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The Five Oldest Bands Still Performing Today

It seems like every day now, a new band is popping up and another one is disbanding or their star is simply fading. But there are dozens of bands who are still doing holding strong decades, drugs, and grandchildren later. Here are five of the oldest bands of all time that are still gigging today.

1.      ZZ Top – 47 Years

oldest-guitar-bands - ZZ Top

More people probably know ZZ Top by their look than their sound. This band has a great boogie rock style to their music, but it’s their iconic beards that they are so well known for. The beards are so part of their identity (aside from the fact that one of them has the last name Beard), that they once turned down $1 million to shave off their beards. These fun-loving guys never stopped for hiatus since their formation in 1969. They have once more become pop culturally relevant with appearances in movies and on shows like the Tonight Show, where Conan O’Brien and Will Ferrell performed with them.

2.      Rush – 48 Years

oldest-guitar-bands - Rush

Canadian Band Rush is known for an iconic sound, especially thanks to singer Geddy Lee. You’ve probably heard Rush, but if you haven’t, your dad and mom definitely have rocked out to them. This band hasn’t stopped playing since they formed in 1968. They started off as a blues band and evolved to incorporate all kinds of music including reggae! They are known for being one of the earliest bands to experiment with odd time signatures and sci-fi concepts in their music. Their documentary just came out in November 2016, and it’s worth a watch. They’ve had a huge influence on the bands of today, perhaps most notable, Dream Theater.

3.      Scorpions – 51 Years

oldest-guitar-bands - Scorpions

Everyone knows the German band Scorpions, at least for two songs: Rock You Like a Hurricane and Wind of Change. But they’ve had dozens of huge hits, one of my favorites being Still Loving You. This band is another icon of the 70s and 80s, and they have kept up their recording and performing since 1965 without even a day of hiatus. They celebrated their 50th anniversary in 2015 with a new album called Return to Forever, and boy, they’ve still got it! Here they are rocking out hard just a few months ago.

4.      The Who – 52 Years

oldest-guitar-bands - The Who

The Who? The Who. That’s their name. If you don’t know them by name, you definitely know them by song. Have you ever watched any of the CSIs? Every single one of those theme songs is by The Who. This English band has been playing since 1964, with only a few years of being inactive. These guys have had a powerful influence on the other bands of their time, including the Beatles, as well as the bands of today, from the music to the instruments used. There are several musical instruments and gear named after and for these musicians.

5.      The Rolling Stones – 54 Years

oldest-guitar-bands - The Rolling Stones

You’ve probably heard plenty of jokes about these guys, but they really have never stopped, no matter how many times they intended to. For more than half a century, the Rolling Stones have been rocking out, not even stopping once for a hiatus. This band has been through hell and back (which really makes you wonder if they sold their souls), just read Keith Richard’s autobiography. The first pages alone start with an anecdote about narrowly avoiding a drug bust. With all the crazy stuff they’ve said and done, it’s a wonder they’re still around, but they are the only number one for this list!

Hope you liked this wacky list of old bands. Have a listen to some of the bands you haven’t heard before. They’re not still performing for no reason, after all.

How to Choose a Guitar Teacher

Back in the day, there were only three ways to learn how to play guitar. You had to learn on your own, enroll in music school, or find a tutor somewhere in town. Today, there are hundreds of options for budding guitarists. You can learn from online lessons and tutorials completely for free, or you can still go with one of the many tutors in town. Or you could even learn from some of the best guitarists in the world, who happen to still love teaching people and give lessons via video call.

Having so many options can leave people spoilt for choice. But since there is nothing quite like having a real human teacher to interact with and help you learn, here are some tips for making the right choice.

Decide How Much You Can Spend

How much you can afford will largely affect whom you choose as a teacher. A pro teacher, including some of the famous guitarists who offer lessons, is likely to charge hundreds per lesson. But the upside is that you’ll get top-notch training and guidance from the best of the best. A month of classes from an in-person tutor can cost about $15-$25 a lesson. More or less, depending on the skill level of the guitarist and where they are. You could also get a full month of lessons online for the same price. However, if you are really desperate, you can forgo the teacher altogether and use tutorials and lesson apps to learn.

Think about Style

If you have a specific style in mind that you are going for, then you might want to attend the lessons of someone who is known for that particular style. For instance, a lot of my friends who give lessons are either metal guitarists or jazz guitarists, but they’re good at several different styles. However, almost all their students come to them largely because of the style they are known for. This is quite simply because who better to teach you the nuances of those genres and styles than the patrons themselves?

Ask Them about Experience

Even if you don’t have a specific style in mind, everyone needs the same basics. Now, a foundation can be laid for a beginner even by a slightly more advanced beginner. But this is not a good idea because only a more experienced player who has been teaching for some time will have been through and corrected a lot of the common mistakes novices make. Moreover, they will be able to spot these mistakes in their students and correct them before they become a bad playing habit. Simple things such as how you grip the guitar, how you hold the guitar pick, and so on can actually revolutionize your playing. Make sure your prospective teacher has been playing for a long time and teaching for at least a few years. Also find out whether they have played in bands or solo. Try to find a teacher that has experience playing in the kind of settings you see yourself playing in.

Find out Their Methodology

Don’t jump straight into a course without finding out how the teacher is going to be teaching you. A good teacher will be able to take your goals into account and guide you towards them. There is only so much one-size-fits-all when it comes to guitar playing. Everyone learns at different paces and in different ways. So if the teacher is planning to teach you certain chords by this date and this much songs by that date, they’re not for you. A guitar teacher should be tailoring their lessons to your abilities and interests. If you are a beginner, for instance, and you want to learn rock songs, wouldn’t you be put off if your teacher taught you some chords and then tried to make you learn to play Counting Stars by the One Republic? Not when you could use the same chords to learn Castles Made of Sand by Hendrix or More Than a Feeling by Boston!

Other things that you should be looking at include their personality. If they don’t seem like someone you can click with and get along with, it’s going to be hard to learn. Think about the teachers you didn’t like and the ones you did from your school. Try to find teachers with the qualities you liked and without the ones you didn’t. The better your relationship with the teacher the easier it will be to stay interested and learn.

Of course, this means also considering teaching style. If you respond better to highly disciplined teachers, make sure that the guitar teacher is like this and not so casual. It also helps if the teacher is still performing them.

Above all, make sure that the teacher is a lover of music. This way you can be sure they are not just doing it for the money or for the sake of doing the job.

Guitarists Who Play(ed) with Their Siblings

For some reason, the guitarists, particularly the lead, tend to shine more than the players of other instruments in the band. This might by one of the reasons that so many people, save for the die-hard fans, simply have no idea that there are siblings playing in the same band. I’m a bit of a trivia nut, so here are some of the sets of siblings you may not have known played in the same band.

Willie and Chris Adler – Lamb of God

You may know Lamb of God for their lead singer, Randy Blythe, who was almost convicted of involuntary manslaughter. You may also have known them for their amazing guitarists Mark Morton and Willie Adler. Well, Willie’s brother Chris is not only the drummer for this band. He was also the only original member of the band out of the two brothers. When LOG started back in the early 90s, they were ‘Burn the Priest’ and Morton and Chris Adler were two of the founding members. Years later, they were the only two remaining and had added new members, including Chris’s little brother Willie.

Nancy and Ann Wilson – Heart

If you don’t know who heart is, just look up their song ‘Barracuda’ on YouTube. I’ve never met a person who didn’t like Heart, including people who are half my age. Although not an all-female act, Heart was one of the biggest bands to so prominently feature women, especially on guitar. Nancy Wilson is the rhythm guitarist of this band, and her older sister Ann is the vocalist. These two started out back in the 70s and they’re still playing today, sounding just as good as ever. Here they are doing a tribute to legends Led Zeppelin with Stairway to Heaven, along with Jason Bonham, son of Led Zeppelin’s late drummer, John Bonham. Brings tears to my eyes every time I watch it.

Angus and Malcolm Young – AC/DC

Angus and Malcolm Young

Even if you don’t know who they are, you’ve still definitely heard their songs. AC/DC are the guys who played practically half the songs in the Iron Man movies. The Aussie band was started by the brothers back in the 70s. Both brothers play guitar, with Angus on lead and elder brother Malcolm on rhythm. But you may know Angus best for his schoolboy outfit and iconic stage presence. He had tried out all kinds of costumed before settling on this one, including a Spiderman costume and a gorilla!

Eddie and Alex Van Halen (and Wolfgang) – Van Halen

Eddie and Alex Van Halen

You have probably heard of Eddie Van Halen and his band Van Halen. This band had some of the most popular songs and a lot of band drama. Here they are with one of their most famous tracks, Jump. What you probably didn’t know is that lead guitarist, founder, and namesake of the band Eddie Van Halen has a brother. Alex Van Halen is the band’s drummer, and when the two first started learning instruments, it was actually Alex who played guitar, with Eddie on drums. Out of frustration at Alex’s sneaking into play Eddie’s drums, Eddie decided to simply exchange instruments. And now they are a part of history. Even more incredible today is that the current lineup of Van Halen features a third Van Halen: Eddie’s son Wolfgang, who now plays bass for the band.

Duane and Gregg Allman

Duane and Gregg Allman

This list would be incomplete without the original ‘brothers’. Duane and Gregg Allman, way back in the 60s, were, unsurprisingly, the Allman Brothers. With Duane on guitar and Gregg on keyboards, truly left a mark on pretty much every rock and metal band in the 70s and 80s, and still have an influence today. Their bluesy, country, jazzy music appealed to so many people. Unfortunately, a motorbike accident took the life of Duane Allman early on in their career. Since then, from time to time, the remaining members have reunited, along with several others, to perform, record, and pay tribute to their fellow rocker.

So how many other guitarists do you know who play or have played in bands with their family?

Guitarists’ Brains are Different – Here’s How

At the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin, three researchers of the Center for Lifespan Psychology took up a study in 2012. They sought to measure the brainwaves of guitar players while soloing to see if the waves would match brainwaves studied during social interaction. Amazingly, they found a connection.

In the study, there were 12 pairs of guitarists playing a particular piece of music (Rondo in D-Major by C.G. Scheidler) while being scanned by an EEG machine. This machine maps brainwaves in real time. Researchers can then read those brainwaves and interpret them.

In this case, what they noticed was that each pair of guitar players were not just synchronizing their playing. In fact, they were synchronizing slightly ahead of the notes they were playing. In other words, they started to show the same brainwave patterns from before they even played.

This is probably the meaning behind “band chemistry”. It’s also probably why people like the Allmans and Angus and Malcolm Young are quite so successful.

Another study that looked at improvisation tells us that when an experienced guitarist is shredding away, certain brain regions are more active while others are less so. The part that signals unconscious thought turns on the part that deals with intuition and creative thinking. This might explain a few people we might know.

Jazz guitarist Pat Martino had to have a huge part of his brain removed when he was still quite young. And yet he was able to relearn his craft within just two years. This is an example of how the brain can adapt itself to make up for shortcomings. It is also an example of how certain abilities are so ingrained that they become unconscious. This has not been seen only with music, as many creative abilities appear to be largely intuitive, at least once mastered.

The 2012 study noticed something else as well. When the guitarists were playing as a duet, the brain wave patterns resembled those that appear during social coordination.

This suggests that guitarists are largely intuitive, creative types with social leanings. Nothing we didn’t already know, but now science seems to be confirming what we all thought was a stereotype with a kernel of truth!

Four Ways to Make Money as a Guitarist

So what do you call a musician with a college degree? The night manager at McDonald’s. Yeah, I didn’t think that was very nice either. But the crappy thing is that it kinda rings true. If you are reading this article in your parent’s basement with your trusty old splintering Gibson by your side, then you’re like the majority of guitarists and singers out there. Unfortunately, not everyone gets discovered for their amazing talent like Ed Sheeran these days. And it’s near impossible to get your kickass industrial metal band into the public eye because even Nine Inch Nails doesn’t listen to Nine Inch Nails anymore.

But you can’t give up your passion. And you sure as hell shouldn’t have to. I always imagined myself shredding like Malmsteen or Vai in front of a sold out stadium, and you probably had similar dreams. Unless you have some unique and mindblowing talent, or the luck to be strumming in the right place at the right time, gigging is not going to earn you a living.

That doesn’t mean that you can’t earn a living off your music though. You don’t need to be making hit records or selling out shows, nor do you need to work a nine-to-five day job like the stereotypical musician in the movies. There are plenty of ways you can get the money flowing in without compromising on what you love to do. Some of these can even enrich your life in ways you would never imagine.

1.      Live Entertainment

Now, if you haven’t really explored your options as yet, then this is a serious one to consider. If you’re reading this article, chances are that you’ve already tried this, or you hate the idea of it, or you’re currently doing it but not earning much. If you are currently performing at a pub or café but looking for a way to supplement your income, then skip to the next section.

If you’ve never considered looking for work at a restaurant, local pub, or café, it’s time to start asking around. You really don’t need to wait to be asked. Even if your favorite café doesn’t have live acts, it won’t hurt to have a chat with the owner and suggest it.

Depending on what kind of deal you can strike up, the audience the place caters to, and your skills, you may just be able to earn a pretty solid living. See if you can play at a few different places if you can’t get more than a night or two at one pub. Even if you are offered low pay, see if you can ask for a meal out of it as well. That alone will help.

2.      Compose Jingles

If you’re good at putting together a catchy tune and lyrics, go for it. The more versatile you are, the more indispensable you will be if you get hired by a local TV station, radio station, or studio. Contact a few TV and radio stations, advertising agencies, and local recording studios that you know of and drop off your demo and resume. You don’t need to wait for an ad to turn up in the classifieds. Put yourself out there. If you have a knack for catchy melodies and lyrics, it won’t go unnoticed.

Of course, this is no slacker’s job. If you get hired full time, you will be dealing with headache-inducing deadlines and most likely awful clients or bosses. But it does mean good and steady pay, it means experience, and it means making a name for yourself and forging a path to bigger and better things.

3.      Teach

Of course, if you have the talent for playing, you can always earn a pretty penny teaching. Now, it’s important to understand that teaching is not for everybody. Just because you can shred, it does not mean that you can teach. You need to be able to systematically communicate to students the relevant knowledge they require. On top of that, you need to be able to perceive their trouble spots and know how to teach them how to improve.

With that said, teaching can be one of the most lucrative options you have. You can charge quite a bit by offering private or group lessons, you could offer lessons to students all over the world via the internet, or, if you know your theory, you may even be able to get hired as a teacher at a school. Sort of like Jack Black’s character in School of Rock, but perhaps, legitimately. You can even take a fairly basic and short course online or in person to get certified to do this.

4.      Be a Session Musician

If you don’t already have a band of your own, why not be a session musician? If you are really good with your playing, improvising, stage presence, and some theory, you’ll go a long way. You could fill in for people, do brief stints with established local acts, or be part of a temporary lineup and earn quite a bit. This is an excellent way to get some attention in the industry and make a name for yourself.

If you can do this for a while and be patient, eventually you’ll be able to strike out on your own with the contacts you’ve made. Then you can quite easily get bigger gigs with your very own act. If you are going to try this out, be sure to have a business card ready.

These are just some of the ways you can earn some money without having to resort to doing something you would hate. Remember, it’s not going to be easy, but it’s not going to be impossible either.