Who are the most iconic British musicians over 65?
6th October 2020
Some of the greatest British musicians are now over the age of 65, but their songs remain timeless and they continue to have grandparents, parents and children dancing and singing. For many, their music evokes memories from events during their life.
This guide takes a look at some of the most iconic British musicians and these range from rock royalty to pop icons. Their songs have been hugely popular for decades with some of their tracks are regarded by fans as the greatest of all time.
The below infographic highlights some of the most iconic over-65 British musicians and details some of their most famous songs and some trivia about them. The guide then looks at each featured artist and gets comments from their fans.
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Sir Elton John
Sir Elton John, also known as The Rocket Man, has had huge success over his long career that has seen more than 50 of his records reach the Top 50 in the UK singles chart and him selling over 300 million records worldwide.
Certain singles such as ‘Candle in the Wind’, which Sir Elton re-wrote in tribute to Princess Diana, were hugely successful and sold more than 33 million copies across the globe. This became the best-selling single in the history of the UK Singles Chart.
Since his first tour back in 1970, Elton has since performed over 4,000 times in more than 80 countries and is the most successful male in the history of the American charts and the third most successful artist ever, behind Madonna and the Beatles.
Sir Elton John’s talents were evident from a young age as at the age of three he astonished his family by playing The Skater’s Waltz on the piano. He was awarded a scholarship as a Junior Exhibitor at the Royal Academy of Music aged just 11.
Elton has also seen success in musical films and theatre and has composed for ‘The Lion King’ and its stage adaption and ‘Billy Elliot: The Musical’.
From older people listening to his music while on their stair lift at home to young people listening to it when they are out, Sir Elton John’s music is popular with people of all ages from all over the world.
Sir Paul McCartney
Sir Paul McCartney is in the Guinness Book of World Records for being the most successful songwriter of all-time. A staggering 129 songs he has written/co-written reached the charts in the UK and 91 of his singles reached the top 10, with 33 of those making it to No.1. He is considered by many as one of the most successful entertainers of all-time.
Sir Paul McCartney was a talented songwriter from an early age and wrote ‘When I’m Sixty-Four’ at the age of 16. In 1957, he met John Lennon at a church festival where Lennon’s band, the Quarrymen, were performing. In 1960, the band became ‘The Beatles’ and became regular performers at Liverpool’s Cavern Club.
The Beatles became the best-selling band in history with 15 of their albums reaching number one in the UK charts and more than 20 million singles being sold as well.
The British Beatles Fan Club explained why the bands’ music is so popular: “What I love about The Beatles music is the vast diversity from starting out as pop stars with hits like 'She Loves You' through the psychedelic era of 'Strawberry Fields Forever' and then onto the differing styles of their solo recordings.
“Paul McCartney should be listened to in terms of the wonderful songs he has written such as 'Elenor Rigby' and ‘Yesterday’ as well as much of his solo work which ranges from pop to classical. He is an inspiration to many generations and his songs will live on.”
The Rolling Stones
Regarded as the greatest rock'n'roll band in the world by many, The Rolling Stones were formed in 1962 and are made up of Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts and Ronnie Wood.
The Rolling Stones are ranked as the fourth best-selling band of all-time and have released around 120 singles and more than 70 albums. They have sold over 240 million albums around the world and have held more than 40 tours, three of which are among the highest-grossing of all-time.
Their recent ‘No Filter Tour’ would see the band travel across the UK, Europe and North America before it had to be stopped as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Christine McVie of Fleetwood Mac
Christine McVie is best known as the keyboardist and co-lead vocalist of Fleetwood Mac, who she joined in 1970. She is a talented songwriter and has written many of the groups signature songs such as Songbird, Don’t Stop, You Make Loving Fun, Oh Daddy, Little Lies and Everywhere.
Neil O’Donoghue from the UK Resource for everything Fleetwood Mac called Go Your Own Way talks about why he loves the band.
“Fleetwood Mac have a unique blend of female/male vocalists and writers that contribute differing styles to the songs on their albums, you can never get bored with a Fleetwood Mac album as the songs move beyond standard genres from track to track, combined with the driving backbeat of Mick Fleetwood’s drums, John McVie’ bass that has provided a canvas that allowed Christine McVie, Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks to create some of the most cherished and loved songs with the 70s and 80s. These songs about relationships speak to music lovers on so many levels, from the pain of a relationship breakup to the euphoria of new-found love, the songs from Fleetwood Mac defined a generation and speak still now to the new listeners that are discovering their parent’s long love for Fleetwood Mac.”
Neil continues and talks about Christine McVie and her importance within the band and how she helped make Fleetwood Mac one of Britain’s biggest bands.
“Christine McVie has been one of the three core presences within Fleetwood Mac since 1970 with Mick Fleetwood and her ex-husband John McVie. Christine writes, sings and play keyboards within the band and has written the most amount of hits within the writers of the group, even her song Don’t Stop became an anthem for Bill Clinton’s US presidency in 1993. Christine brings an earthy blues-led influence into the band dynamic that gels nicely with her southern Californian bandmates, contributing beautiful exquisite vocal harmonies with Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham, these three singers gelled so well and blasted Fleetwood Mac into the being one of biggest bands of the late 70s. Christine left the band in 1998 to come back and live in England and she overcome a fear of flying to re-join the band in 2013 aged seventy, she has since been on multiple worldwide tours and released a new duet album with long-time Fleetwood Mac co-member Lindsey Buckingham in 2017.”
Christine McVie has continued to gain huge success and in 2006, was awarded the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors’ Gold Badge of Merit.
Sir Cliff Richard
Sir Cliff Richard has enjoyed an illustrious career which has spanned more than 60 years in which time he has sold more than 250 million records worldwide. According to the Official Charts, Sir Cliff is the third top-selling musical artist in UK Singles Chart history and is only behind The Beatles and Elvis Presley.
Across five consecutive decades, he has had 14 number ones and over 60 UK Top 10 singles. Sir Cliff Richard and his backing group, ‘The Shadows’, dominated the British music scene in the late 1950s and early 1960s and he is believed to be an inspiration for John Lennon of the Beatles.
Sir Cliff Richard is also well-known for releasing music around the festive season and he has had four UK Christmas number one singles. Two of these hits (‘Mistletoe and Wine’ and ‘Saviour's Day’) were as a solo artist.
Dame Shirley Bassey
The superstar singer from Cardiff has released 70 albums and sold nearly 140 million records globally since the mid-1950s when her career began. In fact, she became the first Welsh person to gain a No. 1 single back in 1959.
Dame Shirley Bassey is famed for her deep, expressive contralto voice and she has recorded three theme songs for James Bond films: Goldfinger in 1964, Diamonds Are Forever in 1971, and Moonraker in 1979.
Her glittering career has seen her appointed a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) for services to the performing arts and receive a Brit Award in 1977 for Best British Female Solo Artist in the previous 25 years.
In August 2020, Dame Shirley Bassey revealed that she will be releasing her first new album in more than five years to celebrate her 70-year career.
Speaking to the BBC she said: “The songs I have chosen all feel very personal and connected to my life. I hope they will do the same for my fans.”
Brian May of Queen
Brian May became a household name for being the lead guitarist of the rock band, Queen. He was a co-founder of the band along with drummer Roger Taylor and lead singer Freddie Mercury.
Queen would become one of the world’s most famous bands from the mid-1970s to the early 1990s, selling around 300 million records along the way. They toured all over the world and one of their most notable performances was at Live Aid in 1985, which was held simultaneously at Wembley Stadium in London and the John F. Kennedy Stadium in Philadelphia in front of 72,000 and 89,000 people respectively.
Queen is the 7th biggest selling band of all time with 12.6 million records sold in the UK‘s Official Singles Chart.
Jacky from Queen World, a fan club of the band, talks about why she loves Queen: “I love Queen music because it is the soundtrack to many lives, they have a song to suit any mood and any emotion. They can uplift, inspire, calm or excite you! Their music is simply timeless!
“My favourite Brian song is Keep Yourself Alive from his Queen catalogue, as it was one of the very first singles I ever bought, and it still sounds as fresh. From his solo work, then Driven By You is a great, powerful uplifting song that just always makes me smile.
“Brian is not only a consummate musician and songwriter, but he is also a lovely man, who cares about the world we live in - tirelessly supporting good causes, such as his own Save Me Trust, to give animals of this world a voice.”
Even today May performs alongside bandmate Roger Taylor and US singer Adam Lambert.
Dave Gilmour and Roger Waters of Pink Floyd
Dave Gilmour and Roger Waters are famous across the globe for being members of the psychedelic rock band Pink Floyd. The band is renowned for being a leading group in the progressive rock genre and their elaborate live shows.
Pink Floyd has had huge success over their careers and their album, ‘The Dark Side of the Moon’, is the third best-selling album in the world. The NME has reported that according to their estimations around one in 12 people own the album.
Roger Waters is the bass guitarist and vocalist of the group and having been schoolfriends he invited guitarist and co-lead vocalist Dave Gilmour to become a member of the group. Roger Waters took the reins on song writing and the band released a host of successful albums including the aforementioned ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ as well as ‘Wish You Were Here’ and ‘The Wall’.
The musicians and bands in this list have all had stellar careers and have released songs that will live long in the memory for many. With modern technology such as Spotify and mobile phones, people can listen to their music from anywhere, including outside in the garden or even on straight stairlifts.
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