12 rock stars over 70 who are still delivering the goods

A composite photograph of Mick Jagger, Robert Plant, Iggy Pop and Chrissie Hynde
(Image credit: Elena Di Vincenzo/Archivio Elena Di Vincenzo/Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images/Press)

“I don't see why there should be a point where everyone decides you're too old,” Lemmy once said. “I'm not too old, and until I decide I'm too old I'll never be too fucking old." The Motörhead legend went down swinging, still playing right up until his death in 2015 at the age of 70. And there are plenty of other musicians out there refusing to let their age be anything other than a number. Here are 12 rock icons still delivering the goods in their 70s and 80s.

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Paul McCartney (82)

With more than 60 years under his belt, not to mention one of the most influential back catalogues in history, Paul McCartney has certainly earned the right to a breather. Instead, he’s spent a substantial chunk of the past two years on the Got Back tour, hauling his octogenarian frame across the US and Canada, Australia and South America, with a huge Glastonbury headline set in the middle. The shows have become genuine events and at home Hey Jude seems to have become a de facto alternative national anthem. Macca could easily rest on his laurels but, as 2020’s McCartney III album showed, he hasn’t given up on the creative process either.

Arthur Brown (81)

He might never have matched the mainstream impact of 1968’s worldwide smash hit Fire but Arthur Brown never really left his crazy world behind. In the intervening decades he released a plethora of inventively unhinged albums and his theatrical live performances and banshee screams have inspired subsequent generations of rock miscreants. Still very much active, he’s released three albums in the past five years – Gypsy Voodoo with The Crazy World of Arthur Brown in 2019 and not one but two solo albums (Long Long Road and Monster’s Ball) as he turned 80 in 2022. Fresh from supporting Hawkwind, the God of Hellfire also has a string of headlining dates in the UK and Europe this year.

Mick Jagger (80)

It was easy to dismiss the Rolling Stones as a money-printing nostalgia act until 2023’s Hackney Diamonds proved they had plenty of creative juice left in the tank. Thankfully it was a definite return to form and, going off the Stones’ 60th anniversary tour in 2022, we’ll be Mick Jagger to be performing like a man a third of his age when they hit the road. The forthcoming US tour, incidentally, is sponsored by AARP (formerly the American Association of Retired Persons), a non-profit group focusing on issues affecting people over 50.

Charlie Harper (79)

Punk’s (still) not dead and few have done more to keep it alive than UK Subs warhorse Charlie Harper. They’ve said 2022’s Reverse Engineering album would be their last but then they said that about Ziezon in 2016, which brought their initial alphabetized run of 26 A to Z studio and live albums to a close. They’ve also been absolute road-dogs, touring constantly and hitting all the lager-drenched seaside punk all-dayers. Longer hauls are now off the table but they are playing a special show in London in May to celebrate Charlie’s 80th birthday, with a promise that they’ll still be bringing the chaos to festivals, one offs and “mini weekend tours” when they can.

Debbie Harry (78)

Matching their initial success was always going to be a tall order but a rejuvenated Blondie approached their turn-of-the-century return on their own terms, producing a string of high-quality albums that only added to their legacy. Now approaching 80, Iconic frontwoman Debbie Harry still oozes insouciant cool and absolutely nails the vocals in a live setting. The band are currently working on the follow-up to 2017’s Pollinator, with former Sex Pistol Glen Matlock filling in on bass, and have a number of tour dates set for 2024.

Iggy Pop (76)

Iggy Pop’s credentials as a proto-punk icon might have taken a hit when he started flogging insurance in 2009, but he’s certainly recovered his mojo over recent years. 2023’s splendidly raucous Every Loser album could stand proudly toe-to-toe against almost any other album in his checkered solo career. The 25,000 people who flocked to Iggy’s Dog Day Afternoon extravaganza at London’s Crystal Palace Park last summer showed there’s still a huge appetite for his sinewy hard rock and he remains one of the world’s most electrifying and energetic performers.

Alice Cooper (76)

It’s a long time since Alice Cooper sang about the tribulations of being 18 but the shock-rock legend has always had a timeless quality to his music, shows and third-person persona. Unlike some on this list he’s never really stopped, carving out 29 albums with the original Alice Cooper band and as a solo artist. These albums have maintained a remarkable consistency but it’s for his theatrical live shows that the Coop is best known and they’re as mind-blowing as ever. He’ll be busy throughout 2024, appearing at the new traveling Australian festival Pandemonium, doing the rounds at the Euro festival circuit and continuing the Freaks On Parade tour alongside his spiritual offspring Rob Zombie.

Robert Plant (75)

While many rock stars of his vintage seem intent on chasing former glories, Robert Plant has always seemed content to reinvent himself at every turn. There was Page Plant and the Led Zeppelin one-offs of course, but the singer reportedly turned down a $200 million offer to tour more extensively with Led Zep after the 2007 reunion, opting to honour his collaborative commitments with bluegrass singer Alison Krauss instead. Since then he’s kept busy with a reformed Band Of Joy, the Sensational Space Shifters and his current low-key folksy outfit Saving Grace.

Ozzy Osbourne (75)

The last few years might not have been great for Ozzy Osbourne, with a series of operations and ill-health forcing him to retire from touring (though he insists he’s going to play at least one more show). But creatively, he’s hit a late-career purple patch, with 2020’s Ordinary Man and 2022’s Patient No. 2 – recorded with producer Andrew Watt, an expert at getting the best out of veteran rock stars - up there with the best records he’s ever made. And it’s seemingly not stopping there – he recently told Metal Hammer that he’s planning to make another album this year.

Rob Halford (72)

He might look increasingly like a heavy metal Santa (and he does love a good Christmas album) but Rob Halford is still very much delivering the goods. As well as ticking off a bucket list moment when he got to duet with Dolly Parton on Jolene at the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame recently, the Metal God is set to return with Judas Priest’s first new album in six years, Invincible Shield, next month. There’s also an accompanying world tour and that scream remains peerless.

Chrissie Hynde (72)

“It’s the life of the artist. You never retire. You become relentless,” Chrissie Hynde told the NME in 2022, the year was just one of a string of stand-out shows as the band returned to a major touring schedule, with a suitably relentless range of headline, support and festival shows throughout the UK, Europe and North America. Chrissie remains a sublime performer two Pretenders albums released in the last four years, she’s certainly showing no signs of slowing down just yet.

Glenn Hughes (72)

Even in his 70s, Glenn Hughes remains The Voice Of Rock – his range and control is astounding but just as impressive is his sheer drive and enthusiasm for performance. Hughes was happily ensconced in supergroup the Dead Daisies when, as he tells it, he learned that they wanted to take a 6-month hiatus. That was too much for the singer, who told Metal Rules, “Whether it’s legacy music or whether it’s Glenn music or Black Country [Communion] music, I had an opportunity to do things that I wanted to do.” Next on the horizon is a year-long tour celebrating his time in deep Purple and the 50th anniversary of Burn.

Paul Travers has spent the best part of three decades writing about punk rock, heavy metal, and every associated sub-genre for the UK's biggest rock magazines, including Kerrang! and Metal Hammer