Justin Currie

Justin Currie has been frontman of Del Amitri since the 1980s


The frontman of Scottish rock band Del Amitri has revealed he has been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease.

Justin Currie, from Glasgow, spoke of his illness during an interview with BBC Radio 4 Tremolo programme, which is to be broadcast next month.

Del Amitri scored hits in the 1980s and 90s with songs including Kiss This Thing Goodbye, Nothing Ever Happens and Always The Last to Know.

News of his diagnosis comes ahead of a major tour for the band.

In the BBC interview, the singer-songwriter said he first suspected something wasn't right when he began having trouble grasping his guitar plectrum.

"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.

"I was spending the whole time on tour, when I was still playing the guitar on this song, just thinking about where the plectrum was between my fingers, and when you start thinking about things like that then all the other stuff just starts falling apart."

Parkinson's disease is a condition that affects the brain and causes problems like shaking and stiffness that get worse over time.

Broadcasters Jeremy Paxman, Rory Cellan-Jones and Mark Mardell have also been diagnosed with the illness.

Justin Currie

Currie said he had to wait 12 months for a diagnosis

Currie described a visit to the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow after his GP suspected the neurological condition.

He said he was told he could have a brain scan, but it would be a year before he would receive his 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.

The doctor instructed the singer to relax both his arms by his side. Mr Currie said his right hand gently trembled at his hip "as if it was remembering something tricky".

Twelve months later, he received his diagnosis.

He said he has decided to keep working, touring and playing despite "the uneasy feeling that another man is growing inside me slowing ceasing the means of control".

A string of hits in the 1980s and 1990s - including Don't Come Home Too Soon, to mark Scotland's qualification for the 1998 World Cup - ensured Del Amitri became one of Scotland's best-loved bands.

After a 12-year hiatus, the band reformed in 2014 and played the OVO Hydro in Glasgow as part of the Celtic Connections festival.

Next month they embark on a tour supporting Simple Minds, on the European leg of their global tour before headlining the HebCelt festival on the Isle of Lewis in July.

Justin Currie


Del Amitri scored huge hits in the 1980s and 1990s

Currie said the shake in his hand, which he has nicknamed Gavin, was "an intermittent reminder" that he is "ill and unsteady".

He said: "As lead singer and song writing 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."

The illness has affected both his ability to play the guitar and his voice. Currie said he has had to "relearn" how to sing some parts of the band's hits.

"Sometimes you have to second guess the phrasing of a rhythm, something that would normally come naturally," he said.

"The other things that has been hard is getting up to notes, because you just lose a bit of control over your muscles. Things I used to use my diaphragm to hit, I now I have to do in the throat."

The full interview will be broadcast on BBC Radio 4's Tremolo at 16:30 on 10 March.

Details of organisations offering information and support with Parkinson's Disease.


From BBC




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