There comes a point in the career of a musician where they will be faced with a three-pronged dilemma. First, do they continue to produce the same stuff that has been making them so successful and popular? Second, do they do something radical and reinvent themselves with an attempt at crossing genres? Or thirdly, do they simply accept that they have produced all that they want, are happy with their status as icons in their field, and bow out before anyone starts to get too sick of them.
Those who take the first path tend to fair the poorest over all. See, for example, Aerosmith or ZZ Top; they’ve more or less been doing the exact same thing for the last forty years and whilst they still have a die-hard fanbase, and are undoubtedly good live, everyone has pretty much accepted that nothing groundbreaking is ever going to be heard from either again.
Those who choose the second must do so with caution. Honestly, only David Bowie has truly managed to flitter between such majorly different musical styles without making anything too completely hopeless. Even Queen attempted something insane as a disco album which nearly cost their critical acclaim something enormous.
Finally, there’s those who take the third path and leave before they’re cast aside. For example, Led Zeppelin chose to call it a day after the death of John Bonham, leaving their reunion appearances for charity events only, and not just hashing something together in replacement of their legendary drummer.
But this is a rarity: more often than not, you’ll see some old-timer still clinging to their glory days, releasing their best attempt at the modern trend, usually failing spectacularly. Yes, these are the musical legends who really should have called it quits a long time ago. Disclaimer: ‘legend’ may be stretched in places, but all the following acts most definitely achieved a great deal of success for sustained periods of their career…
This article was first posted on December 30, 2013