Classic rock is a genre that, by its definition, will never go away, because a classic is something so essential to our being that it can be appreciated by (at least parts of) every generation. Is the word ‘classic’ thrown around a bit too much on things that have only been around for a few years? Sure. I wouldn’t have asked the question that way if I didn’t believe that to be the case.
Still, certain bands are undeniably classics of our time. Of course, it’s the nature of pop to dominate the charts, the news, and much of radio play, but no matter what, the classics remain. Two such classic bands are on tour right now, still bringing in sellout crowds after, in the Stone’s case, 50 years.
The Stones embarked on their first tour in the UK the fall of 1963. It was a humble beginning, especially the following year when they took their act to the United States. At that point, they hadn’t even had a hit record in the states and the population wasn’t terribly impressed (they were mocked by Dean Martin and briefly banned by Ed Sullivan). It had to be hard to imagine the heights they would eventually soar to in the five decades that followed.
The Beatles they weren’t, but that was half the point. They were rough, irreverent, and, according to many, the greatest rock and roll band in the world. The numbers certainly make them contenders, especially in the realm of tour revenue. Their last tour, supporting their album A Bigger Bang, raked in around $558 million, a record at the time. Today, that total is second only to U2’s 360 Tour. Are the Stones embarking on this tour for the soul reason of outdoing U2? I have to assume so.
Ok, I don’t have to assume anything and that’s probably not the case, but I’m interested to see whether or not they can top U2.
Photo Credit: Michael Jurick
It’s hard to deny that the Devil pays well, at least when it comes to album sales. Since selling their souls , Black Sabbath has sold 15 million records in the US and 75 million Worldwide. That’s not bad. Er, by which I mean, that’s a pretty good number. Being a God fearing man, myself, I’ve never attended a Black Sabbath concert, but millions of others have (a number inflated by the revolving door at the singer position).
Happily, the original lineup is back together for this tour, with the exception of Bill Ward, who I get the impression no one cares about. The tour is in support of their new album, 13, and will feature 56 shows worldwide, 23 in the United States alone. It’s a rehashing of the 2012 tour that had to be cancelled in light of Tony Iommi’s lymphoma diagnosis. The shows have been arranged so that Tony can still receive his cancer treatments while jetting around the world for shows.
Both tours are testaments to the enduring quality of classic rock. Do they rock as hard as they used to? Not always, but when you consider the sheer number of people who have tried and failed in the business against the amount of time both bands have managed to remain relevant, it’s impossible to ignore their greatness. In an industry where a hit record is a rarity, more than one is a miraculous feat, and sticking around for more than a few years is next to impossible, the Stones and Black Sabbath have backed stadiums and arenas for decades and certainly seem poised to continue doing so for years to come.
Photo Credit: Michael Jurick