Listen To This Eddie is a weekly column that examines the important people and events in the classic rock canon and how they continue to impact the world of popular music.
For the longest time the idea of the farewell tour was a joke; an obvious marketing ploy designed to separate hundreds of dollars from your wallet into the pockets of rock stars and the conglomerates that promote them, bolstered by the fear that this would be your last opportunity to hear your favorite performer play your favorite songs live. The punchline of course is that two, three, or four years later, those same bands would hit the road once again in a gambit to separate hundreds of dollars from your wallet to witness their glorious comeback. In 2018, the joke stopped being funny.
Last week, three titanic rock entities from the ’70s and ’80s announced they would hit the road for the final time beginning in 2018. Thrash metal icons Slayer led the way, announcing a two-month run kicking off in the spring. A few days later, southern rockers Lynyrd Skynyrd, who only have one remaining original member to their name — guitarist Gary Rossington — followed suit, unveiling a mega-run through America’s finest amphitheaters, supported by the likes of Kid Rock, Bad Company, and Hank Williams Jr. “We’ve been doing this a long time and we’re getting older, and it’s really hard touring and traveling,” Rossington told Billboard. “My health isn’t very great, so it’s harder for me to tour these days.”
The biggest, and most dazzling shoe to drop however, was that Elton John, one of the most consistent classic rock road warriors out there, had decided he too was ready to retire from the road. Though his goodbye would be long — three years, 300-dates — it would be definitive. “My priorities have changed in life,” he told Anderson Cooper at the press conference. “I always thought I’d be like Ray Charles or B.B. King on the road forever, but your life changes.”