As It Happens

Spirit of the West to continue performing in the face of lead singer's Alzheimer's diagnosis

John Mann, lead singer for Vancouver-based folk veterans Spirit of the West, revealed this week he has been suffering from early-onset Alzheimer's disease. He is 51. The band's other members simultaneously released a statement indicating they intend to continue performing with Mann in the face of his diagnosis. Geoffrey Kelly is John Mann's long time collaborator -- having co-founded Spirit...
John Mann, lead singer for Vancouver-based folk veterans Spirit of the West, revealed this week he has been suffering from early-onset Alzheimer's disease. He is 51. The band's other members simultaneously released a statement indicating they intend to continue performing with Mann in the face of his diagnosis. Geoffrey Kelly is John Mann's long time collaborator -- having co-founded Spirit of the West with him in the early '80s.

He tells Carol: "It's good and bad today. It's tough acknowledging that everybody knows now, and at the same time there's an unburdening for all of us."

John Mann's full statement:


Dear Friends and Colleagues,
I would like to let you know that I have been diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimer's Disease. I know this will come as a shock to many of you. It wasn't for me. I've had my fears and suspicions, but I was remaining hopeful that there was some other cause for the problems I was experiencing.
Hearing the news has been a difficult blow. My family and I have taken some time to try and absorb the ramifications as we struggle to come to terms with the changes that have occurred and are yet to come. 
But I don't want to spend any more energy trying to hide my symptoms. I don't want to feel embarrassed. I want to accept what has happened and live. I will continue to make music and I will continue to do shows.I need to use an iPad now to help with the lyrics and for my solo shows, either Al Rodger or Tobin Frank will accompany and support me with their diverse and abundance of talents. My Spirit of the West band mates have circled me with care and we will forge ahead as we've been doing the last 30 sum odd years with humour and friendship, playing our hearts out. I will continue to write and tour, because this is what I do and what I love.
Thanks for being there,
John

Statement from Spirit of the West:

You just never know what fate will deal you.
Spirit of the West, now 31 years young, has been faced a quiet but profound challenge. It has taken us some time to reach the acceptance necessary to be able to speak of it publicly.
Founding member, lead singer and groundbreaking front man, John Mann, has been silently dealing with his diagnosis of Early Onset Alzheimer's Disease.  John, his family, and all of us had concerns but were hopeful that there was some other cause for his problems.
Although we may never know what triggered John's condition, it seems safe to conclude that his battle with cancer in 2010 was a contributor.
Throughout these difficulties, John has remained positive and proactive.
It is John and his wife Jill's wish to make this announcement, at this time, in this venue, so that he can more honestly and openly go through life facing what to him is simply the 'new normal' of his existence.  His diagnosis, while not a secret, has been kept low key and confidential between friends and family in the hope that he and his loved ones might have time to come to grips with ramifications, outcomes and eventualities.
We, his Spirit of the West brothers, have stood behind him, foursquare, in support as he has begun to learn new strategies for day-to-day living.  Those of you who have seen us in the last while know that John's glorious voice has not suffered, nor has his customary, traditional energy.  He remains the same excellent man and consummate professional he always has been.
There is no way to know precisely how the future will unfold but we Spirits intend to make the most of it - it has been an honour and a privilege to perform together for you all these decades, and we shall continue. We wish to carry on a little longer for our fans, for our families, and for the sake of our own hearts.
To our faithful fans, we thank you for years of support & love. We ask you to stand with us as we turn the page to the next chapter in the long career you have so graciously given us.

Spirit of the West Band, Crew & Families

You can visit Spirit of the West's website here.

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