From Phil Collins to Quincy Jones: Music's Elder Statesmen Are Doing Everything But Retiring

Quincy Jones
Dimitri Hakke/Redferns via Getty Images

Quincy Jones performs on stage at Ahoy at North Sea Jazz Festival on July 12, 2014 in Rotterdam, Netherlands. 

In the final months of 2018, senior superstars may be music’s busiest contingent. Some will release new records as they dismiss the idea of hanging it up, while others are winding down with massive last-hurrah tours -- but all these men definitively prove that, in Phil Collins’ words, they’re still "raring to go."     

What's Coming: Plays Well With Others, a four-disc compilation of career-spanning collabs from Eric Clapton to Lil’ Kim (Sept. 28).

How He's Doing: Back injury-related issues halted his 2017 tour, but he’s hitting the road in October with his 16-year-old son, Nicholas, on drums.

Packing It In?: He retired in 2011, then announced, “I am no longer retired,” in 2015, saying, “The horse is out of the stable and raring to go.”

Showing His ... Wisdom: The title of his 2016 memoir, Not Dead Yet, plus the name of his upcoming tour (Not Dead Yet, Live!), say it all.

What's Coming: His first release with the Imposters since 2008, Look Now, drops Oct. 12, featuring co-writes with Carole King and Burt Bacharach.

How He's Doing: 2013’s Wise Up Ghost -- his most recent studio effort, a collaboration with The Roots -- peaked at No. 16 on the Billboard 200.

Packing It In?: Costello canceled European dates in July after cancer surgery, but he’s determined to tour supporting Look Now this fall.

Showing His ... Wisdom: Once a famously angry young man, he recently told El Mundo that “social networks are a parasite.”

What's Coming: Farewell Yellow Brick Road -- his final tour, though it’s set to run for three years -- kicked off in early September.

How He's Doing: Early projections for the tour anticipate John grossing a whopping $400 million over 300 dates.

Packing It In?: From touring, yes. “I’m not Cher, even though I like wearing her clothes,” said John in January. “This is the end.”

Showing His ... Wisdom: “I’m a Luddite,” he has admitted. “I’ve never downloaded anything in my life -- not even porn.”

What's Coming: A Netflix documentary, Quincy, directed by Rashida Jones, his daughter, premieres Sept. 21.

How He's Doing: Besides perfecting the filter-free interview, Jones is as musically active as ever, especially as a mentor to young jazz artists.

Packing It In?: “They be thinking I’m 84 and retired and all that shit,” he said earlier this year. “They wrong, man. Oh baby! I am never retiring!”

Showing His ... Wisdom: He recently boasted about having 22 girlfriends from all over the world. Would he date someone his own age?  “Hell no!”

What's Coming: Sir Paul just released his 25th post-Beatles studio album, Egypt Station.

How He's Doing: His last international jaunt, 2017’s One on One Tour, raked in a cool $132 million and hit four continents.

Packing It In?: He recently told BBC Radio he’s taking Willie Nelson’s advice: “He says, ‘Retire from what?’ And I think that just says it.”

Showing His ... Wisdom: When he joined the Desert Trip lineup (including Bob Dylan and Neil Young) in 2016, he happily called it a “fossil-rock” affair.

What's Coming: In the Blue Light, an album reimagining favorites from his catalog, just came out. He’ll play his last-ever concert on Sept. 22 in Queens, New York.

How He's Doing: 2016’s Stranger to Stranger debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 -- his highest-charting solo album since Graceland.

Packing It In?: For now, at least. “I’ve been doing this since I was 16; I’ve never taken a break,” Simon recently said. “So I thought ... stop! See what happens.”

Showing His ... Wisdom: He’s a pop-music legend, but in 2016 told Billboard he’s “not a big fan of, you know, halftime-at-the-Super Bowl music.”

This article originally appeared in the Sept. 15 issue of Billboard.


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