Rock stars make their millions championing the "live fast, die young" lifestyle, but most go on to live long and fruitful lives. That means they have to settle somewhere. The Sarasota area has a surprising number of all-star music oldsters. From long hairs to blue hairs (to sometimes no hair at all), rock stars—they’re just like your grandma and grandpa. Here’s a list of seven notables, who are writing their coda in Sarasota.
Mick Jagger, Rolling Stones
Resident since: 2020
Neighborhood: Lakewood Ranch
Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger bought a $2 million Lakewood Ranch mansion for his ballet dancer girlfriend Melanie Hamrick and young son so she could be close to her family. He apparently liked the privacy, but the story of the sale became one of the most widely read in Sarasota media. Can’t always get what you want.
Trivia Note: When Mick Jagger performs, it’s estimated he cock-walks 10 miles per gig. Sarasota isn’t known for being pedestrian-friendly, but maybe you’ll catch him on a sunset Ringling Bridge walk one of these days.
Brian Johnson, AC/DC
Resident since: 1998
Neighborhood: Bird Key
He’s the most gregarious of Sarasota’s retired rockers, so you’re certain to have seen him driving around in a fancy British sports car while donning his signature newsboy cap. He’s worn the cap since his early days playing small clubs in northeast England. Back then, it wasn’t a fashion statement; he wore the cap to keep the sweat out of his eyes while performing in un-air-conditioned venues. While every inch of Sarasota might be air-conditioned, we still like that he wears the cap, even indoors. You might catch him downtown when he goes to get a baguette for breakfast from C’est La Vie!
Trivia Note: The AC/DC replacement frontman and his wife, Brenda, are known for charitable work in the area. In 2019, they donated property to the All Star Children’s Foundation, a local nonprofit.
Dickey Betts, Allman Brothers
Resident since: He was a little boy
Neighborhood: Osprey, on Little Sarasota Bay
The closest we have to a native rock star, the Allman Brothers Band guitarist and co-founder grew up in Bradenton. In fact, the Betts family has ties to the land that date back to shortly after the Civil War. If you drive around enough, you might even find Betts Street.
Trivia Note: Growing up a country boy in Bradenton meant getting into trouble. He almost never became a rock star because of his run-ins with the law. “I was on probation at the time because I had shot a cow, me and my buddy, to have a beach barbecue, and we got caught,” Betts recalled in an interview with the Sarasota Herald-Tribune back in 2014.
Graeme Edge, Moody Blues
Resident since: 1998
The Moody Blues co-founder and drummer moved here because he kept a sailboat on Anna Maria Island. Edge was smitten with the culture, referring to it as “the last hippie outpost.”
Trivia Note: The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer’s time in the area hasn’t been without a little drama. Back in 2007, Edge was arrested and tried in court for a DUI after failing a breathalyzer and field test at a Manatee County Sheriff’s Office sobriety checkpoint. The jury sided with Edge, and this gem of a detail came out of the trial: “Edge was carefree in and out of court, smiling and conversing with prosecutor Lisa Chittaro. The two smoked cigarettes together during breaks and chatted about Indian food around the world,” according to a newspaper article. (Sadly, Edge passed away Nov. 11 at the age of 80.)
Joe Perry, Aerosmith
Homeowner since: 2001
Neighborhood: Longboat Key and, lately, north Sarasota
The gray-streaked lead guitarist for Aerosmith has been coming to the Sarasota area for about 20 years. But last year, Perry found himself in Sarasota more than usual after the world locked down. In an interview with Boston’s WBUR last year, he claimed the pandemic was the first vacation he’s had in 30 years. He and his wife quarantined before government officials recommended it to the public. In fact, he’s puzzled by the Florida public’s response to the outrage, saying, “I was really amazed to see people who are saying their lives are being trodden on because they’re told they can’t go to the beach.”
Trivia Note: Perry and his wife Billie, lifelong divers, took part in a reef cleanup off Lido Beach back in 2009.
Tony Kaye, Yes
Resident since: 2019
Neighborhood: North Sarasota
A founding member of the British progressive rock band Yes, the keyboardist was inspired to move to Florida after performing on Cruise to the Edge, a progressive rock cruise festival out of Tampa. Instead of heading back to L.A., he says he “rented a car and came down here. I wound up on Siesta Key and loved it and six months later I was moving here.” He’s part of a growing trend of people leaving Los Angeles for Florida. “I had enough of L.A. after 30 years,” Kaye told Rolling Stone. “I got the hell out.”
Trivia Note: Kaye is known for his pioneering work with the Hammond organ and for backing David Bowie on the legendary “Station to Station” tour.
Rick Derringer, The McCoys
Resident since: 2003
The lead singer and guitarist of the band that brought you the hit cover “Hang on Sloopy” in 1965 is a big fan of the Sarasota area. On his YouTube page, you can accompany him on a Myakka kayaking adventure.
Trivia Note: Derringer caused a stir in 2017 after Sarasota Bradenton International Airport security found a loaded gun in his luggage after a trip to Cancun. Derringer confessed to a federal air marshal that he had kept a loaded gun on him on commercial airline flights 30 to 50 times per year. In recent years, Derringer has become involved in politics, and was featured on a radio program with Roger Stone promoting Donald Trump’s campaign in 2020. His song, “Real American,” often soundtracked Trump’s rallies.