How Old Musicians Were When They Made Their Classic Album

There’s still some time to make your masterpiece. Just ask Kanye West, M.I.A., and LCD Soundsystem.

1. Radiohead were mostly in their late 20s when they made OK Computer. They started the band when they were teenagers.

2. Michael Jackson started in music when he was only 6-years-old with The Jackson 5, but reached the pinnacle of his career when he was 24.

3. Kanye West released his first album, College Dropout, when he was 27, but made his masterpiece, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, when he was 33.

4. Jimmy Page was a veteran session musician before he put together Led Zeppelin, which accounts for him being a bit older than his bandmates.

5. Confusingly, Adele’s 21 came out when she was 23.

6. James Brown was a veteran entertainer at the age of 30 when he recorded Live at the Apollo, but in the context of his loooooong career, this was still an early work.

7. This is what the Pixies looked like when Doolittle came out. Just take a look at fresh-faced young Black Francis and Kim Deal!

8. Age may be only a number, but at the time Aaliyah released her amazing debut, she was 15.

9. Most of the members of the Wu-Tang Clan were in their early 20s when they released their classic debut, but GZA was a bit older, and had a career in rap before the Clan.

10. Did you know that Jack White was the younger member of The White Stripes?

11. Or that Chris Kirkpatrick is a solid decade older than Justin Timberlake?

12. The members of Daft Punk are, in fact, human, and as such have birthdays like the rest of us.

13. M.I.A. put out her first album when she was 30, and released her crowning achievement, Kala, two years later.

14. Britney Spears has been staggeringly famous since she was 17.

15. Robert Pollard was 37 when Guided By Voices released Bee Thousand. The album lifted him out of total obscurity, and made him a hero to late bloomers everywhere.

16. Nas made one of the best rap albums of all time when he was only 21.

17. Prince made his first record at 19, but didn’t become a superstar until he was 26.

18. Lady Gaga already had four mega-hits before she even put out The Fame Monster at 23.

19. Mick Jagger and Keith Richards began their career in The Rolling Stones when they were 20, but hit their stride with Let It Bleed at the ripe old age of 26.

20. Sonic Youth were veterans of punk and indie rock by the time their fifth album, Daydream Nation, made them critical darlings for the rest of their lives.

21. This is how old everyone in Blink-182 was when they released “What’s My Age Again?”

22. Pink Floyd spent half a decade figuring out what to do without their original frontman Syd Barrett before they created Dark Side of the Moon, one of the biggest-selling albums in the history of music when they were in their late 20s.

23. Taylor Swift has been a star since she was only 16.

24. Stevie Wonder was also a child star, but hit his stride as an adult artist at 22 with this album, which included “Superstition” and “You Are the Sunshine of My Life”

25. Did you know that Nico was the oldest member of the original Velvet Underground?

26. James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem is another hero for late bloomers.

27. And kinda sorta, so is Jay-Z – he had a lot of hits before The Blueprint, but that’s the record that made him an institution.

28. Just a reminder that Hanson were practically babies when they made “MMMBop.”

29. Gary Young, the old guy in the original lineup of Pavement, was out by the time they began work on their second album. His replacement, Steve West, brought the average age down to 27.

30. Katy Perry solidified her status as a pop icon at the age of 26.

31. Madonna had basically conquered all of pop music by the time she was 30, and Like A Prayer was her victory lap.

32. Bob Dylan made a lot of major albums, but his widely-agreed-upon masterwork was created when he was just 24.

33. Sleater-Kinney is another band with a surprising age gap.

34. Whitney Houston accomplished quite a bit in her early 20s, but her most famous recording – “I Will Always Love You” – came out when she was 29.

35. Ben Gibbard was in his late 20s when he was like “eh, I’ll do another band besides Death Cab for Cutie and see how that goes…”

36. Vampire Weekend started in college, and put out their debut only a couple years after they all graduated.

37. Lil Wayne made his debut at 12, but reached his greatest success in his mid-20s.

38. The Flaming Lips had been around for over a decade before they made The Soft Bulletin, the record that changed the course of their career and turned them into that band who plays every single festival.

39. Green Day hit it big when they were all 22 with Dookie, but achieved stadium rock status ten years later with American Idiot.

40. Bruce Springsteen’s label was almost ready to consider him a has-been before he hit the big time with Born to Run at the age of 26.

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