Ronnie Wood, left, Mick Jagger, and Keith Richards of the...

Ronnie Wood, left, Mick Jagger, and Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones perform during their "Hackney Diamonds" tour on  April 28 in Houston.  Credit: Amy Harris/Invision/AP/Amy Harris

When the Rolling Stones embarked on their “Tattoo You” stadium tour in 1981, the band (whose key members were all under 40) was perceived as being over the hill and ribbed by the press that the tour should be sponsored by Geritol. Fast forward to 2024, the Stones — Mick Jagger and Keith Richards are 80; Ronnie Wood a spry 76 — are still selling out stadiums, and their new tour, which comes to MetLife Stadium in New Jersey on May 23 and 26, is being sponsored by AARP.

“The Stones are the best rock and roll band that has ever lived, in my opinion. They still sound amazing and remain entertaining,” says Krissy Pangia, 56, of Centerport. “There’s nothing like their staying power. It’s unheard of.”

Jagger and company are not an anomaly. These days, rock stars are living and playing longer while their fans are still coming to see them in droves. It seems that neither side wants the party to end.

Pangia is a hard-core Stones fan who is hitting 10 shows on the band’s 16-city U.S. tour. Her 1969 Chevrolet Camaro convertible is covered in thousands of Stones tongues, with a license plate that reads, “CRZYMAMA” after the band’s 1975 tune and she proudly has two Stones tattoos on her body. Pangia has seen the band more than 40 times, from California to London, always in the general admission pit upfront.

Krissy Pangia, 56, of Centerport, proudly displays her 1969 Chevrolet...

Krissy Pangia, 56, of Centerport, proudly displays her 1969 Chevrolet Camaro convertible covered in Rolling Stones tongues in front of the Memory Motel in Montauk. Credit: Krissy Pangia

On opening night of the new tour in Houston on April 28, Pangia felt the need to be in the crowd and was floored by what she saw. 

“I don’t know what Mick Jagger is made of, but he’s not human,” says Pangia. “He was literally sprinting up and down the catwalk … at 80 years old!”

She brought along her-82 year-old mother, Suzanne Asher, of Northport, who has since become a fan.

“My daughter’s passion for the Stones always kind of puzzled me. But when I got to the concert and felt the vibe, I understood what this whole experience is all about,” says Asher. “I found Mick Jagger inspiring. In fact, I now push myself to exercise because after seeing Mick move like that, there’s no reason I can’t.”

“These are our heroes from the '60s and '70s that we grew up with and we don’t want them to go away,” says regular concert attendee Tom Hessemer, 62, of North Merrick. “I think the performance quality is still there. No one has let me down yet.”


Nancy Wilson of Heart: "On stage I feel ageless."

Nancy Wilson of Heart: "On stage I feel ageless." Credit: WireImage/Al Pereira

As these musicians age, there must be something beyond compensation that makes them refuse to pack it in.

“On stage I feel ageless. It’s an elevated experience with the sound, the lights and the energy coming from the audience,” says Nancy Wilson, 70, guitarist-vocalist of Heart, who is playing Madison Square Garden on Oct. 21. “Time stands still. You are larger than life. It’s what all the travel and hassle is for. We get paid to travel, but the payoff is the joy to create magic on stage and share it with your fans.”

Chicago's trombone player, James Pankow, 76, whose band comes to Northwell Health at Jones Beach Theater on July 28, adds: “I feel 20 years old every time I step on stage. I can’t even describe the energy rush you get when you hear that roar of approval. You feel like King Kong.”


Kevin Cronin, of REO Speedwagon, on the relationship between band...

Kevin Cronin, of REO Speedwagon, on the relationship between band and fan: "It’s an interconnection that’s similar to cheering on your favorite team.” Credit: Invision/AP/Robert E. Klein

Just like the artists, the audience is addicted to the concert energy. Throughout each show there’s an exchange between the band and the fans.

“When we come out on stage, it’s a give-and-take proposition. We give to them and they give back to us. We toss it back twofold, they toss it back threefold,” says guitarist Rickey Medlocke, 74, from Lynyrd Skynyrd, who hits Jones Beach on Aug. 22. “By the end of the night, your adrenaline is at an all-time high.”

“The better the energy of the audience, the better the concert is,” says Mitchell Katz, 57, of Lindenhurst, who follows Jethro Tull, the Steve Miller Band and Yes. “The audience helps the band make the actual event.”

Kevin Cronin, 72, lead singer-guitarist of REO Speedwagon, who is coming to Jones Beach on July 27, adds: “When you go see a band play, it’s like sitting around the campfire with peers that you have something in common with. It’s an interconnection that’s similar to cheering on your favorite team.”

Neil Berliner, who grew up in Bellmore, is a regular concert attendee who embraces the live music atmosphere.

“I enjoy being around people who like the music that I like,” says Berliner, 68. “We all recognize the same songs at the same time. It’s a shared community.”


When it comes to legacy artists like the Stones, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Chicago, fans have a tendency to see them whenever they come to town. But what keeps the audiences returning time after time?

“You always know the classic bands are going to give you a good set list and a full show,” says avid concertgoer Paul Esposito, 55, of Wantagh, who likes The Who, U2, Depeche Mode, Pearl Jam and Metallica. “Plus, you never know when it’s going to be the last time.”

Hessemer makes catching Bruce Springsteen on every tour a priority. He says The Boss is always worth the investment.

“You’ll never be disappointed at a Springsteen show because he’ll give you the classics as well as some rare nuggets,” says Hessemer. “Bruce is not on Autopilot. He mixes it up night after night to keep it fresh.”


Mike Love, of The Beach Boys: “We have fans bringing...

Mike Love, of The Beach Boys: “We have fans bringing their children and even their elderly parents to our shows." Credit: Invision/AP/Amy Harris

Many bands benefit from their original fans passing on the tradition to their own children because they want to share what they grew up listening to.

“We have fans bringing their children and even their elderly parents to our shows. It’s rare when multiple generations can agree on a particular act,” says singer Mike Love, 83,of the Beach Boys, who will return to Jones Beach on Aug. 8. “We are lucky that what we started six decades ago is still popular with millions of people.”

Ilysse Blatt-Stojek, 45, of Holtsville, has been going to Beach Boys concerts since she was in diapers. These days whenever the group comes to Long Island, she and her mother, Arlene Blatt, 79, of Coram, can be found in the first few rows.

“My mom wants to be able to see every gray hair and wrinkle on their faces,” says Blatt-Stojek. “No matter what they are singing about, their positive energy is always there.”

Blatt adds, “I love that California sound. They have been my favorite group since 1963 when they first came out with ‘Surfin’ U.S.A.’ Their music puts me in a great frame of mind. If I could be on the stage with them, I would be.”

Jeff Bloch, of Sayville, introduced his daughter Talia, 20, and son Sam, 16, to the music of the Grateful Dead via annual shows by Dead & Co. at Citi Field.

“I love that it’s such a community,” says Bloch, 54. “When I’m in the parking lot at a Dead show it’s very nostalgic because I think back to my college days and it’s extra trippy to have my kids there.”


What keeps fans so dedicated to these icons is not about sheer adoration but rather their emotional attachment to the material.

“These artists are responsible for some of the most classic rock songs ever created,” says concert promoter Larry Vaughn, 81, of Bethpage, who brought The Police to Shea Stadium in 1983 and Pink Floyd to Nassau Coliseum in 1980. “The audience has grown up with that music from their early teens and it touched their soul so much that they continue to buy tickets to see them perform live as long as they can.”

Berliner says, “The songs bring you back to when you first heard them. It reminds people of what was going on in their lives when the music was actually made.”

The Yes song “Changes” holds a special place in Katz’s heart because of the concert memory he has attached to it. “I saw Yes on the "90125" tour and they were playing ‘Changes.’ When the lights came on, the person behind me wound up being my wife of 30 years,” he says.

Bands often hear about these emotional ties whenever they come face-to-face with fans at preshow meet-and-greet sessions.

“A guy will come up to me and say, ‘My wife and I fell in love to this song’ or ‘I danced with my daughter at her wedding to that song,’ ” says Pankow. “I hear those stories every night and it’s priceless. We could only be extremely grateful for how our music has been embraced by so many people.”


Ruth Pointer: "I’m meticulous about my food, eating only vegetables,...

Ruth Pointer: "I’m meticulous about my food, eating only vegetables, proteins and fruits, no carbs or sugars.” Credit: Mike Sayles

Traveling from city to city putting on a show is not an easy feat. While it might seem glamorous from the outside, it takes a lot of preparation especially at an advanced age.

“These artists are all living longer because they are taking care of themselves better than they have in the past,” says concert promoter Ron Delsener, 87, of East Hampton, who started the concert series at Jones Beach more than 40 years ago. “They are all working out, eating better, not smoking or doing anything else.”

Ruth Pointer, 78, of the Pointer Sisters, is in training as she gears up to play Jones Beach on July 25.

“I stay sharp and in practice,” says Pointer. “I exercise three days a week with a treadmill, free weights, crunches and yoga stretches. Plus, I’m meticulous about my food, eating only vegetables, proteins and fruits, no carbs or sugars.”

Judy Collins: "I’m blessed to have the DNA of my...

Judy Collins: "I’m blessed to have the DNA of my grandparents, who lived until 104." Credit: Getty Images for Tribeca Festival/Jamie McCarthy

Singer-songwriter Judy Collins, 85, plays over 100 dates a year including her upcoming July 12 gig at The Suffolk in Riverhead.

“Exercising, eating right, getting plenty of sleep and practicing are essential on the road,” she says. “Another key thing is to keep people laughing. Plus, I’m blessed to have the DNA of my grandparents, who lived until 104.”

Love has found practicing transcendental meditation, or TM, has helped him tremendously while enduring the rigors of the road.

“TM allows the mind to go to a deeper level and your body corresponds to a deeply restful and relaxing mode that re-energizes you,” he says. “You are getting rid of the negativity that happens during the day and become rejuvenated.”


One of the casualties from being a legacy band is the loss of members. The Stones had to fill the seat behind the drum kit with Steve Jordan when original drummer Charlie Watts died in 2021. Lynyrd Skynyrd dealt with a similar situation when founding guitarist Gary Rossington died in 2023; the group brought in axman Damon Johnson from Brother Cane.

“When Gary passed away, we were at a crossroads,” says Medlocke. “It was always his wish for the band name and the music to not fade away after he was gone. Our goal is to keep his wishes intact.”

Pointer found herself being the only sister left after her siblings, Anita, Bonnie and June, were all gone. Keeping it in the family, she brought her daughter Issa and granddaughter Sadako into the group.

“When I look to either side and see them, I say to myself, ‘Am I in a dream? Is this really happening?’ ” says Pointer. “They both give me energy. I don’t do as many moves as I used to. I know what my knees can and can’t do. But I step back and let them have at it.”

Other groups added members like the Doobie Brothers, who will play Madison Square Garden on Aug. 7. They have brought former Doobie Michael McDonald back into the fold.

“It’s been great having Michael on board. People love him and he’s fun to work with,” says singer-guitarist Tom Johnston, 75. “I think we can pull better having Mike in there with his songs. It gives a much wider range of what the band is capable of doing.”

William King, 75, the last original member of the Commodores, who will play at Jones Beach on July 25, is recruiting family members of the founders to join the group.

“Our kids have been around this music since they were born. Some of them traveled on the road with us for years,” says King. “They knew the songs backwards and forwards before they even stepped foot on stage. In fact, they were singing better than we were because they grew up around all of this.”


Carlos Santana: “When you play music fully present and lucid then...

Carlos Santana: “When you play music fully present and lucid then you are going to be relevant for the next 50 to 100 years." Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams Jr.

The word “retirement” is not in these acts’ vocabulary. It appears the overall sentiment is to drive the car until the wheels fall off.

“I just love to play,” says Medlocke. “When I have time off, I get very antsy and bored. I need to be on stage.”

Vocalist-singer Billy F. Gibbons, 74, from ZZ Top, who comes to Jones Beach on Aug. 22, adds: “The roadshow is what we do and it’s what we relish keeping going. We’re having a grand time and each night on deck steps up the learning platform. And then, it's do what? Stay home with a TV? It’s that secret sauce that ZZ Top is imbued with thrilling to the marrow.”

Pointer admits to having notions of stopping, but then has second thoughts.

“I’m not that girl who wants to sit around the house,” she says. “I don’t garden, ya know.”

Carlos Santana, 76, who plays Jones Beach on July 21, has no plans to slow down, either. “When you play music fully present and lucid then you are going to be relevant for the next 50 to 100 years,” he says. “People are like flowers, music is the water, I’m a hose and they are all thirsty.”

The 2024 summer concert season at Jones Beach will open with a trio of senior citizens as Robert Plant, 75, Bob Dylan, 82 and Willie Nelson, 91, headline the Outlaw Music Festival on June 29.

“I am thrilled to get back on the road again with my family and friends playing the music we love for the fans we love,” said Nelson at the announcement of the tour, which runs for 25 dates from June through September.

In fact, Dylan has been playing nonstop on his “Rough and Rowdy Ways Tour” clocking in 24 gigs already in 2024.

“I think Bob Dylan will go until he dies, like B.B. King,” says Berliner. “His life is on the road. Plus, he keeps pumping out good music.”


Earth Wind and Fire lead singer Philip Bailey: "This is who...

Earth Wind and Fire lead singer Philip Bailey: "This is who we are and what we do."  Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams Jr.

But the question remains … how long can you go? This seems to be a dilemma that artists don’t want to face.

“When do painters put down their brush? This is who we are and what we do,” says Philip Bailey, 73, lead singer of Earth, Wind & Fire, who will perform at Jones Beach on July 28. “This is something that we enjoy doing. As long as we have strength, we will always play music because music is a celebration of life.”

Johnston adds, “There’s no way to know the end because there are so many factors that can come into play. We take it as it comes, do the best we can and enjoy the ride.”

However, Pankow declares performance quality is his deciding factor.

“When the day comes where we can’t kill it, we’re going to hang it up,” he says. “I’m not going to go out there and be an oldies but goodies act going through the motions. But I don’t see us stopping anytime soon.”

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