There are many musical artists that come and go in the industry. Some stay for a couple years, some stay for decades. And some stay for over five decades. Today, we'll go over some of the bands who have stood the test of time and keep on going. Although some of the members of these bands are in their 70s and sometimes there’s been lineup changes, these artists are still touring and playing music they released decades ago, and still having the time of their lives. Here are five bands that fit that criteria.
For sake of transparency, when I use the phrase “to this day,” I’m aware that to the actual day isn’t accurate given that concerts haven’t been safe to have for over a year. By “still playing”, we are referring to the last chance that live performances could happen. This is to avoid the current state of things overshadowing the true purpose of this blog post which is to praise long-time performers and their devotion to playing their music.
Def Leppard | Formed: 1977
This band deserves credit for not only being an older band but also for continuing despite losing their guitarist Steve Clark and their drummer Rock Allen losing his arm at the height of their fame. Since 1982, they have maintained the same lineup and kept it that way for almost 40 years. Over their career, Def Leppard have released 11 original studio albums, two live albums, four compilation albums, one cover album, and three extended plays (Source). Their most recent album was last released in 2015. Since then, it’s been a lot of remastering and live albums. The band has 2021 tour scheduled at the moment.
Aerosmith | Formed: 1970
Aerosmith backstage in the 1970s (PHOTO: GEMS/REDFERNS/GETTY IMAGES)
Unlike many other older bands who dealt with many lineup changes, Aerosmith has maintained its five original members all their career as a band. Okay, technically, two members left for a brief stint in the 80s, but they’re back in the band now. Over the course of their career, the band has released 15 studio albums, six live albums, 16 compilation albums, and two extended plays. Their last album was released in 2012, but they have continued to tour to this day, with their last active tour happening being Aerosmith: Deuces are Wild, a concert residency that ran from April 2019 until 2020 (Source). Aerosmith has been together for 50 years now, and they don’t seem to show any plans of stopping given that they’ve rescheduled their European 50th anniversary shows for 2021.
Aerosmith 2019 (Image credit: Tommaso Boddi – Getty)
ZZ Top | Formed: 1969
ZZ Top in 1970. Source
ZZ Top is another band that has managed to keep all their original members. Technically, their initial single was made with two different guys, but since 1970, the lineup hasn’t changed. With over 50 years under their belt and still being active, ZZ Top is highly respected and loved. ZZ Top have released 15 studio albums, four live albums, seven compilation albums and 44 singles (Source). Their last studio album came out in 2012, but they released a compilation album celebrating their 50th anniversary in 2019 called Goin’ 50. The trio continues forward, despite all being in their 70s now. The band has concerts scheduled for 2021.
ZZ Top in the present (Source).
The Who | Formed: 1964
The Who, 1965. Credit: Redferns. Copyright: 1965 The Visualeyes Archive
The Who have been around for a long time, and yet they’re still going. “Since their original formation in 1964, The Who have taken breaks from the road, gone solo, and suffered tragedy, and yet all of the surviving original members are still in the group,” (Source). One of those breaks lasted for about 10 years, but all the surviving members returned from those breaks. The Who has had 12 studio albums, 14 live albums, 26 compilation albums, 4 EPs, 58 singles, and 4 soundtrack albums since their inception. Compared to some of the other bands in this list, The Who has more recently released a studio album, coming out with Who in December 2019. Once concerts can return, the Who plans to support their most recent release in 2021.
The current surviving members of The Who. Photo credit: Rick Guest. Source
The Oak Ridge Boys | Formed: 1945
Some of the early lineups for The Oak Ridge Boys Source
This one is a little different from the others because as you can see by the year, the original members would have been in their 90s at this point. This is one of the longest running artists because the group itself has been around since 1945. The group was founded as the Oak Ridge Quartet. Their name was changed to the Oak Ridge Boys in the early 1960s, and they remained a gospel group until the mid-1970s, when they changed their image and concentrated on country music (Source). Although there were some lineup changes in the early years of the band, The Oak Ridge Boys have maintained the same lineup since 1973.
The Oak Ridge Boys Current Lineup back in 1980 when they’d hit a major peak of hits. Source
Over the course of the group’s inception, The Oak Ridge Boys have had 31 studio albums, 1 live album, 14 compilation albums, and 63 singles. Even then, they have more releases that fall into a gray area. For example, they have released eight Christmas albums, one being released in 2019. Their most recent releases came out in early 2021, and they have no plans of stopping tours. The members are in the late 60s and early 70s and still performing with all their hearts.
The Oak Ridge Boys in the present. Source
Of course, this is just a few of a larger handful of bands from the 1960s-1970s that are still together and touring, but these are a few of my favorites. I have a soft spot for artists that not only are still playing but are also the original lineup for 40+ years. That kind of connection is so valuable, and I hold great respect for these bands to keep playing despite being old enough to retire. I suppose that shows that when you love music, you can never truly retire. It stays in your heart, itching for you to keep playing.
Written by Kristen Petronio