If you love music then you probably grew up listening to classic bands like The Beatles and Rolling Stones. We may have lost Jimi, John, Jim, and Janis, but amazingly a lot of the musicians your parents listened to when they were in high school are still touring today. After decades of touring these artists have mastered their craft and can play hours of hits you know the words to, even if you don’t realize it. You need to catch them in concert before you lose your chance.
7. Allman Brothers
Live at Fillmore East is arguably the greatest live album in the history of rock music. That was back when brother Duane was challenging Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton for greatest guitarist in the world honors. After falling into a crevasse for two decades following Duane’s untimely passing, brother Greg procured a pair of world-class guitarists, Derek Trucks and Warren Hayes, and the band got its mojo working again. If you want to see them you better see ‘em quick because they are hanging it up soon.
6. Tom Petty
Tom Petty has been pumping out road trip and summertime songs for four decades and if you haven’t experienced the live show then you aren’t maximizing your use of the nearest amphitheater. You are guaranteed about 20 classic riffs and another 20 sing-along choruses. Good times.
5. Neil Young
Neil Young is a legend and an angry old cuss. He is also one of the best songwriters and guitarists in rock history. Even though he’s been playing just as long as most of the guys on this list, he doesn’t seem as old because he keeps company with Jimmy Fallon and Jack White. Don’t get confused by CSN without the Y or you will likely be disappointed or actually just bored. Neil, on the other hand, will tear it up any day of the week.
4. Bob Dylan
No one writes a song quite like the chameleon of Hibbing, Minnesota, Bob Dylan. Folk, blues, protest, breakup, religious, anthemic – he does it all. At this point his voice might sound like a lawnmower gargling rocks, but his band keeps the groove going and you might catch him on a lucky night.
3. Rolling Stones
The Stones set the template for rock bands. Mick is the over-caffeinated waif, Keith is the mysterious guitarist, and the rest of the band is damned good at their jobs too. They even have the world’s best backup singer, Lisa Fischer. Mick and Keith are probably invincible, but even so they will have to stop touring at some point if only to keep up appearances. Come for the hits, stay for the guitar licks that have been mimicked for half a century. Also stay for the world’s greatest backup singer Lisa Fischer.
2. Bruce Springsteen
The Legend of the Boss is well known and well deserved. I’m not a big Bruce Springsteen fan, but when I saw Bruce and the E Street Band a few years ago my takeaway was that he is a golden god. He’s the guy on this list that most wants his concert to be a religious, life changing experience for every person in attendance.
1. Paul McCartney
I expect to hear from some Springsteen fans complaining that the Boss isn’t on the top of this list. But Paul clearly belongs at #1 even though he is only ¼ of the Beatles. Paul is a consummate entertainer. He has a great band, tells a few stories, and even uses pyro on “Live and Let Die.” It’s pretty awesome. You can expect three hours packed with two-dozen Beatles songs and some solo and Wings songs for good balance.