Keep On Rocking 40-Plus Years and Counting

The most famous line-up of my all-time favorite band The Beatles existed from August 1962 until September 1969 when they collectively recorded their last song appropriately titled The End, the final track of the Abbey Road album – not a bad duration for a band, given the music business oftentimes is dominated by larger-than-life egos. Yet as productive as The Fab Four were, these seven years look pretty moderate compared to the groups featured in this post, who have been rocking for more than 40 years – in one case even reaching 60 years!

Following are three criteria a band needed to satisfy to be considered for the post. They need to have at least one remaining original member. A group’s duration was measured in terms of active years, not how long they have been together on paper. For example, while Deep Purple were founded in 1968, they “only” have played together for 48 years, not 54 years, if you consider their break-up between 1976 and 1984. Last but not least, I solely included bands I like.

Following I’m highlighting six groups in chronological order of when they were founded with one tune from each. A Spotify playlist at the end of the post includes those tracks, plus songs from a few additional bands meeting the above criteria. Altogether, I decided to include 10 picks. Let’s get to it.

The Rolling Stones

The Rolling Stones, formed in 1962, have been active for an incredible 60 years, making them the longest-running band on this list. With Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, they still have two original members who have been key to the group. It’s also noteworthy that Ronnie Wood has been part of the line-up since 1975. Sadly, the Stones lost their long-time drummer Charlie Watts last August. He had joined them back in 1963. To date, the Stones have released 30 studio albums, 33 live records and 29 compilations, among others. On November 23, 2021, they finished their most recent tour (No Filter Tour) in Hollywood, Fla. Here’s Jumpin’ Jack Flash, which first appeared in May 1968 as a non-album single.

The Who

Approximately two years after the Stones, in 1964, another dynamite British rock band was formed: The Who. Like their compatriots, the group has two original and essential members to this day, guitarist Pete Townshend and lead vocalist Roger Daltrey. Counting various breaks along the way, The Who have been active for 50 years. Their catalog includes 12 studio albums, 16 live recordings and 32 compilations, among others. Just on Monday this week, The Who announced a 2022 North American tour, The Who Hits Back, scheduled to kick off on April 22 at Hardrock Live in Hollywood, Fla. – the very same venue where the Stones wrapped up their tour last year. Messrs. Daltrey and Townshend and their band are playing New York’s Madison Square Garden on May 26 – damn, this is tempting! Here’s Going Mobile from my favorite Who album Who’s Next.

Deep Purple

On to my favorite hard rock band of all time, Deep Purple, who were initially established in 1968. One of the founding members, drummer Ian Paice, remains part of the group’s current formation. Two additional present members, bassist Roger Glover and lead vocalist Ian Gillan joined in 1969, and as such were part of the group’s classic line-up that also included guitarist Ritchie Blackmore and organist Jon Lord. Deep Purple’s discography encompasses 22 studio albums, 45 live records and 28 compilations. The band is also touring this year starting in May, mostly in Europe. Here’s the epic Child in Time, a track from their fourth studio album Deep Purple in Rock released in June 1970 – the first to feature the classic line-up.

Aerosmith

The bad boys from Boston were formed in 1970. Remarkably, four of the group’s current five members are co-founders: Steven Tyler (lead vocals, harmonica, percussion), Joe Perry (guitar, backing vocals), Tom Hamilton (bass) and Joey Kramer (drums, percussion). Second guitarist Brad Whitford joined in 1971. While Perry and Whitford, respectively, had five and three-year interruptions in-between and missed the 1982 Rock in a Hard Place album, Tyler, Hamilton and Kramer have played on all of the band’s 15 studio records to date. Aerosmith’s catalog also includes six live records and 16 compilations. On January 31, the group announced the cancellation of their European tour that had been planned for June and July, citing uncertainty around the pandemic. Here’s Janie’s Got a Gun, one of my favorite Aerosmith tunes off their 10th studio album Pump, released in September 1989.

AC/DC

Australian rock and rollers AC/DC have been around since 1973. Not counting their hiatus between 2016 and 2020, this amounts to 45 years. Lead guitarist Angus Young remains as the only founding member. There are three other longtime members: Phil Rudd (drums), Cliff Williams (bass, backing vocals) and Brian Johnson (lead vocals), who first joined the band in 1975, 1977 and 1980, respectively. AC/DC’s catalog features 17 studio albums, three live records and two box sets, among others. Here’s Play Ball, a great track from the group’s 16th studio album Rock or Bust that appeared in November 2014, featuring all of the above members.

U2

The last group I’d like to highlight in this upfront section of the post are Irish rockers U2 who were formed in Dublin in 1976 under the name Feedback. It’s the only band on this list whose current members were all co-founders. That being said, their present line-up is not the group’s initial formation, which during their first year also included a second guitarist, Dik Evans, the older brother of David Evans known as The Edge. U2’s other members are Paul Hewson (Bono), Adam Clayton (bass) and Larry Mullen Jr. (drums). To date, the band’s discography consists of 14 studio albums, one live record and three compilations, among others. U2 were most recently on the road in 2019 for the second part of The Joshua Tree Tour. I caught one of the shows during the first part of that tour in 2017 – my only U2 concert so far, and a memorable experience! Here’s Red Hill Mining Town, a track from my favorite U2 album The Joshua Tree that came out in March 1987.

Following is the aforementioned Spotify list.

Sources: Wikipedia; The Who website; Deep Purple website; Aerosmith website; YouTube; Spotify

7 thoughts on “Keep On Rocking 40-Plus Years and Counting”

  1. That must have been Blue Oyster Cults first album or something. I didn’t know they went all the way back to 1972. That Status Quo is the old John Fogerty song. I had no idea Status Quo did that one. The only thing I really know by them is the old ’60s psychedelic classic Pictures of Matchstick Men, which is one of my favorites. I never really heard their other stuff. It sounds kind of Glam Rock-y.
    And of course, Jumping Jack Flash is the greatest Rolling Stones record, or at least it’s my own favorite. Going Mobile is my favorite song on Who’s Next. The only thing I really like by Aerosmith is Dream On. And Sweet Emotion. Tush would probably be my favorite ZZ Top after Cheap Sunglasses.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! Yep, “Cities on Flames” is from BOC’s eponymous debut album – always loved that tune. I’m surprised you haven’t heard Status Quo post their psychedelic phase when they turned to boogie rock – really fun! I also dig Aerosmith’s “Dream On” and think they had some great other songs as well. Last but not least, “Tush” is among my all-time favorite blues rockers. ZZ Top are so tight on that one – just love it!

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  2. The drumming in Goin Mobile is one of the best performances in rock to me. Only Moon could have done that…that is why he is my favorite rock drummer. He is almost impossible to duplicate.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. See….I’ve always favored him over every other drummer…the reason is…I’ve heard Baker and Bonham copied rather well…NO one has copied Moon fully…because he was just so damn different.
        Youtube has him on an isolated drum track for this song…he was an insane genius! lol.

        Saying that….I’m NOT downing Bohham or Baker…they were great! Bonham is my second favorite drummer of all time.

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  3. A couple of strong contenders dipped out relatively recently:
    ZZ Top had the same lineup for pretty much 50 years I think?
    Rush changed drummers after the first record and the same three were together for 45 years?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yep, Dusty Hill joined ZZ Top in 1970 and their line-up did not change between then last year when he passed away. So that’s 51 years – pretty much unheard of!

      Regarding Rush, yes, after Neil Peart joined them in 1974, the band didn’t change their line-up until they essentially stopped performing in 2018. Peart passed away in January 2020, putting a definitive end to Rush – which is why they wouldn’t have qualified for my list. Plus, even if they still would be active, I probably wouldn’t have included them. While I recognize their great musicianship, I was never into Rush.

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