Is this really goodbye?

Several bands and musicians, including Paul Simon and Lynyrd Skynyrd, have shocked fans by announcing their retirement

Elton John
Paul Simon
Ozzy Osbourne
Lynyrd Skynyrd

ATLANTA • On stage, it could be the sounds of silence soon for a number of veteran musical acts, including Paul Simon, with announcements that they are taking a final touring bow.

Neil Diamond even stunned fans by saying that he was immediately halting touring because of Parkinson's disease.

Most of these acts belong to the baby-boomer generation, the same ones that are being pushed off classic rock radio stations in favour of 1990s grunge.

Such a spell of retirements might feel like the end of an era, but one can never totally write off a possibility that these old hands may yet make an occasional comeback.

Here is a forecast to plug into:


John teamed up with lyricist Bernie Taupin in 1967 and the two have dominated pop music since. They have nine No. 1 songs on the Billboard Hot 100.

One particular appeal of John was his openness about his personal life, particularly his homosexuality and addiction to drugs and alcohol. He got sober in the 1990s and started the Elton John Aids Foundation.

His onstage stature has drawn enormous crowds for more than 50 years, but he is now a family man.

He and his husband David Furnish have two sons and the 70-year-old wants to see them grow up. "I've been touring since I was 17. I thought the time is right to say thank you to all my fans and say goodbye," John said.

Likelihood of retirement: It is fairly likely, given that the Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour includes more than 300 shows strung out across three years.


Simon and Art Garfunkel first harmonised together in sixth grade after meeting at school in New York. Together, they would become a pop music force unlike any in the 1960s, using their dulcet voices to breathe life into delicate tracks such as America, Bridge Over Troubled Water and The Sound Of Silence.

After the duo broke up in 1970, Simon went on to release 13 solo albums and toured tirelessly.

Last December, his guitarist Vincent Nguini died from liver cancer.

That is one reason the 76-year-old is retiring from touring, the other being that "the time away from my family takes a toll that detracts from the joy of playing".

Likelihood of retirement: Simon does "anticipate doing the occasional performance" after his farewell tour. And before announcing his bowing out, he told the Los Angeles Times that "I'm never going to retire" from making music.


From heavy metal rocker to MTV reality star, Osbourne has had a prolific, and often tumultuous, run. He got his start in Black Sabbath in 1968.

His nearly four-decade solo career began when he was kicked out of the band for allegedly being unreliable. His music was dark and his shows were wild.

At one in Des Moines, a fan threw an unconscious bat on stage. Thinking it was a prop, Osbourne bit its head off - and had to be rushed to hospital to be treated for rabies.

"I just need to slow it down a little," the 69-year-old told Rolling Stone. "I enjoy being a grandfather.

"I don't want to go through another generation of Osbournes without seeing them grow up."

Likelihood of retirement: First, he said "I'm not retiring" from playing one-off gigs, just tours. Second, he supposedly retired from touring in the early 1990s with his farewell No More Tours.

He is not hiding that fact. He named this farewell tour as if it was a sequel - No More Tours 2.


The rock band has experienced tbeir fair share of tragedy and success. Their name was inspired by Leonard Skinner, a high-school teacher who sent a few of the members to the principal's office for having long hair.

When they formed the band, they named it in his honour.

Twenty-six of their albums have climbed the Billboard 200 chart and the song Free Bird has become a cultural fixture. But a 1977 plane crash killed several members, including frontman Ronnie van Zant.

Guitarist Gary Rossington is now the only founding member still with the band, but heart problems have caused him to cancel shows.

"My health isn't very great, so it's harder for me to tour and everyone's got kids, families and grandkids now," he told Billboard.

"So we're just gonna kick back a little because of our age and I just want to go out on a high note."

Likelihood of retirement: Rossington pointed out that many acts "retire" and then return to the stage.

"Even the Eagles and a lot of people retire for a year or two and they have to come back. It's just in your blood, y'know? So I don't know if it's really ever gonna end."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 12, 2018, with the headline 'Is this really goodbye?'. Subscribe