Special Report

Baby Boomer Artists Still Making Great Music

Musicians – especially those in the rock and jazz spheres – aren’t particularly known for their long lifespans. Accidents, drugs, violence, suicide, and disease have claimed far too many young talents, many of them before their 30th birthday. (In a grim coincidence, Kurt Cobain, Jill Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, and Amy Winehouse all died at 27.)

Then there are the one-hit wonders, who shoot up the charts and enjoy momentary celebrity – and then recede to the borders of the music world or give up recording altogether. (How many do you remember of these biggest one-hit wonders of all time?) 

On the other hand, some solo artists and bands turn out to have amazing longevity. A surprising number of performers born 50 or 60 years ago or more – baby boomers – who may have had their first hits when they were in their 20s, still turn out music that resonates with audiences of all ages. (Here are some examples of classic songs that have returned to the Billboard Hot 100.)

To determine the artists from the baby boom generation who still make hit albums, 24/7 Tempo reviewed data on recent and historical chart performance on the Billboard 200. the publication’s weekly roster of best-selling albums and EPs. Artists who originally debuted on the Billboard 200 between 1967 and 1985 and who have reappeared on the charts with a new studio album released in 2020 or later were ranked based on the performance of their most recent album. Ranks were computed based on an inverse scoring system wherein a week at No. 1 is worth 200 points, a week at No. 2 is worth 199 points, and so on, up to a week at No. 200 worth one point. Compilation albums and releases of formerly recorded live music from the vault were not considered.

Click here for more about artists from the baby boom generation who still make hit albums

One thing this list demonstrates is that no one period or genre has a monopoly on vibrant revival. Here you’ll find representatives of country (Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson), heavy metal (Ozzy Osbourne, Iron Maiden), new wave/synth pop (Tears for Fears, Depeche Mode), singer-songwriter folk-rock (Van Morrison, Neil Young [who appears twice]), easy listening (Barry Manilow), blues-rock (Bonnie Raitt), jazz (Pat Metheny), and more. 

What do all these musicians have in common? The ability to adapt and grow – and to last.

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