I have been very fortunate in my lifetime to have seen a lot of amazing artists perform. I saw Nina Simone‘s last ever American concert. She was so personable, like she was performing in her living room for friends. She died not even a month later. I saw Andrés Segovia‘s last performance. I saw Tiny Tim‘s last show. I swear I had nothing at all to do with any of their deaths.
Last year, I was able to cross two artists of my list at the same show. One of the very first punk bands I ever heard as a wee lass was The Descendents. They broke up before I got a chance to see them. So, when I heard they were playing in Los Angeles, my friends and I all got tickets. As an added bonus, we got to see Black Flag with Keith Morris playing for the first time in over 20 years.
The point is, I’ve seen a lot of great shows, even by some artists who didn’t die immediately afterwards, but for as many amazing shows as I’ve seen, there are still some performers that I never got to see live and now it’s too late. This is a list of those performers. If anyone would like to build a time machine so that I could see them, I’d be much obliged.
10. Black Flag with Henry Rollins
I’ve seen almost all the incarnations of Black Flag, except with Henry Rollins. This band was hugely influential in my little adolescent world. Black Flag fucking rules. This will probably sound like noise to those of you who didn’t grow up with punk. 🙂
9. Etta James
Other than Aretha Franklin (who I’ve been lucky enough to see live), no one’s got as much soul as Ms. Etta James. This woman poured her entire heart out when she performed. I would love to have seen it.
8. Johnny Cash
Oh, Johnny. I can’t say that I always loved you because I didn’t. I mean, I’ve always loved some of your songs like Jackson, Big River, I Walk The Line and Ring Of Fire, but I didn’t really get you. It was only when your American Recordings came out that I really came to love you, but by that time, I couldn’t afford to see you.
This song in particular is just fucking brilliant. You took it, made it your own and hammered that pain through our souls. It is one of the best covers in existence and the perfect salute to a long career. This video is nearly painful to watch.
7. John Lee Hooker
I love the blues. I always have. John Lee is probably my favorite blues artist and I never got to see him perform live. I absolutely love the sound of his guitar.
Other blues artists I’d like to see: R. L. Burnside, Muddy Waters, Howling Wolf, etc.
6. Frank Sinatra
I have always been a huge fan of Old Blue Eyes. I’m not sure why. It’s not like my parents listened to him or anything. I used to take a bubble bath with Frank every Sunday. I never got to see him. By the time I got old enough, tickets were way too expensive for me.
5. The Pogues
I have always loved The Pogues. I don’t remember ever not liking The Pogues. For the last 10 years or so, my friends and I go see a Mariachi band cover the Rum, Sodomy & Lash album in its entirety on St. Patrick’s Day. It has become a tradition, yet I never got to see the real band.
4. Jimi Hendrix
Yay Jimi! Mr. Hendrix, aside from being one of the world’s best guitar players, was a southpaw like me. He played guitar upside-down. I love his music, but he died before I was born, so obviously, I never got to see him play.
3. The Beastie Boys
I was a young’n when License To Ill came out. It changed everything forever. But it wasn’t until I heard Paul’s Boutique that I absolutely adored the Beasties, and then Check Your Head cemented it and made me a forever fan. I must have listened to those albums hundreds of times. Yet, I never got around to seeing them live and now I’m absolutely kicking myself for it.
2. The Ramones
Aw, man, this list is starting to really make me sad since most of the people on it are dead. I was a little punk girl who was hugely into the Ramones, but I never got to see them live. I don’t remember ever having the opportunity, but they must have toured some time and I just missed it.
1. The Clash
The Clash is one of my favorite bands of all time. This one kills me, not because I was too dumb to go see them like The Ramones and The Beasties, but because it just wasn’t an option. I was just slightly too young and too late for The Clash. By the time I was old enough to sneak into concerts, they had already broken up.