I'm a fan of Starflyer 59, and an article I read about the band got me thinking. (Of course, I've lost the link to the original article, so this is all from my memory, so I'm probably remembering it wrong. If I ever find the article again, I'll link it.)
There was a single line in the article to the effect of "What fan hasn't listened to "Messed Up Over You" while trying to make sense of their own teenage heartache?" Well, for starters, me. I was 11 at the time Gold was released. If we were to take the writer at his literal word rather than reading it as obvious hyperbole, I would be forced to conclude that, in the writer's estimation, I'm not a real fan of Starflyer 59, by virtue of being born too late.
To be fair, the idea behind that sentence -- the pervasive notion that the fans of a band who were there from day one are somehow "truer" fans than the guy who just discovered them last month -- is one that I myself have believed at times. Specifically, those times when it allowed me to feel proud at having discovered some band (or something) before whoever I was speaking with at the time.
Really, though, it's ridiculous. So much of "discovering" a band is beyond the listener's control; you or I might as well start judging fans by their height and eye color while we're at it.
In conclusion, I must say this in defense of all late adopters: The guy who's been a fan of a band since day one has it easy. He gets to follow the band and buy the albums as they're released, whereas the guy who just discovered the band last year has to play catch-up with the discography (half of which may be out-of-print). In my opinion, the late adopter tracking down OOP albums on Ebay is the real fan.
(No, I'm not trying to bolster my Starflyer fan-cred. My discography is still incomplete, and I'm pretty sure there's a guy out there with a Starflyer tattoo. There's no way I can compete with that.)
(EDIT: Here's the tattoo.)