Old crock stars on tour: after Morrissey, who next?

Oct 26, 2009
Jack Bremer

More provincial gigs canned as long-in-the-tooth rockers fail the Mick Jagger test

Another rock 'n' roll veteran, Morrissey, the former Smiths frontman, has collapsed on stage mid-concert, raising questions about the new tendency of long-in-the-tooth pop stars to continue touring into middle-age and beyond, creating havoc for concert organisers when it turns out they're not fit enough.

The 1,000-strong crowd at the Oasis Leisure Centre in Swindon got only one number - This Charming Man - before Morrissey fell to the floor and was dragged off the stage by band members.

Mark Taylor, a 40-year-old in the audience, told the Observer that a lot of people started booing before someone came on stage and announced that it was serious. Jillian Moody, another fan, told the BBC: "I didn't think he looked particularly well but then again, he's well known as a reclusive character so I sort of thought that was just the way he was when he was on stage."

Morrissey spent the night in hospital, apparently having suffered breathing difficulties, before being discharged on Sunday. While the Swindon audience wait to hear whether they'll get a refund or a new concert date, Morrissey's gig in Bournemouth tonight (Monday) has been cancelled, with a view to giving him the best chance to be fit for the Albert Hall on Tuesday night.

Last month the same thing happened to Leonard Cohen - older than Morrissey by 25 years - during a concert in Valencia, Spain. He, too, was carted off to hospital after he collapsed while singing his classis Bird on the Wire. It turned out to be severe case of Spanish tummy.

Another star who cancelled this weekend was 62-year-old Sir Elton John, said to be fighting flu. At least he made the decision before going on stage rather than falling head-first into his piano keys. After pulling out of a show at the Sheffield Arena on Friday he cancelled a second concert at Newcastle Metro Radio Arena on Saturday on the advice of doctors. His next scheduled stop is Tuesday at Wembley Arena.

A doctor told The First Post: "The problem is, these old lags watch Mick Jagger and the Stones doing it and think if he can strut his stuff up there at 65, so can I. What they don't always appreciate is that Jagger trains hard - and I mean hard - between and during tours. He's one of the fittest men I've ever come across over 50."

One man trying to get in shape is the Stones's former bass player, Bill Wyman. Who begins a nationwide tour in Sheffield this Wednesday with his new band the Rhythm Kings. He told the Birmingham's Sunday Mercury that he has given up smoking - Dunhill Menthols and Saint Moritz - after doctors warned him he was close to contracting emphysema.  But he's left it dangerously
late: he was 73 at the weekend.

Meanwhile Cohen, who was soon back on the road after the Valencia incident, wound up at Madison Square Garden in New York on Friday night where he apparently played a "slower than usual" version of Bird on a Wire [Is that possible? - ED] before suggesting that this might actually be his farewell. "I don't know if we'll pass this way again," Cohen said, "but it's our intention to give you the best."

EDITOR'S NOTE: Following the posting of this item, it was announced on Tuesday, October 27 that Morrissey's Albert Hall concert would definitely go ahead. His spokeswoman said he was now "rested and absolutely fine for tonight".

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