Artists whose peak period was middle-age

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say, roughly, between the ages of 35 and 60. I think there's some line from John Huston about how middle age is the true enemy of art. This thread is for listing the exceptions and discussing whys and wherefores of artists floundering or succeeding during this period.

Anyway, some nominees off the top of my head:
George Clinton (sorta - was already 30 in 1971)
Willie Nelson (was already 37 at the dawn of the 70s)
Miles Davis
Sun Ra

seems like jazz and country are (or at least were) more amenable to the aging process than other genres

in my world of loose geirs (Shakey Mo Collier), Tuesday, 29 March 2011 15:28 (eight years ago) link

Underworld - they were in their 30's by the time dubnobass came out
You could definitely argue XTC fit in this category

frogbs, Tuesday, 29 March 2011 15:31 (eight years ago) link

David Axelrod : born April 17, 1936

peak : solo albums in late 60s/early 70s

mark e, Tuesday, 29 March 2011 15:31 (eight years ago) link

also, mark e.

frogbs, Tuesday, 29 March 2011 15:32 (eight years ago) link

lemmy is a lot older than you think...he was probably close to 40 when motorhead was at their peak..

Alan Vega of Suicide is the first thing that comes to mind.

Bleeqwot the Chef (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Tuesday, 29 March 2011 15:33 (eight years ago) link

Earl Brutus : in pop terms, they had been around the block several times, before they hit their stride.

mark e, Tuesday, 29 March 2011 15:33 (eight years ago) link

A lot of the jazz greats fit this timeline - Mingus, Coleman, Coltrane, etc.

EZ Snappin, Tuesday, 29 March 2011 15:34 (eight years ago) link

Oh yeah LCD Soundsystem

frogbs, Tuesday, 29 March 2011 15:35 (eight years ago) link

Robert Wyatt (arguably)

The Louvin Spoonful (WmC), Tuesday, 29 March 2011 15:35 (eight years ago) link

Lucinda Williams

kornrulez6969, Tuesday, 29 March 2011 15:36 (eight years ago) link

Lemmy was 30 when he founded Motorhead - if you place their peak as the late 70s/early 80s he more or less makes the cut

also, mark e.

I would be curious to see an argument that the Fall's peak period is from 1992 onward...

in my world of loose geirs (Shakey Mo Collier), Tuesday, 29 March 2011 15:37 (eight years ago) link

agree a ton of jazz guys fit the bill here, which is interesting

in my world of loose geirs (Shakey Mo Collier), Tuesday, 29 March 2011 15:38 (eight years ago) link

wyatt's work is so different compared to soft machine but ultimately i think it's more rewarding.

DJ Quik is making a case for himself

Bleeqwot the Chef (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Tuesday, 29 March 2011 15:38 (eight years ago) link

blows my mind that Andy Partridge is almost 60

in my world of loose geirs (Shakey Mo Collier), Tuesday, 29 March 2011 15:39 (eight years ago) link

dylan and neil young don't really fit in this but they kinda do, their careers are so all over the place but they both also did some great work, up there with their greatest in middle age or beyond in dylan's case.

Scott Walker

Bleeqwot the Chef (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Tuesday, 29 March 2011 15:40 (eight years ago) link

I would be curious to see an argument that the Fall's peak period is from 1992 onward...

Let me see if I can get my Lou1s J4gg3r bat signal to work...

Oh Shit People Like Your Ballads Oh Nooooo (Drugs A. Money), Tuesday, 29 March 2011 15:41 (eight years ago) link

What's funny is Huston fits the criteria - 1941's Maltese Falcon at 35 and 1964's Night of the Iguana at 58. Arguably, all his best movies fell in that time frame.

EZ Snappin, Tuesday, 29 March 2011 15:41 (eight years ago) link

blows my mind that Andy Partridge is almost 60

he's been dormant for a decade!! sigh

frogbs, Tuesday, 29 March 2011 15:42 (eight years ago) link

classical would probably be cheating right?

Bleeqwot the Chef (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Tuesday, 29 March 2011 15:42 (eight years ago) link

dylan and neil young don't really fit in this but they kinda do, their careers are so all over the place but they both also did some great work, up there with their greatest in middle age or beyond in dylan's case.

Those guys have been middle-aged since they were young.

kkvgz, Tuesday, 29 March 2011 15:43 (eight years ago) link

but i guess jazz and classical are more trades in a sense and require a lot more time to learn the craft and the theory etc than other forms of music so it's should be surprising that ppl tend to peak later

dylan and neil young don't really fit in this but they kinda do, their careers are so all over the place but they both also did some great work, up there with their greatest in middle age or beyond in dylan's case.

Those guys have been middle-aged since they were young.

― kkvgz, Tuesday, March 29, 2011 10:43 AM (7 seconds ago) Bookmark Suggest Ban Permalink

they're younger than that now iirc

Bleeqwot the Chef (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Tuesday, 29 March 2011 15:43 (eight years ago) link

Leonard Cohen

Oh Shit People Like Your Ballads Oh Nooooo (Drugs A. Money), Tuesday, 29 March 2011 15:45 (eight years ago) link

looooool m@tt

in my world of loose geirs (Shakey Mo Collier), Tuesday, 29 March 2011 15:46 (eight years ago) link

Bill Dixon -- made his first record at 37, his last (yet to be released) at 84.

Tarfumes The Escape Goat, Tuesday, 29 March 2011 15:47 (eight years ago) link

nick cave i don't know if you can say peak but abbatoir blues/lyre of orpheus and then the grinderman stuff i like about as much as anything he's done.

I think I'm in the minority of thinking late period Fugazi rules and pwns so to me Ian Mackaye

Bleeqwot the Chef (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Tuesday, 29 March 2011 15:47 (eight years ago) link

OH SHIT

Duh - Robert Pollard! he was 35 when propeller came out!

Bleeqwot the Chef (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Tuesday, 29 March 2011 15:48 (eight years ago) link

Tom Waits

suxv (Whiney G. Weingarten), Tuesday, 29 March 2011 15:50 (eight years ago) link

it's looking like E-40 might be the world's first rapper where this is true

suxv (Whiney G. Weingarten), Tuesday, 29 March 2011 15:51 (eight years ago) link

surely Frank Sinatra ?

mark e, Tuesday, 29 March 2011 15:53 (eight years ago) link

good one

The Louvin Spoonful (WmC), Tuesday, 29 March 2011 15:56 (eight years ago) link

ooh yeah Pollard, he is a strange case. he always seemed so out of place with his 90s indie rock peers, like he was the Breeders' drunk uncle or something

in my world of loose geirs (Shakey Mo Collier), Tuesday, 29 March 2011 15:57 (eight years ago) link

Dieter Meier was already 35 when Yello released their first album, and their peak period wasn't until a few years after that.

Tuomas, Tuesday, 29 March 2011 16:02 (eight years ago) link

It's pretty hard to think of female pop/rock singers for whom this would be true. Debbie Harry and Grace Jones almost make it.

Tuomas, Tuesday, 29 March 2011 16:04 (eight years ago) link

Not sure if Can counts, since they were already in their 30's when they formed the band.

Yo La Tengo were a lot better in their 30's than in their 20's.

NoTimeBeforeTime, Tuesday, 29 March 2011 16:05 (eight years ago) link

Moondog

ka£ka (NickB), Tuesday, 29 March 2011 16:05 (eight years ago) link

Susan Boyle

ka£ka (NickB), Tuesday, 29 March 2011 16:06 (eight years ago) link

Oh yeah, and I would argue that Meshell Ndegeocello's peak period started in 2003 with Comfort Woman, and hasn't ended yet. She was born in 1968.

Tuomas, Tuesday, 29 March 2011 16:06 (eight years ago) link

Scott Walker

OTM. Not that I ain't a massive fan of the numbered albums, but SW is the first thing I thought of when i saw thread title.

this is a pretty idiosyncratic list of people so far

in my world of loose geirs (Shakey Mo Collier), Tuesday, 29 March 2011 16:09 (eight years ago) link

bill withers

adult music person (Jordan), Tuesday, 29 March 2011 16:15 (eight years ago) link

Go-Betweens.

The drummer from Spirit was 85 when their debut came out.

Thraft of Cleveland (Bill Magill), Tuesday, 29 March 2011 16:18 (eight years ago) link

weren't The Damned kinda old or at least some of them?

Bleeqwot the Chef (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Tuesday, 29 March 2011 16:20 (eight years ago) link

tonetta

buzza, Tuesday, 29 March 2011 16:22 (eight years ago) link

Jeez, is anything over 30 middle aged now?

Pop is superior to all other genres (DL), Tuesday, 29 March 2011 16:23 (eight years ago) link

lee hazlewood

buzza, Tuesday, 29 March 2011 16:24 (eight years ago) link

Trish Keenan was 35 when Broadcast released their second album (Haha Sound).

ka£ka (NickB), Tuesday, 29 March 2011 16:24 (eight years ago) link

Pet Shop Boys

Marianne Faithfull
Lucinda Williams

President Keyes, Tuesday, 29 March 2011 16:28 (eight years ago) link

Ivor Cutler

ka£ka (NickB), Tuesday, 29 March 2011 16:29 (eight years ago) link

I think free jazz and free improv players really benefit from years of playing and are only just coming into their best playing in middle age

That would seem to be true for free improv, but in free jazz there were guys like Ornette and Dolphy and Sanders who were all doing amazing stuff relatively young. Ayler didn't even make it to 35!

ka£ka (NickB), Wednesday, 30 March 2011 21:34 (eight years ago) link

Yeah, maybe there's something in there that could explain or at least illuminate the differences between free jazz and free improv. I don't know.

There are always exceptions and outliers -- Machine Gun was made by a bunch of twentysomethings (and one guy barely into his 30s).

The Louvin Spoonful (WmC), Wednesday, 30 March 2011 21:42 (eight years ago) link

Wish there were more metal bands over the age of 35. There's Neurosis I guess. Guess metal's a young man's game though, huh?

― If Assholes Could Fly This Place Would Be An Airport, Wednesday, March 30, 2011 5:11 PM (31 minutes ago) Bookmark Suggest Ban Permalink

Mastodon, as one example, is in their late 30's.

Thraft of Cleveland (Bill Magill), Wednesday, 30 March 2011 21:45 (eight years ago) link

Dio didnt hit his stride till 35, i think. If we even know how old he really was.

Thraft of Cleveland (Bill Magill), Wednesday, 30 March 2011 21:46 (eight years ago) link

Matt Pike has to be 40 years old. Peak for me was Blessed Black Wings in '05, so that's pretty close to 35.

Thraft of Cleveland (Bill Magill), Wednesday, 30 March 2011 21:48 (eight years ago) link

Had no idea Mastodon dudes were that old.

If Assholes Could Fly This Place Would Be An Airport, Wednesday, 30 March 2011 22:21 (eight years ago) link

Mastodon had the Today Is The Day connection remember. At the Cathouse gig some years back just when Leviathan came out some smart arse was shouting for today is the day songs. (everyone knew who they were too) think those days might be gone.

Algerian Goalkeeper, Wednesday, 30 March 2011 22:25 (eight years ago) link

Pulp was formed in 1978, but didn't creatively or commercially peak for almost two decades later (albeit with a mostly revamped lineup). They have some live shows scheduled for this year, by which time at least one band member will be 50.

As for artists whose commercial peak came long after their creative peak, I'll nominate Steve Winwood, who creatively peaked around 1967-68 - although some would argue it was anywhere from 1966 to 1971. But he was 40 when "Roll With It" (both the album and the single) topped the charts in 1988.

Lee626, Wednesday, 30 March 2011 22:57 (eight years ago) link

Decrepit old bluesmen.

To wit:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TRgg_9TmI-w&feature=fvwrel

suspecterrain, Thursday, 31 March 2011 09:20 (eight years ago) link

Sorry - got lost in the thread - posted, then read the thread title.

suspecterrain, Thursday, 31 March 2011 10:01 (eight years ago) link

thought of a good one: Mark Sandman turned 40 the year Morphine released its first album

bernard so icey (some dude), Monday, 4 April 2011 01:29 (eight years ago) link

I don't know how old Nina Nastasia is (40-ish?), but she waited a long time before recording her debut (having performed live in NYC since the early '90s), and last year's Outlaster is as good as anything I've heard by her.

administratieve blunder (unregistered), Monday, 4 April 2011 04:21 (eight years ago) link

oh, and Mark Lanegan has produced some of his best work while in his 40s. the latest Soulsavers album is one of the high points of his career, I think.

administratieve blunder (unregistered), Monday, 4 April 2011 04:34 (eight years ago) link

Howlin Wolf was 41 when he started to record for Chess in 1951.

Muddy Waters hit Chess Records peak started around 1950 when he was 37.

earlnash, Monday, 4 April 2011 05:15 (eight years ago) link

Erykah Badu? She's just put out two of her best albums in her late 30s.

banjee trillness (The Reverend), Monday, 4 April 2011 08:02 (eight years ago) link

I would be curious to see an argument that the Fall's peak period is from 1992 onward...

― in my world of loose geirs (Shakey Mo Collier)

http://www.residentadvisor.net/images/features/2009/mark-e-dj.jpghttp://media.musicfeeds.com.au/files/mark-e-smith.jpg

he's been dormant for a decade!! sigh

only five years. no idea if much of the smattering he did in the five years before that is any cop though.

Varg Vikernes: "...a giant and leaky bag of mayhem" (sic), Monday, 4 April 2011 11:07 (eight years ago) link

eight years pass...

Revive.

There are very, very few women mentioned on this thread. Why is that?

Hey Bob (Scik Mouthy), Monday, 10 June 2019 12:33 (three months ago) link

Well here's one: Jane Weaver's at he absolute peak at the moment and she's 46.

Gerald McBoing-Boing, Monday, 10 June 2019 14:32 (three months ago) link

Parenting affecting female careers more than male careers, perchance.

Neko Case seems to be in peak form in her 40s. Many of the artists on the ILX Gonna Shine in My Backdoor Someday are late bloomers, probably due to the proficiency required.

bendy, Monday, 10 June 2019 14:57 (three months ago) link

also rampant gatekeeping throughout their youth

weird woman in a bar (La Lechera), Monday, 10 June 2019 15:01 (three months ago) link

no "perchance" about the parenting thing either

weird woman in a bar (La Lechera), Monday, 10 June 2019 15:02 (three months ago) link

Tina Turner

weird woman in a bar (La Lechera), Monday, 10 June 2019 15:02 (three months ago) link

Ella Fitzgerald, probably lots of other jazz women

Brad C., Monday, 10 June 2019 15:08 (three months ago) link

Yeah I argued for Peggy Lee upthread, her run between "Fever" at age 37 and "Is That All There Is?" at 49 is for me her most fun period to listen to and also when she took the most chances

Josefa, Monday, 10 June 2019 15:25 (three months ago) link

Vi Subversa was 42 when she founded the Poison Girls

https://www.discogs.com/artist/420468-Vi-Subversa

Ambient Police (sleeve), Monday, 10 June 2019 15:28 (three months ago) link

Gyorgy Ligeti

All along there is the sound of feedback (Sund4r), Monday, 10 June 2019 15:28 (three months ago) link

38 for Atmosphères, probably the start of his peak period

All along there is the sound of feedback (Sund4r), Monday, 10 June 2019 15:29 (three months ago) link

Laurie Anderson?

change display name (Jordan), Monday, 10 June 2019 15:34 (three months ago) link

Lou Reed

recriminations from the nitpicking woke (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 10 June 2019 15:35 (three months ago) link

Kim Gordon was 42 when Washing Machine was released, many people think SY peaked after that

Ambient Police (sleeve), Monday, 10 June 2019 15:36 (three months ago) link

The majority of Moondog's recording career was between the ages of 37 and 55, and the most famous stuff is all from his 50s.

mfktz (Camaraderie at Arms Length), Monday, 10 June 2019 15:36 (three months ago) link

many people think SY peaked after that

Is this actually true?

All along there is the sound of feedback (Sund4r), Monday, 10 June 2019 15:42 (three months ago) link

hi!

recriminations from the nitpicking woke (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 10 June 2019 15:44 (three months ago) link

to my ears they released with a couple of mediocre exceptions a string of wonderful albums through 2006 but

recriminations from the nitpicking woke (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 10 June 2019 15:45 (three months ago) link

GBV?

Evan, Monday, 10 June 2019 15:45 (three months ago) link

I do like the latter day albums and, maybe especially, a lot of the SYR stuff! I just don't think of "post-1995" as Sonic Youth's peak period.

All along there is the sound of feedback (Sund4r), Monday, 10 June 2019 15:53 (three months ago) link

Alex Harvey was 33 when The Sensational Alex Harvey Band was formed, which seemed really old for a rock star at the time.

confusementalism (Dan Peterson), Monday, 10 June 2019 15:59 (three months ago) link

I think Bill Callahan's best work was done as Bill Callahan, and Woke on a Whaleheart came out when he was already 41. Even the best Smog material (imo) was done in his 30s.

longtime caller, first time listener (man alive), Monday, 10 June 2019 16:04 (three months ago) link

Yeah, tbf, even Sonic Youth's 80s work was done when Gordon was in her 30s; the band name was always ironic.

All along there is the sound of feedback (Sund4r), Monday, 10 June 2019 16:10 (three months ago) link

It would be an easy argument to make that Celia Cruz peaked after age 35 or even after 40

Josefa, Monday, 10 June 2019 16:11 (three months ago) link

Bill Frisell: mid-30s during downtown NYC days, 37 when he moved to Seattle, over 40 by the time of Have a Little Faith. Some of my favourite work of his might actually be post-middle age!

All along there is the sound of feedback (Sund4r), Monday, 10 June 2019 16:16 (three months ago) link

Duke Ellington was in his early 40s when he composed/released a string of masterworks ("Take The 'A' Train," "Cotton Tail," "Harlem Air Shaft," "Jack The Bear," "Ko-Ko," "Concerto For Cootie," etc. etc.).

And he was in his late 60s when he started a series of brilliant suites (The Far East Suite, The Latin American Suite, The Afro-Eurasian Eclipse, New Orleans Suite).

Montgomery Burns' Jazz (Tarfumes The Escape Goat), Monday, 10 June 2019 16:21 (three months ago) link

Wow I didn’t realise Kim Gordon was 66! I would have guessed at a minimum five years younger.

i really, really, really, really, really, really like glue (fionnland), Monday, 10 June 2019 16:21 (three months ago) link

Sorry, should correct the above to co-composed -- Billy Strayhorn was either the sole composer or a collaborator with Duke on many of the '40s pieces.

xp

Montgomery Burns' Jazz (Tarfumes The Escape Goat), Monday, 10 June 2019 16:22 (three months ago) link

Duke is a good one.

All along there is the sound of feedback (Sund4r), Monday, 10 June 2019 16:27 (three months ago) link

Nels Cline was in his 50s when he made my favourite albums of his, probably past middle age when he made Macroscope.

All along there is the sound of feedback (Sund4r), Monday, 10 June 2019 16:32 (three months ago) link

personally i'm planning to peak around 43

― adult music person (Jordan), Tuesday, March 29, 2011 4:27 PM (eight years ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

Still on track for this

change display name (Jordan), Monday, 10 June 2019 16:41 (three months ago) link

Pauline Oliveros fits in here for sure

Ambient Police (sleeve), Monday, 10 June 2019 16:44 (three months ago) link

Steve Reich was 39 when Music for 18 Musicians premiered. I think this is common for classical and jazz artists in the contemporary era.

All along there is the sound of feedback (Sund4r), Monday, 10 June 2019 17:28 (three months ago) link

Lucette Bourdin was a visual artist who released her first ambient album in 2005, when she was 51... Then, in following 7 years, she released something like 25 albums, most of which are excellent. Sadly, she died in 2012, but it was an amazing burst of music from someone who had never made (commercial) recordings at all in her first fifty years.

Tuomas, Monday, 10 June 2019 17:39 (three months ago) link


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