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Guns 'n' Roses will play Coachella: How they compare to past headliners?

The band Guns N' Roses will reunite to play at this spring's music festival Coachella. The group is the newest rock act to take the stage at Coachella after past headliners like Paul McCartney, AC/DC, and Roger Waters.

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    Axl Rose (l.) and Duff McKagan (r.) of Guns N' Roses perform at the 6th Annual Revolver Golden Gods Award Show at Club Nokia in Los Angeles, Calif. in 2014.
    Paul A. Hebert/Invision/AP
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Slash and Axl Rose are coming to Coachella.

The band Guns N’ Roses will be reuniting at the California music festival this spring and are set to perform on April 16 and 23. Guns N’ Roses’ last studio album was released in 2008, when the band put out the album “Chinese Democracy.” 

Other performers at Coachella this year include the band LCD Soundsystem, singer Sia, rapper Ice Cube, and DJ Calvin Harris.

Musicians who took the stage last year included the rock band AC/DC, Jack White of the band the White Stripes, and rapper Drake.

Lineups at Coachella include newer acts as well, of course. But the prevalence of rock acts performing at Coachella that have had their heyday before Coachella attendees were born might have some scratching their heads. (In 2014, it was estimated that about 46 percent of Coachella attendees were born between the ages of 18 and 34.) Past headliners like Paul McCartney, AC/DC, and Roger Waters were releasing their most seminal work before the older end of this spectrum were born. Many of those attending Coachella this year are probably too young to remember Guns N' Roses' 1987 album "Appetite for Destruction."

So why is Coachella inviting them? Festival organizers seem to be simply acknowledging what is reality: that, far from having a disdainful attitude toward classic rock music, younger music fans are embracing it. 

The music of the Beatles debuted on streaming services last month and 65 percent of those who listened to the Beatles on streaming service Spotify were under 34, according to the service

And in 2015, classic rock experienced record ratings for the third month in a row in May, according to Nielsen, and the biggest growth was among 18- to 34-year-olds. 

Why are younger music fans won over by older music? Ronald E. Riggio at Psychology Today theorizes that the cultural reverence for the 1960s and ‘70s may play a part. “The emergence and acceptance of rock-and-roll music by the majority of Americans (rock bands debuted on the Ed Sullivan show!) make this a time that is looked back on as culturally important and a time of positive change and good times,” Riggio wrote. 

In addition, Riggio says he heard from several young people that they simply admire the good work done by the musicians of that time as well. “They emphasize the quality of the music of the era, and the fact that most of these rock-and-rollers wrote their own songs and played the instruments,” Riggio writes of the young classic rock fans with whom he spoke.

Meanwhile, Huffington Post writer Larry Atkins says that older music fans need to be more open to new music and that in this respect, they need to catch up to the inclusive attitude of young music fans. “It's common to find kids and millennials who love the classic rockers,” Atkins wrote. “If they can listen to the old stuff, surely the old people can find new stuff to listen to and enjoy.”

Speaking to the success of the format on radio, Cox Media Group VP of radio programming Steve Smith said in an interview, "As each year goes by, and we don’t see much on the forefront in current rock, classic rock gains more relevance and credibility with younger audiences. Even without a lot of current rock hits, every kid wants to be a rock star."

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