Cher, Bette, Tina, Madonna Still Strutting Their Stuff

Classic female rockers make music -- and millions -- to baby boomers' delight.

ByABC News
May 29, 2008, 12:29 PM

May 30, 2008 — -- Jefferson Airplane's Grace Slick, who shocked audiences in the 1960s by jumping offstage drunk to pick a fan's nose and once exposed herself sans undies, has little faith in aging rockers.

The iconic beauty left the music scene at age 48 after her 1985 hit "We Built This City on Rock and Roll," topping off her career as a lead singer for the Airplane and its later incarnations.

Slick, whose brash style in the masculine world of rock was a role model for today's greatest female performers, confessed in a 1998 VH1 documentary that "all rock 'n' rollers over the age of 50 look stupid and should retire."

Now 68, Slick told, "It's sad somehow when you watch people who are doing things that my daughter calls 'age inappropriate.'

"They can sing almost anything but rock and roll and rap," said Slick, who lives in California as a painter. "When [a rapper] gets old he'll look sappy holding his crotch and making finger signs and wearing 'bling' and talking about my 'b***h.'"

But today's sold-out concerts by some of her contemporaries suggest that Slick has miscalculated the staying power of aging female rockers.

The grande dames of rock and pop -- Tina Turner, Cher, Bette Midler and Madonna -- are still recording, touring and commanding astronomical ticket prices at the biggest venues with fan bases that cross all age barriers.

So, too, are Stevie Nicks, Joan Jett, Pat Benatar, Gladys Knight, Dolly Parton and many more. Only one publicist, Liz Rosenberg, who represents Nicks, Cher and Madonna, commented on Slick's classic off-color invective.

"What an ageist statement to make," Rosenberg told "I find all these women totally inspiring as their fans obviously do as well. Tell Grace to get out on the road this summer and see if any of these 'grand dames' perform. I think she will change her mind. And tell her to bring her daughter with her."

For more than a decade, Slick and Turner dominated Billboard's Hot 100 list as the oldest female vocalists. The R&B singer, who was 44 with her 1984 hit "What's Love Got to Do With It" gave way to Slick, at 47, with "Nothing's Going to Stop Us Now." Pop vocalist Cher beat both records in 1999 at the age of 53 with her hit "Believe."

Cher, at 62, kicks off her debut at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas this weekend in new Bob Mackie costumes and a show that includes 18 dancers and aerialists. The over-the-top singer is one of Billboard's Top 40 "greatest artists of all time," selling 200 million albums since she emerged as part of the Sonny and Cher duo in 1965.