Yes, i think so. This is where I want to really explore. I am going to explain, and back up as best as I can, why these folks were just done. Spent. Exhausted. Out of great ideas, out of money, out of luck, and out of fans.
If you look at the top selling albums in history, the median age is 24. Is a rock star done at 27? No, but… I think they thought so. Songs don’t come to you anymore like they did. It used to be magic… the muse… after your early 20’s, you learn it’s a craft. Songwriting is work. You are thinking the fan won’t like these new songs because they feel manufactured.
We are really getting to the meat of my thesis here. In fact, read this page LAST. Seriously. I wasn’t sure how to organize the site, but I figured separate pages to look at separate issues. However, all pages lead to this one.
The greatest creative work in rock music (and perhaps in all disciplines, I don’t know) happens between 21 and 24. I do not think, on any level, that any artist is creatively spent by 27. HOWEVER… I think it is extremely possible that they think so. Let’s play with some examples, and ruffle some feathers.
Jimi Hendrix was young, and a creative genius. We can only assume crazy amounts of amazing guitar work would have continued to come for decades, had he lived. What if Jimi didn’t think so, though? Jimi’s ENTIRE recording career was 14 months long. That is it. All he ever recorded, that was released in his lifetime, was done in a year. Jimi only had 3 albums. You can buy about 30 now, but there were only 3: Are you Experienced (August 1967), Axis: Bold at Love (Jan 1968) and lastly Electric Ladyland (Oct 1968). Jimi lives another 3 years, and doesn’t release a goddamn thing. How is that even possible? How could shit out three of the most influential records in history in a year, and then not put anything out ever again? Was Jimi done? No, of course not. But… did perhaps Jimi think Jimi was done? It’s possible. Remember, his manager was one of the worst people in history, and very possibly killed Hendrix himself.
Axl Rose – how, and why, the hell is he still alive. Let’s look at him as if he were in the 27 club. Here is what you get from an Axl pre-27 years old > Lies, Appetite for Destruction, Live like a Suicide. Here is what you get after > Spaghetti Incident, Use your Illusion, Chinese Democracy. If Axl were in the 27 club, it would fix all of this.
Kurt Cobain writes Nevermind when he is 23. Know what he did after that? With 4 years on top in the biggest band in the world… they mustered 1 more studio album – In Utero. Everything was compilations and concerts and hotdog parts (lips, assholes, demos, outtakes) etc. You know how after a band dies, the record company mines ALL that shit to release? Well, like Hunter S Thompson… the band was already mining that garbage in their heyday. Again, I don’t think Cobain was done writing great music at the time he died, but I betcha he thought that.