Oldest Living Musicians

Oldest Living Musicians

Music is all around us, and is one of the oldest forms of self-expression and creativity in the world. As the centuries have passed by, generations of musicians have come and gone, leaving nothing but a record of their talent behind! 

However, if we were to examine the world of music today and examine the oldest musicians in history, we’d be able to come up with a fairly extensive list of artists and performers. In this article, we’re going to look more closely at the oldest living musicians in the world. 

Let’s dive right in. 

7. Ray Anthony

Age: 101
Date of birth: January 20, 1922
Best known for: Ensemble member of the Glenn Miller orchestra 

Ray AnthonyPhoto Source: Wikimedia Commons

Ray Anthony is currently the oldest musician in the world! He was a professional trumpeter who learned how to play this instrument from the time he was a young child. He joined Glenn Miller’s band and played the trumpet in it for about a year. 

Anthony went on to form his own musical group after WWII ended. It was called The Ray Anthony Orchestra, and was most famous for songs like The Bunny Hop and Hokey Pokey. He also recorded a version of the hit song At Last, popularized by Etta James; Anthony’s version reached number 2 on the American music charts. 

Did you know? 

Ray Anthony is currently the only surviving member of the Glenn Miller Orchestra.

6. Johnny Pate

Age: 100
Date of birth: December 5, 1923
Best known for: Musical arrangements and jazz bass

Johnny PatePhoto Source: Freshsoundrecords

Johhny Pate has an illustrious career as a musical arranger and jazz bass player. He is well known in the musical scene in Chicago, particularly in the genres of soul, rhythm and blues, and pop music. 

He first started working with musicians like Stuff Smith and Coleridge Davis throughout the 1940s, and later played bass and arranged music for Eddie South. He was even credited for his work on Chess Records! Later on, in the latter half of the 1950s, Pate arranged music for the house band Red Saunders at a club named DeLisa. 

Pate went on to work on record production for musicians like Curtis Mayfield, B. B. King, and even the Bee Gees. 

Did you know?

Johnny Pate played a huge role in televising the Grammy Awards. This was because he was a trustee on the National Academy of Arts and Sciences.

5. Jane Morgan

Age: 99
Date of birth: May 3, 1924
Best known for: The Day the Rains Came

Jane MorganPhoto Source: Wikimedia Commons

Jane Morgan is arguably one of the earliest examples of a traditional pop star, before singers like Taylor Swift and Ariana Grande came along! In addition to having a successful recording career, Morgan was a Broadway star and a nightclub singer as well. 

Her career began while she was a student at Julliard. Morgan sang at various nightclubs, restaurants, and private events to help fund her tuition. She got her big break when Art Mooney heard her singing and hired her as a musician. Some years later, she traveled to France and became a huge hit. Morgan also achieved success as a musician when she returned to America and performed in various Broadway musicals like Hello, Dolly and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. 

Did you know? 

Jane Morgan is her stage name! Morgan’s real name is Florence Catherine Currier.

4. Bill Hayes

Age: 98
Date of birth: June 5, 1925
Best known for: The Ballad of Davy Crockett

Bill HayesPhoto Source: Wikimedia Commons

Bill Hayes is one of the oldest living musicians in the world! His musical career began in the early 1950s. He graduated from DePauw University with a degree in Music and English. After college, he was a singer on Your Show of Shows, a variety television show featuring Imogene Coca and Sid Caesar. 

As the 1950s rolled on, Davy Crockett was gaining more and more popularity each day, and the song, Ballad of Davy Crockett, was being recorded by multiple artists. Bill Hayes’ version was the most popular version of the song! It sold more than a million copies and remained #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 list for over 5 weeks. He went on to record other songs, and eventually became an actor. 

Did you know? 

Bill Hayes trained to be a fighter pilot and almost served American in WWII, but the war ended before he was scheduled to fly off.

3. Dick Van Dyke

Age: 98
Date of birth: December 13, 1925
Best known for: 

Dick Van DykePhoto Source: Wikimedia Commons

If you’re a fan of musicals, then you’ll definitely be familiar with Dick Van Dyke’s body of work. This man is more than just a musician! He is also an actor and comedian. Before making it in the entertainment industry, he worked as a radio DJ in Illinois. He then went on to emcee a comedy program, and appeared as a guest star on various television shows. 

As his career progressed, Van Dyke got his big break as the lead actor in Bye Bye Birdie. Though this film received mixed reviews, it solidified him as a performer to watch and brought him much success and fame. He then went on to star in films like Mary Poppins and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

Did you know? 

Dick Van Dyke’s accent in Mary Poppins is widely considered to be one of the worst Cockney accents in cinematic history, and is often used as an example of what not to do when working on an accent.

2. Sonny Rollins

Age: 93
Date of birth: September 7, 1930
Best known for: “St. Thomas”, “Oleo”, “Doxy”

Sonny RollinsPhoto Source: Open Verse

Sonny Rollins is a saxophonist and a jazz musician whose compositions are considered to some of the best and most iconic pieces of music in the history of jazz. His career has spanned more than 7 decades, and he has recorded over 60 albums in his time. He first started playing piano, but switched over to the sax not long after. 

Rollins’ musical career began not long after he graduated from high school. He started working with Babs Gonzales, and later went on to record with musicians like Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, and Charlie Parker. 

Did you know? 

Sonny Rollins retired in 2014 after suffering from various respiratory issues.

1. Petula Clark

Age: 91
Date of birth: 15 November 1932
Best known for: “The Other Man’s Grass Is Always Greener” and “Kiss Me Goodbye”

Petula ClarkPhoto Source: Open Verse

Unlike some of the other musicians on this list, Petula Clark’s career began by chance when she was only 7 years old! She was featured on the radio and in print media, but got her break when she was trying to send an uncle a message through the radio. However, an air raid disrupted her message, so she performed Mighty Lak’ a Rose, which was well-received by listeners. 

Her career as a singer only progressed from there. As a child, she was often called Britain’s Shirley Temple, and as an adult, she toured the world. One of her most famous songs is Downtown; it received significant airtime across the world. 

Did you know? 

Petula Clark has one of the longest careers of any British artist, with a career than spans more than 80 years.


In this article, we took you through a list of some of the oldest living musicians in the world. While this list is by no means complete, it includes some of the most iconic musicians who have shaped the way music is written and produced today. Who have we missed? Let us know in the comments below! 

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