Monday, April 28, 2014

Doc Neeson's Brain Tumour May Prove Fatal In Next 3 To 6 Months

Image via ABC's Australian Story
 By Darryl Mason

The legendary Doc Neeson, frontman for The Angels for nearly four decades until 2011, has revealed the brain tumour that saw him leave the road has returned and he's been told it may prove fatal in the next 3 to 6 months. He has vowed to keep fighting.
"It was a shock of course when somebody puts a use by date on me," he said of the initial diagnosis, that predicted he might not live 18 months without surgery, "but I still hung on to a shred of hope that I'd get back on the stage at some point,"
Neeson was first diagnosed in late 2012. He had brain surgery, a long period of radiotherapy, chemotherapy and recovery followed, through 2013. His health was looking good. He was hoping to get back on the road. But an MRI in February this year revealed the brain tumour had returned and Doc Neeson has now been told to expect the worst:
"The news is grim, but some people can get through this, and that's the way I try to think about things. So I'm looking forward optimistically to the future."
 Profiled on ABC's Australian Story, Doc Neeson has opened up his battle against brain cancer, his addictions and what he believes were his failings as a father, during the busiest days of The Angels,
when the band would play more than 150 shows a year.
Image via ABC's Australian Story
Here's a great tale, from Australian Story, from Australia's now governor-general, Peter Cosgrove, on Doc Neeson's performance for Australian troops in East Timor in 1999:
"I'm sitting up there with people like Jose Ramos Horta (East Timorese spokesman at the time) and Roman Catholic Bishop Belo of East Timor, overlooking the crowd and they had some alternative lyrics to Am I Ever Going to See Your Face Again," Mr Cosgrove said.

"I'll call them ribald lyrics.

"Bishop Belo leaned forward and said to me, 'Mr General, what are they singing?' And I said, 'Well Lord Bishop I really can't quite make it out'.

"Then Ramos Horta looked at me and I could tell that he could make it out!"
I wrote a piece for The Guardian here on that song, Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again? and the infamous "No Way, Get Fucked, Fuck Off!" crowd chant that so surprised Ramos Horta.

Doc Neeson's last live appearances were at the Rock For Doc concerts in April 2013, and the Rockwiz live tribute to Vanda and Young, last December, where he performed his new single, a Vanda and Young cover, Walking In The Rain.

The Rock For Doc concerts, at Sydney's Enmore Theatre in April 2013, included friends like Peter Garrett, Jimmy Barnes, Angry Anderson and former members of The Angels. But founding members of the band, Rick and John Brewster, were not invited to play or pay tribute to their friend and former frontman.

Rock For Doc was a fundraiser. There's no superannuation in Australian rock.
"When The Angels were big, we invested a lot of the money that we made into the band itself to try and go overseas again. So there was no kind of money salted away somewhere to fall back on," Neeson said.

"It's a pretty lean time at the moment."
A few weeks after Rock For Doc, which raised more than $200,000, Doc Neeson was presented with an Order of Australia medal by NSW Governor Marie Bashir, who has confessed she is also fan of The Angels.

In January 2014, Doc was profiled in the Sydney Morning Herald, the cancer was in remission, he was hopeful, it had been a hard year, but picking up where he'd left off in December 2012 and taking a lineup of The Angels back on the road was looking like a reality. It had been a difficult journey since his first diagnosis.
It was at Christmas dinner that Doc Neeson's family realised something was wrong with the enigmatic former frontman of veteran Australian rock band The Angels.
"You could see in his face and how he was talking that something wasn't quite right," recalls Neeson's son Keiran.

An ambulance rushed Neeson to Sydney's Royal North Shore Hospital where the 65-year-old singer had a seizure.

After a CAT scan, he was diagnosed with a high grade brain tumour and told that statistically, he had 18 months to live.

Plans for a national tour were put aside. Neeson's tumour was surgically removed and he began intensive rounds of radiotherapy and chemotherapy.
That radiotherapy and chemotherapy did not destroy the tumours completely, it would seem. They have returned, and Doc Neeson is now both preparing for his end, and fighting to extend his life as long as possible.

Very sad news.

I'll follow up once the episode of Australian Story has aired.

This is a video I shot of Doc Neeson leading a protest march through Newtown, Sydney, against the closure of iconic inner city rock venue The Sandringham Hotel.

More To Come....