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Some of rock’s high-mileage road warriors are heading for the off-ramp.
Neil Diamond and Paul Simon are among a handful of headliners who recently announced their retirement from touring, and the trend is likely to expand as classic rockers face their golden years. A few, like Elton John and Ozzy Osbourne, are staging massive final treks.
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“2018 is the big year for farewell tours,” says Dave Brooks, who covers touring and live entertainment for Billboard. “And because of the long rehearsals, extensive planning and sheer cost of taking a true world tour, it’s not surprising that some acts want to make one last run while also making some serious money saying goodbye. We live in a FOMO [fear of missing out] culture, and there will be fans young and old who are willing to spend a big chunk of their entertainment dollar this year for one final show from these icons.”
Retirement has always been the genre’s kryptonite, as stars rebelled against Father Time to revel in arrested development. A number of musical heavyweights — including Cher, Kiss
the Who — have undertaken splashy farewell tours, only to return to the spotlight full time.
But many hotshots of the ’60s may be cooling on the idea of the endless highway. Touring is a grind, and even nightly applause loses its appeal against the daily monotony of bus travel, hotels and backstage buffets.
And health can enter the equation. Eric Clapton, 72, has hinted strongly about retiring, as playing live became more difficult and painful in recent years. He suffers from tinnitus, severe eczema
peripheral neuropathy. The British singer-guitarist has only one show scheduled this year, a set at London’s Hyde Park in July.
The exits don’t mean boomer favorites will suddenly vanish from the tour circuit. Plenty of over-60 rock acts continue to crisscross the planet with a regularity and stamina that dumbfound teenagers. Bob Dylan, 76, has been on his "Never Ending Tour" since 1988. Mick Jagger, 74, has been circling the globe with the Rolling Stones since 1962, most recently on the "No Filter" tour in 2017. Billy Joel, Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen and the Eagles remain huge draws.