Often, rock stars will be discovered early on by producers and seemingly have only a few years of struggle to break into the industry. But, there are those that dedicate their lives to music that really don’t “hit the big time” until years later, like the awesome, aged rock stars on this list. Check out these killer musicians that really had to wait their turn to make their dreams come true.
Although Flaming Lips lead singer, guitarist, and lyrical scribe Wayne Coyne started the band with his brother, Mark, friend Michael Ivins and drummer Richard English at age 22, the group did not technically make it big until 10 years later with the release of “She Don’t Use Jelly.”
Originally a fry cook at the local Long John Silver’s, the oddball always displayed an interest in music growing up and a fascination with psychedelic subculture that he ultimately implemented into both mainstream and underground hits over the years. Having recorded several albums with the group on a local indie label, the band was finally signed onto Warner Brothers in the early 90’s, Coyne was 32 when he finally “made it big.”
This country superstar’s story is really quite shocking as she started out as a simple and passionate music teacher in Fenton, Missouri and ended up a world famous harmonic and beloved idol.
Discovered by friend, local musician and record producer Jay Oliver, Crow originally started out in the industry making jingles for companies. Soon after her jingle career took off, she started touring as a backup singer for the one and only Michael Jackson on his Bad World Tour and was not able to break out to the front of the stage until 1993. By the time her debut album was released, Crow was over 30 years old and just starting out.
For years and years, singer Debbie Harry stood in the background, shy of the spotlight she so yearned for. Singing backup and shared vocals for the Wind in the Willows, the Stillettoes, and Angel and the Snake, it wasn’t until the late 70’s that Harry finally claimed the stage as her own in the epic, new wave group Blondie.
Despite drama with her long-time partner and band mate Chris Stein, punk/rock group Blondie consumed attention all throughout the late seventies and 80’s and eventually earned Harry the title of the 12th greatest woman of rock and roll in VH1’s 100 Greatest Women of Rock & Roll. By the time Blondie took off, Harry was over 30 years old but still deemed the 18th sexiest artist of all time!
Although underground artist Rachel Platten attempted to merge into the mainstream back in 2003, her big break with Columbia Records did not come until 12 years later with the release of her number 6 single “Fight Song,” in 2015. The 35-year-old musician was patient throughout the struggle of her developing career since her first album release, “Trust in Me,” in 2003.
But clearly the patience paid off, seeing as Platten earned a Emmy Award for her live “Fight Song” performance on Good Morning America; plus she looks amazing for her age! By 2016 the singer’s first studio album released under the Columbia Records name, “Wildfire,” was certified gold by the RIAA.
Originally known as underground, low key artist Tity Boi, 2 Chainz was not fully satisfied with his rap career. Finding minimal fame under the duo name Playaz Circle, under the Ludacris’ Disturbing tha Peace label, the rapper’s debut release of single “Duffle Bag Boy,” with Lil Wayne, made big waves in the industry.
But, after making the formal name change to 2 Chainz, Tauheed Epps was signed as a solo artist to Def Jam Records just in time for the artist’s debut album release, “Based on a T.R.U. Story,” at 35 years old. Three of the albums singles, “No Lie,” “Birthday Song,” and “I’m Different” were certified gold by RIAA, as well as the album itself. Good call on the name change, Tity Boi.
Not until 2010 did Fitz and the Tantrums really make a name for themselves in the music industry with the formal release of their debut album “Pickin’ Up the Pieces,” which reached the number one spot on Billboard Heatseekers chart. This French vocalist and songwriter is not the youngest, but not the oldest either; Michael Fitzpatrick is currently 46 and was 40 years old when the band finally got noticed.
For many years Fitz ruled the behind-the-scenes world for artists like Beck, Ladytron, the Dandy Warhols and Flight of the Conchords. But, in 2008, Michael decided to change the trajectory of his music career by creating this now infectious, neo-pop/indie group that is currently taking over the nation with upbeat melodies and killer instrumentals.
Not only is the electronic world a bit unforgiving, but it is also considered on the “youthful” side. So to see such a gracefully aging presence like 47-year-old artist James Murphy shredding the voltaic scene of the EDM world with well-received beats and a wide-spread, increasing popularity — maybe there is hope for the scene yet.
Formerly floating under the legendary alter-ego project LCD Soundsystem, Murphy managed to redefine the term age as what Rolling Stone refers to him as a “New Immortal- ‘currently active artist who thinks they will stand the test of time.'” With focus on different projects, both music and non-music related, Murphy is significantly one of the most visionary artists of both his and our generation.
Despite how young Pharrell Williams looks, he is actually the shocking age of 47! We know. What’s his secret, right? Well, obviously talent considering the hip-hop artist is the proud owner of ten Grammy Awards, as well as is a two-time Academy Award nominee.
Pharrell Lanscilo Williams began to strike gold with the four-piece R&B group the Neptunes like he had originally planned to do in the late ’90s and early 2000s. The group was able to work with big name artists like Jay Z, Madonna, Britney Spears, Beyoncé, Nelly and more. And after years and years in the industry, there are no words for how much Pharrell has contributed to world of music with masterful compositions, divine lyrical gems, accumulated wisdom and consequential voice coaching.
Incredible musician, vocalist and songwriter Andrea Bocelli may not be able to see, but he is in no way blind to the complexities of sonant composition as one of the most successful classical music artists of all time.
Having recorded 15 solo albums throughout his career, the Italian genius was even able to successfully merge into the pop world utilizing his innate talent for symphonic symmetry earning him a Golden Globe Award and Academy Award. Discovered by Pavarotti himself at 32 years old, Bocelli’s incredible musical career did not develop until later in his life but has lasted over 20 years now and only betters with age; much like a fine wine.
As one of the most prolific songwriters and artists of his generation, Cohen influenced and inspired minds like Judy Collins, James Taylor, Johnny Cash, and Willie Nelson, but was not considered “mainstream” until he was well into his mid-to-late 30’s. His attempts at making a living with poetry and writing resulted in one of the most successful and fulfilling careers in the history of music.
Most famous for hits “Suzanne” and “Hallelujah,” Cohen was so much more than a lyrical scribe. He was a sonic genius of poetry who forged the influence of change. Just as peacefully as he lived his life, Cohen unfortunately passed away in 2016 in his sleep, with family and friends surrounding him.
As one of the most successful and second most-recorded jazz artists of all time, Thelonious Monk imposed unique and melodic twists on traditional jazz music with distinct style and “abrupt, dramatic use of switched key releases, silences and hesitations.”
As one of only five jazz musicians to be featured on the cover of Time, Monk started out his career with an evangelist church group in his late teens and transitioned his role into the house pianist at the Manhattan nightclub, Minton’s Playhouse. Reaching around his late 30’s though, Monk didn’t see commercial success in the industry until the release of his Columbia Records album years later, “Monk’s Dream.” He was 46 at the time.
From the Rising Sons to the Red Roosters, Spirit was eventually formed by co-founder and drummer Ed Cassidy in 1967. After reportedly playing “282 consecutive one-nighters in 17 states” in his youth, Cassidy eventually made the move to So Cal to accompany the thriving jazz collective.
Meeting and working with several fellow jazz players like Art Pepper, Roland Kirk, Lee Konitz and more, Cassidy eventually came across his future band mates in ’64. Now having released over 20 albums throughout the band’s 30-year career, Cassidy held the American rock group together until its inevitable wrap in ’97. At the current age of 89, Cassidy did not see commercial success until he was over 40 years old; what a trooper.
Britain’s Got Talent 2009 showcased some epic and entertaining individuals, but none compared to the incredible voice that rested behind Scottish native Susan Boyle’s subtle, shy smile. As she took the stage in front of Britain in her audition, the crowd had no faith based on her appearance.
But, the minute Boyle opened her mouth to Les Miserables’ “I Dreamed a Dream,” she had the world on their feet. Since the second-place contestant finished the show, her debut album reached the number-one spot in the UK and became the second best-selling album of 2009 in the U.S. Now 55 years old, Boyle’s adorable, sweet face is well known all over America as the one that has inspired all to never give up on their dreams.
American singer and folk/rock songwriter Matt Nathanson made his big break with the release of platinum-earning single “Come On Get Higher” back in 2009.
Under the Universal Records label, Nathanson had been releasing albums like “Still Waiting for Spring,” “When Everything Meant Everything,” “Beneath These Fireworks,” and more since ’93. But, after experiencing creative differences with the major label, he decided to venture on on his own. His “At the Point” and “Some Mad Hope” albums are what took him to the top of the charts in recent years, and at age 43, Nathanson is taking the world by storm.
Due to his extensive counterculture obsessions, poetic background and fictional fascination, New York City native Tuli Kupferberg became one of the most influential artists of the ’60s and ’70s eras in his 40’s.
As lead singer and head scribe of the paradoxical, poetic rock band The Fugs, Kupferberg instilled both pacifist and anarchic “out there” ideals through lyrics heavily saturated in comedic expression, empirical proclamation and lewd language. The group was labeled as “avant-rock,” and although the poets did not see the music industry originally in their future, they seemed to function as important influencers around the time of the Vietnam War.
Originally a fan of the performing arts, The Dresden Dolls lead singer and co-founder Amanda Palmer used individualized expression to develop a unique indie sound strong enough to entice a cult-like following of music-obsessed admirers. Starting out small, the then-26-year-old’s formation of the Shadowbox Collective, a street-smart theatre that put on local shows, only got her so far on the map.
After meeting fellow drummer band mate and co-founder Brian Viglioni at a Halloween party, the two began creating the influential music and eventually signed with Roadrunner Records label. It wasn’t until Palmer turned 36 that she really broke out in the industry and currently serves a solo performer; going strong since 2008.
Nothing compares to the upbeat, energetic and infectious Glasgow-based vibe that Franz Ferdinand gives out and it’s all thanks to lead singer Alex Kapranos. For years, Kapranos loved music from behind-the-scenes, filling bartending and promoting roles, but didn’t begin to pursue his passion publicly until the early ’90s.
In local bands like The Blisters, The Amphetameanies and The Yummy Fur, Kapranos finally decided to start his own group with McCarthy, Thomson and Hardy as the iconic group Franz Ferdinand in 2001. By the time their debut album was topping the UK charts at number three, Kapranos was already well into his 30’s and just starting out.
Born Vladimir John Ondrasik III, the Five for Fighting lead singer had his sights set on a solo career, having released his debut album, “Message for Albert,” with EMI Records. But, once Mark Cunningham passed along Ondrasik’s tape to Aware Records, a deal was struck with the singer along with a partnership including Columbia Records.
The newly merged group’s first single “Superman (It’s Not Easy)” release resulted in a number 14 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart; the platinum-certified ballad became the anthem for the 9/11 attacks and was performed live as a tribute to those lost in the tragedy. Around the time Ondrasik was approaching his 40’s and just getting started with the group! Incredible.
Despite his wild success in the music industry, American songwriter and vocalist Bill Withers only had the opportunity to record from 1970 until 1985. Penning and singing some of the biggest hits in R&B history, the three-time Grammy Award winner didn’t see commercial success until the age of 32.
In order of release, iconic hit “Ain’t No Sunshine” was Withers’ first release and won him a Grammy for the Best R&B song, “Lean on Me” earned Bill his second gold single just before “Use Me” came out, his third RIAA certified golden hit; all within the span of a year! By 2015 the legendary performer was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for his wonderful masterpieces and now currently remains retired at the age of 78.
British lead singer and songwriter of the U.K. Subs, Charlie Harper, originally started out as the frontman and founder of the Marauders just a year before he started the epic punk band. Coined one of the more influential British punk bands of the time period, Harper’s success at 30-something years old ended up being quite inspirational for fans and those that always wanted to pursue their wildest dreams.
It wasn’t 1980 when the release of “Barmy London Army” brought the group mainstream success at the top of the UK Singles Chart that Harper had been considered a big deal. He even still performs with the band to this very day as often as 150-200 gigs a year with the everlasting punk rock sounds of the U.K. Subs at 72 years old.