Del Amitri singer Justin Currie reveals his battle with Parkinson’s disease

The Scottish rock star opens up about his diagnosis and how he copes with the condition that affects his voice and guitar playing.

How Justin Currie discovered he had Parkinson’s

Justin Currie, the lead singer and songwriter of Del Amitri, has revealed that he has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, a neurological disorder that causes tremors, stiffness, and slowness of movement. He first noticed something was wrong when he was struggling to hold his guitar plectrum during a tour in 2022.

“When you are doing something you know really well, like riding a bike or something and you suddenly can’t do it properly anymore – you think you’re going mad,” he said in an interview with BBC Radio 4’s Tremolo programme, which will be broadcast next month.

He said he was spending the whole time on tour thinking about where the plectrum was between his fingers, and when he started thinking about things like that, all the other stuff just started falling apart.

He visited his GP, who suspected he had Parkinson’s and referred him to a neurologist at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow. There, he was told he could have a brain scan, but it would take a year to confirm the diagnosis.

“So you are saying I have Parkinson’s but you can’t confirm the diagnosis for a year? How do you know?” Currie recalled asking the doctor.

Del Amitri singer Justin

The doctor instructed him to relax both his arms by his side, and Currie noticed that his right hand gently trembled at his hip, as if it was remembering something tricky. Twelve months later, he received his diagnosis.

How Justin Currie lives with Parkinson’s

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive condition that affects the brain and causes problems like shaking, rigidity, and difficulty with balance and coordination. It can also affect speech, swallowing, and facial expressions. There is no cure for Parkinson’s, but medication, therapy, and surgery can help manage the symptoms.

Currie, who is 59, said he has decided to keep working, touring, and playing despite the challenges of living with Parkinson’s. He said he has nicknamed the disease Gavin, as a way of coping with the uneasy feeling that another man is growing inside him, slowly seizing the means of control.

“As lead singer and songwriting leader, steadiness has been my strongest suit. I might be a mediocrity, but I’m always there and reliable. Now I’m somewhere else, distracted and flaky,” he said.

He said he sometimes has to second-guess the phrasing of a rhythm, something that would normally come naturally. He also said he has lost some control over his muscles, and has to use his throat to hit notes that he used to use his diaphragm for.

He said he is not afraid of the disease, but he is frustrated by it. He said he tries to ignore it as much as possible, and focus on the positive aspects of his life, such as his family, friends, and music.

How Justin Currie continues to make music

Currie is the frontman of Del Amitri, a Scottish rock band that formed in 1983 and achieved success in the 1980s and 1990s with hits such as Nothing Ever Happens, Always the Last to Know, and Roll to Me. The band also recorded Don’t Come Home Too Soon, the official song for Scotland’s 1998 World Cup campaign.

After a 12-year hiatus, the band reformed in 2014 and played at the OVO Hydro in Glasgow as part of the Celtic Connections festival. Next month, they will embark on a tour supporting Simple Minds, on the European leg of their global tour. They will also headline the HebCelt festival on the Isle of Lewis in July.

Currie said he is looking forward to performing again, and hopes that his fans will not notice any difference in his voice or guitar playing. He said he is grateful for the support of his bandmates, who have been understanding and encouraging.

“They are very kind to me. They don’t make a big deal out of it. They just say, ‘You sound great, you look great, don’t worry about it,’” he said.

He said he is also inspired by other musicians who have faced similar challenges, such as Neil Diamond, Linda Ronstadt, and Ozzy Osbourne, who have all been diagnosed with Parkinson’s.

“They are all still doing it, they are all still making music, they are all still living their lives. And that’s what I want to do,” he said.

By Ishan Crawford

Prior to the position, Ishan was senior vice president, strategy & development for Cumbernauld-media Company since April 2013. He joined the Company in 2004 and has served in several corporate developments, business development and strategic planning roles for three chief executives. During that time, he helped transform the Company from a traditional U.S. media conglomerate into a global digital subscription service, unified by the journalism and brand of Cumbernauld-media.

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