At 51, Spirit of the West Singer John Mann Diagnosed with Alzheimer’s

In a story that quotes “Home for a Rest”–“You’ll have to excuse me, I’m not at my best”–the Globe and Mail as the gut-wrenching story of John Mann and how he’s being betrayed by his brain. Already a survivor of colorectal cancer, John faces a tough future.

There were clues: his empty hands – no guitar; the onstage banter left for the most part to fellow frontman Geoffrey Kelly; the iPad affixed to Mr. Mann’s microphone stand. He can no longer trust himself to keep his guitar-playing at pace with the band, to tell those great stories from the stage, to even remember the lyrical poetry he himself wrote – words he has sung countless times criss-crossing Canada and the world.

At 51, Mr. Mann has early onset Alzheimer’s disease.

“I just want people to know now, because we’ve been holding this in as a band, waiting for the right time, and I was getting a bit antsy,” Mr. Mann says during a lengthy interview at his Vancouver home, conducted with his wife Jill Daum, who fills in many of the blanks. “I’m John’s brain,” she says.

The devastating diagnosis came about a year ago. Long before that, there was evidence so compelling that Mr. Mann, still in his 40s, went to his family doctor with concerns he had dementia. But his intensifying problems were thought to have been caused by the colorectal cancer from which he had also been suffering, and the stress of it all. He is now in remission.

But as the brain fog intensified, it became more and more clear that something was very wrong.

Continue reading.

[Photo by Rafal Gerszak for the Globe and Mail.]

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

One thought on “At 51, Spirit of the West Singer John Mann Diagnosed with Alzheimer’s

  • September 8, 2014 at 10:28 am

    My dad, also a Musician died last summer at only 63yrs old due to complications from Early onset Alzheimers. He’d been diagnosed with it only 5 years prior in his mid 50s. No one should have to go through that, even worse when its a creative type person. So sad.


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