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Looking through this month’s guide to some of the music festivals and cultural events taking place in Catalonia this summer (pages 20-35), I got to thinking about the 27 Club. That is that group of artists who all died aged 27, such as Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain and Amy Winehouse, and the list goes on. While research has shown there is statistically no basis to the perceived trend of young rockers popping their clogs all at the same age, it nevertheless strikes one as an amazing coincidence.
For all I know, there is probably no truth either to the suggestion that by dying young (and often in tragic circumstances) their musical achievements have been overblown. If he had lived, what would Hendrix have gone on to achieve with his guitar, or had he already given us everything he had to give? What about that friend of mine who treasures the memory of seeing Hendrix live on the Isle of Wight in 1970? Has the fact that he was one of the few to actually see the rock genius performing on stage distorted his memory of how good the performance was? Perhaps, but of course there is absolutely no way of knowing at this point.
At the other end of the spectrum, we have those artists who seem to go on forever. Look no further than some of the festivals in the pages of this magazine to see such familiar names as Human League, Supertramp’s Roger Hodgson, and New Order. Human League were set up (not born, formed) in 1977, Supertramp go back even further to 1969, and can New Order any longer call themselves ’new’ seeing as they got together in 1980? Elton John is currently on his huge retirement tour, which takes in 300 dates, but the likes of Sting (aged 67) and Mick Jagger (75) are still going strong.
The first thing that comes to my mind when I think about these ’golden oldies’ is why they haven’t retired yet, as most of them have made a fortune during their long successful careers. While the answer from some of them would no doubt be that being rich costs a lot of money, and short of selling up and moving to a bungalow, they have to keep working to pay for their extravagant lifestyles.
However, perhaps a more generous explanation might just be that they are extremely creative people with a wealth of experience who still feel they have something to offer. And perhaps they do, perhaps it’s not just a case of cashing in. Well, there’s only one way to find out – by booking a ticket for one of the many music festivals featuring the veterans of the music world this summer.