When Do You Know That It’s Time…..To Hang Up Your Rock And Roll Shoes?

April 1, 2007


There is nothing that destroys a memory faster than a performance by a favorite artist from the past that sucks! In the last 2 weeks I’ve seen Diana Ross embarrass herself on “American Idol”, on PBS’ “The British Beat”, I saw Wayne Fontana, as well as Peter and Gordon, reduced to barroom band versions of their former selves! On, “Dancin’ With The Stars”, Dionne Warwick sang “Do You Know The Way To San Jose?”, with odd notes replacing Burt Bacharach’s brilliant melody, that she was barely able to hit!

And isn’t it time that Madonna go sit down? She’s like a old drunken Aunt at a reunion who won’t shut up! It’s true that age diminishes our capacities and no one ever wants to admit they’re over the hill, but I certainly don’t want to watch one of my faves go over the hill…right before my eyes!

I’ll never forget seeing Elvis Presley for the first time on his final tour, at the Forum in L.A. His incredible voice was mostly intact, but his spirit and ability to inspire had all but disappeared. Now, 30 years later, when I think of the King of Rock and Roll I don’t remember him as he was during his prime when he recorded, “Heartbreak Hotel” or “All Shook Up”, but as a parody of what he once was and represented. Sometimes I wish I never saw that show.

There are only a handful of singers whose current performances equal any of their past triumphs, Aretha Franklyn, Elton John, Gladys Knight, Tony Orlando, Brian Wilson…

I wonder if any of my singles or albums on Liberty, Coed, Scepter, Columbia, Diamond, Cameo, Smash, Mercury, Fontana, Decca, Big Tree, United Artists, Pye, Roulette, or Casablanca had become hits, would I be bitching like this or be would I be putting on my make-up for my next “Oldies” show? Shit…I’d probably be out there like a mother fucker, squeezing out my last 15 minutes of fame…or at least adopting a baby in Africa, just like everybody else!

When do you know that it’s time…to hang up your Rock and Roll shoes?

Copyright 2007 by Artie Wayne

Have you seen writer and director Sebastian Prooth’s brilliant video of Alan O’Day’s updated classic,”Rock and Roll Heaven 2007 ” ( O’Day/ Stevenson )? It’s a tribute to our fallen heroes who’ve hung up their Rock and Roll shoes…forever! https://artiewayne.wordpress.com/2006/08/20/rock-and-roll-heaven/

Photo at top of Artie Wayne on Liberty Records 1963 by James Kreigsman

Artie Wayne discography http://artiewayne.com

To reach Sebastian Prooth http://sebrt.com

For Alan O’Day http://alanoday.com

10 Responses to “When Do You Know That It’s Time…..To Hang Up Your Rock And Roll Shoes?”

  1. Andrew C. Jones Says:

    Here’s something I once read about The Cars, the great early-’80s band. Their home town – Boston, I think – had always hugely supportive of the band, and their Boston concerts always drew huge audiences. Then one day, after what turned out to be their last tour, they did a special concert for their hometown … and less than half the tickets sold, and even less actually showed up! When your own hometown crowd doesn’t even show up for your concerts, it’s time to pack it in, friend – and The Cars did, shortly thereafter.

    And, Artie, just be glad you didn’t hear some low-bdget compilations of ’60s acts remaking their hits, that were given me by a well-meaning relative. Some of these once-great singers and musicians were SO out of it, it almost made me cry.

  2. Alanna Says:

    I have to disagree about Madonna. I love her, and really liked Confessions. I think she’s great and still has a while before she needs to hang up her riding crop and top hat.

  3. russell gibson Says:

    Artie its hard to say no. our feet hurt our backs
    hurt but we still try to stand up baby I myself am
    reduced to humming but man can I hum now if I can get up out of this bed im going out jogging and humming like hell Love You Baby…..

  4. Brian Quinn Says:

    Elvis was The Greatest Artist of All-Time and even at the end, when he should not have been doing concerts, his voice and charisma outshone everything else.

    When Elvis returned to doing live concerts in 1969 he was even better than he was in the 1950’s having added some maturity to his act. Elvis in Vegas and on tour in the early seventies was fantastic. There has never been a performer like him and chances are there never will.

  5. Country Paul Says:

    Some classic artists still have it, some don’t. I think it takes an adult to recognize the differences in themselves. I saw Chuck Berry one month this side of 80 years old; he looked great and his voice still had its range, but did an embarrassing show – off key, out of time, crushingly embarrasing. Jerry Lee Lewis was on the same bill; diminished, to be sure, but still rockin’ and worth seeing. Others: The Teenagers – no Frankie Lymon, of course, but alive and well and still with the energy and verve of when they WERE teenagers (much credit to bassist Bobby Jay and surviving original Herman Santiago); Johnny Maestro – still strong-voiced, full-ranged, and exceptional on his Crests material (full disclosure: as much as I loved the Crests, I disliked The Brooklyn Bridge, and time hasn’t changed that). Avoid: the current versions of The Platters, The Coasters and The Edsels, all “nite-club” versions of their former selves (The Edsels have the original bass, but were still criminally awful). Sad. Also, select your Drifters carefully; I saw the version with pop-hitmaking-lead Charlie Thomas and was quite impressed – of course the lead voice was “real” and the background singers truly captured the sound. And concluding this list on the larger level, props to The Rolling Stones for still being out there and making credible new music. May they have new hits when they’re 80!

    There arises a sidebar question, “How badly do you want to see a classic artist?” A few years ago, UGHA reassembled the original Heartbeats (minus the late James “Shep” Sheppard, of course). On one hand, it was the Heartbreaks, as one of them sat for the performance, a couple used canes and walkers, and some of the harmony was a little wobbly, too. But considering they were reuniting for the first and only time in 39 years, it was a magic moment. They still “sounded like themselves,” and you could feel the emotion in the air. So – imperfect? Yes. Wonderful? More than that.

    Everyone makes their choices, whether to perform and to attend. There probably won’t be another Heartbeats concert. I’m glad I saw that one.

  6. steveo Says:

    Hey Artie,
    Who is that handsome, finger snappping lad in the picture you posted…
    i think I remember seeing him in a magazine ad, or
    billlboard trade paper,way back..perhaps it was on a 45 sleeve, 😉
    Thanks for posting the cool pic, Artie!

  7. missrosstoyou Says:

    You have GOT to be kidding about Aretha Franklin!!! She sounds like the 70’s disco drag queen Sylvester. Aretha’s voice is a shadow of who she used to be. Your right about Dionne and You mare right about Gladys but you GOT to be kidding’bout ‘Retha!

  8. comprendo Says:

    The EMPRESS OF SOUL, Gladys Knight, sounds as glorious today as she did when she first took us on that famous MIDNIGHT TRAIN RIDE; the SOUL OF PHILADELPHIA, Patti LaBelle, still can belt with the best of them, But Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, pulleeeze? Weight and cigarettes have their toll. She’s only a shadow of her former self. She can barely walk across a stage without huffing and puffing, and that mezzo-soprano she unleashed on the world is reduced to talking parts. Aretha has lost a lot!!!!

  9. comoseleva Says:

    La Emperatriz de Alma, Gladys Knight es la mejor cantante del mundo.


    The EMPRESS OF SOUL, Gladys Knight, is muscial royalty whose voice has become richer with time. The prestigious Society of Singers has recognized her greatness and officially declared Gladys the EMPRESS OF SOUL, notwithstanding imitators and prentenders to her thrown.

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