Duff McKagan's column runs every Thursday on Reverb. His memoir, It's So Easy (Simon & Schuster) is out now.
It is a poignant time for


Old Guys Rule: a Year in Review

Duff McKagan's column runs every Thursday on Reverb. His memoir, It's So Easy (Simon & Schuster) is out now.
It is a poignant time for me to be writing a year-in-review column. As I sit here on my tour bus in the back parking lot of Berlin's Columbiahalle, I can't help but think that after all of these years in music, playing gigs with Motorhead is still just one of those special things that re-envigorates the rock-and-roll soul and bone.

Loaded have arrived back in Europe from South America, and are about to embark on a seven-city tour of Germany with Motorhead.

Last February, when Motorhead came to Seattle just after the release of the "Lemmy" movie, I think perhaps more than a few of you were chatting quietly about "Perhaps this'll be the last time we see Motorhead" type of speculage. Whatever. All I know is that I went to that gig (feeling a bit gray, as it was the eve of my 47th birthday . . . and 47, I thought, is just a weird age). That gig at the Showbox SoDo changed my perspective on things. Lemmy, 20 years my senior, kicked everyone's ass, and was more on top of his game than five 20-year-olds could ever be.

And it has been the "old guys" all year who have been doing it for me.

Take Prince, for instance. Last May I got to see one of his 21 shows at the Los Angeles Forum, and of course it was simply magic. He has never EVER been better than he is now. I guess it goes to show that when you keep it "real" and honest and about the music, that it can and will just get better with age.

And I saw Judas Priest twice last summer. Yes, and it was ridiculous . . . in the very best of ways. I'm not sure how Rob Halford does it--screams and sings and all at the drop of a downbeat. They too--even after being forced to replace career guitarist KK Downing--are at the very top of their game. "Retirement tour" my eye.

The biggest-selling stadium and arena acts this year in rock are not some fancy indie band from Las Vegas or Wales, no. It is all about the rock, and the old guys are doing it best. To name just two, how about Foo Fighters and Metallica?

The Foo Fighters just seem to keep getting bigger. Most of the time I probably would be the last to say that bigger is necessarily better, but Dave Grohl just seems to be able to re-invest himself fully into the Foos before every record. The end result? Hipper. Cooler. Bigger. Faster. More exploratory. Funner. 'Nuff said.

Metallica pulled off the biggest tour of the year for sure with its presentation of "The Big 4"--the other three bands of course being Slayer, Anthrax, and Megadeth. All those dudes too . . . are old dudes.

Ah, and what about our own Seattle old dudes keeping everything relevant?

Alice in Chains did arenas this year, and made a powerful record that put them back. All the way back.

Soundgarden did a whole bunch of big shows, and are suddenly now bigger than they ever were. Word on the street is that their new record will be kick-ass.

And lastly Pearl Jam, celebrating 20 years! . . . Now here is a band that just keeps re-inventing itself, and the members' musicianship just keeps getting more incredible. The movie (PJ20) was epic. The PJ20 book remains on The New York Times bestseller list. They are selling out huge places all over the world. Relevant. Cool. Hip . . . and fucking GOOD!

Being long in the tooth myself, it may be hard for me to see the forest for the trees here, but it just seems like it is the bands whose members are well into their 40s that seem to be the drivers of what is new and good in rock and roll. That's all OK with me . . . for now. We DO need some new blood.

Will it be Sweden's Graveyard?

Or what about the unholy Ghost?

Portland's Red Fang, perhaps?

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