81-Year-Old Man Walks into a Guitar Shop & Starts Playing a Sublime Solo: Ignore the Talents of the Elderly at Your Own Peril

Last spring, I caught a Who concert in Oakland, California, on what happened to be songwriter/guitarist Pete Townshend’s 71st birthday. Five songs into their set, the band played “My Generation”–yes, the song best known for the line “I hope I die before I get old”–and I couldn’t help but think: Townshend’s playing with more inspiration now than when I first saw The Who play in 1982. Biologically, he’s supposed to be over the hill. Musically, he’s still playing a very fine rock guitar.

The same thought crossed my mind at Desert Trip, the October mega concert held in Indio, California. Featuring The Rolling Stones, The Who (again), Paul McCartney, Neil Young and Roger Waters–in short, musicians all over the age of 70–Desert Trip became more colloquially known as “Oldchella.”

Even, Mick Jagger called it “the come and see us before we die tour.” And yet. And yet. Despite the jokes, they’re all still playing with verve, putting on tight, rousing shows. (I’ll admit that Bob Dylan is the notable exception.)

So what’s the takeaway? We can’t stop the clock. Eventually, we get old. Nothing we can do about that. But if you’ve got your health, if you’ve got the desire, if you’ve spent decades refining your craft, then there’s no reason you can’t still do great work. That applies to musicians. (Witness 81-year-old Bob Wood above). It also applies to other parts of life, including our professional lives. Our culture hastily writes off the talents and accumulated experience of an entire generation of people. But stop for a second. Watch the video above and extrapolate it to other parts of life. Then think about all that gets needlessly lost.

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Comments (7)
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  • Mike says:

    Sitting in arthritis country (Sweden) watching with awe.
    This dude is more nimble than most 18 year old guys.
    Do they have a studio around that you can get him into?

    All the best from the cold.

  • Ray Chagnon says:

    That is a song called Besame Mucho…covered by the likes of Dean Martin to the early Beatles

  • Joao says:

    He’s performing Besame Mucho.For those who did not identify the song.

  • Mazzy says:

    Great article. Prejudice is rife when it comes to older people unfortunately. They are pensioners, elderly, etc and thus labelled are written off. However talents abound in this generation. I know more than one “pensioner” who plays amazing rock guitar, writes and sings with startling talent, is a tech wizard. We are all Aging but we’ve don’t feel any different inside.

  • Nadanada Nadadamnthing says:

    Here’s the original. Never mind the bit about the “grandfather walking into the guitar store” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4CAuLeSmcR8

  • Maxim Gurnemanz says:

    I do hope this fellow teaches.

  • Leslie says:

    Beautiful guitar player. I don’t know why people are surprised when an elder can do something like this. As if they are a different species or something. If you can play like that when you’re young, you’ll play like that when you’re old. All our favorite musicians will be 80 something one day and most likely will still be able to bust it out in a big way. Why does this blow our minds? As if an elder has no talent? We forget that elders we once babies, toddlers, teens, adults just like the regular life span of a human and whatever talent a person cultivates during their lifetime will be there throughout the ages.

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