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!

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

Artie Wayne discography

To reach Sebastian Prooth

For Alan O’Day