As anyone looking forward to 68-year-old Dolly Parton's new album and world tour will attest, many musicians' best work can come in later life – despite how obsessed the industry is with youth and the next big thing. Here, we take a look at some of the elder statesmen and women of music, still rocking in their sixth decade and beyond, and proving that the older generation can give as good as the likes of the 11-year-old Willow Smith. But who are your favourite artists who have carried on producing new music well past their eligibility for a free bus pass? Let us know in the thread below.
After a ten year hiatus in which he pretty much kept quiet apart from a live appearance alongside Arcade Fire, the 67-year-old musical chameleon burst back onto the scene with 2013's The Next Day. The critically acclaimed, chart-topping album ended up on many critics' albums of the year lists, proving that age is no barrier to creating fresh, relevant music.
The queen of country' 42nd studio album, Blue Smoke, is released in the UK this month – and it's already scored Parton's highest ever charting position in the US, received positive reviews across the board. Slate said: "Finding a strong balance between art and slick, Parton continues walking a line of what people expect and her heart. She just gets better with age."
Womack, legendary singer-songwriter, somehow managed to produce a hit album during a time when he was hospitalised for pneumonia, and later diagnosed with colon cancer, in 2012. (He gave this interview with Alexis Petridis from his hospital bedside). The record, his first original material since 1994's Resurrection, was produced with Damon Albarn and Richard Russell and released on XL.
Womack has stated that his passion for music returned after he collaborated with Gorillaz. "I told my...driver to pull over and get my guitar and bring a a pad and I wrote about 20 songs. My thoughts were running crazy. I was like, 'Thank God, that's the feeling I wanted back'."
Leonard Cohen has been making music for over four decades, and his is latest album, Old Ideas, scored the then-77 year old's highest ever position in the Billboard chart. The New York Times described Old Ideas as "an autumnal album, musing on memories and final reckonings, but it also has a gleam in its eye. It grapples once again with topics Mr. Cohen has pondered throughout his career: love, desire, faith, betrayal, redemption."
Cher, 68, released her 25th album in 2013, Closer to the Truth. The first single, Woman's World, hit No.1 on the Billboard Hot Dance/Club Songs. The video features Cher wearing a hilarious wig made out of streams of newspaper cuttings, and is not to be missed. Idolator called Closer to the Truth: "one of Cher's most engaging albums, a strong collection of pop tunes the world would be wise to pick up."
Despite consistently making terrific music throughout a career of almost half a century, some of Cash's best and most well known songs came late in his career – see his series of America albums produced with Rick Rubin, and seminal covers of If You Could Read My Mind, First Time Ever I Saw Your Face, Hurt and One, among others.
The musician was still active when he died of diabetes complications, aged 73. His record, America V: A Hundred Highways, was released posthumously in 2006 and America VI: Ain't No Grave in 2010.