Have you ever found yourself wondering which famous musicians are currently the oldest? Given the fact that so many older musicians wear their age quite well, it can be difficult to discern just how old many of these legends actually are.
Whether from a career as a recording musician or one on the musical theater stage, the following musicians are a direct link to the golden eras of decades long past.
Yoko Ono, known for being the late wife of John Lennon, celebrated her 90th birthday in 2023. She grew up in Japan before moving to New York City in the early 1950s, eventually making a name for herself as an innovative artist throughout the 1960s.
Throughout her life, Yoko has been incredibly prolific, releasing 14 studio albums since 1970 (not including the 8 she did with Lennon).
Jazz saxophonist Sonny Rollins was born in 1930 and got to experience and participate in the genre’s most historic eras. Very few people alive today can say they played and recorded with the likes of Charlie Parker and John Coltrane, just to name a few.
Rollins embodies the “student for life” mentality that so many of the jazz greats from the late 1940s through the 1960s adopted. He officially retired in 2014 though video footage exists of him still practicing every day as an older man.
Born in 1937, Roberta Flack is an R&B singer who was quite popular throughout the 1970s and 1980s, both on her own as well as with Donny Hathaway. Considering that she found a hit with the track, Killing Me Softly With His Song, in 1972, whoever “he” is must have been extremely gentle all of these years.
Roberta was honored with the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2020.
Bob Dylan will forever be cherished as one of the most important songwriters of the 20th century, helping to bridge the gap between folk and rock music. While many in his position would be happy to rest on the laurels of their status, Bob Dylan’s output has not slowed down by any means.
As he’s done all his life, Dylan continues to raise the bar and set an example for others to follow. In fact, in 2023, Bob Dylan released his 40th album at the age of 82.
Dick Van Dyke
We often think of Dick Van Dyke as being an actor so much that we can tend to forget that he was a phenomenal singer in his youth. If you need proof, you owe it to yourself to watch the film versions of Bye Bye Birdie and Mary Poppins from the 1960s.
Dick Van Dyke was born in 1925, quickly approaching the 100 mark.
If you’re a connoisseur of jazz guitar from the 1950s and 1960s, you’re probably all too familiar with Kenny Burrell, who was born in 1931. Throughout his career, Burrell has released over 75 albums, not including the countless other albums credited to artists such as Gene Ammons, Chet Baker, James Brown, and many others.
Outside of being a performer, Burrell has been an academic mentor helping to usher in the next generation of jazz.
Born in 1940, Smokey Robinson is undoubtedly one of the greatest songwriters to have come from the Motown era of the 1960s. Throughout his career, Robinson has penned some of the most timeless and enduring songs of the 20th century, including:
- “The Way You Do The Things You Do” by The Temptations
- “You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me” by The Miracles
- “My Girl” by The Temptations
At 80 years old in 2023, you would not expect Mick Jagger to be as old as he is considering how well he is still moving around on stage during Rolling Stones concerts. This blues-rock frontman’s voice has been a constant presence on the radio since the 1960s, helping to define a singer’s proper showmanship along the way.
Born in 1935, it’s hard to imagine that Johnny Mathis had to pick between singing and playing basketball, both of which he showed an otherworldly talent for. Fortunately for the world, he chose to sing, making his rise in the late 1950s with songs like Misty, and, Chances Are.
Almost 75 years after it was released, Bill Hayes (born in 1925) is still primarily known for his legendary song, The Ballad of Davy Crockett. Outside of music, Hayes is a successful actor, known for his recurring role as Doug Williams on the soap opera, Days of Our Lives.