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Aging Rockers Get Satisfaction on Stage

Musicians in an all-women band and two solo keyboardists express their lifelong love for music well into their 60s

By Patricia Corrigan

You may remember when Mick Jagger, then 31, famously told a magazine reporter he'd "rather be dead than sing 'Satisfaction' when I'm 45." Jagger is 80 now, and he sang "Satisfaction" at every stop on the band's "Sixty" concert tour last year, which celebrated six decades playing together.

A group of musicians on stage. Next Avenue
The Roxy Janes. From left: Mary Hough, Molly Pauken, Linda Dachtyl (partly obscured), Kaye Harris and Gayla Smith   |  Credit: Courtesy of Gayla Smith

What's in it for aging rockers? Why do they keep climbing on stages and performing live even if they don't make as much as the Rolling Stones? Gayla Smith, Jimmy D. Rogers and Stephen Winter say performing provides some income — and plenty of job satisfaction.

"People see us as inspiring, and it's the baby boomers who come out to hear us, to sing along, to party and to live life bigger."

Just ask Smith, who sings lead vocals and plays keyboards, guitar and bass for the Roxy Janes, an all-female rock band working in and around Columbus, Ohio. "We're like a purple cow," says Smith, 67. "At first, people didn't know what to make of the band, but now we play a couple of nights a week and most weekends three seasons out of the year."

Tribute to a Spirited Ancestor

Smith's bandmates are Linda Dachtyl (drums and keyboards), Kay Harris (lead vocals, guitar, mandolin and percussion), Mary Hough (guitar) and Molly Pauken (bass, vocals, guitar, percussion and drums). They range from their late 50s to late 60s.

"We're all veterans with music degrees who have done gigs forever as solos, duos and in bands," Smith says. "We play the vintage rock music we grew up with — Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith, Stevie Wonder, the Pretenders, Black Country Communion, the Allman Brothers — but with our own arrangements."

Smith credits Pauken and Harris with the idea for the Roxy Janes, named for Harris' spirited great-grandmother. The band got started on Zoom during the COVID-19 lockdown, when none of them had work — on stage, that is. Each of them hold other jobs, from health care positions to studio artist to fulfillment manager for a restaurant furniture company. Smith also is a visual artist.

Playing for the Love of Music

The band's first gig was on Smith's front porch in Buckeye Lake, Ohio, east of Columbus, in September 2021. As word got around, area clubs booked the band for the following summer, and its success has grown.

Smith acknowledges that many women her age wouldn't join a rock band, for any number of reasons.

"We decided we would do it, and it has turned out to be a blessing for us and for our fans," she says. "People see us as inspiring, and it's the baby boomers who come out to hear us, to sing along, to party and to live life bigger."

'I Came to the Blues Through Country'

Almost every Saturday night — and many a weeknight and Sunday afternoon — Rogers, a solo artist, plays rock, R&B or country (and sometimes all that) on keyboards or bass guitar for audiences in Middletown, Ohio, and throughout the region.

A man on stage playing a musical instrument. Next Avenue
Jimmy D. Rogers  |  Credit: Photo by Jonah Hunter

"I take as many gigs as I can get booked in a week," says Rogers, 62. "I've done 10 in one week and even had stretches where I played 40 nights in a row, some of them doubles." In between, he rehearses, sits in for recording sessions and writes his own songs.

He considers himself primarily an R&B and blues player. "That's what my rep sits on, particularly my work with Teeny Tucker, the daughter of the late blues musician Tommy Tucker." Rogers also plays with I Dig Pig, a tribute band inspired by Ron "Pigpen" McKernan of the early Grateful Dead.

Some aging rockers have day jobs, Rogers notes, but he doesn't. "Music can be become a hobby at the age we are, something to do just on weekends, but that's not how I approach it. I've never gone the commercial route or played big cities, but this is what I do, and I do the best I can." (Hear some of his best here, at the 2020 semi-finals at the International Blues Challenge.)

Rogers' interest in music was kindled when he joined his elementary school band in Kettering, a suburb of Dayton, where he grew up. The school district had "all kinds of music programs, independent music teachers and music stores," he recalls. His family also spent a lot of time in eastern Kentucky, where his parents had met.

Any Music for Any Audience

"Both places reflect what I am and what I do," Rogers says. "Some of my first gigs were with the grandparents of kids in my class, people who would be 100 or older now. I played several instruments, and I learned about jazz. Later, I came to the blues through country western music."

Today, Rogers works with several bands, some of them the ages of his grown kids, and he often plays solo gigs. "I always serve the music, bring the style that belongs there, and music has been the one thing I've had when the whole world seemed to fall in," he says. "Right now, there is a demand for keyboard players, and I can always find work, playing all kinds of music in all situations."


'I Wanted to Be Paul McCartney'

Winter, 62, also plays all kinds of music in all situations, often three or four weeknights and on weekends. Based in St. Louis, Winter is a keyboardist and vocalist with several groups, including Mr. Blue Sky, a 10-piece Electric Light Orchestra tribute band that performs throughout the Midwest. He also handles solo and duo gigs on piano and entertains at wineries and a local mead bar.

"I do all this for the love of music, and to pay my bills."

"Wherever and whatever I'm playing, I can express my joy through the music," Winter says. "As a solo or duo artist, I really connect with audiences, help make their day, and when I'm playing good music in band gigs — when we're just cooking — I connect with the people on stage. Either way, I do all this for the love of music, and to pay my bills."

Winter first took piano lessons at the age of 8, while living with his family in London. After a move to the U.S., he discovered he had perfect pitch. "I learned 'Let It Be' just by listening to it, and decided I wanted to be Paul McCartney," he says. "At some point I stopped taking lessons and just soaked up what I could learn from every record we had in the house."

In college, though he was "unskilled and unschooled," Winter signed up for an hour at an open mic night to perform songs by Pink Floyd, Genesis and Kansas. "Everybody from my dorm showed up — and I was awful," Winter says. As he improved, he got piano gigs at local hotels and later joined bands, one that played Motown and blues and then a rock band.

A Ticket to Anywhere

"About age 30, I discovered dueling pianos, and made a good income from that in Vail and Sacramento, and later in a top casino in Las Vegas," Winter recalls. After landing an engagement in Hong Kong, Winter decided to see the world.

"I played piano in Norway, Switzerland, The Netherlands and Ireland," he says, "and I worked on cruise ships traveling in the Mediterranean and to the Baltic countries." Back on U.S. soil in 2008, Winter accepted jobs making music all over the U.S.

"There I was, in my late 50s, with a crazy work schedule right up until the pandemic, and I loved it," Winter says. "Right now, I can still get up on a stage and people think it's cool. That's amazing, and I'm grateful — and I'm going to do this until I can't."

Patricia Corrigan
Patricia Corrigan is a professional journalist, with decades of experience as a reporter and columnist at a metropolitan daily newspaper, and also a book author. She has written for Next Avenue since February 2015. Read more from Patricia at Read More
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