Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Zimmers "Talkin' 'Bout My Generation"

From an email message sent by Coming of Age, in Philadelphia, PA, for the week April 21-27, 2007, I learned about a new pop music phenomena involving seniors -- a new "British Invasion", forty years after the original one.

Nearly a million computer users worldwide have viewed The Zimmers' rendition of The Who's classic rock song "My Generation" on U-Tube. This is the listing:

Geriatrics Go Wild! - The Zimmers - "My Generation" (04:07) -- Introducing ...... THE ZIMMERS -- covering The Who's "My Generation" (Download released 21st MAY. CDs in the shops 28th MAY [2007].)
The video is available now at many other online sites, such as iFilm, here.

Who are The Zimmers? The average age of the group members is 78. The lead singer 90. They all hail from England.

One blog, The Lefsetz Letter ("First in Music Analysis"), noted the group's underground popularity and the infrastructure that allows its connections to fans worldwide, in a commentary simply entitled "The Zimmers".
* * *"My Generation" is a novelty. Not far afield from the jokes that used to cross the Net transom back in the nineties. But the mania, the rabidity with which this story has spread, is utterly fascinating.

Sometime in the last week I started getting links. Today I must have gotten five. And I’ve yet to see a story in the straight press, yet to see a story on TV. And aren’t those the media that break stories? Isn’t it about massaging gatekeepers to get them to say yes, to get your story out? * * *
Here's one fan's comment made on U-Tube:

Lead singer Alf is 90 - it’s quite something when he sings “I hope I die before I get old”. And he’s not the oldest -- there are 99 and 100-year-olds in the band! The Zimmers will feature in a BBC TV documentary being aired in May 2007.

Documentary-maker Tim Samuels has been all over Britain recruiting isolated and lonely old people -- those who can’t leave their flats or who are stuck in rubbish care homes.

The finale of the show is this group of lonely old people coming together to stick it back to the society that’s cast them aside -- by forming a rock troupe and trying to storm into the pop charts.

Official information for fans about the band is posted on the group's website on mySpace:
Formed in early 2007, The Zimmers are not only the oldest gigging band in the world (with an average age of 78), they are also the most celebrated, having recorded their debut album at the famous Abbey Road Studios, under the watchful eye of Acclaimed Producer Mike Hedges.

Oh and by the way, don't tell them you think this is funny, with more aggression than Nirvana and more talent than The Beatles, these OAP's are here to stay. Their first single 'My Generation' is released on May 14th. Expect it to climb faster than a Stenna Stair Lift!

Other songs in THE ZIMMERS repertoire include 'Firestarter' by The Prodigy, 'When I'm (one hundred and) 64' by The Beatles and the live favorite (Jermain Stewarts worldwide hit) 'We Don't have to take our clothes off (to have a good time)'.
That fan website gives biographical information about various band members, including:
  • Winifred Warburton (99) -- Lives in a care home in Derbyshire. * * *
  • Eric Whitty (69) -- Lives in a care home near Liverpool. * * *
  • Tim O'Donovan (81) -- Lives in a care home attached to a convent in Clacton. * * *
  • Joan Bennett (it's rude to ask a ladies age!) -- Lives on her own in London. * * *
  • Alf Carretta (90) is the lead singer.
  • Ivy Lock, Rose Dickens, Dolores Murray, Rita, Sylvia Beaton, & Sally Page -- This group of people met at the Mecca bingo hall on Essex Road and have been friends ever since. * * *
  • Gillian (Deddie) Davies (69) -- Actor. * * *
  • Peter Oakley (Coming up for 80) --Otherwise known as “Geriatric 1927” to regular You Tubers
  • Buster Martin (100) -- Works 3 days a week for Pimlico Plumbers. * * *
  • John & Bubbles Tree, Rob Fulford & Dennis Skillicorn -- they’re united in their determination to get older voices back on air. * * *
  • Grace Cook (83) -- * * * she’s definitely still got it.
The band's website also notes relevant "Zimmer Facts" about the elderly population worldwide:
  • In 2000, there were 600 million people aged 60 and over; there will be 1.2 billion by 2025 and 2 billion by 2050.
  • Today, about two thirds of all older people are living in the developing world; by 2025, it will be 75%.
  • In the developed world, the very old (age 80+) is the fastest growing population group.
  • Women outlive men in virtually all societies; consequently in very old age, the ratio of women/men is 2:1.
More videos of The Zimmers' performances were posted, and are available either on the group's website or by a search on U-Tube under their name.

People try to put us d-down (Talkin' 'bout my generation)
Just because we get around (Talkin' 'bout my generation)
Things they do look awful c-c-cold (Talkin' 'bout my generation)
I hope I die before I get old (Talkin' 'bout my generation)

This is my generation
This is my generation, baby

-- "My Generation", by The Who (1965)

* * *
Update: 05/14/07:

On May 13, 2007, the Kansas City Star noted the worldwide attention given lately to The Zimmers. See: "Senior citizens re-make 'My Generation'", quoting from the Brisbane (Australia) Courier-Mail:

Forty years after creation of the teen rock anthem “My Generation,” a group of senior citizens has banded together to make it a hit again — this time on the Web site YouTube. * * *

There’s a lot of talk in the media world about convergence. This is a living, breathing example. Pre-baby boomers pinching the baby boomers’ music and making it relevant through the medium of Generation Y, which just goes to show the original writer, Peter Townshend, was a visionary.

Update: 06/05/07:

The Washington Post reported, on June 4, 2007, in an article entitled "Zimmer Generation on UK Top 40 Chart", that "[t]he elderly rockers known as The Zimmers entered the British Top 40 chart Monday at No. 26 with their guitar-smashing take on The Who's "My Generation."
The group -- which takes its name from the Zimmer frame, the British term for a walker -- was formed by Tim Samuels for a British Broadcasting Corp. documentary.

"Considering we weren't on any playlists, because we were not being young and trendy enough, I think this is an absolute triumph," said Will Daws, producer of the documentary. * * *

Samuels said the band was intended to combat the victim status of the elderly.

"If you can judge a society by how well it treats its old people, we'd be in trouble," Samuels said. "I wanted to do something to help them fight back; something with a little bit of attitude and chutzpah."

Update: 06/23/07:

On Saturday, June 23rd, I heard a segment on "
Weekend Edition", broadcast by National Public Radio, entitled "British Pensioner Rocks Out on YouTube", which I highly recommend for your listening.
At 2.5 million views and counting, 79-year-old Peter Oakley is one of the hottest acts on YouTube. The widower and former British army radar technician is also a fledgling musician with the senior citizens' rock band, The Zimmers.
The story lists these additional web links: