"I'm just noticing my fingers are getting a little harder to keep moving a lot”: 95-year-old Las Vegas pianist announces that it’s finally time for him to retire

For his last few birthdays, pianist Don Friend has been getting more candles on his cake than he has keys on his keyboard, but at 95, the veteran Las Vegas performer has confirmed that it's time to call it a day.

Yep, that’s right: if you were impressed by the fact that the likes of Mick Jagger and Paul McCartney are still touring into their 80s, consider the case of Friend, who played his first gig in Vegas way back in 1953.

More recently, he’s been a regular on the retirement home circuit, and News 3 Las Vegas reports that he played his final show at the Atria Seville Assisted Living Center earlier this week.

On getting his start, Friend says: "My mother had an upright in the apartment in Chicago where I was born. And I took to the piano; I was able to pick out tunes by myself."

Although Friend says that he still loves to play, time has taken its toll, hence his decision to call it a day.

"I'm just noticing my fingers are getting a little harder to keep moving a lot,” he says. “And at 95, I think it's time to retire."

Few would deny that he deserves a rest, but that doesn’t mean that his fans won’t be disappointed. 

"Just about all of them I like," says resident Franklin Ellis of Friend’s repertoire, which includes standards originally performed by the likes of Duke Ellington to Tony Bennett. "I'm an old person. I've been listening to music 80 years."

As ‘old Friends’ go, then, Don is up there with the best of them. Happy retirement, sir.

Ben Rogerson
Deputy Editor

I’m the Deputy Editor of MusicRadar, having worked on the site since its launch in 2007. I previously spent eight years working on our sister magazine, Computer Music. I’ve been playing the piano, gigging in bands and failing to finish tracks at home for more than 30 years, 24 of which I’ve also spent writing about music and the ever-changing technology used to make it.