Fifty years after launching their careers, three of rock music's most celebrated acts are doing little to celebrate.
Bob Dylan, The Beatles and the Rolling Stones each passed the half-century mark this year with none of the fanfare typically accorded such milestones. The Eagles have grand 40th anniversary plans for 2013, and the Beach Boys saluted their 50th with this year's reunion album and ambitious world tour.
So where's the confetti for Dylan, the Fab Four and the Stones?
They don't need it, says Josh Jackson, Paste magazine editor in chief. "There are no artists bigger or more iconic," he says. "They're still in the public eye. The Beach Boys needed a 50th anniversary tour to call attention to themselves."
Dylan, whose eponymous debut arrived March 19, 1962, will release his 35th studio album, Tempest, on Sept. 11 with no ties to the first. For The Beatles, 1962 proved pivotal at several points: They signed a record contract and first went into the studio with producer George Martin in June, hired Ringo Starr in August and released first single Love Me Do in the U.K. in October. The only official output this year: the iTunes compilation Tomorrow Never Knows.
The Stones, who played their first gig together at London's Marquee Club on July 12, 1962, observed the day 50 years later by attending a photo exhibit spotlighting the band. Mick Jagger and Keith Richards are cooperating in an upcoming HBO documentary. But the group known for some of history's most lucrative, lavish tours has only hinted at staging shows to toast its longevity.
The Stones "will make a big deal of their anniversary — just one year removed," predicts Jim Farber, music critic at New York's Daily News. "They couldn't get themselves together in time to celebrate this year."
He's not surprised by any of the non-events.
Citing the 1967 Dylan documentary Don't Look Back, Farber says: "That says it all. For five decades, Dylan has moved aggressively, even defiantly, forward."
The Beatles "aren't here anymore, so they can't exploit their anniversary with a tour or new music," he says. By contrast, the Beach Boys' sentimental music "has always been tied to pining for a lost time, the eternal summer that never was."
That touches on another reason why three aging acts may be ducking their golden anniversaries.
"The nostalgia aspect can't be avoided, and I imagine it's something they don't want to scream about," says Jackson, who welcomes a break from the hype and hoopla. "It's refreshing that some artists are not milking every opportunity."