September 22, 2008 / 3:42 PM / 10 years ago

Age is not an issue when it comes to rock 'n' roll

BERLIN (Reuters) - If anyone thought the Rolling Stones were beginning to get on in years, another British band are proving age is not an issue when it comes to rock ‘n’ roll.

The Zimmers, whose lead singer is 91, has just celebrated the launch of its 14-song debut album “Lust for Life” in a Berlin shopping centre, a rock show that made the front page of many German newspapers at the weekend.

The group’s manager, Dave Palmer, said party-goers have given The Zimmers an enthusiastic reception.

“We’re old but we’re not dead,” Palmer told Reuters after the concert.

Their new CD features cover versions of songs by Eric Clapton, The Beatles and Frank Sinatra. Also included is their now famous rendition of The Who’s “My Generation”, which came out in 2007 when their average age was 78.

Palmer said his group, whose average age is over 80, chose Germany for the launch of its new album because the audience in Germany often show more respect for the elderly than at home in Britain.

“The German audiences are so much more respectful than the British,” Palmer said. “We believe the British are ageist and don’t treat us with the dignity that we deserve.”

Named after the Zimmer frame — a common walking aid for the elderly and disabled — the 50-member British group is in the process of becoming a registered charity. Two of the band members are 102, including Buster Martin.

The band was brought together by a documentary filmmaker who was concerned about the plight of senior citizens.

While they hope their performances will draw attention to the isolation and abandonment felt by many elderly people, they are also determined to have a good time, Palmer said.

“Organizers of one of the after-show parties in Germany even relocated the event to their hotel so that they wouldn’t have to stay up too late,” Palmer said.

Lead singer Alf Carretta, 91, joked about the group member’s age in comments to German media.

“Hopefully we won’t be chased around by groupies,” Carretta said. “We can’t run very fast anymore.”

Several of The Zimmers have been friends for 30 years — they used to play bingo at a club in London together every week until the company that ran it shut down, leaving them without a hobby to bring them together.

Their first recording, an early 2007 rendition of The Who’s “My Generation,” was a huge hit on YouTube and the song, recorded at the legendary Abbey Road studios, reached 26 in the British pop charts, according to Palmer.

Editing by Sami Aboudi

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