Late bloomers in popular music

The biggest surprise for me in the passing of The Cars’ Ric Ocasek was his age. 75? Doing the math means he was 34 when their debut album was released. That means he was 40 when I saw them on the Heartbeat City tour. 34 seems unusually old for a starting rocker. Heck, the Beatles broke up before any of them had turned 30. Ocasek is actually 2 months older than The Kink’s Ray Davies, who had hits 14 years earlier.

So, anyone else start their career at a relatively late age? I know Debbie Harry was 33 when Blondie broke through with their third album Parallel Lines.

Who else?

Profoundly awesome guitarist Karl Sanders was well into his 30s before deathmetal EgyptologistsNile started to get off the ground.

That’s why he said he was 5 years younger than he actually was at the beginning of his career.

Mick Mars of Motley Crue has long been known to be at least a decade older than he says he is. This would also make him in his 70s. :eek:

The Cars was not his first band.

Art Alexakis from Everclear.

He’s five years older than I am - and therefore old - and came to prominence in the 90s with ‘Santa Monica’. The album was released in 1995 but Santa Monica broke big in 1996.

That makes the start of Alexakis prominence in the alt-music circles to start at 33 and break big at 34. His three platinum albums were released when he was 33, 35 and 38.

The late Leonard Cohen was the poster boy for this, of course. He was 33 when his first album came out; he was 36 when he first went on tour.

That said, I think the record holder has to be Tuli Kupferberg. He was 41 years old when he co-founded the Fugs, and 42 when they cut their first album.

Andy Summers was 35 when he joined the Police. Nothing really notable before that, except for a brief stint with the Animals about ten years earlier.

He’s not really popular, but Johnny Dowd was 49 years old when his first album, Wrong Side of Memphis was released in 1997. He’s released another 17 or 18 studio albums since then, about half a dozen live recordings, a couple of DVDs and a book of poetry.

For the record, his material is almost uniformly brilliant. Sometimes disturbing, sometimes disturbingly personal, his music often sounds like if The Residents tried to be a country/blues band and they recruited a crank from the Appalachian Mountains to write lyrics and sing for them. Other times he sounds like a earnest would-be songwriter that Nashville would never want anything to do with. And sometimes he just sounds like a cross-genre weirdo.

Johnny Dowd - God Created Woman

Ed Cassidy was 42 when he joined his stepson, Randy California, in Spirit.

Like the others already mentioned, he had a long career as a musician before he gained fame as a rock star.

Papa John Creach. He was 53 when asked to join both Hot Tuna and the Jefferson Airplane.

Mississippi Fred McDowell was also 53 when he started recording, and was a successful blues performer.

Nathaniel Rateliff (of Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats) was 36 or 37 when he finally broke through with the song “S.O.B.” But, again, he’s another example of someone who had been working at music for a long time before finally getting a hit.

And stayed relevant (IMHO) the whole time. Amazing.

The father of British blues, the great Alexis Korner, was a musical generation older than all his pupils who later formed the British blues explosion, starting with the Stones which he tutored. But he only made his first recording at age 34 in 1962, in the same year as the Stones. Of course he had had an important role and career before and was a man of many talents, and he had brought many American blues greats to Britain (Muddy Waters and Big Bill Broonzy slept in his kitchen) which sparked the interest of British people in the blues.

Right, but he didn’t become popular until the first Cars album when he was 36. As mentioned in the OP, the Beatles had their popularity and had broken up before any of them were 30.

Susan Boyle was 48 when she appeared in Britain’s Got Talent, the start of her career.

Toni Basil was 38 when she had her (as far as I know) only hit with Mickey

Sia was 41 when she had her first number 1 hit Cheap Thrills, though she’d been in the industry for a long time before that

Robert Pollard of Guided By Voices was born in Oct 1957. For me he became famous in 1994 with Bee Thousand, at 37.

I think Sharon Jones was born in 1956 and released her first LP in 2002. @46 years old.

On review, having checked several online sources, I have to correct two things:

First, Alexis Korner had made already recordings for different outfits before his Blues Incorporated released “R&B From The Marquee” in late 1962. But it was the first album that gave him some publicity, though it wasn’t a great success, and at least it was the first British electric blues album. The following British blues boom gave him some more recognition, but he didn’t have a hit until 1970 with his project CCS with a cover of “Whole Lotta Love”. He also worked a lot for radio and TV, everything blues, rock and r&b related from the sixties to the eighties. I remember him moderating music shows on German TV in the seventies when I was a wee lad (partly of Austrian origin, he spoke German perfectly).

The second error was that of course the first record release by the Stones was not in 1962, but in summer 1963.