Las Vegas Sun

September 21, 2019

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Musical boomers: Who is, who’s not

Today, we profile Kathy Casey-Kirschling, America's first and oldest baby boomer. (Want proof? The Social Security Administration has put her in commercials.)

Officially, anyone born between 1946 and 1964 is a baby boomer. (If so, you may need this). Anyone born before (or after) isn't.

So, with Jan. 1, 1946 as the government-sanctioned dividing line, let's see how the baby boomers rate in what we know must be their strongest area: music.

Well, OK, so no credit for starting rock 'n' roll. They can't claim Chuck Berry, Elvis, Little Richard nor Jerry Lee Lewis or Buddy Holly. None of these men were born later than 1936.

But hey, we expected this. In 1956, when Elvis broke through, Kathy Casey-Kirschling was 10 years old.

Let's skip ahead. The Beatles? None the Beatles were boomers. Of the Rolling Stones, there's only guitarist Ronnie Wood, who joined in 1974. Out of the Who, boomers can claim drummer Keith Moon, the only member of the band who managed to die before he got old.

Jimi Hendrix doesn't fall under "boomer," and neither do Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin, Lou Reed, Joan Baez, Joni Mitchell, Van Morrison, Jerry Garcia or Jefferson Airplane. Not Marvin Gaye (1939). Not Neil Young (nor Crosby, Stills and Nash). Neither Simon nor Garfunkel. Not even Don McLean, whose "American Pie" will probably be the last memory hanging on after the Drano of senility.

Let's put it this way: Nobody in Creedence was a boomer. Everyone in the Eagles was.

Oh, and the brothers Gibb of the Bee Gees -- boomers all.

Mrs. Casey-Kirschling herself prefers Frankie Avalon, b. 1939.

So what are we to make of this? Are the baby boomers better record buyers than musicians? Maybe. Depends on how you feel about Bruce Springsteen, Elton John, James Taylor, Tom Petty, Warren Zevon, Prince and Ozzy Osborne (now that's a weird concert).

Or maybe artists esssential to the culture of a particular generation are usually not, demographically speaking, part of it. They're usually slightly older. That's how you know they're cool. (Boomers who were cool enough to have hits in the boomer era? Stevie Wonder, Carlos Santana, Robby Krieger of the Doors, Carl Wilson of the Beach Boys, David Gilmour of Pink Floyd and Tommy James of Tommy James and the Shondells.)

If you are splitting hairs, half of ABBA are boomers and three-quarters of Led Zep and the solid gold version of Fleetwood Mac.

Another side of this is something like punk rock. Most boomers aren't fans. Punk is not part of the classic rock radio format. The Sex Pistols and the Ramones were all boomers.

Of course, Ry Cooder, who recorded the album "Boomer's Story," is a boomer.

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