The unforgettable spirit of Spirit of the West

John Mann is in his early 50s — but the Spirit of the West frontman is already experiencing the effects of Alzheimers.
John Mann, frontman for Canadian Celtic rock band Spirit of the West, is grappling with early onset of Alzheimer's at the age of 52. (Hot Docs/Bell Media)
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How does one describe one's own dementia? For Spirit of the West frontman John Mann, it's a "numbing white fog" - or like a 'white wall - an empty white wall, nothing else.' 

Mann was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's disease at the age of 51. A new documentary, Spirit Unforgettable, poignantly chronicles his struggle to process the news, and the band's determination to keep making music together. In the course of the film, they approach their final gigs with joy in the face of misfortune.  

Filmmaker Pete McCormick and Mann's wife Jill Daum join guest host Gill Deacon to discuss the documentary, the band's final tour, and what remains when the fog descends upon a person you love. 

"Dementia is not the end of your life. There's a lot of living left," says McCormick. 

WEB EXTRA | Spirit Unforgettable is screening at Toronto's Hot Docs Film Festival. Watch the trailer below. 

 

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