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Many of the world’s most iconic rock and pop music stars — the very symbols of youth in their heyday — have now hit the big 8-Oh!
Beach Boys founder Brian Wilson just turned 80 on Monday, June 20. Forever-teen-heartthrob Paul McCartney celebrated his 80th birthday this past Saturday.
Many legends who left us too young, of course, would have been on the cusp of 80, too. Guitar God Jimi Hendrix and vocalist extraordinaire Janis Joplin died tragically within weeks of each other in the fall of 1970. Hendrix would be turning 80 in November, Joplin 80 in January. Mama Cass, who died in 1974, would have been 80 right now.
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Here’s a look at eight legends of pop and rock still who recently turned 80 — and who are still making an impact on pop culture today in one way or another.
Chubby Checker, 80 (born Oct. 3, 1941)
Checker twisted his way into the pop-culture consciousness of America with his infectious dance-party hit “The Twist.” It topped the charts in 1960 and then again in 1962.
A slightly altered version called “Let’s Twist Again” was a huge hit in 1961. They remain among the greatest classics in pop-music history. “The Twist” was named the biggest chart hit of all time by Billboard in 2018.
Checker still performs around the nation riding his tricked-out bus called The Checkerlicious Express.
Bob Dylan, 81 (born May 24, 1941)
The times began a-changin’ for Dylan with the release of his hit album, “The Freewheelin’ Dob Dylan” on May 27, 1963, just three days after his 22nd birthday.
His “Rough and Rowdy Ways” tour is currently rolling through California and other western states. The tour will continue through 2024, according to BobDylan.com.
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Dylan’s music was featured in the recent Broadway hit “Girl from the North Country,” which closed early this year amid COVID restrictions.
Paul McCartney, 80 (born June 18, 1942)
McCartney still leads a band on the run, closing out his American “Got Back” tour last week in front of 60,000 joyous fans at MetLife Stadium in N.J., who serenaded him with “Happy Birthday” two days early.
During the tour he honored his late Beatles bandmates John Lennon, who would be 81, and George Harrison, who would be awaiting his 80th birthday in February.
McCartney remains a global star today, nearly 60 years after Beatlemania reshaped pop culture. McCartney just announced the release of a box set of his solo albums, spanning his post-Beatles career from the 1970s through today.
Smokey Robinson, 82 (born Feb. 19, 1940)
Go-gos are still hopping with Smokey’s smooth sounds — nearly 70 years after Smokey Robinson and the Miracles began performing together and 35 years after he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
He’s one of the most influential musicians in history, as both a songwriter and executive with Motown Records in its glory days.
Robinson is still on the road today, performing at concert halls across the US and Canada.
Ringo Starr, 81 (born July 7, 1940)
“It don’t come easy” for rock stars in their 80s. Ringo and His All Starr Band announced last week a revised North American tour, featuring 12 dates that had to be postponed because of coronavirus-related issus.
The tour is scheduled to kick off Sept. 5 at Tanglewood in Massachusetts. It ends in October in Mexico City, according to RingoStarr.com.
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Ringo’s All Starr Band lives up to the billing. It includes American singer/songwriter Edgar Winter and Australian hitmaker Colin Hay of Men at Work fame.
Tina Turner, 82 (born Nov. 26, 1939)
Turner was a hot commodity in the 1960s, in the 1980s — and is still so in her 80s, though she’s claimed she’s retired.
She’s a presence nonetheless. The music world lit up with excitement days ago after learning that Miles Davis in 1985 recorded an instrumental version of “What’s Love Got to Do With It.” The song was a smash hit for Turner the year before that, winning three Grammy Awards, including Song of the Year and Record of the Year.
The dancing diva is also being celebrated on Broadway today with “Tina: The Tina Turner Musical,” which is scheduled to close out its COVID-interrupted run in August.
Dionne Warwick, 81 (born Dec. 12, 1940)
Warwick’s voice has been with us forever and ‘ever, it seems. She placed 56 songs on the Billboard charts from 1962 to 1998, making her one of the most successful singers of all time.
Her hits include all-time classics such as “I Say A Little Prayer” in 1967 and “That’s What Friends Are For,” which she recorded in 1985 with Elton John, Gladys Knight and Stevie Wonder. It earned a Grammy for Song of the Year in 1986.
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Warwick is today performing in the U.K. on her “She’s Back: One Last Time” tour.
Brian Wilson, 80 (born June 20, 1942)
Wilson’s bright, sunny music mixing sweet surf sounds with delicious harmonies will forever capture the glory days of Southern California.
Wilson turned 80 on Monday but still gets around, ‘round, ‘round.
He’s touring America with the 1970s hitmakers Chicago, including for his birthday stop in Kansas City.
“To me you’re the only real pop genius in the world and I love you very much,” Elton John said from Denmark.
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It was a video card featuring 80th birthday greetings from some of the world’s biggest celebrities.