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Retro rock is hot

While video may have killed the radio star, the Internet certainly has repurposed the classic rock star. Your grandfather’s rock band is now a Rock Band video game. Older acts like Fleetwood Mac and the Rolling Stones are hot these days. Classic albums are topping iTunes charts, and bands with AARP cards are embarking on successful tours filled with fans of many ages. Heck, even Black Sabbath had a No. 1 album on Billboard last month.

Bands from the ’60s to the ’90s enjoying chart and touring success

Stevie Nicks, left, and Lindsey Buckingham of Fleetwood Mac perform at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on July 3, 2013. (Associated Press)
Stevie Nicks, left, and Lindsey Buckingham of Fleetwood Mac perform at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on July 3, 2013. (Associated Press)

On the fringes of computer science, a prediction exists that within the next century, every human will be able to upload the entirety of his or her genome to a computer program. The upshot: We’ll all live forever in virtual reality.

The prediction might be far from the mainstream, but what naysayers fail to recognize is the Internet has already begun the first phase of human immortality. As comedian Patton Oswalt put it in an editorial for “Wired” magazine, “We’re on the brink of Etewaf: Everything That Ever Was — Available Forever.”

Yes, in the Internet age, nothing has to die, which is particularly good news for aging celebrities whose best work is far behind them. After all, with our endless market for nostalgia and ability to access just about anything from the past — from “Leave It To Beaver” episodes to footage of Fats Waller to 1980s Pepsi commercials — past glories can now be raised from the dead like so many zombies and made present again.

So it is with the ever-changing pop music landscape. While video may have killed the radio star, the Internet certainly has repurposed the classic rock star. Your grandfather’s rock band is now a Rock Band video game.

Older acts are hot these days. Classic albums are topping iTunes charts, and bands with AARP cards are embarking on successful tours filled with fans of many ages. Heck, even Black Sabbath had a No. 1 album on Billboard last month.

In fact, according to Pollstar, a group that tracks concert earnings, out of the top 20 grossing tours in the world right now, nearly half are acts that peaked at least 30 years ago. Next to Carrie Underwood and Taylor Swift, for example, are Styx and New Kids On The Block, which makes quite a motley crew. Speaking of which, Motley Crüe recently ranked at No. 13.

Silver Springs attraction in recent years has added many classic rock bands to concert seasons traditionally powered by country acts. The Marion County park has presented Styx, Foghat, Night Ranger, Kansas, Foreigner, KC and the Sunshine Band, .38 Special, Loverboy, Joan Jett and REO Speedwagon. The concerts attract tens of thousands from around North Central Florida.

“We’re going after that 35-to-45 age demographic, and they like to rock,” said the park’s marketing director Brooks Jordan a few years back, shortly after the park booked Eddie Money and Rick Springfield.

Next up at Silver Springs: 1980s metal-pop band Whitesnake.

“It’s all about connecting people with some memory of a happy time in their life,” said William McKeen, former professor and chairman of the journalism department at the University of Florida (and currently holding that position at Boston University).

McKeen also has published many acclaimed books on music, including 2011’s “Mile Marker Zero.” He said he recently saw Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons in Boston and that there seems to be an active circuit for nostalgia acts.

“I think they’re playing on the nostalgia of the Baby-Boomers,” he said. “I was a young swain in the early-’70s when we were going through that first great rock ‘n’ roll revival. Chuck Berry and Little Richard, and all those people were touring again and they weren’t selling new product. They were selling the nostalgia.

“And the funny thing was, all these kids like me who were born in the ’50s and therefore couldn’t remember the originals, we embraced that time and that culture. My wife was born in the ’70s, and she loves disco because that was the music around the time of her birth. It’s kind of like everyone tries to fall in love with maybe the music we were conceived to.”

Silver Springs resident and rock ‘n’ roller Pam DaCosta is a regular concertgoer, although she says her reasons go beyond simple nostalgia.

“I’ve been this way forever,” said DaCosta, who grew up in the 1980s. “My sister thinks I’m going through a midlife crisis, but I said to her, ‘You know I’ve always been this way. I just love going to concerts.’”

DaCosta favors the bands that were popular when she was a teenager — groups such as Kix and Tesla, both of which she saw on the Monsters of Rock Cruise, a four-day jaunt from Miami to the Bahamas and back. DaCosta went on the cruise in March and is planning on going again next March, when the cruise will feature Cinderella, Winger, Ratt and many others of the 1980s hair metal period.

“It brings you back to another time, reliving your youth so to speak,” said DaCosta, who also attended the packed Styx concert at the Ocala Entertainment Complex in 2011. The gold-and-platinum selling band returned to Marion County about a year later for a packed gig at Silver Springs.

Yet, many artists contend, the adults who grew up with them decades ago are not the only ones fueling the retro resurgence.

Mike Reno, lead singer of chart-topping ’80s band Loverboy, noted the band’s music continues to resurface in modern pop culture. Twentysomethings also flock to Loverboy concerts.

“I guess they just love the energy, you know? That’s the only thing I can imagine,” Reno told the Star-Banner in 2010. “They come in droves. It’s really quite amazing.”

Facts

TOP CONCERT TOURS
(The Top Concert Tours as of July 8, 2013. Data provided to Pollstar by concert promoters and venue managers.)

1. The Rolling Stones
2. Taylor Swift
3. Kenny Chesney
4. Fleetwood Mac
5. Dave Matthews Band
6. Justin Bieber
7. New Kids On The Block
8. Tim McGraw
9. Brad Paisley
10. Jason Aldean
11. Carrie Underwood
12. Widespread Panic
13. Barry Manilow
14. Motley Crue
15. Styx/REO Speedwagon/Ted Nugent

Travis Atria / Gainesville Sun / Sunday, July 28, 2013

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Ravinia Festival
Highland Park, IL
September 8, 2022
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Pine Knob Music Theatre
Clarkston, MI
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w/ Vanessa Carlton

Sea Hear Now Festival
Asbury, NJ
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September 19, 2022
w/ Vanessa Carlton

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October 6, 2022
w/ Vanessa Carlton

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November 2, 2022
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November 5, 2022
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