How old is too old?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by dabshire, Jul 18, 2003.

  1. dabshire


    Dec 15, 2002
    McKinney, TX

    So I have a stupid question. I am 30 (going on 31 in November), married, three kids, mortgage, grown-up job, etc, etc. Sometimes I still get that old urge to be in an original type band doing Alternative/Rock type music. Am I too old?

    Every now and then I go looking out on the net for "Musician Wanted" type ads, but I'm always afraid to reply to them. I worry that I'll reply, we'll meet, and the other guys will be like 20, way cooler than me, and they will see me and go "Dude....your so old!"

    Am I just stupid, or would a younger audience (like late teens, early 20's) think I was just an old wanker trying to be cool?

  2. fclefgeoff

    fclefgeoff Supporting Member

    Jan 3, 2002
    I am in the same boat as you. I'm 30 and will be 31 in November. I am married, have a job, but no kids. Screw 'em. You should be playing because YOU want to. Why care what anyone else thinks. I HAVE to play bass, it's just my nature and I surely hope that will never change. Bottom line is if you're doing it for any other reason than the sheer love of it, then you're doing it for the wrong reasons....Now get out there and JAM! You're never too old to make music.

    EDIT: I just want to add that over the years I have been in bands with guys that were 18 and guys that were 50. Age never really mattered to me as long as they could keep up and they sounded good.
  3. Thor

    Thor Moderator Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    This happened to me, and it was fine.

    I had moved back from Florida in '86 to Rhode Island, noticed an ad for a bassplayer in the Providence Phoenix ' Rolling Stones Cover band needs bassplayer'. Stones were hardwired at the cellular level, so I figured what the heck. I was 34 at the time.

    I showed up at the guys house, along with a guitar player that answered. Ages 16, 17 and 18. Oh boy, I thought! We jammed for 3 hours, hit it off real well. We had a lot of fun and ended up playing out a bit. New material seeped in pretty fast, and we grew quickly musically as the guys were pretty talented.

    The rub came when they wanted to make a career of it. I couldn't play out as often as they would have liked without hurting my job performance, and thus career, earning potential and family obligations had to take preference.

    The guitar player is still active, and older now than when I first met him. He still has his day job, though. Here's his website.

    So I'd say go for it, you reach a point musically where age doesn't matter too much, and at 31, you are just starting to play. A real musician has that urge, that need to play, that can't be denied. And why deny it, you ain't gonna live forever.

  4. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    I joined my present band last year, when I was 30. No problems - the group covers a wide range of ages from 20 - 35+ (not sure of the trumpet player's exact age but he's definitly a bit older than me) and date of birth is not an issue.

    Try a few things out. You might end up playing different kinds of gigs from what you might have done when you were 20 but there's no reason not to play.

    Of course, you do need to make sure you've got the time - with wife, kids and job that's a fair number of places you already need to spread the hours in the day. However, if you can fit that in, then I'd definitely recommend pursuing the idea.

  5. adouglas


    Jun 23, 2003
    Bridgeport, CT
    I'm 44.

    If I were you I'd get over worrying about your age and just go for it. Age does not determine talent.

    One of the things you learn as you get older is that hangups like this are a real waste of time. I no longer devote much energy to worrying about what other people think of my looks or my age or my voice or.... You know, all the stuff that teenagers obsess over. It's part of maturing.

    Chances are, if you've been playing a while, you're better than those kids anyway. They might look up to you.

    Tony Levin is in his 50s. If he answered one of these ads do you think they'd reject him for being to old? As the philosopher who, upon contemplating a rope, said, "I think knot."

    'nuff said about being too old.

    To my mind the issues won't come up in the context of the band (with the exception of musical tastes)... they'll arise in the context of lifestyle outside music. I can't stay up all night any more, can't abuse my body the way I used to, etc.... So make it be about the music, not the party.
  6. thrash_jazz


    Jan 11, 2002
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Artist: JAF Basses, Circle K Strings
    If you can play, age is irrelevant. If the people you're playing with are too concerned about your age, trust me, you don't want to play with them anyway.

    When I was 20 and a student I was in such a band with mid-30's guys who had careers, families and all that good stuff. We got along just fine. (I'm 24 now)

    There is one thing you have to think about - the commitment level that a band requires. A regularly gigging band will require AT LEAST two rehearsals a week and significant time out of the house. I'd say discuss it with your family and see how they feel about it - this is the sort of thing that could cause problems if not communicated well.
  7. CS


    Dec 11, 1999
    I started an alternative/indie band in 2001. I play bass for a youth Gospel Choir.

    I'm 41.

    Just use hair dye/shave your head and don't mention bands you played with in the 80's.
  8. Blueszilla

    Blueszilla Bassist ordinaire

    Apr 2, 2003
    The Duke City
    I'm 46 and playing more now than ever. In my trio the GP and drummer are younger than me by 6 and 8 years, never been a problem though. I say what the others say: nevermind the age thing, it's not important. Younger musicians will most likely benefit from your experience, and not just musically.

    You're only too old if YOU think you are. Once I think that I'll sell my rig. I'm having too much fun to do that!!
  9. Craig Garfinkel

    Craig Garfinkel

    Aug 25, 2000
    Hartford, CT
    Endorsing Artist: Sadowsky Guitars
    Amen, brotha. Even though I'm waaaaaay younger than you (43), I can dig. Two of the cats in my band are almost young enough to be my...much younger brothers.
  10. LoJoe


    Sep 5, 2002
    Concord, NC USA.
    I'm 45 and in three different part time bands, and had to turn down an offer from a 4th. They range from a classic rock band to a praise band, to a pop rock band. Granted none of this is new age, metal or what you'd hear on a current popular teen oriented radio station, but it is some jamming stuff. The ages of the various band members range from my 45 to one of the drummers being a college kid of 19. My age has never been an issue other than some of the very serious requests for advice I sometimes get on topics ranging from girls/women, to making career choices. If you love to play, just do it. You're a young whippersnapper compared to me and I just switched over to bass last year.
  11. dabshire


    Dec 15, 2002
    McKinney, TX
    Thanks guys. I appreciate all the advice.

    The time commitment thing is a concern. Especially to my wife. (If it were solely up to me, and I didn't have four people counting on me for things like food, shelter, medical insurance, etc, I'd live in a little 1 room hole in the wall and play music all day long. Sometimes I am afraid I love playing too much ;)). Plus, I don't want my kids to grow up and hate me because I was never around...

    Much to ponder....


  12. adouglas


    Jun 23, 2003
    Bridgeport, CT
    I hear ya on that. I'm enjoying myself more than I ever have, because I'm better than I've ever been.

    That's the beauty of music... it's not about physical ability the way sports are. I'm also a weekend warrior athlete (whitewater kayaking, cycling), and there's no way I can keep up with guys in their 20s and 30s. But with my bass, age doesn't matter.
  13. secretdonkey


    Oct 9, 2002
    Austin, TX
    Okay, I'm scrolling down and I'm like, "I didn't post in this thread..." Doh! Got those by email, Thor, but haven't had time to think twice about it - now I know!


    I'm 35, married, no kids. Yeah, I'm having trouble finding a band, and yeah I've run in to the "no offense, but 35 is a little old" thing. So far, that has only occured in situations that I wouldn't have been interested in, anyway. I'm really frustrated by not finding a band, but I sure as heck don't feel old or out of touch. On the contrary, I see most of these 20 year old kids as having a narrow, limited musical perspective, and unrealistic expectations. There are definitely exceptions, so this is not to knock younger players because I've heard some really good ones lately... Anyway, I guess it comes down to how you define yourself and how you let others define you. It's your choice to "be old" or not...

    I think the whole "Logan's Run" attitude of some of these younger players just reveals that some kind of image/lifestyle thing is more important than musicianship to them. [old man voice] Back when I was 15, I was playing with guys who were 25. When I was 20, I was playing big club venues with guys who were 30, when I was 30, I was playing with guys who were 40 (doing originals, no less). At 35 I've backed up blues artists in their 50s and 60s. Kids today have no respect for experience and the perspective of a more experienced player, dag-nabbit!" [/old man voice]. Anyway, it works out because I don't have any interest in playing with the sort of kiddo who wouldn't want to play with me. (As Thrash and others have said - I started my reply right after Thor's but got sidetracked!)


    Thor, you're a better man than I - I wouldn't go anywhere near a group of 16-18 year olds. My loss, apparently - sounds like it worked out for you.
  14. Hell - you lot are just babies!! I am 55 and started playing again a couple of years ago after a lay off of 30 years! I play blues in a band where all the others are younger (mostly 40ish), some folk stuff with a guy about five years younger and I am taking lessons with a teacher two thirds my age (major thirds I think) studying jazz bass. It's not about how old you are but how you approach it - if you are doing it in an attempt to chase and recapture a long lost youth then I guess you do run the risk of appearing faintly ridiculous (especially if you are tempted to try looking the same as you did then!!)but its creating music that really matters. If you are enjoying playing it whatever it is and there is an audience out there who enjoying listening to it then why should age stop you? Think Ray Brown!
  15. fastplant


    Sep 26, 2002
    A few years back my brother and I and a friend of ours started a jam type band and we needed a good keyboardist. We only knew of one. He used to play in my dad's old band. We were all about 16-19 and he was in his late 40's. But he came over and we jammed and it was amazing, we never even really thought about the age difference. If the people you jam with think you're too old, then they're more concerned with image than the music and you shouldn't play with them anyway.
  16. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses, Hipshot products
    i've got ohhhhhh soooo many thoughts on this topic.

    1st, is that a wife and 3 kids i would think would be much more of a concern than age. is anything is gonna get in the way of your desire to, uhhh "rock out", i would think that would be it.

    2nd, i believe we can and should play ANYTHING we want to play, and age is completely irrelevent (i shall contradict myself shortly :) ). i always think along the lines of how young rock and roll actually is. 50 something years? 500 years from now we'll be in the inventing stages of it still! the beatles were revolutionary. they broke all kinds of new ground, ground some people think will never be broken again. that seems absurd to me. there is soooo much new ground to break. what am i ranting about???? today, pop culture says you're 16 to 25 or your out in rock and roll. well guess what? there are no rules. you or i might just very well be the first 70 year old to bust out and sell millions of albums at as rock and roll guy. sounds silly, cuz i don't think i'm explaining my point well, but the main idea is that there are no rules. where WOULD all the great innovators be if there were. there's no such thing as too old to rock and roll IMO.

    on the other hand.... the age thing can, and does cause some problems nowadays. some i could understand, some seem unfair - and i do battle with them. i recently auditioned for a pretty happening signed act, passed the audition, and told the main person my age only after i was comfortable enough with them. i was dropped next phone call. if the band was a bunch of 16 year olds, i could understand - but i looked the same age or even younger than some.

    and, so... MY dilemma. my age is for the most part a secret. we have hundreds of fans in our small pond here in Bklyn and the average age of our most loyal ones is 17. would it matter if they knew i was older than their parents, i don't know.

    if i keep blabbin my secret isn't gonna be much of a secret anymore :eek: .

    ps. i'm pretty proud of where i'm at as an old guy. i'm having way more fun than when i was 17, and i'm ohhhhhhhhhh soooo much better a musician too! youth is NOT wasted on the young. it's wasted in our heads.
  17. CS


    Dec 11, 1999
    When I was your age (that makes me sound so old) I limited the amount of playing I did to the odd church service and pickup gigs. Now they are older I play at church and in two bands with a covers band on the horizon.

    BTW my wife goes to keep fit twice a week and has horse riding lessons twice a week. We also go out to dinner or down the pub together about once a fortnight. So theres a balance of apart and together.

    Music keeps me sane (almost).
  18. I'm 44 and ditto on the comments above. I've played in groups with teenagers, kids in their 20's and cats in the 60's. It's all about the music.
  19. It's not about age, it's about experience, and I would kill to have guys with much more experience to play with in my band. You would probably be a godsend to these kids that are a little bit younger. I say go for it.
  20. In my main band, seven of us are 20-24. The other guy is not only old enough to be our dad, he IS the lead singer's dad. We've had no problems with this arrangement.