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Health concerns have caused a number of high-profile singers to quit the road but what will it all mean for the industry at large?

In a chilling quote from much-loved music documentary The Last Waltz, about The Bands final concert in 1976, leader Robbie Robertson looks straight into the camera and ominously says: The road will kill you.

At the time, he was just 34. Yet, over four decades later, musicians of his storied era are still on the road and facing escalating health issues as a consequence. Since the start of this year, Ozzy Osbourne, 71, had to cancel his 2020 tour to seek treatment for issues related to his recent diagnosis of Parkinsons disease. Elton John, 72, had to ditch dates on what was already advertised as his goodbye tour, after declaring himself extremely unwell. Madonna, 61, was forced to scratch a bunch of shows from her British tour due to overwhelming pain from injuries she sustained on the road which already caused her to nix some US dates. Meanwhile, Aerosmith felt compelled to disinvite drummer Joey Kramer from their Grammy performance, over alleged difficulties the 69-year-old was having keeping the beat, while the group itself has had to scratch dates due to various health issues experienced by Steven Tyler. Then, just this last week, the 56-year-old frontman of Metallica, James Hetfield, needed to cancel shows to, in his words, look after my mental, physical and spiritual health.

All this comes hot on the heels of an escalating wave of older stars whove either quit the road entirely or begun their last hurrahs, including Paul Simon at 78, Bob Seger at 74, Kiss aged between 68 to 70, Neil Diamond at 79, and Eric Clapton at 74.

The fact is, its really hard to tour, says Dave Brooks, who covers the concert industry for Billboard. Its terribly hard on your body, and mentally difficult too.

Jem Aswad, senior music editor of the trade publication Variety, says: People think its easy to be a rock star. But try to hold the attention of 18,000 people, and perform really well, for two and a half hours every night. Its an incredibly tough thing to sustain.

Elton John apologising to fans after cutting short a concert in Auckland. Photograph: Tim McCready/AFP via Getty Images

If all that wear-and-tear takes a toll on older performers, their increasing absence from the road threatens to weaken the concert industrys bottom line. According to the industrys most authoritative source, Pollstar, five out of the top 10 worldwide tours of the last year featured band members over the age of 50. Three of those were peopled with players aged 60 to nearly 80. In Pollstars list of top 200 North American tours, the top three earners were over 70, including Elton, Bob Seger and the Stones.

When it comes to the highest grossing single shows worldwide, four of the top five positions were occupied by a group with players over age 70, while 16 of the top 20 shows featured the same band. That would be the Rolling Stones, who are about to embark on yet another American jaunt this spring and summer, despite the fact that Mick Jagger had to have heart valve replacement surgery last April.

Small wonder Aswad calls older rock stars the cornerstone of the concert industry. He adds: Its a very real problem the industry is facing over the next ten years if more of them go out.

Especially since the audience who attends shows by older stars has the deepest pockets, raising profits for everyone. Its a demographic that has some of the highest per capita income, Brooks says. If the rockers are ageing out, their customers are leaving the marketplace.

And that has increasing consequence for the entire music business, given the paltry revenue generated by modern streaming compared to the hugely lucrative sales of old CDs. For most artists, touring is the biggest revenue generator, Brooks says.

In fact, the revenue the biggest bands create can rival the GDP of a small nation. Top stars can command an 80-20 or in some cases, even a 95-5 split of the funds from shows, with the lower portions going to the promoter. More, top artists can clean up at the merch table. A lot of bands are selling beyond the T-shirt or a poster right now, Brooks says. Some of whats sold is considered fashion and even vinyl collectables.

Given such earning power, concerts play a powerful role in the economy overall. According to Brooks, the touring industry is generally estimated to generate between $50-60bn worldwide, aided by expanding markets in eastern Europe and Asia. Despite such daunting figures, the industrys closest observers say they arent at all worried about the business ability to make up for the losses created by hobbled, or retired, oldsters. Ray Waddell, who has covered the concert business for over 30 years and who oversees Pollstar and Venues Now, says: The industry has shown a remarkable ability to regenerate and replicate itself with new headliners, whether they be Billie Eilish, Ariana Grande or Ed Sheeran. Acts can break more quickly now, given the international accessibility of music and the new ways of discovering music.

The changes dont only reflect a new generation of fans but a switch in the popularity of genres. Everybody tends to think about rock stars when they think about top touring acts, says Aswad. But pop is replacing it. We could very well be looking at a situation, 10 years from now, where the top touring acts will be Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga and Ed Sheeran.

In fact, the single highest grossing tour worldwide for the last year, according to Pollstar, was by Pink, who is just 40. In a 12-month period, she sold over 1.8m tickets, yielding a gross of $215.2m, aided by a performance as prized for its death-defying acrobatics as its music. Doing strong business over the last year as well were twenty-something stars Shawn Mendes and Post-Malone, and the teen K-pop phenom, BTS, who were the sixth top grossing act in the world.

Mike Campbell, left, and Tom Petty in 2017. Photograph: Amy Harris/Invision/AP

Even if the industry can keep thriving, however, theres potential peril for those elders who keep trying to slog it out. In 2017, Tom Petty died days after finishing a tour at the age of 66, due to overuse of medications he was taking to deal with pain accrued from a lifetime on the road, including knee difficulties and a fractured hip. A year after his death, his wife, Dana, told Billboard: Hed had it in his mind this was his last tour and he owed it to his long-time crew and his fans.

The clear implication here is that Petty died, in part, because of a sense of duty to support the team around him, to his fans, and to the unspoken code of the road. Factors like these keep many artists on the road, even if they happen to have the personal wealth of Croesus, and theyre not, necessarily, in the best shape. In 2016, Prince died from overdosing on the prescription medicine he was given to deal with pain caused by years of leaping around the stage in high heels. Given stories like these, Robbie Robertsons quote seems not just cautionary, but prophetic.

At the same time, many of the old war horses have proven themselves incredibly hearty, as well as eager. These artists live to perform, Waddell says. You can sell, or download, millions of records, but thats no substitute for 20,000 people loving every move you make. Very few people get to experience anything that powerful.

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Jason Momoa is Ozzy Osbourne. Or is it the other way around? Fans of Momoa and the Prince of Darkness alike can’t handle the concentrated awesomeness in Osbourne’s promotional clip for his latest album, Ordinary Man. (If that isn’t the most metal album name ever, I don’t know what is.)

In the teaser video, Khal Drogo Aquaman Conan the Barbarian Momoa steps into Ozzy’s shoes (and cowl) as he lip-syncs the brand new Scary Little Green Men song. If you haven’t listened to the full song yet, I heartily recommend it. I’ve never been a huge Osbourne fan, but the song might have just changed my mind about the singer. I’m not sure how I’ll have to tell my parents.

Scroll down for the full video featuring Momoa and let us know in the comments if you think the Hollywood actor makes a good Prince of Darkness.

Ozzy Osbourne recently released his newest album

Image credits: OzzyOsbourne

The promotional clip has Jason Momoa stepping into the Prince of Darkness’ shoes

It’s only fitting that Osbourne and his team approached renowned actor and muscle-master Momoa—he’s a major metalhead.

In fact, Momoa previously said that Tool, Metallica, and Black Sabbath inspired him when playing his characters on-screen, including Aquaman.

“Aquaman’s pretty metal. I know no one thinks that, but Aquaman’s metal. I kind of build my characters off of metal songs. Conan The Barbarian was really heavy Pantera, I’d say Aquaman was probably mostly built out of Tool and Metallica’s Kill ‘Em All. Ticks and Leeches, if I want to get specific. There’s a lot of Sabbath in there too.”

What’s more, Momoa was at Slayer’s final show in Los Angeles, sang Pantera songs with heavy metal superstar Philip Anselmo, and even took death metal singing—scratch that, screaming—lessons from Oli Peters of Archspire.

The figure takes off its cowl and Jason Momoa reveals his face

Momoa lip-syncs Osbourne’s Scary Little Green Men

Momoa is a huge metalhead

Ozzy suffers from Parkinson’s disease and had to cancel his concert tour

Osbourne’s newest album came out on the 21st of February 2020. However, it’s release is slightly marred by the fact that Ozzy canceled his 2020 North American concert tour. The Prince of Darkness is currently engaged in battle with his inner demons (health issues, including Parkinson’s disease) and is seeking treatment in The Old World (Europe).

Bored Panda reached out to Parkinson’s, a UK-based charity that fights for better care, treatments, and quality of life for those affected by the disease. We spoke to Claire Bale, Head of Research and Engagement at the charity, to learn more about Parkinson’s disease, as well as to learn whether Osbourne will be able to continue his career.

“Everyone’s Parkinson’s is unique, so different combinations of medication, exercise and therapies will suit different people,” Bale told Bored Panda. “Medication can be incredibly effective in helping people manage their symptoms, but current treatments cannot slow, stop or reverse Parkinson’s and also come with serious side effects. That’s why Parkinson’s UK is striving to find new and better treatments for the 145,000 people living with the condition in the UK.”

“We’re currently funding more than 40 research projects into Parkinson’s. Every project works towards delivering better treatments and one day a cure. For example, recent research has shown that 2.5 hours of vigorous exercise each week can be as effective at controlling symptoms as medication.”

According to Bale, “The last big breakthrough in the treatment of Parkinson’s came through Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS). The process involves electrodes placed into the brain that, when switched on, can help with some of the movement symptoms of Parkinson’s. Our research has helped demonstrate the life-changing benefits this surgical therapy can have and now approximately 300 people with Parkinson’s have DBS in the UK every year.”

“However, DBS is not a cure and it isn’t suitable for everyone. That’s why we’re driving forward pioneering research to develop new and better treatments. We were the majority funder of the recent groundbreaking clinical trial of GDNF: an experimental drug that was delivered directly to the brain via a revolutionary delivery system designed specifically for the task. And we’re funding a new study exploring the potential of cannabidiol, a chemical derived from cannabis, for treating the terrifying hallucinations that many with Parkinson’s experience at some point with the condition.”

Looking for a cure for Parkinson’s

The charity’s ultimate goal is to find a cure for the disease. Bale told us that they “won’t stop” until they achieve this.

“A cure would mean that people could live entirely free from the condition. But because Parkinson’s varies so much from person to person, there may not be a single ‘cure.’ Instead, we may need a range of different therapies that can be used in combination to meet the needs of the individual and their specific form of the condition. In the past 50 years, we’ve made vital discoveries that have revolutionized our understanding of Parkinson’s and the brain. Armed with this hard-won knowledge, we now believe the science is ready for us to develop the new treatments and cure that people with Parkinson’s so desperately need.”

But what are the chances that Osbourne will be able to continue his career? According to Bale, “Parkinson’s affects everyone differently, and many people with Parkinson’s are able to continue working for many years, depending on the type of job they have and how their symptoms progress. We hope Ozzy will be entertaining us for many years to come.”

She added: “Parkinson’s is what happens when the brain cells that make dopamine start to die. It can affect anyone at any age. There are over 40 symptoms, from tremors and pain to anxiety. It gets worse over time and there’s no cure yet.”

Fans couldn’t handle the amount of awesomeness in Ozzy and Momoa’s video

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British rocker delays tour for second time and tells fans he is taking longer than expected to recover after a year of illness

British rocker Ozzy Osbourne has postponed his solo European tour for a second time but insisted that he was not dying or retiring despite a year of bad health.

Im not dying, I am recovering. Its just taking a little bit longer than everyone thought it would, the 70-year-old former Black Sabbath frontman said in a video posted on his social media accounts.

Osbourne has been in an out of hospital for almost a year because of a fall that required extensive surgery on his spine and neck as well as pneumonia, flu complications and infections in his hand. The emergencies and other setbacks have prompted speculation in tabloid media that he is near death.

Osbourne, dressed in a burgundy jacket, black top and wearing his familiar round-rimmed, tinted glasses, explained some of his health issues to fans on the video post on Facebook.

Speaking with a croaking voice, he said was bored stiff with being in bed all day but added: Youre just gonna have to be a little bit more patient.

Im postponing the European tour because Im not ready. Im not retiring Ive still got gigs to do but when I do come back on an American tour, I wanna be one hundred percent ready to come out and knock your… socks off, he added.

Osbournes solo No More Tours 2 has already been postponed once. The European leg was re-scheduled for a January 2020 start. The re-scheduled North American dates, starting in May 2020, will go ahead, promoters Live Nation said on Wednesday.

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Much of Silicon Valley mythology is centered on the founder-as-hero narrative. But historically, scientific founders leading the charge for bio companies have been far less common.

Developing new drugs is slow, risky and expensive. Big clinical failures are all too common. As such, bio requires incredibly specialized knowledge and experience. But at the same time, the potential for value creation is enormous today more than ever with breakthrough new medicines like engineered cell, gene and digital therapies.

What these breakthroughs are bringing along with them are entirely new models — of founders, of company creation, of the businesses themselves — that will require scientists, entrepreneurs and investors to reimagine and reinvent how they create bio companies.

In the past, biotech VC firms handled this combination of specialized knowledge + binary risk + outsized opportunity with a unique “company creation” model. In this model, there are scientific founders, yes; but the VC firm essentially founded and built the company itself — all the way from matching a scientific advance with an unmet medical need, to licensing IP, to having partners take on key roles such as CEO in the early stages, to then recruiting a seasoned management team to execute on the vision.


You could call this the startup equivalent of being born and bred in captivity — where great care and feeding early in life helps ensure that the company is able to thrive. Here the scientific founders tend to play more of an advisory role (usually keeping day jobs in academia to create new knowledge and frontiers), while experienced “drug hunters” operate the machinery of bringing new discoveries to the patient’s bedside. This model’s core purpose is to bring the right expertise to the table to de-risk these incredibly challenging enterprises — nobody is born knowing how to make a medicine.

But the ecosystem this model evolved from is evolving itself. Emerging fields like computational biology and biological engineering have created a new breed of founder, native to biology, engineering and computer science, that are already, by definition, the leading experts in their fledgling fields. Their advances are helping change the industry, shifting drug discovery away from a highly bespoke process — where little knowledge carries over from the success or failure of one drug to the next — to a more iterative, building-block approach like engineering.

Take gene therapy: once we learn how to deliver a gene to a specific cell in a given disease, it is significantly more likely we will be able to deliver a different gene to a different cell for another disease. Which means there’s an opportunity not only for novel therapies but also the potential for new business models. Imagine a company that provides gene delivery capability to an entire industry — GaaS: gene-delivery as a service!

Once a founder has an idea, the costs of testing it out have changed too. The days of having to set up an entire lab before you could run your first experiments are gone. In the same way that AWS made starting a tech company vastly faster and easier, innovations like shared lab spaces and wetlab accelerators have dramatically reduced the cost and speed required to get a bio startup off the ground. Today it costs thousands, not millions, for a “killer experiment” that will give a founding team (and investors) early conviction.

What all this amounts to is scientific founders now have the option of launching bio companies without relying on VCs to create them on their behalf. And many are. The new generation of bio companies being launched by these founders are more akin to being born in the wild. It isn’t easy; in fact, it’s a jungle out there, so you need to make mistakes, learn quickly, hone your instincts, and be well-equipped for survival. On the other hand, given the transformative potential of engineering-based bio platforms, the cubs that do survive can grow into lions.


So, which is better for a bio startup today: to be born in the wild — with all the risk and reward that entails — or to be raised in captivity

The “bred in captivity” model promises sureness, safety, security. A VC-created bio company has cache and credibility right off the bat. Launch capital is essentially guaranteed. It attracts all-star scientists, executives and advisors — drawn by the balance of an innovative, agile environment and a well-funded, well-connected support network. I was fortunate enough to be an early executive in one of these companies, giving me the opportunity to work alongside industry luminaries and benefit from their well-versed knowledge of how to build a world-class bio company with all its complex component parts: basic, translational, clinical research, from scratch. But this all comes at a price.

Because it’s a heavy lift for the VCs, scientific founders are usually left with a relatively small slug of equity — even founding CEOs can end up with ~5% ownership. While these companies often launch with headline-grabbing funding rounds of $50m or above, the capital is tranched — meaning money is doled out as planned milestones are achieved. But the problem is, things rarely go according to plan. Tranched capital can be a safety net, but you can get tangled in that net if you miss a milestone.

Being born in the wild, on the other hand, trades safety for freedom. No one is building the company on your behalf; you’re in charge, and you bear the risk. As a recent graduate, I co-founded a company with Harvard geneticist George Church. The company was bootstrapped — a funding strategy that was more famine than feast — but we were at liberty to try new things and run (un)controlled experiments like sequencing heavy metal wildman Ozzy Osbourne.

It was the early, Wild West days of the genomics revolution and many of the earliest biotech companies mirrored that experience — they weren’t incepted by VCs; they were created by scrappy entrepreneurs and scientists-turned-CEO. Take Joshua Boger, organic chemist and founder of Vertex Pharmaceuticals: starting in 1989 his efforts to will into existence a new way to develop drugs, thrillingly captured in Barry Werth’s The Billion-Dollar Molecule and its sequel The Antidote in all its warts and nail-biting glory, ultimately transformed how we treat HIV, hepatitis C and cystic fibrosis.

Today we’re in a back-to-the-future moment and the industry is being increasingly pushed forward by this new breed of scientist-entrepreneur. Students-turned-founder like Diego Rey of in vitro diagnostics company GeneWEAVE and Ramji Srinivasan of clinical laboratory Counsyl helped transform how we diagnose disease and each led their companies to successful acquisitions by larger rivals.

Popular accelerators like Y Combinator and IndieBio are filled with bio companies driven by this founder phenotype. Ginkgo Bioworks, the first bio company in Y Combinator and today a unicorn, was founded by Jason Kelly and three of his MIT biological engineering classmates, along with former MIT professor and synthetic biology legend Tom Knight. The company is not only innovating new ways to program biology in order to disrupt a broad range of industries, but it’s also pioneering an innovative conglomerate business model it has dubbed the “Berkshire for biotech.”

Like the Ginkgo founders, Alec Nielsen and Raja Srinivas launched their startup Asimov, an ambitious effort to program cells using genetic circuits, shortly after receiving their PhDs in biological engineering from MIT. And, like Boger, renowned machine learning Stanford professor Daphne Koller is working to once again transform drug discovery as the founder and CEO of Instiro.

Just like making a medicine, no one is born knowing how to build a company. But in this new world, these technical founders with deep domain expertise may even be more capable of traversing the idea maze than seasoned operators. Engineering-based platforms have the potential to create entirely new applications with unprecedented productivity, creating opportunities for new breakthroughs, novel business models, and new ways to build bio companies. The well-worn playbooks may be out of date.

Founders that choose to create their own companies still need investors to scrub in and contribute to the arduous labor of company-building — but via support, guidance, and with access to networks instead. And like this new generation of founders, bio investors today need to rethink (and re-value) the promise of the new, and still appreciate the hard-earned wisdom of the old. In other words, bio investors also need to be multidisciplinary. And they need to be comfortable with a different kind of risk: backing an unproven founder in a new, emerging space. As a founder, if you’re willing to take your chances in the wild, you should have an investor that understands you, believes in you, can support you and, importantly, is willing to dream big with you.

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When writer Paul Rees was invited to Christmas dinner chez the Osbournes, he didnt expect to end up outside with Ozzy and a pair of night-vision goggles

In 1994, I was invited to Christmas dinner at Ozzy Osbournes house. Rocks enduring wild man was emerging from self-imposed retirement and his return to action had been marked by the launch of his official website. Ozzys wife and manager, Sharon, had arranged for the first 20 fans to visit it to meet their hero at the couples rambling estate in Berkshire.

The formidable Sharon hired a fleet of caterers to serve turkey and trimmings in a candlelit dining room adorned with a towering Christmas tree. I was dispatched by Kerrang! magazine to document the festive tidings and arrived to find Ozzy in a mutinous mood. Within minutes he had convinced himself I was a waiter and loudly demanded that I be put to work. Ignore him, Sharon soothed, adding: Hes a daft old sod.

A series of comic episodes ensued as soon as the over-enthusiastic American visitors pitched up. Gaggles of them roamed the house in search of souvenirs, with Ozzy stomping after them. Sharon! the Brummie boomed from a far-flung wing, Someones nicked the bog roll.

After dinner, I joined Ozzy in the library for our interview. Skittish at the best of times, he set off at once on a rambling and wholly libellous discourse meant to out a score of his fellow rock stars as gay. I asked him instead what he did for a hobby. His eyes widened and he leapt up. Ive a fan who is a colonel in the US Marines, he enthused, throwing open a cupboard, and he gave me these. He showed me two pairs of infra-red, night-vision goggles.

And so it came to pass that on a frigid Decembers night, Ozzy and I embarked upon a stroll around the woodland encircling his home. In the inky blackness we viewed each other in a luminous green glow. Rain had turned the ground into a thick, viscous bog and I suggested we might incur Sharons wrath by trailing mud across her carpets.

Bollocks to that, Ozzy trumpeted. He had a mission in mind. He meant for us to seek out his herd of fallow deer, which remained entirely elusive for the hour that we fumbled about. Finally, at 2am, as we stumbled around in a bog, Ozzy shrugged and concluded in a baleful voice: Fuck em, lets go home. That was the real Ozzy: funny and bonkers.

When We Were Lions (18.99, Aurum) by Paul Rees is out now. To order a copy for 15.57 go to

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The bassist/songwriter alleges Osbournes Blizzard Music short-changed him in connection with hit song Crazy Train a claim the company denies

Ozzy Osbournes former bassist Bob Daisley has sued the musician and his company Blizzard Music Limited for unpaid royalties. The musician has accused Osbourne of withholding over $2m in unpaid royalties from the song Crazy Train.

Released in 1980, both Osbourne and Daisley are credited as the songs writers along with late guitarist Randy Rhoads. According to documents released after the filing at a court in Nevada on 8 August, Daisleys complaint alleges that an audit revealed Osbourne and Blizzard Music were improperly deducting undisclosed fees before distributing royalties to Daisley and improperly withholding Daisleys rightful share of royalties owed under the publishing agreements for the commercial exploitations of the songs.

The Blizzard of Ozz lineup from left, Randy Rhoads, Lee Kerslake, Ozzy Osbourne and Bob Daisley at Ridge Farm Studio, Surrey, in 1980. Photograph: Fin Costello/Redferns

Daisley performed with Osbourne on Blizzard of Ozz, the Black Sabbath singers first solo album in 1980, and was involved in 1981s Diary of a Madman but was fired before its release. While Daisley and drummer Lee Kerslake successfully sued for royalties and credit for their work on this album in 1986, allegations made in 2002 over alleged unpaid performance royalties were dismissed.

While Mr Osbourne was benefiting from the songs co-authored by our client, the audit shows that he was systematically short-changing Mr Daisley, said Daisleys lawyer Alan Howard of the 2016 allegations. Mr Daisley had no choice but to bring this action to secure his fair share of the proceeds those songs have generated.

Ozzy Osbourne and Randy Rhoads perform Crazy Train

Osbourne has refuted the charges, and, in an email statement to Rolling Stone his representative said: For the past 36 years, Mr Daisley has been receiving biannual royalty statements and checks from Blizzard Music, totalling in the millions of dollars, which have been routinely cashed.

We understand that Mr Daisley is now in retirement and that these funds are his main source of income, so it is his right to be diligent with his money, but after 36 years, this is tantamount to harassment. We would have hoped that after 36 years that Mr Daisley would have lost his unhealthy personal obsession and resentment towards Mr Osbournes success. Blizzard Music and Mr Osbourne plan to vigorously defend these proceedings.

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