What Age Do Musicians Hit Their Creative Peak?

How old is too old? During many a heated debate about favorite bands and guitar players, I noticed a pattern which spawned an interesting theory that most successful musicians peaked somewhere between the ages of 25 and 30 years old. Recently I was discussing this with a friend and it occurred to us that if Elton John or Billy Joel had to live off of royalties from music they composed in their mid to late 30's or 40s, their lives would be much different than today. Even Jimmy Page would likely be in financial trouble if he were forced to survive on royalties from music he composed in his 40's.


We also discussed Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon and after some quick research, learned that most of the band members were in their mid to late 20s during the recording. Eddie Van Halen was just 23 years old when the first Van Halen album was released and we all know about Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin but it's probably a safe bet that any music they might have created in their 30's or 40's could not have rivaled what they accomplished in their 20s.


Let's look at some classic rock heavyweights like The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Rolling Stones, Queen and just for kicks we'll toss in a couple pop tarts like Michael Jackson and Prince.


The Beatles: Formed 1960

John Lennon was 20
Paul McCartney was 18
George Harrison was 17
Ringo Starr was 20

Average age: 18.7

Sure they all went on to have successes beyond their 20's but nothing rivaled their earlier musical accomplishments.


Led Zeppelin: Formed 1968

Jimmy Page was 24
Robert Plant was 20
John Paul Jones was 22
John Bonham was 20

Average Age: 21.5

Jimmy and Robert had limited success with post Zep collborations and solo projects, but can you name any?


Rolling Stones: Formed 1962

Mick Jagger was 19
Keith Richards was 19
Charlies Watts was 21
Ronnie Wood was 15 at the time but joined later

Average Age: 18.5

They're still kicking but how many Stones songs can you name from the 80's, 90's or beyond without consulting wiki?


Queen: Formed 1970

Brian May was 23
Roger Taylor was 21
Freddie Mercury was 24
John Deacon was 19

Average Age: 21.7

Some limited success in their 30's but nothing like their 20's. 


Michael Jackson

Michael went solo in 1979 with "Off the Wall" at just 21 years old and was 25 when Thriller was released. He was 33 when Dangerous was released but can you name a tune from that album?    



"Prince" was released in 1979 with the hit "I Wanna Be Your Lover", he was 21 years old. Prince was 26 when Purple Rain was released. Not unlike Michael Jackson, Prince was a musical anonomly who contnued to release high quality, but mostly irrelvant music into his 30's and beyond.



Albert Einstein

To put things into prospective, this madman introduced his theory of relativity at a mere 26 years old.  


There are always exceptions but this could be bad news for the 30 somethings and beyond who are still dreaming about filling arenas. Hang onto those dreams but don't quit that day job just yet.

What do you think?



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