Classic rock lives on
In 2014, Walt Hickey, writing for the website FiveThirtyEight, monitored 25 classic rock stations from around the country for a week. Hickey found that the genre was “more than just music from a certain era, and that it changes depending on where you live.”
Classic rock stations in Boston loved the Allman Brothers, while New York played more Billy Joel songs. Some stations include '90s bands, such as Pearl Jam, Green Day, and Metallica.
But Hickey found that 57 percent of the artists played on classic rock radio were from 1973-82. Next week the region will be invaded by an all-star lineup of classic rockers from that era:
• Earth, Wind & Fire, Aug. 10, Pittsburgh's PPG Paints Arena
• Foreigner with Cheap Trick, Aug. 12, KeyBank Pavilion in Burgettstown
• Ann Wilson of Heart, Aug, 15, Greensburg's Palace Theatre
• Yes, Aug. 16, Palace Theatre
Clearly there is an appetite for classic rock. According to Pollstar, of the Top 10 grossing tours in 2016, four were classic rock acts: Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band (No. 1), Guns N' Roses (No. 4), Paul McCartney (No. 7) and the Rolling Stones (No. 9). Two other acts, Garth Brooks (No. 8) and Celine Dion (No. 10), aren't classic rock but appeal to the same demographics: those over 40 with disposable income.
The performers in these bands, however, are mostly in their 60s. In 10 years, some — or maybe most — of these acts will not be on the road.
“It's even more jarring to realize that the pillars of an industry for decades (decades!) are going to disappear sooner rather than later,” wrote Annie Zaleski for Salon. “This isn't a sign that rock ‘n' roll is on the verge of dying — something quite obviously untrue — but it is an interesting trend, especially since classic rock has never been more popular as a radio format, even among younger listeners. The continued popularity of live classic rock is due in part to multiple generations enjoying this music together.”
Perhaps the lesson for classic rock fans is, simply, see 'em while you can.