06/19/2012 02:49 pm ET Updated Aug 19, 2012

Rock Music's Best Lesson: Age Is Irrelevant, Only the Music Matters

Perhaps the greatest contribution Mick Jagger, at nearly 69-years-old, has given to society is that he has effectively eradicated what was once called the "generation gap." The phrase is rarely used anymore. The Rolling Stones, Beatles and other rock icons from the 1960s and 1970s are responsible for this cultural shift in how age is perceived in our society today.

It is now about interests and one can be as young as he/she chooses.

In recent years, a Stones concert has consisted of everyone from tweens to great grandparents.
A 19-year-old -- nearly 60 years Jagger's junior -- uses the word "awesome" to describe the Rolling Stones, the same as he would a band of twenty-somethings taking off on YouTube.

As a barely legal journalist in the 1980's, I toured with The Rolling Stones in Europe and got a rare firsthand look at their world. The story expanded when I began interviewing sidemen, their wives, record producers, soundmen and celebrated artists. Priorities caused me to shelf the project until a few years ago, when publishing executives encouraged me to review my dusty archive. I discovered a slice of history told through music from the 1950's through the 1980's with a 21st century twist that became the book BackStage Pass VIP.

I remember interviewing the late singer/songwriter Harry Nilsson in the 1980's. He had been very close to The Beatles -- John Lennon and Paul McCartney are considered his mentors. Nilsson laughed when he recalled how when he and John passed the 30 mark they were shocked to realize they had become "the establishment" they had "ranted against. Today, the word "establishment" has a positive connotation used to describe top innovators of all ages.

The Rolling Stones and The Beatles became the first wave of young people in the history of contemporary civilization -- not born into privilege -- to wield both power and money. They were the precursors to the young technology pioneers of today.

The best proof is the research I did in checking out the playlist on high school and college students iPods -- everything from Sinatra to Buddy Holly to The Rolling Stones to Madonna to Jay-Z to Lady Gaga to Adele to the Broadway shows Rent and Wicked. A particular fond memory was a few years ago when teenage daughter said she had discovered a new artist she wanted me to hear and how timely his lyrics were. It was Bob Dylan!

Technology has made music from all eras accessible. My research has uncovered many teens and those under 30 are huge fans of classic rock stations and compete with their parents regarding factual knowledge of The Rolling Stones and The Beatles.

What is absolutely exhilarating is how open young people are to exploring all kinds of music and making it their own. It's what I've trademarked the "ripple momentum®" effect uniting all people of all ages, cultures and geographies via shared interests and experiences -- perhaps with the result of incubating a more tolerant world focused on likenesses instead of differences.

Debra Sharon Davis, author of the best-selling book "BackStage Pass VIP," is a leading pop culture trend expert, social philosopher, marketer and journalist. She runs Davis Communications Group, Inc. and The Davis Group.