It's official. After decades of what seemed like insuperable pop-culture dominance, male boomer culture has entered its death throes. Harley-Davidson motorcycle sales continue to tank, even as the ponytails on the choppers get thinner and grayer. And today we read that Gibson Brands—manufacturer of iconic electric guitars including Les Pauls and SGs—has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the U.S.
These days no one under the age of fifty is likely to shed a tear for the lost world of heartland heavy metal, which underwrote both the Easy Rider myth, i.e. total freedom, and the sex-drugs-and-rock-n-roll myth, i.e. total hedonism. If the eclipse of outlaw boomer culture is noticed at all, no doubt it will only be to bid good riddance to its residual toxic masculinity.
Long have they run, these bikers and rockers, bequeathing to the broader culture their leather jackets, tattoos and bad-ass poses. Yet even the geezers on the choppers have come to realize—in the immortal words of Kansas—that nothing lasts forever but the Earth and sky. You can still tune in to Toronto's Q107 to fantasize about Steppenwolf getting your motor running, or to hear Jimmy Page churning away on his Les Paul. But these days the follow-up tune is likely to be something by Fleetwood Mac or Kim Carnes. What's next? The Spice Girls?
Talk about a major extinction event.