Defying the odds and the pitfalls of life as rock gods, the Rolling Stones are touring again.
Well, at least some of them are.
The four blokes who will head out on the road this summer are not, as they say in music circles, the original lineup.
I won’t go into details here, but since the band has been around since the early 1960s a number of players have expired, retired, or exited the group known for such songs as No Expectations, Salt of the Earth and Tumbling Dice. Also, new guys have joined as replacements.
Eventually, all of the original Stones will be too old to tour and record.
But here’s a startling thought: Why not keep the band going beyond that point?
In other words, why does the music ever have to stop? Why can’t the band outlive Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and the rest?
The real value of a long-lived musical outfit like the Rolling Stones is as a brand, so why not keep pumping new life into the brand?
Sure, there are some music snobs who won’t accept the group without any original members. These are the same people who stopped listening to the Stones when Brian Jones left in 1969 and died shortly after.
However, most music fans would be more than willing to pay to see a Rolling Stones without any of its founding musicians, so long as the new members keep the rebellious spirit of the Stones alive.
And who better to do that than a group of fresh, young musicians?
In such a scenario, the Stones would follow the Menudo model.
Menudo is the boy band that struck it big in the 1980s by having a rule that when each member reached his 16th birthday, he would depart the group and be replaced by a younger boy. This way, the group was constantly renewing itself and maintaining its appeal to young girls.
Let’s face it, the Stones could learn a thing or two from Menudo. It’s not like teen girls are buying a lot of albums from Mick and company anymore.
And it’s not like this concept is new in the world of pop culture.
Many long-running newspaper comic strips have lasted for decades because when the creator dies or retires, a new artist/writer will take over by emulating the original style of the comic. Readers have never seemed to care.
Nor would the Stones be venturing into virgin territory.
Many bands from the same era continue to tour using replacements.
Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend represent only 50% of their storied band’s original lineup, yet ticket buyers continue to flock to their shows as the Who. No one complains about the absence of Keith Moon and John Entwistle.
There have been lots of jokes about how the Stones are already geriatric rockers, so since they can’t stave off the inevitable, how about taking the necessary steps now to ensure their musical legacy lives on?