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When I'm 65! Pop goes the pensioner

Some of music's biggest rebels eat their words and graduate as OAPs this year

Live fast, die young – that was the rock'n'roll dream. The reality for many of Britain's greatest rockers is proving different, for 2012 will be the year of the pensioner pop star.

A wave of leading artists will reach their 65th birthday this year, first among them David Bowie, who once wrote the lyric: "Don't want to stay alive when you're 25." His anointment as an OAP will be marked with a series of parties around the world next week.

Mick Fleetwood and Ronnie Wood are among the other notorious hedonists born in 1947 who, given their rackety pasts, might not have been expected to make it this far.

The Who were quite explicit about their plans for the future, when they sang, "Hope I die before I get old". But two out of the four founding members, Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend, are still going strong. Inevitably, the excesses of the 1960s and 70s did take their toll, and some '47 rockers will have to be mourned this year. T-Rex founder Marc Bolan would have turned 65 in September, but died in a car crash in 1977. Here, The Independent on Sunday looks at 10 troopers who defied the odds to make it this far. Altogether now: "All the old dudes, carry the news...".

David Bowie, 8 January

'I've rocked my roll. There will be no more rock'n'roll tours from me. The last thing I want to be is some useless rock and roll singer.' So announced Bowie at the ripe old age of 28. Almost 40 years on, he's proved to be one of Britain's most successful and enduring artists.

Dave Davies, 3 February

As The Kinks' lead guitarist, Dave Davies was an early sound pioneer. One of the first musicians in Britain to use the distorted guitar sound featured in 'You Really Got Me', which was achieved by slashing his amplifier speaker with razor blades. Suffered a stroke in 2004, but recovered and now leads a quiet life in Devon.

Elton John, 25 March

In the 1970s, the former Reg Dwight feared his career was not long for this world. 'It could be the last gig for ever... I mean, who wants to be a 45-year-old entertainer in Las Vegas, like Elvis?' he said, while battling alcohol and cocaine addiction. He is now one of the 10 richest people in the UK music industry.

Iggy Pop, 21 April

Despite some seriously dodgy insurance ads, Iggy Pop shows no sign of slowing down. Gigging in skinny jeans and not much else, he still stage dives – an act he practically invented – despite badly injuring himself last year.

Ronnie Wood, 1 June

"What totally blows my mind is that I'm still alive, after all the stuff I've consumed and done over the years," said a candid Ronnie Wood recently. After dumping his wife of more than 20 years, Jo, the Rolling Stone has been seen out with a string of models – among others – decades his junior.

Mick Fleetwood, 24 June

The Cornish drummer and Fleetwood Mac founder lived the rock star cliché: cocaine, sex, and millions squandered. He even married and divorced his first wife twice. Now leads a tranquil life in LA.

Wilko Johnson, 12 July

The founding member of blues rock band Dr Feelgood, Johnson didn't gain a cult following for his drug and alcohol intake, but for his idiosyncratic guitar style and stage presence. He still plays the blues.

Meatloaf, 27 September

"I am the original fighter," proclaims Texan Meatloaf, best known for his album Bat Out of Hell. A big cocaine user, he threatened suicide, but he's calmer now and plans to move near his beloved Hartlepool FC.