it's undignified, you know?
Know what I mean? How can you do that?
How can you wear leather trousers when you're incontinent?
You can't get them off quick enough.
Especially when the wigs are all doing that!
# ..Were mine
# Tender eyes that shine... #
One particular song of mine that I don't perform called That's What Love Will Do.
It's all about a bloke sitting up the back row of the pictures with his 18 year-old bird.
I keep reminding myself I haven't been up the back row of the pictures
with an 18-year-old bird since I was, what? 18.
I think as you get older, you should be reflecting, you know,
just as a film-maker would reflect or a poet would reflect or a novelist would reflect, your age.
You should be, I think.
# Well come and do your worst, boy That's the way, that's the way
# Hit me where it hurts, boy That's the way, that's the way
# Come and do worst, boy That's the way, that's the way
# But I'll never give it up I'll never give it up... #
I write more songs about death, about losing friends.
I mean, you just can't help it. It's, er, death isn't that far ahead, you know?
It's closer than looking back the other way at this point.
# Hey, hey, hey, hey. #
While many acts soldiered on regardless,
others had slipped from view into semi-retirement.
But the new millennium witnessed the entirely new phenomena of the revival and the comeback.
Leonard Cohen, now in his 70s, had already decided to stop recording and performing altogether.
At least, that was his plan.
# Well he talks like this You don't know what he's after
# When he speaks like this you don't know what he's after... #
He goes to a Buddhist monastery
and retires from the world. He's never going to sing.
# Beneath the bridge that they are building on some endless river... #
While he's in the monastery, his manager steals all his money and he comes out and he's broke!
And, "What am I going to do?"
"You've got to go on the road, Leonard. That's what you've got to do."
-And now he turns up, he loves it.
# You can hear the birds go by You can spend the night beside her
# And you know she's half crazy
# That's why you want to be there
# And she feeds you tea and oranges
# That come all the way from China... #
He's making more money than God.
He's filling the O2 Arena for a week, or whatever it is,
and the Albert Hall for three nights and going and doing the same thing all over the world.
# You've always been her lover. #
And you can just tell by looking at this he's like a pig in shit!
He's just loving it.
It's like, "Why didn't anybody tell me I could have fun doing this?"
Audiences who had grown up and grown old with their heroes wanted them back.
Age had invested their favourite bands with a new authenticity.
Performers couldn't believe their luck.
Even Brian Wilson returned from the wilderness to be a Beach Boy once again.
# And God only knows what I'd be without you. #
Here's one called God Only Knows.
It was like the zeitgeist, understood.
"Ah, OK. That's how you do it."
You get the personality of the most important person who wrote the songs, who did the singing.
You put them in front. You've got a bunch of young virtuosi
to fill in the rest of the parts.
You don't worry about trying to get the rhythm guitar player out of rehab.
You just, you know, get the best young kids you can
and go out there and do it exactly the way it was on the record.
# The world could show nothing to me... #
You've got to have been away for quite a bit.
Have not done particularly much
and at the same time have a lot of myth around you.
Did he have psychedelic drugs and went off his head?
Did he write all that stuff?
Did he do it all himself? So, you know, there's a great big mystery surrounding the man.
He looked like Brian Wilson in some strange way.
Brian looked like a deer in the headlights, but he did everything and he was great.
A lot of the people that are of my age group that go to see these groups,
they want to be transported back to a time when they were young.
They want that. I could give a toss about being young.
Being young just got me into trouble.
The struggles of youth, you know. I mean, they're overrated.
This whole talk of youth, youth, youth, it's overrated.
Being a young just isn't that hot any more.
That's what it is.
# Cos when you're 15
# And somebody tells you they love you
# You're going to believe them... #
But the struggles of youth still find their most perfect expression in music.
The pop business is now younger than ever.
Kids are singing to kids again,
and the market has refocussed its attentions on young girls as its main consumers.
# Baby, no
# Baby, baby, baby, oh... #
It's a wrinkle-free Disneyfied world populated by beautiful performers.
Like their predecessors,
they're probably thinking that they won't be singing
about the problems of being 15 when they're 64.
But stranger things have already happened.
# Thought you'd always be mine. #
A hit or a miss?
There they are. They've said undoubtedly it's a...
All right. On to the next.
When McCartney, Dylan and The Stones
and Paul Simon and Crosby, Stills and Nash are unable to play any more,
when that generation goes, will classic rock continue, or will that be the end of it?
Or will people be sitting around in, you know, aquatic shopping malls
in 200 years time listening to Comfortably Numb?
I mean it's just, I don't know. Wait and see.
I haven't seen my birth certificate in years.
Get a life! Get swiftcovered.
Rock and roll is now revelling in a long life.
What was about risk and youth is now about enjoying a grand old age.
It's about longevity, survival, nostalgia and refusing to grow up, give up or shut up.
You ain't playing soccer for Manchester United when you're 64,
but you can play the stadiums when you're 64 in a rock band.
You really can.
Hank and I are on the way to 69.
And every night we're laughing, I'm looking across at Hank and thinking,
"I've been playing with him for 52 years. Since I was, you know."
You're looking across and he's laughing and me and we're doing a solo or something
and we're bouncing off each other and I think, "This is unbelievable, this is."
# Move it, move it, move it Move it, move it, move it
# Move it, move it, move it. #
I would never have quit.
That's the only attitude that's going to work,
and for a real artist it's that you're just not going to do anything else.
You're just not.
Why stop now when I have the best band that I've had in a long time?
That's my job, innit?
It's a job.
I signed up for it, I've got to do it, you know?
One, two, three, four.
I would like to live to a ripe old age because, er,
I've already said to my missus that after I've been burnt and slung somewhere
that if there's a gravestone anywhere it just has to read, "This isn't fair, I've not finished yet."
# Did your dreams die young?
# Were they too hard work? #
I've got about three years to go before I become a living legend.
They give you a special pass for the buses and things.
But suddenly your fee doubles and, um...
and people start noticing all that work you've been doing for years.
# Non, rien de rien... #
There was this movie came out just recently about Edith Piaf
and that put me on fire again and made me realise, like her,
please let me get to the stage just one more time!
And if you fuckers out there, if you've come to see me die,
well, it's not going to be tonight!
# Forever young
# Forever young
# May you stay
# Forever young. #
Documentary which looks at how rock 'n' roll has had to deal with the unthinkable - namely growing up and growing old, from its roots in the 50s as a music made by young people for young people to the 21st-century phenomena of the revival and the comeback.
Despite the mantra of 'live fast, die young', Britain's first rock 'n' roll generations are now enjoying old age. What was once about youth and taking risks is now about longevity, survival, nostalgia and refusing to grow up, give up or shut up. But what happens when the music refuses to die and its performers refuse to leave the stage? What happens when rock's youthful rebelliousness is delivered wrapped in wrinkles?
Featuring the late Lemmy, Iggy Pop, Peter Noone, Rick Wakeman, Paul Jones, Richard Thompson, Suggs, Eric Burdon, Bruce Welch, Robert Wyatt, Gary Brooker, Joe Brown, Chris Dreja of the Yardbirds, Alison Moyet, Robyn Hitchcock, writers Rosie Boycott and Nick Kent and producer Joe Boyd.